Another reason why the father-son argument for achieving godhood doesn’t work

“Don’t you want your son to be as great as you, to have everything you have?” (Mormon)

“No, I want my son to be GREATER than I am, and to have much more than I do.” (Me)

Very few Mormons think that God wants us to become greater than he is (or will be), so the analogy immediately breaks down.

Happy Father’s Day, dads.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Another reason why the father-son argument for achieving godhood doesn’t work

  1. PaleRider says:

    I am grateful that my Father in Heaven is not like me, depraved and sinful. I defer to what Jesus taught the young rich man seeking to understand how to inherit eternal life, as He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18
    Now this verse and the context housing it will invariably confuse and distract our Mormon friends from absorbing the truth but understanding our place before a righteous and perfect God is fundamental to understanding His love and plan to reconcile those who do not deserve reconciliation. And like Father Abraham may our faith be counted as righteousness, our faith in the true and living God.

  2. Rick B says:

    Hello Everyone,
    Well I am a father of 3, so let me share part of my fathers day. I said the other day, I was invited to hear the apostle Jeffery Holland speak at the local Mormon Church. Turns out this was a general Conference teaching and Jeffery was live in person, they were sending this to others church via video.

    I wanted to speak with Jeffery in person, but did think, I doubt it will happen. I am guessing, but I figure about or close to 1,000 people were there. The first speaker that spoke did say, Once Jeffery is done speaking he will need to leave right away.

    Then when Jeffery spoke, he said the same thing, He said at best he might be able to shake hands with a few kids at best. So a few days or so ago, the Mormon poster Shem said, Mormons put the Bible first above any book, and teach it more than any book, and I gave quote from other prophets and presidents where these guys said they either dont trust the Bible, or that they hold the BoM, the D and C or the other prophets or teachers are over the Bible.

    Shem said I was still wrong and had no clue, and just because I quoted people (LDS prophets) Saying what other book or person that is over the Bible and in some cases they explain why. He felt I was wrong and simply cannot take these prophets at their word and simply believe what they said.

    So I find it sad that Jeffery Holland seems to disagree with Shem by what he said and taught, yet never knowing what we talked about. Jeffery said that his all time favorite verse in any canonized scripture is 2 Nephi chapter 2.

    Now that does not really prove I’m right, but still if Shem is correct and Mormons hold the Bible above all other books, I would think you as an apostle could find a Bible verse or Chapter that is your favorite above all other scriptures.

    Then Jeffery went on to say, He mentions he has 3 hero’s in the faith and when he see’s them in heaven he will pull out his notebook and ask them for an autograph. These 3 people are, Wilfurd woodriff, Heber C Kimball, and Moroni. I thought, wow, not one person from the Bible, Not Jesus, but two mortal men and some fictional man.

    Then he mention two other men that he wants to see even more than his hero’s in the faith. The 2 men are the 2 men who spoke with his dad and help bring him back to the LDS church. Jeffery said, he would and will fall at their feet for up to half of eternity and adore them and love them for what they did. Again, Not Jesus for what He did by dying for us. So to me, I dont see LDS placing the Bible above all other “scriptures” I see them placing other people and scriptures about the Bible by what they say.

    Then before Jeffery came to speak, they called out 4 people by name to come up and bear their testimony. One was a child, I am guessing maybe 12-13 years old. All the kid really did was come up, start crying and said, I love the Church, I know the Church is true, and that was about it. No mention of Loving Jesus for what He did for us, but loving the Church for what they/it did.

    Over all 10 people got up and spoke, Some were just giving their Testimony’s, two were Elders of the Qurom of the 70. One of them was named Elder Payne, and one was a guy from Zimbabwe named elder dubay. So this Monday 6/17 the two Missionary’s that invited me will be over to talk.

    We will talk about what was said and taught.

  3. grindael says:

    What a difference from the apostle Paul who said,

    When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

  4. shematwater says:

    Speaking of the Analogy, of course it works. the problem here is that Aaron is not translating the analogy back to what it is supposed to be teaching. Actually, the question given is not exactly right for this purpose. It should say

    “Don’t you want your son to be as great as he can be, and have everything that he can have?”

    Rick

    I don’t reject anything the prophets said, I just reject your misunderstanding of it. I don’t suppose you read the link I gave you on “The Miracle of the Bible.”
    The Bible is the first and greatest scripture. It is not, however, the most correctly translated and thus the Book of Mormon has the honor of being the most correct. Not the first or greatest, but the most correct. Which is great, considering its purpose is to prove the Bible is true.
    The Doctrine and Covenants is the most relevant to our day because it was given in our day, for our circumstances, and as we needed it. It was not given first, nor is it the greatest testimony of Christ. It is simply the one that was given to us specifically.
    The living prophet is more vital because he brings God will to us as it stands today. It is great to learn what God’s will was and how He interacted and taught men in the past, but if we are not listening now it does us no good and we become like the wicked Israelites who cast out the prophets. However, this does not negate the greatness of the Bible or its preeminence among scripture. It is still the greatest of all scriptures, and always will be.

    This is your problem in understanding our thoughts concerning the Bible. We love, study, and revere the Bible as it is the only place where we can read of God’s dealings with Israel, the antediluvians, or the mortal ministry of Christ.

    Now, I really don’t understand your complaints about Elder Holland having personal opinions. So the three people he wants to meet are not in the Bible. So what? Your whole arguments sounds like saying that since I would like to meet Ceasar before George Washington I must not really like the U.S. all that much.
    I will be honest, my favorite verses of scripture are from the Doctrine and Covenants. This does not mean that I do not hold the Bible as the first and greatest scripture. It means that in my personal preference I prefer the style and use of language in the Doctrine and Covenants. Are there verses in the Bible that say the same thing. Yes, but they do not sound quite as good to me.

  5. jaxi says:

    To me there is a tremendous difference in the way many Mormons and Christians think. Do I care if my kids are great? no, unless you mean great in faith and love. Do I care if my kids have everything they can have? Yea, actually I hope they don’t get everything they want. I’m often told what a mean mom I am because I didn’t let them have their second bowl of ice cream of what not.

    As a Christian I am not aspiring for heaven, or greatness. All I want is life with my God, to love and serve Him forever and ever. If living with God means entering heaven, that is the consequence of my desire not the desire. Mormons ask yourselves, are you seeking exaltation to god hood, or are you seeking continual and eventually neverending communion with your Father in Heaven? Those two aspirations are monumentally different in nature. When you aspire for relationship and not security and greatness, your life will change.

  6. Rick B says:

    Ralph, I still dont care what you say or agree with the topic you posted and here is why.
    I see it as actions speak louder than words. You LDS have accused us Christains of Bible worship since we claim to believe the Bible is the word of God and we believe it.

    So if we believe it means we worship it, then that tells me you dont really trust the Bible. Then you guys teach it has many parts missing and eevn has some error in it. Sadly if you believe many parts are missing, but yet I have never seen a prophet go before God in prayer and say, Lord revel to us what is missing that we can put it back in. Yet you guys feel God speaks to you and that is why you need a prophet. Seems he can hear from God on every subject but whats missing from the Bible.

    Then you said, The J.S.T has the corrections that are the Corrput bible has, yet not one of the ten people who quoted the Bible on the Sunday GC ever quoted the J.S.T. So they were quoting a corrput text. Then years ago when I went to a local LDS book store located about 1 mile away from the Temple here in town, they said they do not carry the J.S.T of the Bible and the LDS church does not use it or carry it. I know this was rougly ten years ago and they now have it. But it was once taught that it was no good.

    Then you guys pass out the BoM via TV ad’s and Mormons carry the BoM to hand out to anyone who asks. Yet they dont do this with the Bible, and when they do pass out Bibles, they pass out a corrputed version, not the J.S.T. These are simply a few reasons why I dont believe you. Maybe you yourself read and believe the Bible, but I see no evidence to sugest any other Mormon does.

  7. Rick B says:

    I want to add, you Shem said the BoM proves the Bible true. What A Joke. The BoM cannot even be proved to be true. Were still waiting for the evidence.

  8. faithoffathers says:

    RickB,

    It actually makes perfect logical sense. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the Bible is true. It cannot be otherwise. It has nothing to do with physical or scientific evidences. Those things don’t save people. Faith in Christ saves people. And the Book of Mormon builds and strengthen’s a person’s faith in Christ enormously.

    Aaron- your analysis simply doesn’t work for the reason Shem stated. The Bible is very clear is teaching that God is our Father. Do you not think there is a reason for that? You are attacking the very analogy that permeates the Bible. How many times is God love for His children compared to the earthly love parents feel for their children? Lots of times, my friend. So it is not just LDS and their doctrine you are criticizing. It is the most basic message of the Bible.

    Consider these two passage just off the top of my empty head:

    ” Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

    “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:9-11

  9. Rick B says:

    Faith, you said

    If the Book of Mormon is true, then the Bible is true.

    It’s more like the Bible is true and the BoM is false and man made. The BoM cannot prove the Bible true, and their is no mention of Mormonism ever found in the history of the Bible.

  10. shematwater says:

    Jaxi

    I agree there is a great difference in the thinking of the LDS and other Christians. You desire to live with God, as you say, and will accept whatever that intails. That is fine, and I am not criticizing that desire. That was the desire of Peter and Christ said it was a good desire.
    However, we do not do what we do (or should not anyway) so that we can gain exaltation or godhood. We do what we do because in doing so we glorify our Heavenly Father. Our desire is not exactly centered on being with him, but glorifying him. We simply believe that the way to glorify God the most is to attain to exaltation and godhood, and so we strive for these things. God said “This is my work and my glory; to bring to pass the immortallity and eternal life (meaning godhood) of man.” (Moses 1: 31). If His glory is to make our godhood possible, then when we attain godhood we are doing nothing but glorifying our Heavenly Father.
    Proverbs 17: 6 says “Children’s children are the crown of old men” I want to bring my Father as much glory as I can, and so I strive for exaltation and the ability to continue my family throughout eternity; for by doing so my Heavenly Father will glory added to Him continually.

  11. MJP says:

    “Our desire is not exactly centered on being with him, but glorifying him. We simply believe that the way to glorify God the most is to attain to exaltation and godhood, and so we strive for these things.”

    Except that attaining personal gains and personal godhood is really a pretty big deal. Its so much more than glorifying god, don’t you think? Its a very selfish and self serving doctrine, isn’t it? If you don’t agree, do you grant that this is a possible interpretation of your faith?

    “I want to bring my Father as much glory as I can, and so I strive for exaltation and the ability to continue my family throughout eternity; for by doing so my Heavenly Father will glory added to Him continually.”

    Do you think that your father will love you less if you aren’t as successful as he was? How do you bring glory to your father?

    I’m happy to share how I bring glory to my father, and also how my children bring glory to me. And they both have nothing to do with what I do, or whether they (my boys) do better than I did in any given task. All I have to do is to love my father, and all my children have to do is to love me. Yes, it is that simple.

    Now, certainly obeying dad made him happier towards me than when I disobeyed, but that has nothing to do with glorifying him. My dad gave rules and instructions for my benefit, but not for his glorification when I followed them. Obeying them is a sign of respect, sure, but that also is different than glorifying him. In the end, what made my dad happy was not whether I followed every rule or did better than he did, it was simply me showing him my love. He’s 69 years old now, and I am 36, and it is still the same.

    I can also tell you with certainty that this is what makes me happiest: when my boys love me. They are 6 and almost 8, and it is not whether they obey every command that makes me happy with them. Its when they come up to me and give me a hug, or whatever way they use to show their love to me. I could care less how they do in school (OK, a bit of an exaggeration… 🙂 ); what matters is that at the end of the day they come home loving me and their mother, my beautiful bride.

    But no matter what they do, I will love them.

    The love God has for us is similar, though bigger and deeper. Its amazing, isn’t it? To think that God only cares about how we love him. The grades we get don’t matter. The work we put into cleaning our rooms doesn’t matter. Saying “please” and “thank you” and “sir” and “ma’am” to others doesn’t matter. Eating too much candy or watching too much TV does not matter. Staying up late to study does not matter. Doing all our chores does not matter. None of it matters.

    No, the only thing that matters is that we run to Jesus Christ, and love him.

  12. PaleRider says:

    Faithoffathers wrote, it “makes perfect logical sense. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the Bible is true. It cannot be otherwise. It has nothing to do with physical or scientific evidences. Those things don’t save people. Faith in Christ saves people. And the Book of Mormon builds and strengthens a person’s faith in Christ enormously.”

    Faithoffathers, could you please outline your argument as to how this statement makes perfect logical sense? Is your argument, for example;

    P1-The Book of Mormon testifies of faith in Christ and is true
    P2- The Bible testifies of faith in Christ and is true
    C-Both books are true

    Also stated is how your argument could not be otherwise. Could you please provide evidence of how it could not be otherwise? Thanks.

  13. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “If you don’t agree, do you grant that this is a possible interpretation of your faith?”

    I do not agree, nor do I grant it is a possible interpretation of our faith. It is a possible interpretation of this individual doctrine, yes, but not of the faith as a whole. This is an important distinction to be made.
    Would you grant that it is a possible interpretation of your faith that the idea of Saved by Grace without works gives a person a liscense to sin as they choose without worry of punishment? I doubt it. But you would be more likely to agree that a person who simply took this one concept by itself could use it to justifiy such actions.

    You said “Do you think that your father will love you less if you aren’t as successful as he was?”

    Did I ever once imply this? God loves us all, and no matter what we do he will always love us. Even those son’s of perdition that are forever cast out of his presence he loves and weeps over their fate.
    The problem is that love and glory are not the same thing. I love my mortal father dearly, but I did not glorify him (or honor if you prefer) by being a lazy bumb who simply lived off his kindness. I glorified him (or honored) by graduating high school, getting a Bachelors Degree, being sealed in the Temple. I have rarely seen my dad speak with such pleasure as he does when he is able to tell others that his children have good familes and have been successful.
    There will never be a time when my father does not love me. I know that. But I hope there will never be a time when he is not proud of me, and that is the difference.
    Even in the eternal worlds this is still true. I do not work and obey God so that he will love me. I know he loves me and always will. I do these things so that at the end I may hear him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” That is the greatest blessings and the greatest desire of my heart. His love is freely given, as he is our Father and loves all his children. His approbation, however, is not so freely given, and that is what I seek.
    I will glory my God by being the best I can and obeying his laws that he has given me. I will glory him by attaining to all that is within my grasp so that he may say of me as he did of Job “Hast thou considered my servant, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Then I will have brought glory to my God and Father.

    Pale Rider

    Your argument outline is not quite accurate. It should be more like this:

    P1-The Book of Mormon testifies that the Bible is true.
    P2- The Book of Mormon is true
    C-Both books are true

    The argument is that if the Book of Mormon is true than it must follow that the Bible is also true. The argument is not that since they both testify of the same thing they are both true.

    The Book of Mormon itself testifies of the Bible many times.
    Many passages of the Bible are quoted in the Book of Mormon, and many Biblical prophets are referenced and their calling is confirmed. Much of the story of Genesis is confirmed within the Book of Mormon (especially the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages).
    1 Mephi 13: 23 is a vision in which Nephi seeks the Bible and testifies to it being scripture and the word of the Lord, and a record of the Jews.
    In Mormon 7: 9 it states directly that “this [the book of mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe that [the bible]”

    Thus it is clearly shown that the Book of Mormon testifies of the truthfulness and authenticity of the Bible. And so, if the Book of Mormon is true than it must follow that the Bible is also true.

  14. MJP says:

    “Would you grant that it is a possible interpretation of your faith that the idea of Saved by Grace without works gives a person a license to sin as they choose without worry of punishment? I doubt it.”

    Actually, I would. I grant that it is possible to take from that statement that it is license to sin. I would also grant that the doctrine that God will not let people out of his hands also appears to give license to sin. Of course, there is much more to it that means ultimately that we are not to sin, but on the surface, it is indeed a possible and valid interpretation and criticism. Further, salvation by faith alone through the grace of God and that God will never let us go does mean that we can sin and still be saved. Isn’t that amazing and beautiful? As sinners (not former sinners) God still loves us and will take us to heaven.

    So, try again, can you acknowledge that how I have presented is a valid interpretation?

    So, it IS about pride for you: “There will never be a time when my father does not love me. I know that. But I hope there will never be a time when he is not proud of me, and that is the difference.”

    See, I am not worried about my father not being proud of me. I know I will eventually do something to shake his pride in me. But because I know he loves me, I also know he is always proud of me nonetheless. While I agree that pride and love are not the same, they are also inseparable. I cannot think of one thing I am proud of that I also do not love, nor one thing I love that I am not proud of. I may not be proud of particular actions, but I am always proud of the person I love.

    So it is with my God. He loves me regardless and how much I fall. His love is unfailing, which means he never loses that love toward us. And because he loves me, I don’t worry about his pride in me. I am his creation, and I know he is proud of his creation. I know I can never do anything to warrant more love or pride. Works, to Him, are filthy rags, and even if I were proud of my works, he would see that pride as a stain and a sin.

    The only thing God cares about is that we love him. Therefore, there is no reason for me to worry about pride in my works, or worry about God’s pride in me. In fact, when I am prideful, it takes away from my reliance on God. When I am prideful, the attitude goes from a “Thank you, Father,” to a “Father, look at what I have done!”

    I know LDS like to say that it is not about pride, but your presentation of the hope that your father is always proud of you and that you never violate his pride is ultimately a position of pride in yourself. At the end of the day, you hope to be able to tell dad, “Hey dad, look at what I have done! I hope it is enough to warrant your pride, and I hope nothing in it violates your pride.”

    This attitude is not about glorifying God. It is about seeking glory for yourself. It is in and of itself prideful. It is sinful. I am reminded of the rich man who came to Christ asking what he can do to attain heaven and was told to give everything he has away. I am also reminded of Paul’s admonition that his works are filthy rags. These are powerful stories that suggest that God wants us to put all of our being into Christ and to not worry about what we do or what we have.

    We are saved through belief in Him and allowing Him to work in all aspects of our lives. We get no credit for what we do. All the credit, and glory, goes to God, not to us.

    Perhaps you have heard the saying that pride is the root of all sin. Think about that. When we put anything we do above God, we tell God we are, or can be, greater than He. Is that what you mean to say, Shematwater?

  15. shematwater says:

    MJP

    Thanks for the lecture, but it only proves that you don’t understand what I am talking about at all. The word pride is not always connected with sin, and has been used in many ways in a very proper manner.
    The way you seem to apply it to my words is a self-centered and self-pleasing way in which a person believes themselves better than others for whatever reason. That is not how I use the term. I use it more in being pleased with someone.
    You talk of sin and pride, and that is fine; but there is no sin in seeking the approval of God. There is no sin in wanting to conform my life to his will and desiring his approval of my actions. To say there is is illogical.
    How is it a sin to want God to approve of your actions and tell you that you have done well in what He has asked you to do?

    You claim “At the end of the day, you hope to be able to tell dad, ‘Hey dad, look at what I have done! I hope it is enough to warrant your pride, and I hope nothing in it violates your pride.”

    If you really think this than you don’t understand what I am talking about. I do not want to go to God and demand his approval. It is much more like my father giving my a job to do I me saying to myself “I will do this job to the best of my ability so that when my father comes to check on my work he will not be disappointed.” You see, I don’t do this to get the praise of my father, but so that I can see in his eyes the joy that one feels in knowing their son is a good and successful man. It is all about my father; both on earth and in heaven. I don’t think I could care less about being praised for my work, except in as it adds to my father’s happiness.

  16. MJP says:

    Really? You are going to tell me that your goal is to end the day with your father proud of you and that this has nothing to do with your selfish pride?

    Here’s the deal: you cannot seek the approval of God. He loves us already. He is proud of us already. However, due to sin staining our perfection, God, as a just and perfect being, cannot allow us to him without a savior. The savior provides the cover, and no matter what we do can increase or decrease that cover.

    “I do not want to go to God and demand his approval. It is much more like my father giving my a job to do I me saying to myself “I will do this job to the best of my ability so that when my father comes to check on my work he will not be disappointed.” You see, I don’t do this to get the praise of my father, but so that I can see in his eyes the joy that one feels in knowing their son is a good and successful man.”

    Sorry, but I fail to see any difference from your current explanation and what you said earlier. If anything, it strengthens my position that it is about your pride. Why do you care about the joy in his eyes about a good and successful man if that is not an inward and prideful goal? YOU want to feel good and know that YOU did what was ‘right’. What your father did was secondary to what YOU have done.

    Sure, you can say that what YOU have done is only possible through what your father has done, but that really is irrelevant, isn’t it? At the end of the day, it is you going up him and saying, “Look at what I have done.” Your hope is that you can know that YOU lived up to his expectations.

    I answered this question already (reread my post and notice what I say about what the Bible tells us about God’s views of our works and what he expects from us), but I will answer it again, and the question is: “How is it a sin to want God to approve of your actions and tell you that you have done well in what He has asked you to do?”

    It is a sin because our works are filthy rags to him. He expects us to put our everything in Him, and to rely on Him completely. When we think we can work on our own to achieve our own salvation we have sinned because we are not totally relying on Christ– we put our own powers above his.

  17. shematwater says:

    MJP

    I am sorry, but you make no sense.

    You said “this has nothing to do with your selfish pride”

    No, or at least very little, because I am not doing this to elevate myself or pretend in any way that I am better than my Father. I do not do this to prove to him that I am better, but simply because it makes him happy.
    According to you if I give my son a present because I like to see him smile than I am only being a selfish prideful man who wasn’t really thinking of my son at all. That makes absolutely no sense.

    You said “you cannot seek the approval of God. He loves us already. He is proud of us already. ”

    Here is a big problem in this discussion. First, approval and love are very different things, as I have said. Just because God loves us does not mean he approves of our actions. You are not going to convince me that God was proud of Cain. It makes no sense. God loves us, yes, just as he loves Cain, and just as he undoubtedly loves Satan. But God cannot approve of a life that is wantonly sinful without repentance. Justice does not allow it, and God is perfectly just.

    You said “Why do you care about the joy in his eyes about a good and successful man if that is not an inward and prideful goal?”

    Because it makes him happy, and I love him and want him to be happy. I don’t like it when my Father is said, and I do all I can to avoid causing that sorrow; rather I try to make him happy. How is that selfish and prideful?

    You said “YOU want to feel good and know that YOU did what was ‘right’. What your father did was secondary to what YOU have done.”

    No. I want my Father to feel good, and he feels good when I have done what is right. I want to have his approval because I know that if I have that than my father is happy.

    You said “At the end of the day, it is you going up him and saying, “Look at what I have done.”

    No, at the end of the day it is him coming to me and saying “Look what you have done.”

    You said “Your hope is that you can know that YOU lived up to his expectations.”

    Again, no. My hope is that he can know that I lived up to his expectations.

    You said “When we think we can work on our own to achieve our own salvation”

    When have I have even implied that we work on our own to achieve anything. I never once said this, and it was never my intention. We don’t work on our own to achieve salvation; that would be impossible and would be a matter of sinful pride. We rely on God for everything, and in every trial we endure or work we are called to perform we rely on his grace and power to see us through it. Only in doing so will our actions be accepted of him.

  18. grindael says:

    Unfortunately, Mormons can write all day long that they never “imply” that they work on their own to achieve anything. They can say this until they are blue in the face. The problem is, it is endemic in the very make up of their Church. They HAVE to “work on their own” to achieve salvation. Their official doctrine says so.

    So what individual Mormons says doesn’t matter, it is what Mormon “authorities” teach that does. Therein lies the problem of talking with individual Mormons who don’t comprehend their own church teachings and try to make others believe in a false gospel of salvation for works. They can delude themselves into believing they don’t “work” for their salvation, but they do. They cannot prove otherwise by their OWN (Mormon) pseudepigrapha, or their “authorities”, who were ordained as “oracles” of God. They contradict all of this when they say so.

    That is the facts. Mormonism teaches that Jesus died only to get people a “resurrection”, and that everything else must be worked for. They are saved by grace AFTER ALL THEY CAN DO. The “all they can do” is a litany of regulations that have no basis in New Testament teachings.

    MJP,

    You must focus this discussion on what Mormon “oracles” teach, not on what Shem claims to believe. You will get nowhere with him. He doesn’t understand what his own church teaches. This has been proven here many, many times.

  19. grindael says:

    Many passages of the Bible are quoted in the Book of Mormon, and many Biblical prophets are referenced and their calling is confirmed. Much of the story of Genesis is confirmed within the Book of Mormon (especially the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages).

    This is laughable. This is a book that was written in 1830. It doesn’t “confirm” anything. Anyone can write a fictional story based on the Bible. That doesn’t mean it “confirms” it. This is the silliest thing I have ever seen anyone here try to pawn off on people. The Book of Mormon can’t even prove that it is based in reality. There is no evidence that anyone in it, was real. (Except what was taken from the Bible and actual History up to 1830). None. But there is ample proof of systemic anachronisms in the book. It is 19th century fiction, nothing more.

  20. shematwater says:

    Grindael really needs to read my words better before he tries to claim I am wrong. I would also advise him to actually try and comprehend the words fo the scriptures and the prophets rather than just spitting them out.

    First, I said “We don’t work on our own to achieve salvation” I never once denied that we work for our salvation, and I have no wish to deny it. What I deny is that the work I do is done by me alone. It is only through the grace of God that I am able to work, and all the work I do is with his assistance. I do not work on my own; but I do work with God to bring about the salvation of all men that come to Christ.

    This is the doctrine of the church, and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying. After all we can do is not a check list that must be crossed off. It is nothing more or less than us doing what God commands to the best of our ability. If we do this, regardless of anything else, we will be saved.

  21. MJP says:

    My, Shem. You don’t get it, do you?

    If you expect to be asked, “what have you done?” what must you he prepared to say? You must be prepared to say “look at what I have done”.

    You cannot avoid that, Shem.

    You also cannot deny that you play rather large role in your own salvation. Whether you do it alone is not the point. The point is that you play a role at all.

    Grindael just told me to use your authorities to show your positions. I don’t disagree, but I am interested more in getting to the heart of what you believe. I have accused you several times of being vague in your responses and being comfortable in that. I want you to come forward and declare strongly various points

    1. You are not polytheistic
    2. You don’t work for your own salvation
    3. Someone like me is not going to heaven
    4. Mormonism is the real Christianity and the rest of it is false
    5. Your prophets are always, and I mean always trustworthy
    6. You and I worship the exact same Jesus

    I would love to see solid, unequivocal responses to these.

    I also want you to know what it is we believe. I want you to be able to accurately describe it to someone else. If you are going to accuse us of distorting our faith, I expect you to not distort ours.

  22. MJP says:

    Oh, you say post did not make sense. I suggest you read it again. If you truly do not understand it, then either read it again and think about it, ask some questions to clarify or do some research on what we believe.

  23. grindael says:

    Shem doesn’t understand Mormon Doctrine. If what he says is true, then why is there a Word of Wisdom regulation? If you “work with God” then you wouldn’t need this regulation. All of the “Saints” in the church would naturally live the Word of Wisdom, because God would “help” them. (In fact, this was the ORIGINAL context of Smith’s “revelation” but it was changed by him later because no one would live it without being FORCED). The Spirit of God that Shem speaks of FAILED the early Mormons.

    Now, if they don’t live it, they are cut off from salvation. They must agree to a “work” in order to be baptized, go to the temple, receive the priesthood, etc. This is not what Paul taught in the Bible. This is not how the Spirit works. We are not to be FORCED to live regulations. The fact that Mormons command people to live a food regulation shows that they do not “work” with God, but rely on a commandment of men to achieve salvation. Mormon forced regulations like tithing, the word of wisdom, marriage, etc. are all devised to force people to conform to man made rules and works to achieve salvation. This is anathema to the gospel of grace under the New Covenant of love and the Holy Spirit.

  24. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “you say post did not make sense.”

    Let me clarify. I understand your words and I believe I comprehend your meaning. However, there are problems with what you say that makes the inevitable conclusion illogical and thus I said alterimately your reasoning, though I understand it, does not make sense. A lot of this might come from the use of terms and some might not. So, let us make this simple.

    If I give my son a gift because I like it when he smiles, is that gift given because I am selfish and only thinking of myself; or is it given in love and selflessness in order to make my son happy? This is truly the heart of the matter.

    As to your points, let me see if I can be direct enough for you.

    1. You are not polytheistic
    I do not really like using these kind of labels. The term Polytheism is most commonly used to refer to those religions in which multiple gods exist, each having a specific sphere of influence. These basic conotations do not reflect the doctrine of the LDS church. However, the term Monotheism doesn’t fully reflect them either, nor does henotheism.
    I would argue that because of the connotations of these labels none of them are an accurate description of our faith, though elements of all of them are accepted by us.
    For instance, we do believe in many gods, or divine beings that exist in an eternal and exalted state (polytheistic). We also believe that there is only one God, or supreme being, and that is Heavenly Father (Monotheistic). However, in saying this we speak only in reference to this Earth, admitting that other earths throughout the eternities have had their God, or supreme creater that ruled over them (henotheistic).

    2. You don’t work for your own salvation
    This is not true. We “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2: 12). We have our agency and the power is in us to make the choices required. We must choose to obey, to be baptized by water and spirit, to enter the temple, and to do all the things that God has commanded. Once we have made that choice, however, it is by the power of God that we are enabled to do the work, and by which that work is approved and sealed to our salvation. If we do not first exert ourselves in making the choice, the power of God will not assist us.

    3. Someone like me is not going to heaven
    That depends on how you define heaven. You know our doctrine that Heaven is divided into many degrees and glories. You should also know our doctrine that you will most likely be in one of those. Comparratively few will be cast out with Satan to never enter heaven.
    Also, if you define heaven as being in the presence of God than I would again say that you will likely be there. Even those in the Telestial world will be in the presence of the Holy Ghost, who is God. but I would venture to say that you are more likely to be in the Terrestrial, which will be in the presence of Christ.
    It is only if you define heaven as Celestial glory, having all things that the Father hath, including power and knowledge, that I would say you will not partake of it if you continue on your present course.

    4. Mormonism is the real Christianity and the rest of it is false
    This is true, and I will never deny it. However, I have found, and it has been affirmed by the leaders of the church, that while the organizations are not the true church of Christ, most Christians and Christian churches have some elements of truth within them. They are all false religions, but that does not mean that some of their doctrine is not true.

    5. Your prophets are always, and I mean always trustworthy
    What do you mean by this? Do you mean that they never intentionally deceive others? That I agree with. They can all be trusted to speak what they think is right and to act as they think is best for the salvation of all men.
    If, however, you are suggesting some kind of infallible nature that makes it impossible for them to make an mistake, than I would have to disagree. All the prophets are men, and they all make mistakes. Not everything they ever said (or are credited to have said) is binding doctrine. They have the right to speculate on matters that have not been revealed, and the right to share that speculation with anyone they choose to. In so doing we can trust that they are being honest in expressing their thoughts, haing no intention to deceive; but we are also free to agree or disagree as we see fit.

    6. You and I worship the exact same Jesus
    No we do not, nor would I ever make the claim that we do. What we do have in common is the acceptance that a man by the name of Jesus was born in the meridian of time and established a church. We both accept that this man was the Son of God, and God himself, and that the church he established was the true church of God on the Earth.
    However, after this our views diverge drasticly as to the nature of both the man and church he established. Because of this divergence I cannot say we worship the same Christ. But because of the initial similarity upon which our views are based I can say that we are both Christians.

  25. MJP says:

    “If I give my son a gift because I like it when he smiles, is that gift given because I am selfish and only thinking of myself; or is it given in love and selflessness in order to make my son happy? This is truly the heart of the matter.”

    Now you’ve changed the equation. We are not talking about giving gifts to children. We are the children and we are the one’s receiving the gifts, and this makes all the difference. If you are the child, and you receive a gift for smiling, why will you smile? You smile because you expect a gift for smiling. You smile for your own benefit, and if it makes daddy happy, all the better, but ultimately, its about you.

    As to your points:

    1) I expected a rambling nonsensical answer. The question to whether a faith is polytheistic or not is a simple yes/no answer. And when I get through your response, I have no other choice but to conclude you are polytheistic. You say, “The term Polytheism is most commonly used to refer to those religions in which multiple gods exist, each having a specific sphere of influence.” Yes, I agree, but from what you have told me and from what I understand, the LDS believe in three distinct gods united in purpose to fulfill the trinity. Each god has a separate role in our lives on earth and in achieving our full purpose as humans. Add to that the role of Adam, who is our god, and who will play some role in the afterlife.

    So, it is not just the heavenly father who has a role for us in this life on this earth. Jesus, The Holy Ghost, and Adam all have a separate and distinct role to play. Therefore, under your own words, you are polytheistic.

    2) Yes, you do work for your own salvation, even if it gets the approval of one or more of the gods listed above, it is your work– not Gods.

    3) Well, I know what it is you teach, and I reject it. I suppose I’ll find out where I end up. But I happen to believe that eternal fellowship with God is all I need, and will be more bliss than you will ever know on your lonely planet, if you ever become a god.

    4) Some truth. Ha. I find this one funny. I don’t mean to mock, but a church with some truth is not really helpful. I happen to think we can find some truths in all faiths, even those that reject god. There is only one truth that matters, and if it misses on all that, where does that leave you?

    5) I mean can they be trusted in their revealed truths, as they say they are revealed from god. If we are free to agree or disagree on their honest thoughts on matter, why should we believe them on anything else? They don’t seem very authoritative to me.

    6) We actually start to diverge even before this: “We both accept that this man was the Son of God, and God himself, and that the church he established was the true church of God on the Earth.” Who begot him and how? Where did he come from? What was his life prior to coming to earth as human? What was and is his very nature? Does he have any brothers or sisters? Though I am glad to see you admit that we worship very different Jesus’s.

    As to this statement, “But because of the initial similarity upon which our views are based I can say that we are both Christians.” I would argue that we can’t do this. Our Jesus is too different from yours.

    To compare, say someone came along and claimed that a great spaghetti monster came to Earth around the same time and took the form of a man, who became god, and came to save us. This pasta man created a church, the only true church. This man set forth different rules from your church, but similar. Similar enough to look about the same to the unknowing, and used the same words but in different ways. Would you say that spaghetti god created a church that could be called Christian? (This also is a yes/no question.)
    _________________

    Now, Shem, I have expressed over and over again the importance of understanding our faith. I hope you are beginning to see that this is indeed important. If you do not understand our faith, you cannot begin to understand our criticisms, nor can you understand your own faith. To sum up our faith in a single sentence: Our God is a personal God who loves us enough to take the form of man to save us, to make the ultimate sacrifice through death to ensure we can be personal with him forever.

  26. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “Now you’ve changed the equation.”

    No I haven’t. I have simply compared two similar things in order to fully understand things. Whether I am a father giving my son a gift or a son giving my father a gift, the principle remains the same. Thus to say that giving my father a gift is selfish is also to say that giving my son a gift is selfish.

    You said “If you are the child, and you receive a gift for smiling, why will you smile? You smile because you expect a gift for smiling.”
    In some cases this is true, but only if the child knows the reason for the gift. However, in saying this it is you who has changed the equation. In everything I have been saying I have placed myself as the giver, not the receiver. That is what you are failing to grasp, as is shown by this comment. I am not doing any of this in order to get something from my father. I am doing this in order to give something to him. I seek to give him glory, and I give him glory when I am obedient to his will. I seek nothing from him, accept the assistance that is needed for me to be able to be obedient as he desires.
    Do you understand this now?

    You said “Therefore, under your own words, you are polytheistic.”

    Not by my words, if you care to read them again. I said this had reference to gods having individual spheres of influence. A sphere of influence is an area of life in which that gods holds sole power and authority, and thus if one desires something in that area of life they pray to that god. For example, the greeks had Aphrodites as the goddess of love. Any matter of love was taken to Aphrodites, not to any other god. Ares was the god of war, and thus anything dealing with war was brought to Ares. This concept of spheres of influence is not present in the LDS church. We have no god of love and god of war. Thus to use the term in the manner in which it is most commonly used does not acurately portray our doctrine.

    You said “it is your work– not Gods”

    Much of it is our work, and I have never denied it. However, our work is meaningless without God’s work, and his work is by far the greatest. That is the point I was making. It is not just simply that we get approval for our work. It is that we gain power and ability through the work of Christ. I think I have at one time heard it compared to an engine and generator: We are charged by the work of God, the generator; as the engine we may appear to be doing all the work, but it is truly the generator that gives the power and makes that work possible. To say the generator doesn’t do any work would be incorrect.

    You said “more bliss than you will ever know on your lonely planet”

    I will never understand people making these claims about our doctrine. I will not be lonely because I will be living on this earth, in its exalted state, with everyone else who has acheived a Celestial Glory, as well as Christ and Heavenly Father. That is clearly taught in the scriptures.

    You said ” I mean can they be trusted in their revealed truths, as they say they are revealed from god.”

    Of course we can. But we need to make sure that what we are trusting is actually revealed from God. That is the problem that many people have. They want to accept every word that a prophet ever uttered as being revealed from God and that is not how things work. Joseph Smith did once say that if you could reach the North star you would find the lost tribes of Israel. Why did he say it? Because people were pestering him about those tribes, and after constantly telling people that he didn’t know where they were he got fed up and gave them an answer that would shut them up. Did he literally mean that the tribes are on the north star? Of course not. But he did say this, and so some people have believed that they were literally on the North Star.
    This is the kind of thing I am talking about. When a prophet openly declares he is speaking revealed truth from God we can trust it. When no such declaration is made we must be careful not to assume that such was intended.

    You said “We actually start to diverge even before this”

    Actually, everything point you bring up does come after what I said. I was not speaking in a linear manner, but in a learning manner. We first must accept his existance before we have diverging beliefs as to the rest of it. As part of his existance we also accept the work he did while in mortality. After that we next accept that he is a divine being. These three things must be accept first before any of the rest of it matters.

    You said “Would you say that spaghetti god created a church that could be called Christian?”

    Do they believe that the man Jesus was born 2,000 years ago and that he set up a church that is the only true church, and that he has a divine nature? If so than yes, I would call them Christians, because that is all that is required to apply that term. I don’t care if they think his divine nature was a spagetti monster, insubstancial nothingness, or whatever you like. They accept him as deity and believe he came to earth and set up his church, they are Christian.

    You said “nor can you understand your own faith.”

    I am sorry, but I can understand my faith just fine without understanding yours. That argument is simply illogical. Or do you also claim that we can’t really understand your faith without also understanding Hinduism, or Judeism, or Islam. There is no need to know what you believe in order to know what I believe. The need to know your faith comes in trying to communicate my faith to you, and not before.

    You said “This also is a yes/no question”

    Many questions can be answered with a yes or a no, but very few can be fully understood with such simple answers. That is why I rarely give such answers, as it is all too easy for such simplicity to be misunderstood.

  27. MJP says:

    Ah, Shem,

    Have you seen the show “The Wiggles”? This is what you remind me of.

    “No I haven’t. I have simply compared two similar things in order to fully understand things. Whether I am a father giving my son a gift or a son giving my father a gift, the principle remains the same. Thus to say that giving my father a gift is selfish is also to say that giving my son a gift is selfish.”

    But these are two different concepts that you have brought up. One, you are the child wanting to make your dad proud, and the other, you are the dad giving your child a gift. These are not the same. You make your dad proud so that you can know that you did your duty, and the dad giving the child a gift is irrelevant to our discussion of what it is we have to do to be saved. They are not useful comparisons in our discussions.

    Your next paragraph I understand you perfectly as to what you think you mean. You mean to say you view your acts as a gift to god. However, you have stated several times the purpose is to go to him and to say, “Look at what I have done.” Do YOU see this difference? Do YOU understand the nature of that? And your description of how a child may not want to smile because he receives a gift is not convincing.

    I understand fully that you say that you work not for your benefit but to honor your father. I get that concept quite well. However, I see the matter very differently. I see it as you working ultimately for your own benefit: to reap the rewards your god promises, your own godhood.

    Its important to contrast this with our view on eternal rewards: simply being with our Father through eternity. That’s enough. And all I need to do is trust Him in everything. I don’t need to do X, Y, or Z to seek his approval or to earn my eternal rewards. I simply need to trust Him.

    Ah, but you will be a god of your own planet, right? More of these confusing questions that don’t make sense… So, you’ll just be some lowly god who has to live here. Where, then, does god live? What about his god? Have the rules changed as to which god lives where? If so, when and by who? Do they all live on Earth?

    Polytheism. Wow. What a convoluted and unclear answer. “Spheres of influence”. Is that all you have? Sorry to be snarky with this, but this makes no sense whatsoever. The very word means, “man gods”. Merriam Webster defines it as the belief in many gods. There is no distinction between spheres of influence in the simple definition. Look into it.

    Your works are your works. Powered by Jesus or not, they are your works. It is your effort, not Jesus’s effort, that gets you through. He may be behind you, pushing you and encouraging you as go, but if YOU do not do them, you will fail. The credit is on you. (I know that you feel the credit is not yours, but when you state, “Much of it is our work” you admit that you must work. And from elsewhere, you have set it up such that you must work so that you can please your father in the end.)

    Your answer on the prophets does not make them seem very authoritative, which is kind of the point of being a prophet: to be authoritative. And part of the issue there is that they have contradicted themselves before: polygamy, Cain, etc. And its amazing how conveniently timed theses things are revealed.

    Oh boy. Are you really going to twist the differences in our faith? The point is that we worship very different Jesus’s. They are not and cannot be the same. No matter how we view it, linear, learning, whatever, the ultimate conclusion is that they are very different. The existence of the beings in question is precisely what is at the heart of the matter, so just by saying “Jesus existed” gets you nowhere. There are those who believe that Jesus existed but that he was not a god or divine, but just merely a man.

    You set yourself up for many a problem down the road if you accept anyone who believes anything about Jesus Christ as Christians.

    I disagree with the comment about understanding your faith. Your faith is supposed to be a response to the fallen nature of my faith. It is not an entirely different faith such as Buddhism. Yours sprung out of mine. Yours is a result of one man’s deciding that the rest of Christianity is false, and that he had discovered the true nature of the faith. You therefore need to know what is wrong about the rest of Christianity to get the most out of your own faith. You certainly can be fine without the knowledge, but knowledge of our faith can only strengthen your position, if you come to know and understand what it is we believe and why.

    But do I detect a desire in you to avoid understanding my faith? Maybe not. I don’t know, but your response here is interesting in that its almost as if you separate your faith into an entirely different faith than mine. Its interesting because you are the one who seems to argue that you are Christian, just as I am Christian, and just as the Spaghetti Monster is Christian. Which is it? Is your faith a Christian faith, at which point you should know about Christianity? Or is it something different that you can toss aside?

    So, you remain comfortable in your vagaries. That’s a shame, because we’ll never come closer until you are able to quickly and concisely give an answer to a question such as “Are you polytheistic?” Its a yes/no answer. Explanations can follow. Though, the more you wiggle through an answer without ever answering it the more sound like you are trying to hide something. If you believe there are multiple gods, embrace it.

    Look, Shem, I understand many of these points are subtle. But understanding the subtleties is hugely important. As to the works doctrine, as you know our faith requires only faith for salvation. We believe that works will follow. Your faith states that works are required, and that all works are powered by Jesus, even though it is you who must do the work. The same could be said of the discussion of the identity of Jesus and the Trinity. These are confusing doctrines to work through fully. I get that.

    But the largest criticism I have of Mormon faith is twofold. First, your faith seems to put yourselves above or equal to God. The Snow couplet demonstrates that. See, we believe we cannot ever become like God in the sense that you do. God is an entirely different being, and we are His creation. We are therefore entirely dependent on Him, and all of our faith in Him and view our own abilities and efforts and worthless. This is why I focus on the nature of God, and polytheism. Second, my works and my efforts are indeed worthless to warrant anything from Him. Anything I do can be clouded with selfish motive, and anything selfish is a gap between God and I, otherwise known as sin. And I sin daily, multiple times a day. I bet you do, too. I could list the things I do to distract me from God. Anything I try to do to warrant his approval will not get me anything extra. I need something more than works to save me. The works I do can benefit God’s kingdom on earth, but they will not benefit me any more than what I have already received.

    Both of these aspects would ultimately take God from the center of my life. By distorting who God is by lowering Him to my stature, and by distorting my role such that I can become like Him and get to be the god of my own planet, God is no longer the focus. If I were to view my works as doing something to add to what Christ has already done for me, I minimize what it is He has done for me. I put myself and my works above what He came to Earth to accomplish. His death and resurrection was total and complete. Nothing more can be done to make His sacrifice more powerful, and nothing can be added to it.

    God simply wants a real and personal relationship with you and I. His sacrifice is there for all of us, and all we need to do is reach out to Him. He’s calling all of us to Him. All we need to do is trust Him, and to trust Him fully. One of the hardest things we all have to do is to give up faith in our own abilities and our own power. But that is what is required. We are to give Him everything we have.

  28. MJP says:

    Shem, to demonstrate the difference between your faith and mine, I am reminded of the movie Saving Private Ryan. The movie begins with a WWII vet walking through the US military cemetery along the beaches at Normandy. The story then follows where a man has been set out to be returned home, but a group of soldiers must find him. The leader of this group Capt. Miller, played by Tom Hanks, is killed towards the end of the movie. He looks over to Private Ryan, who is being saved, and tells him to earn it. He’s told to make their to save him efforts worthwhile. The movie ends as we find out Ryan is the man at the end, and he pleads with his wife to let him know his life has been good and that he earned his being saved.

    I view this ideology as similar to what Mormons believe. Miller died so that Ryan can live, and everything Ryan did was a result of what Hanks did for him in France–because without Miller’s efforts, Ryan would have died. At the end of his life, Ryan could only hope that his life was worthy.

    My faith rejects this notion. We believe that we are all saved regardless of what we do. We do not need to worry about being worthy, because we know everything we can do is worthless. Its not our works that give us worth in God’s eyes, its being brought back into God’s fold. Its trusting in God’s full and complete saving power.

    I share this only to demonstrate in a more tangible way the differences we view God.

  29. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “You make your dad proud so that you can know that you did your duty”

    When have I have said this? You have not understood my words, that is why you claim these are different. I have never said that I do this so that I can know I did my duty. That is a meaning that you have chosen to assign to my words, not one that I gave them.
    I make my father proud as a gift to him, and that is what I have been saying from the beginning. My gift to my father, and the greatest gift I can ever give, is to live as he wants me to live; to live in such a way that when he speaks of me it is always with pride and happiness. It has absolutely nothing to do with knowing I have done my duty, except in that knowing this I know my father is happy. I quoted Job before, but I think you have misundersto0d me. I do not act in order to hear him say “Hast thou considered my servant,” but so that he feels justified in saying it of me.
    Can you understand this?

    You said “However, you have stated several times the purpose is to go to him and to say, “Look at what I have done.”

    I have never once said this. You have claimed I said this, but that claim is false. Every time you have made this claim I have tried to correct you, but you seem to refuse to accept that this was never my meaning.

    You said “I see it as you working ultimately for your own benefit: to reap the rewards your god promises, your own godhood.”

    Then you’re not getting it. I work for these goals, yes, but not for my benefit, but for his glory. Does it benefit me? Yes, because absolutely nothing that God does or commands is not for my benefit. But ultimately I strive to achieve godhood, not for my benefit, but for my Father’s glory.
    I think the problem here is simple. You seem to that if something is of benefit to me than I can’t be seeking it for any other reason. This concept is simply not true. Just because it is to my benefit to achieve godhood does not mean that my ultimate motivation is my own benefit. That is merely an added bonus, or side motivation. I would be a liar if I said I do not want these things and look forward to them. But I would also be a liar if I said that that was my primary motivation.

    You said “but you will be a god of your own planet, right?”

    I am not going to discuss anything on this topic that is not stated directly in scripture. I don’t understand it all, and while I do think I have more understanding than most it is something sacred that is not to be treated lightly. The scriptures declare that all those who achieve the Celestial Glory will live on this Earth, and will operate under the direction of Adam, who operates under the direction of Christ. Anything beyond this is speculation that is to be reserved for private discussions among close friends.

    “Polytheism.”
    On this subject I never once made reference to a literal definitions as given in the dictionary. I was speaking to the general usage and connotations of the term. In general discussion and used the term is used in refer to religions whose doctrine is as I have described. When you call a religion polytheistic this is the most common idea that will come to mind. That is simply a fact. Now, if you are going to speak is a scholarly setting you might have more of a case, but than, most respected scholars don’t refer to the LDS as polytheistic either, for the simple fact that we worship only one God.
    I understand your desire to have a simple label that you can just place on something, but it simply doesn’t work.

    You said “He may be behind you, pushing you and encouraging you as go, but if YOU do not do them, you will fail. The credit is on you.”

    I have actually never denied this. What I deny is the ability to claim sole credit, which is what most people try to say we teach. Yes, we work, and we get credit for our work. This is why it is possible for God to say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But in all this we acknowledge that with the power of Christ we would fail in everything. We work, and if we work well we gain the promised blessings, the last being that of exaltation. But we are enabled to work because Christ has finished the greatest of all works, and through that we are given power to do what we do.
    Simply put, if we do not do our part we are damned. However, if Christ did not first do his we would all be damned anyway. Both are needed.

    You said “Your answer on the prophets does not make them seem very authoritative, which is kind of the point of being a prophet: to be authoritative.”

    They are very authoritative, as long as one actually understands their calling and purpose. Do you think that everything that Abraham or Moses or Peter ever said was revealed doctrine from Heaven? Of course not. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul even states that he is speaking his own opinion and not giving doctrine on the matter at hand. But, they are authoritative when they do speak in God’s behalf and deliver his will to the people.

    You said “Are you really going to twist the differences in our faith?…You set yourself up for many a problem down the road if you accept anyone who believes anything about Jesus Christ as Christians.

    First, I have twisted nothing. As to any problems, I have never said that someone who believes anything about Christ is Christian. I gave three specific things that a person must accept as truth to be called a Christ. They must accept that the man Jesus existed in Mortality about 2,000 years ago. They must accept that he established a church which was the only true church of God on the Earth. They must accept that Jesus was divine in nature, and thus was God. If any one of these three is reject I do not accept that person as Christian. But anyone who believes all three, regardless of how they explain any of it, I do consider to be part of the Christian movement and thus rightly called Christian.

    You said “You therefore need to know what is wrong about the rest of Christianity to get the most out of your own faith.”

    That is like saying that I have to understand the limitations of a standard shift car in order to really understand how an automatic works. Or like saying that I can’t really understand how the United States Government works without also understanding the British. I am sorry, but I do not need to understand the mistake of others in order to know what the truth is. I only need to understand their mistakes when I seek to correct them.
    In other words, I do not need to understand the trinity in order to understand the Godhood. However, if I am going to teach the godhood to one who believes in the trinity than understanding the trinity will make such instruction more profitable for both.

    You said “Its a yes/no answer. Explanations can follow.”

    My point is that the explanation is the answer. To simply say yes or no is completely misleading and thus requires further explanation. You want a yes or no, and yet such an answer would give you no further understanding of our faith than you already have.
    You want a definite answer than ask a more concise question that is not demanding a one word label of our faith. Rather than asking me if I will accept a certain label, ask rather what the doctrine it. “Do I believe in many gods?” Yes I do, and I embrace that truth. Does this make me polytheistic? Well, you have my answer to that.

    You said “But understanding the subtleties is hugely important.”

    I agree, but you can’t understand those subtleties with simple yes or no answers, which is why I don’t generally give them. I am not being vague, and I honestly don’t understand why you think I am. I am stating our doctrine is the simplest and clearest way I can while attempting to avoid misunderstandings that arise from being oversimple.

    As to everything else you say, I will never understand why people think that elevating man must result in debasing God. It is like they believe that there is a limited amount of divinity and glory, and thus if you give some to one being you must inevitably take some from another.
    I have never seen our doctrine as debasing God, and I just don’t understand this complaint. I will admit that I don’t have a full understanding of what others believe, but in everything I have read and heard I have simply been convinced that our doctrine glorifies God so much more than anything other doctrine taught by any other religion.
    I think that most peoples complaints are because of our doctrine, but rather because of how they perceive our doctrine; which perception is created by filtering our doctrine through theirs.

  30. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “I share this only to demonstrate in a more tangible way the differences we view God.”

    I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think you really understand the doctrine. I like this story better as an illustration of our doctrine.
    Three men get lost in the Arctic wilderness. They radio in and are told that if they can get to a certain area a pilot will be there at the end to pick them up. Now, the pilot is not just sitting in his plane, but each day he goes out flying, searching for the three men, flying in a set pattern to cover a large area. At one point the radio that the men have is dropped into the water by accident and destroyed. However they do have a map, and follow it. Then a storm hits that lasts for five days. When it blows over they calculate that it blew the ice they were on off course by about fifteen miles. At this point the argument starts.
    One declares that they should head back and seek the settlement they had originally started from. the second says that they should stay where they are and wait, hoping for a rescue to find them. The third then pipes up. “You’re just forgetting one thing. They aren’t looking for us here, and even if they were we drift far enough each day to get out of their search pattern. We have to keep going to ensure that we will be found.”

    You see, we are not wondering at the end of it all if we are worthy. We know that if we stay without that search pattern we will be saved. However, we also know that if we do not exert ourselves then we will eventually drift away out of that pattern. We also know that we do not have the means to get back ourselves, but must rely on the pilot who is searching for us.

  31. MJP says:

    Wow, Shem, what circles we weave.

    Its clear that either I am dumb and just can’t read your words, or you don’t really understand what it is you are saying. A third option gets back to the using words in very different manners.

    Everything I have read from you suggests that you work so that you can go up to the father at the end and show him what you have done. You may not view it in that way, but I do. You’ve said nothing to alter that opinion. I know you think you work in a way that will be pleasing to him and thus a gift, but I view even this concept in the way that I have portrayed. I’m not sure you understand why. But when you tell me, ” I work for these goals, yes, but not for my benefit, but for his glory,” I have no other way to read it. You work for those goals, whether for your benefit or his glory, YOU WORK FOR THOSE GOALS. Alas.

    Now you bring back Adam, whose role is still not clear. Do you want to bring that back up?

    Polytheism. What in the world are you saying? Polytheism is the belief in multiple gods, pure and simple. It does not matter who you worship. If you claims that in general parlance you are correct, back it up. I have never, ever, heard anyone state that polytheism is limited to worshipping gods in different spheres, or whatever way you tried to separate it. This is still an easy question that can be given a simple answer. You refuse to do so.

    The credit is yours, not Christ’s, and that is my point. I know you will now say that the credit is Christ’s even though it is you doing the work. But why would you have to make god proud if you knew nothing you did mattered? Its on you, and that cheapens Christ. You may disagree, fine.

    We also see your prophets very differently. That’s fine, too.

    Your defense of calling people Christian does not need a response. Its too ripe with error to really respond. I hope you someday see why.

    The trouble with you saying you do not need to understand Christianity is that you do need to explain the errors to us. But from what I have seen, you don’t do that. You merely ask us to pray about the BoM and experience the spirit. OK, that might be a bit of an over simplification, but you do very little to actually address the errors in our faith. So, your current words mean little to you, or you don’t actually believe you have to correct us with teaching us the error in our ways. To fully understand your faith, which was created as a correction, seems to require a greater understanding of my faith.

    I’ve asked you before, and will keep it open, how open are you to learning about my faith? (I would like an answer to this question, and it is fine if you tell me no, you are not interested.)

    Yes/no’s actually have a lot of value. I am not suggesting they are complete, but they do provide points from which to discuss. Your avoidance of the yes/no answers tells me you don’t want to be boxed in. I honestly respect someone who can stand up and say yes, this is it, or o, that is not it, and then expand from there. At least they have given a starting point from which we can gauge what it is and why they believe what they do. When you refuse to give that starting point, you can go anywhere you want. I don’t respect that. (I am happy to answer any question you have regarding my faith with a yes or a no.)

    You don’t understand why I think you are being vague because you are stuck in your viewpoint. To you, it is normal. To me, it is vague. This is why I want you to understand where I am coming from. Without that, you can never understand the criticisms. And yes, to understand this it may be uncomfortable, but if your faith is strong enough and if your faith is correct, you should have nothing to worry about.

    As to your last paragraph, sure, God could share if he wanted to, and he does in many ways. However, we cannot ever approach being him. Its your lack of understanding my faith that leads you to not understanding the criticism.

    As I have offered many times now, I am willing to engage you in a deeper discussion of our faiths. Ask me anything about my faith. Ask me anything about my understanding of your faith. I have not yet received an email, which is fine. You told me you may not be able to do so quickly, but the offer is still open. I will be completely open about my understanding of my faith and of my experience in my faith, which has not always been clear. I would love such a discussion with you, but won’t ever force my belief on you in it.

  32. MJP says:

    Well, shem, what does it mean to be saved?

    Your story does not mention that.

  33. shematwater says:

    MJP

    “You may not view it in that way, but I do. ”

    But than, it really doesn’t matter how you view it, does it? What matters is how we view it, because it is us that believe it and it is us that are acting on it. I am, at this point at least, not really concerned with how you view it. I am only concerned with whether or not you understand how we view it. After all, it is our doctrine, and thus it is up to us to explain the intent and meaning of it, not you.

    Polytheism
    If you insist to have a label to apply to our religion the best you will get is this: We are monotheistic with polytheistic elements.
    You said “The credit is yours, not Christ’s, and that is my point.”

    You are wrong. The credit is Christ’s and mine. It is a shared effort. However, the credit I receive is only there because of the credit Christ receives. I do nothing more than assist, and if there is nothing there to assist in then I gain no credit.

    You said “But why would you have to make god proud if you knew nothing you did mattered?”

    First, it is my choice to make him proud or not; it is not forced on me. Second, if nothing I did mattered than why would I do anything at all? It is the fact that it does matter that is the motivation for me act.

    You said “The trouble with you saying you do not need to understand Christianity is that you do need to explain the errors to us.”

    Have I denied this? I clearly said that when we desire to teach others we need to have an understanding of their religion in order to be effective. So this statement by you is simply ignoring what I have already said, and then claiming I am wrong. I said we don’t need to understand your religion in order to understand ours, and that is true. We do need to understand yours if we are going to teach you.
    Now, it is also not effective teaching to say to someone “You are in error here, and here is why.” It is much more effect to simply say “This is the truth,” and when they question it be ready to explain why and at that time correct any errors they themselves expose in the discussion. This is what I prefer to do, and I have always found it to be more effective.

    You said “how open are you to learning about my faith?”

    I am open to learning it, as long and time and ability allow me to do so, and the environment is conducive to such.

    You said “Your avoidance of the yes/no answers tells me you don’t want to be boxed in.”

    Then you misread me. I have frequently given a yes or no answer, but have never left it at that. That is party why I don’t understand your complaints. I do say yes or no, but than I offer clarifying details in order to give a fuller explanation and hopefully increase the reader’s understanding.

    You said “However, we cannot ever approach being him.”

    Is that his choice and unwillingness, or is it that he lacks the power to elevate us that high?

    You said “Well, shem, what does it mean to be saved?”

    The term saved has at least four different meanings in the LDS doctrine. In the simplest way it simply means to avoid a negative experience through the actions of others.

  34. MJP says:

    Shem, when we are discussing truth, it matters greatly what I think. One of us, or neither of us, has the truth. If one of us has the truth and does not share it, then we are doing the other a disservice. This comment from you brings me back to the relativistic point again, not to mention how you are comfortable in vagaries.

    As to your responsibility in explaining it. I get it. I can recite it to you. I just disagree with the reality of what you say yours is. Can you recite mine, by the way?

    As to vagaries, you do it again when you say that you are monotheistic with polytheistic elements. This, again, sounds to me like you are polytheistic. You just don’t want to admit it. See, you can say that you worship only one god all day long, but which do you worship and why that one and not the others? It makes no sense why you worship the father, but not the son, nor the Holy Ghost, and what is going on with Adam?

    That you share credit is precisely the problem. We, as opposed to LDS, think our works are dirty rags, not worth anything. We are told to drop everything and allow Christ to take full control of our lives. We don’t share credit with him in any way, shape or form. This is in stark contrast to what it is you write here that you share credit.

    Why would you do anything at all? Great question. Why do you have to do anything at all, when Christ has done everything for us? We don’t have to do a thing but trust Him. But this answer is too simplistic, because people are watching Christians, and we wish to help bring people to Him, so we should act with love, patience, and not do anything that would look bad to those watching. The new, trendy question, “What would Jesus do?” is apt, even though I think it is over used. (I am happy to expand on this, if you’d like, because the question of why we should do anything at all is indeed loaded, but the short answer is that we don’t have to do anything at all except trust in Him.)

    OK, what I am telling you is truth. You are in error. Are you willing to learn my faith to compare it to yours to see why mine is truth and yours is error? If you find mine to still be in error, the learning of my faith will only enhance your faith. So, learning my faith can only be to your benefit. You will either agree that mine is the truth, as I claim it is, or you will only find your own more powerful. Thus, my statement is indeed accurate.

    “… and the environment is conducive to such.” There is never a perfect time or environment. And I am back to the idea I have expressed several times: you prefer vagaries. And your response here suggests mere words to your openness. Stated another way: you are decidedly not open to it. Its kind of like people who say they will try to get something done, which almost always means they won’t get it done. You don’t want to learn my faith. Its that simple. If I am wrong, prove it. Show me that you are interested. Otherwise, don’t pretend and waste our time.

    No, you have not given me yes or no answers. You do prefer vagaries. Again, if I am wrong, prove it. Give me short, direct answers. Its like did Young say, “Adam is our God.”? Or did he not? You had a really hard time admitting that he said this.

    Your question of whether or not Christ has the power to elevate us is akin to the question of whether he can create a rock big enough he cannot lift. It serves as nothing more than a distraction. At this point, I really do suggest you learn our doctrine. But, to answer your question of whether it is his choice, or some limitation on God, based on the wording of your question (which is misleading in and of itself) it is a limitation found in logic. God cannot make us something we are not, namely, Gods. We are his creation– we cannot become the creator. We are of a different substance, and are not deity. God is deity– we are not. God has existed through eternity, we have not. So, is it really a limitation on God? I don’t think it is. I think God, in His perfection, cannot act against his perfect nature, nor can he do that which is logically impossible. (Again, if you have questions, please ask. I am more than willing to explain everything further.)

    Salvation: right… So, it means something different than what it means to us. To us, it has only one, very clear meaning: to be saved from the torments of hell in the afterlife, and to be with God forever. Its interesting that you picked this time not to expand, just after telling me that you answer directly and then expand to clear up any questions. No, you don’t. You prefer the vagaries that don’t embarrass your faith.

    Your answer also brings me back to my use of Saving Private Ryan: how do you know you have been worthy enough to reach the CK, and to become your own god? To your responses to me, you don’t have to do much to be saved, so the survival/map story is pretty useless.

    To end this post, I’ll give this thought: I hope by now you at least see that your faith is radically different from mine. Your Jesus is very different from mine. Our faiths actually have very little in common.

  35. grindael says:

    ADAM IS our GOD.

    What you do to try disavow the truth, is just combine words into a phrase that was seldom said in that way, and then make that an absolute criteria for something being the truth. It’s manipulation at its best, and a great way for someone to deny what the truth really is. The words not bolded do not change the meaning at all, but because the word “our” is there, then Brigham Young did not mean what he really meant.

    What can’t be denied (and means the same exact thing), is that Brigham Young said specifically that ADAM IS THE FATHER OF OUR SPIRITS and the FATHER OF THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST. Shem loves to make straw men, but the truth always burns them down. The inside of the Mormon Bubble is filled with Cognitive Dissonance. 🙂

  36. MJP says:

    Grindael, I honestly cannot see how he can explain away the words, “Adam is our God”. That’s a tough sell, and I don’t think it can be made. The descriptor “our” poses more questions than it answers when you think about it, that is if the idea that Adam is God is to be pushed aside. If Adam is our God, then why isn’t he more revered than someone who is not our god? It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Cognitive dissonance, indeed.

  37. shematwater says:

    MJP

    First, you said “Its like did Young say, “Adam is our God.”? Or did he not? You had a really hard time admitting that he said this.”

    Now you have really twisted things around beautifully. I never once denied that Brigham Young said that ‘Adam is our God’ and you know this full well. What I denied was that he siad ‘Adam is God’ because he never did. Of course the context of my saying this was in a debate over what a fact is, and thus needs to be seen in that context. In that context it doesn’t matter what you think he meant, but what he literally said.
    Personally, I am not going to get into a debate on Adam right now. Brigham Young did say he was our God, and whatever he meant by that is not really important at this time.

    You said “I don’t think it is. I think God, in His perfection, cannot act against his perfect nature, nor can he do that which is logically impossible.”

    I would agree, but I do not see him glorifying us equally with himself as being illogical. So, if your only argument is that it is logically impossible, I would say you don’t really have an argument. Your logical impossibility requires certain things to be accepted, and these things I do not accept. We are his children, his offspring. Therefore, logically speaking, we have the potential to become just like him in the same way as our mortal children have the potential to becomes adults just like us.

    You said ““… and the environment is conducive to such.” There is never a perfect time or environment.”

    I agree, but there are better times and environments. I seek only for a better setting. In other words, I will not discuss my religion with a person who only mocks and ridicules without ever saying anything productive. I will also not discuss it (or avoid it as much as poosible) with a person who does not allow me the right to state our doctrine but constantly tries to tell me what I believe and what my church teaches.
    I will say this: An ideal environment is one in which both parties agree on a topic and then tell the other what they believe regarding it. They do not try to point out error in the others doctrine, but ask probing questions to gain a better understanding. When it is their turn to give their opinions they do not compare them to the other doctrine, nor do they try to make them out to be superior in any way.
    This is the kind of discussion I am willing to engage in with anyone who is likewise willing. Now, this cannot be done on this website and the entire purpose of it is to point out the error of my faith and declare the superiority of yours.

    You said “To us, it has only one, very clear meaning: to be saved from the torments of hell in the afterlife, and to be with God forever.”

    Let us look at the dictionary then. (dictionary.reference.com)
    1. to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury, or loss
    2. to keep safe, intact, or unhurt; safeguard; preserve
    3. to keep from being lost
    4. to avoid the spending, consumption, or waste of
    5. to keep, as for reuse
    6. to set aside, reserve, or lay by
    7. to treat carefully in order to reduce wear, fatigue, etc.
    8. to prevent the occurrence, use, or necessity of
    9. Theology . to deliver from the power and consequences of sin.
    Any one of these definition might be possible when using the word saved. In general the first is most common; to save from hurt, injury, or loss. Thus anytime someone avoids such things they have been saved. A person who has their sins forgiven is saved from spiritual hurt. A person who is avoids the prison of spirits after death has saved from spiritual hurt. A person who avoids being cast out with Satan has been saved from spiritual loss. A person who attains to the Celestial Glory has also been saved from Spiritual loss, but of a greater kind. A person who is exalted in saved from eternal stagnation. All these uses boil down to the very basic meaning of the word as used in common speach. When it comes to our doctrine these are all different things that we can be saved from, and there are more, but in the simplest way the meaning of being saved does not change.

    You said “I get it. I can recite it to you.”

    Can you really? Then why not try? Repeat to me what I have said concerning works in LDS doctrine.

  38. MJP says:

    Shem, starting with your last comment: nice deflection. I am challenging you to recite my beliefs. Give it a shot. Once you do that, I will tell you your beliefs on works.

    You bring up an interesting point, and I am glad you did. You bring up assumptions. YES!!! Absolutely there are assumptions. At the heart of these assumptions is the relationship of man with God. You believe in a very, very different relationship than we do. You have much more literal take on us being children of God. This is even demonstrated in how Jesus was conceived in your belief system. Ours is not so literal. And through this different assumption we follow very different paths. And these assumptions reveal very different Jesuses, too.

    Your definitions of saved are irrelevant. I gave you our definition, and it is from this that it all stems. I understand it is possible to use a different definition but only one matters. If we can choose which to use when, why even bother discussing? We could then maneuver about as necessary. In other words, truth becomes relative.

    Now you are dodging Adam/god. What he meant is terribly important. Don’t run away from it. Embrace it, fight for it. Young was your prophet, with whom you are to trust. He said it in no uncertain terms, in fact saying that the whole world will know that Adam is our God. He either meant that, or he didn’t.

    Are you suggesting you only discuss on your own terms or if the listener accepts what you present without question? I am listening to you, but disagree with the practical implications of what you say. This is in no way mocking, nor is it out of line. It is absolutely appropriate to bring up issues, don’t you agree?

  39. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “Your definitions of saved are irrelevant.”

    If they are so irrelevant than why did you ask me for them?
    The fact is that since this sight is dedicated to the discussion of LDS doctrine than how we use terms is very relevant to any discussion.

    You said “If we can choose which to use when, why even bother discussing? We could then maneuver about as necessary. In other words, truth becomes relative.”

    No. Language is relative, and this is a simple truth of existance. It is in understanding how certain word srelate to others and to ideas that we are able to discuss the truth.
    When we use the term Saved we use it with its basic definition; to be rescued from danger or possible harm, injury, or loss. Every time it is used it is used with this very simple and direct meaning. However, there are many things that we can be saved from, and that is where we get into the multiple meanings. It would be more accurate to say that we believe we are saved from many different things, and each of things constitutes a particular point of doctrine, though all still use the same actual definition of the word.
    Even your definition fits into this. You define it as “to be saved from the torments of hell in the afterlife, and to be with God forever.” What is this but being rescued from the injury of hell and the loss of association with God.

    You said “Are you suggesting you only discuss on your own terms or if the listener accepts what you present without question?”

    I have no problem with people disagreeing or questioning. Honestly I have found few complaints about your comments in these blogs and I appreciate that you have actually attempted to discuss things. I understand that you do not agree, and I appreciate the questions.
    What I am not willing to do is listen to someone try and tell me what I believe and what my church teaches. They can question my beliefs, but not the fact that they are my beleifs. I am also not willing to discuss with people who bombared others with endless quotes and mockery with the obvious point of overwelming the opposition rather than actually reasoning with them. Yes, these are my terms, and if people don’t like it than they don’t have to discuss anything with me.

    Oh, and I embrace all the doctrine of my church. However, I am not going to discuss every minute aspect of it in every discussion that I am engaged it. It gets tedious. The current discussion can be engaged in without resorting to divertions and controversies that have no direct bearing on the topic at hand.

    Works in your faith, As I understand it: Nothing we do, whether good or bad, can have any direct effect on our eternal welfare. The only thing that can have such an effect is Christ, and so we have to trust completely in him. If we even think that doing good will in any way please God or earn any kind of a blessing from him than we are guilty of pride and attempting to strip or minimize the power of Christ.
    However, this does not mean we should not engage in good works. The works we do, which invariably come through the faith that Christ has given us, are only performed to prove to other people that we do indeed have faith and thus prove the divinity of Christ and his sole power to save.

  40. MJP says:

    Language is relative only to the extent that we see things differently. That does not mean that there is not a single underlying accurate definition and truth behind any given word.

    So it is with salvation in a theological sense. I gave you the definition we use. If you wish to be wishy washy on it so that it fits whatever your need is at the time, so be it. I think you’ll find that the tedium will fall if you actually stand on something strong.

    Did you ever think that providing solid, concrete answers to questions might actually avoid a lot of discussion? I’m just wondering on that, because it seems to me we spend most of our discussions actually trying to figure out what the other person means. Its not really conducive to moving a discussion forward when we have to define everything.

    Now, of course you are free to define whatever it is you want how you want. But ultimately, you have to define it or it will mean nothing. This is why I object to you, and call you a relativist, for not being willing to accept a particular definition. Being saved is the same: you provide a non-specific dictionary definition of the word saved that includes many aspects, including one concerning theology when we are discussing theology, and throw out that definition.

    Now, I am still not 100% sure what you mean by being saved. It simply sounds like you believe virtually everyone is saved, and only a few are thrown into hell. Beyond that, what saved means is not clear, because of the different levels of your heavens.

    Why is all of this important? Because when I ask you whether or not you are certain you will be saved, you answer, “Yes, you are 100% certain.” Fair enough, but that could include the telestial kingdom, too, as I understand it. Surely, you are not satisfied being there. So the question becomes how certain are you that you will reach the CK. If you answer that you are fully certain, how do you know? Is it your faith, or is it that you completed all the necessary works? If its faith, why work? If its work, why have faith? If its both, what is your faith in– the works, or Christ? Are some people “more saved” than others?

    I’ve challenged you many a time before with this concept, but I hope you see that the distinctions in our faith are terribly deep and affect how we relate to God on a very real level.

    Your recounting of my faith, or more accurately, your recounting of what arguments I have made in this discussion is not bad. But not entirely complete or accurate– there is a lot more to all of this. I’ll explain:

    1) The only thing that matters is our faith in God, thus our actions do not affect our eternal destiny after we have accept Christ. However, its too simple to suggest we can do whatever we want. As Paul tells us, we are free to do anything, but that does not mean we should do everything. Earthly consequences will happen, and God may bring some of that down upon us (I don’t know, but must admit it as a possibility– though I do know earthly consequences will happen. Example: drunk driving as a believer: you may well get pulled over and face the legal consequences coming your way though you will not be barred from heaven for that act.) There is much more to this, but this may get you started thinking.

    2) Full trust in Christ is the only thing that matters. And its very hard. We all struggle with interfering in Christ’s plans for us. It is actually the most difficult thing we can ever do. And part of that is understanding that no matter what we do we do not add to what he has already done for us. Another way to look at is that Christ left no room for us to do anything such that we become more saved than we were after we accept Christ into our lives. His salvation is that complete.

    3) There is nothing wrong with doing works in the name of Christ. It becomes a problem when we do things in the name of Christ when a) the Christ is the wrong Christ, and b) more important to this discussion, when we do things we think add to our salvation, fill in gaps concerning our salvation, or do things to become “more saved”. This is where we become prideful. (Of course, pride is not the only sin that can come from this attitude, but it is certainly one of them. Envy, greed, wrath, and even lust can also come from this attitude. These is from the 7 cardinal sins, but seeking our your own role in salvation creates a comparative viewpoint whereby you compare yourself to others. It pulls you to want more and more of what is getting you ahead, and you lust after that or things that help you get there. And it can be wrathful due to responses to those that get in your way or disappoint you.) And it also takes the focus off of Christ when we try to do things to fill in gaps or do that which we think Christ cannot do. If our focus is on Christ, then it needs to be on Christ.

    4) Yes, we should do good works. I believe they are mostly evidence to others of our faith. However, I also think doing works can work as a meditation. The motive is the important factor there. I simply don’t believe we can work towards what we view as getting a better place in heaven can be separated from our own personal goal. I know you disagree, but I really believe that when you work to get a better place in heaven, even if it is excused by the idea that its what god wants us to do, you are working for God.

    There’s also no mercy in that idea. I don’t believe God puts a qualifier on salvation, rather I believe that God saves all regardless of what we do or what we eat or drink. However, since God is good we ought not do things that not only upset Him, but might discourage people from seeking Him. Further, and this is something you have to experience, but when you believe, you want to do things that help others and glorify God, and these things you want to do are not filling check marks to benefit you later on.

    Keep in mind that we cannot ever know what is another’s mind. Which is why basing salvation on works is erroneous. You can do enough to get temple access, but where is your heart? The leaders deciding your place and access only see your works and your words. They do not know your heart. The only being to know your heart is God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And He is the only one that matters, right?

    I am sure you can do similar things to my assertion of your faith. That’s fine. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have about my faith. I have to mention that I have provided you, via email, more detail on the justification of my faith.

    —-

    A couple of thoughts have come to mind, though. Jesus tells us that while many will say they know Him, he will turn his back on many of these people. He tells us that reaching heaven is actually not an easy thing to do– for to follow Christ we are required to drop everything and follow Him. Isn’t this in line with me stating how tough it is to put all of our faith in Him? Isn’t it against your premise that most people will reach some level of heaven?

    It is written that our works are filthy rags. Jesus many times himself states that faith is all that is necessary to be saved from our sins and reach eternal life with Him. We are told to test prophets and scriptures. We are told to watch out for false prophets. We are told to love God above everything else, and others above ourselves. Paul tells us that we are free to do anything.

    I know full well that there are references to works as necessary and important. I also know full well you deny that there is any personal gain in why you do what you do. You justify the works based on the references to works as necessary and important. I agree they are necessary and important, but for very different reasons than what you give.

    I urge you to consider why I, and other traditional Christians, think they are necessary and important. And while I wish I did not have to say this, I will say that this needs to be done without LDS colored glasses.

  41. shematwater says:

    MJP

    I just finished a nice long response and it got erased. So this will now be short and sweat.

    Given that the definition of a word is made up of other words, it also becomes relative to how people view those words. For instance, a crawl space is defined as being less than human height. Some may thing this under six feet, others under five, and some under three. Thus even the definition of the term is relative to how a person understands the words used.
    Truth is never relative, but the words used to describe it, and thus we need to try to understand how the speaker uses the words if we are to understand the truth they are trying to convey.

    As to defining Saved, I did that with a short simple definition, which also happens to be the most common definition of the word. You should no longer be asking what the word means, but simply what we are saved from.
    The atonement of Christ saves all men from physical death as well as the first spiritual death. It saves all men from the second spiritual death, except sons of perdition. It saves all the descent moral people from the destruction of the wicked at his second coming, as only the Telestial order will be destroyed. It saves the faithful from eternal stagnation and separation from the Father.

    You said “Jesus tells us that while many will say they know Him, he will turn his back on many of these people…Isn’t this in line with me stating how tough it is to put all of our faith in Him? Isn’t it against your premise that most people will reach some level of heaven?”

    Let us clarify one thing. It is not multiple levels of heaven, though I do admit that that idea has been said before. Heaven, in the scriptures and the writings of the prophets, refers only to the Celestial Kingdom. The Terrestrial and Telestial are not part of heaven, but are sepparate kingdoms under the authority of Heaven.

    You said “It is written that our works are filthy rags.”

    A comparrative phrase stated in a prayer and piece of literature is hardly conclusive of doctrine.

    “Jesus many times himself states that faith is all that is necessary to be saved from our sins and reach eternal life with Him.”

    He also said that he would judge people according to their works (Revelation 22: 12), that only those who do the Father’s will will enter Heaven (Matthew 7: 21), and that Baptism was required for complete salvation (Mark 16: 16).

    You said “I agree they are necessary and important, but for very different reasons than what you give.”

    I agree that you think them important, but I see not necessity in what you teach. Necessity would indicate that in not having them you lack something else. For instance, food is necessary to sustain life. Without it life dies. So, what are works necessary, because you have made it very clear they are not necessary for our salvation.

    You said “And while I wish I did not have to say this, I will say that this needs to be done without LDS colored glasses.”

    And maybe you should look at what I say without your Tradditional colored glasses. This goes both ways.

    Oh, and since I have given you a summery of your doctrine, let us see you do the same with mine.

  42. MJP says:

    Shem, I emailed you a recounting of your doctrine. Did you not get this?

    Starting with Mark 16:16: its interesting you used Mark 16 as proof that baptism is necessary to be completely saved. I don’t get that at all. Why not? Because you are completely saved the moment you believe in Christ. This is even supported here: what happens with non-belief is that you are condemned. Baptism plays no part in being condemned, only lack of belief plays a part there.

    And I could list verse after verse saying that belief is what is required to be saved, even from Christ himself. John 5:24 is an example, and there are others. Acts 16:31 shows Paul and Silas telling a jailer that if you believe, you will be saved. The list goes on.

    So, at best you have conflicting messages, don’t you? The faith/works debate is not new to a discussion between Mormons and traditional Christians. Catholics, and others, take a much more stark position on works in that they do require specific works– but even they do not state that works save or that works fill in gaps of our salvation. There is a subtlety here that is important, and Mormons are on a side of that suggesting that works fill in gaps.

    But here’s my point in starting with the verse: we read scripture differently. When we do this, it is very difficult to discuss them. Which is why it is important that we nail down words and assumptions, that you so willingly state can be read different ways. This is precisely the problem with reading them different ways and having a relativistic point of view. True communication is not possible.

    You now dismiss Paul’s views as scripture and doctrine. This another huge problem with LDS. You do know that his letters were seen as scripture even as early as contemporaries of Paul, don’t you? If not, read this: http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=1210

    Paul’s letters are much more than mere literature or friendly letters to advise the church. But, your effort to portray them as merely his opinion is a tool to get out of his sayings, which were very much accepted as doctrine in the early church. Your denial of Paul’s letters as authoritative also denies that they are the word of God, even when translated correctly.

    It is important that we view the Bible through the same words and the same lens. Your description of truth: “Truth is never relative, but the words used to describe it, and thus we need to try to understand how the speaker uses the words if we are to understand the truth they are trying to convey,” means that we can never find the truth until we find common meaning for words.

    Your use of words is entirely different than mine, and I see no effort for you to lose your LDS glasses. I have viewed scriptures without Christian glasses.

  43. shematwater says:

    MJP

    You said “I emailed you a recounting of your doctrine.”

    No, I have not, but I gave you a summery on this blog, so why don’t you do the same?

    You said “Because you are completely saved the moment you believe in Christ. This is even supported here: what happens with non-belief is that you are condemned. Baptism plays no part in being condemned, only lack of belief plays a part there.”

    No. What is supported here is that two things qualify a person for salvation, and they are faith and baptism. What is also supported is that there is only one qualifier for damnation and that is a lack of faith. The conclusion of these two statements is simple: One who has faith but is not baptized is not saved, and yet they are not condemned. They stand between the two for the time being until something happens to tip the scale (such as dieing without baptism, or loosing their faith).

    You said “And I could list verse after verse saying that belief is what is required to be saved”

    I never said you couldn’t. My real point is that it is not in referencing a short list of verses that we are able to support our doctrine, but in explaining how the verses relate to each other and harmonize into a complete doctrine.

    You said “There is a subtlety here that is important, and Mormons are on a side of that suggesting that works fill in gaps.”

    Funny, because I have never seen things in this way. I fill in no gaps in salvation. I merely do what God has required and trust in his promise that is I do he will save me. I have never trusted in my works to save me, and that is not taught in the LDS church. It is Christ who saves.

    You said “But here’s my point in starting with the verse: we read scripture differently. When we do this, it is very difficult to discuss them.”

    I have to disagree. This is not what makes it difficult to discuss them. What makes discussion difficult is when one person insists that their understanding of the verse is the only correct understanding and does not attempt to comprehend how others view it. Let us go back to Mark 16 and let you give a somewhat detailed explanation as to its meaning; then let me do the same. Let us than try to understand the others point of view. In this we are discussing the scripture, though we are not attempting to monopolize scriptural interpretation.

    You said “This is precisely the problem with reading them different ways and having a relativistic point of view. True communication is not possible.”

    True communication is completely possible, it just takes a little more effort. I understand that you see passages of scripture from a different point of view than I do, and I can accept that and discuss our different takes on them perfectly fine. All that is required is for you to also understand and accept this and be willing to discuss in this manner.

    You said “You now dismiss Paul’s views as scripture and doctrine. This another huge problem with LDS. ”

    When have I ever said this? I have not even mentioned Paul, and I would never claim his writings are not scripture or doctrinal. He was a great prophet and a greater man and it is through him that we get some of the greatest analogies and doctrinal discourses we have. Don’t make false claims about what I have and haven’t said, and neither has the church.

    You said “It is important that we view the Bible through the same words and the same lens. Your description of truth: “Truth is never relative, but the words used to describe it, and thus we need to try to understand how the speaker uses the words if we are to understand the truth they are trying to convey,” means that we can never find the truth until we find common meaning for words.”

    I disagree and this is not the meaning of what I said. What I said is that we will never be able to find truth in the words of others until we accept the fact that language is relative and seek to understand it as such. In trying to find commong meanings of words the conversation becomes distracted and bogged down in an impossible task. Accept that we will never have exactly the same understanding of almost any word, and then you seek out the meaning of other’s words without needing a common definition.

    You said “Your use of words is entirely different than mine,”

    My use of words is not very different than yours, which I have pointed out with your definition of saved.

    You said “I see no effort for you to lose your LDS glasses.”

    This statement is just a distraction. You might as well tell me to stop thinking like an American, or as a man, as to tell me to stop thinking like a Saint.

    You said “I have viewed scriptures without Christian glasses.”

    Prove it. Better yey, prove that I have not. I do believe you are the one who stated that we can’t know what another person is thinking, and you are trying to tell me how I think. You don’t know what I think, why I think it, or how I came to that conclusion. So stop telling me that I am not thinking strait while at the same time insisting that you are. It is a pointless statement that has absolutely no constructive benefit.

  44. MJP says:

    Ah, Shem…

    Why don’t you reply to my email about my statement on LDS faith? I see no point in rehashing it here. If there is something specific you would like me to raise, I am happy to do so, but you have it, and it was intended for you. My bet is that you are not interested in emailing, though, as I have not heard back from you on a couple of my messages. And understand that my point in having a conversation with you is that you and I can discuss on a more intimate level than what we can do here.

    If we were to take Mark 16:16 alone, you would have a case, but that is not the only time Christ speaks about being saved upon belief alone. There are more, but check out John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” I can’t forget John 3:16. And I encourage you research the Bible for this idea.

    But, I am sure you are already prepared to discuss the verses that suggest works are necessary. I know they are there, and do not wish to minimize them. However, what is absent from these is a statement that “works are necessary for salvation”. I see Phil 2:12 telling us that we should work out or own salvation with fear and trembling, which, though, is followed by Paul writing: “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” And then Paul tells us to not complain about anything or argue about anything.

    Paul, two thoughts on this one: first of all, I wrote quickly above and mixed up my sources. Paul says in Phil 3:7-9 that our works and everything we bring to God are garbage or dung. Isaiah says our works are filthy rags. I wrongly attributed the filthy rags to Paul. But I sense he would say they are filthy rags.

    Now, the second thought is that I have heard more than once LDS declare Paul’s writings as opinions, and not, “I have not even mentioned Paul, and I would never claim his writings are not scripture or doctrinal. He was a great prophet and a greater man and it is through him that we get some of the greatest analogies and doctrinal discourses we have.” So, I will ask: are Paul’s writings scriptural, doctrinal, or can we throw them out as opinion? If we can throw some out, why can’t we throw all of them out?

    No, I think truth cannot be discerned until a common understanding of words are clear. I think this is an essential element of finding truth. Absent this, if we accept your definition, we end up with a situation wherein all we understand is the other person’s definition, which is not necessarily the true definition. Having said that, it is vital to understand where the other person is coming from and why they believe what they do. But that is a different task than finding truth.

    Understanding what the other person sees in a given text does not mean acceptance of that point of view. Ultimately, you agree with this statement, or you would not care if I convert or accept your view as truth. You are discussing this a lot with me, which indicates you have some motive to be shown to be right. Oh, and our use is very different. Subtle, maybe, but very different.

    Is it a distraction or a challenge? Your reaction is one that suggests you are not willing to do so. I am a man, an American, and a Christian, but I possess the ability to challenge everything I want. I like to challenge. I have spent considerable time abroad, and have viewed things through a lens outside of an American view. I have studied much history and law, and not all of it is in line with American views. Its really quite easy to separate oneself from one’s conventions. Sometimes it is forced upon us, sometimes it is a choice. But we are who we choose to be. We are given free will, or do you not agree with that statement?

    And, yes, I have challenged my own Christian beliefs by questioning them without Christian lenses on. Its really quite simple. Its tough, because it is frightening. What more difficult question is there than, “What if all I know and believe, and everything I have lived for is simply not true?”

    But wouldn’t you rather live in truth? The obvious response to this is that you have the truth. I could still be wrong, sure, and you right. Yes, this is absolutely true. But I am confident that it is not true. I am confident because I constantly challenge my beliefs and it always comes back plausible, and I see no reason not to believe as I do.

    Now, how do I challenge myself? I ask questions that are not friendly to my faith. I try to answer them in ways that are more beneficial to the opponents to my faith. I have even answered them through accepting an LDS perspective.

    For example, in Phil. 3, which I reference above where Paul states his achievements are garbage, we later read that Paul wants to “participate in his [Christ’s] sufferings” Also, we see in this chapter that Paul refers to righteousness, not salvation, which is achieved through faith. If I were LDS, I would read into this that we are to follow Christ and his commands, thus participating in Christ’s sufferings, and the righteousness is important, but different than salvation. We therefore have to do more to be fully saved, ie reach the CK. But, being righteous is a first step in that process. This brings us back to Phil 2 where we are told to work out our salvation.

    This makes sense. Its a logical connection of thoughts and consequences. It seems to fit with LDS perspective, and is a plausible explanation of things.

    However, it does not fit with the entirely of the letter to the Philippians, nor to the entirety of the Bible. Elsewhere in the Bible, there are comparisons between the saved and the righteous, and how the righteous are the only ones saved. Further, there are myriad verses suggesting only faith is required, and faith makes us clean and righteous. As to the works, as I said above, there is no verse saying expressly works are required for salvation, only that we will be judged and given rewards for our works. There is a big difference there.

    Now, as to being rewarded for our works. I don’t know what those will be. We are told there are many rooms, and much treasure in heaven. But I don’t take those references to mean we could be gods. I understand you use references to being heirs, but I don’t take that for us to become gods. I see these as taking a few verses and expanding on them.

    Its easy to do. But the question is whether it is wise to do that. See, part of my process is that I test all things against what is in the Bible. If a concept is present in the Bible, I check to see if it is supported throughout the Bible. Salvation through faith is supported throughout the Bible. The idea that there is only one God is supported throughout the Bible.

    But there’s more to my process. I check historic norms and archeology to see if something is true. Not everything has been proven, such as the flood, but enough has to suggest it is all true. I have no problem accepting the historic claims. This includes what Jesus said, and how it would have been understood by those who heard his teaching. Some of his stories used very specific references– such as the story of the bridegrooms waiting with gas lights. When Jesus told the Pharisees, “I am” this is a very specific reference, as is when Jesus claimed to be the “Son of Man”.

    To research all of these, I do not use solely Christian resources. I look to critics to see what they say, as there is a reason why they say it. Sometimes it is valid, other times it is not. I have almost always found a reason why it does not show what the critic says it shows, but I find it also ever increases my knowledge of my faith.

    You ask me to prove it. How can I prove it? I cannot, just as I cannot prove your state of mind. However, statements like: “This statement is just a distraction. You might as well tell me to stop thinking like an American, or as a man, as to tell me to stop thinking like a Saint” demonstrate that my take on your mind is probably accurate. You’ve given me no reason to think otherwise. You’ve provided nothing to demonstrate that you try, or even have the desire, to look at something without your LDS colored lenses.

    As I have told you before, if your faith is true, it will be strengthened by searching out that which contradicts your positions.

  45. shematwater says:

    MJP

    The problem is that you assume that I have not done similar things in my life and have come to a different conclusion than you. Do you know if I never challenge my faith? Do you know if I never ask those kind of questions? No, yo don’t. You only know that I believe the LDS church is true, not why I believe that. Thus for you to make any demand that I actively challenge myself in a discussion with you is a distraction; plain and simple.

    Pjillipians 3: 7-9
    I do not think he is talking about his works in anyway here. He says that what he has lost was dung, but he has not lost his righteousness. He likely lost many friends and even family when he converted; he also likely lost his prestige and position among the Jews; but to him these things are as dung and garbage compared to his salvation in Christ.

    You said “part of my process is that I test all things against what is in the Bible.”

    I understand this, but then I have to ask what interpretation of the Bible you use as your standard, and why do you use it?
    Me, personally, I use two standards in my reasoning: First is that there are no internal contradictions. Once a doctrine or theory proves itself contradictory I will likely reject it until that contradiction can be proved false. The second is the Holy Spirit, which the Bible tells us will testify to the truth of all things. I know people love to ridicule us for saying we rely on the spirit, but I really don’t care. It is the only source (and I include all scripture in this) that is gauranteed to give us the truth. Once it has testified to us that is the end of discussion, and all we can do is seek to understand how that truth fits with all the others.
    So, this is my process of reasoning and discovery. In using it I have found nothing in the doctrine of the LDS church that is contradictory to the Bible as a whole. There are select verses that do, but then they also contradict the rest of the Bible, which is why the Bible is not, nor will it ever be, the final authority on truth.

    Oh, and concerning Paul, there is only one time in which I know that he gave his personal opinion, and thus what he wrote is not necessarily binding doctrine. That is 1 Corinthians chapter seven. Of course he tells us that he is speaking “by permission, and not of commandment” (1 Corinthians 7: 6) and so himself declares this to be the case. This is confirmed through modern revelation in section 74 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which speaks more directly to 1 Corinthians 7: 14).

  46. MJP says:

    I responded directly to your email to me. I will forward when I have better access to that email, tomorrow.

    If Paul’s words are so revered,why dismiss them when he says we have been saved through faith, not by works? You have a contradiction right there. From what I see, you resolve this contradiction by splitting the baby, so to speak. I don’t see how this resolves the plain statements about being saved, justified, cleansed, given eternal life, raised, etc by faith, not works. This actually nullifies these numerous statements.

    Interesting take on Phil 3. Fair enough, but I read it not as him being ridiculed or dismissed. That is a victim framework, and he does not do that. He merely says that he had it all but it’s nothing to him now. All that matters is Christ. I am surprised to hear you say that the rest of the chapter, to which I was speaking, does not concern works. By the way, is it projection that victim mentality? You also make no mention of Phil 2.

    Can I quote you on your admission concerning the Bible and the spirit?

    Remember that the Bible tells us that spirits can be deceiving. We are told to test all things. We are told the Bereans were noble because they didn’t not accept anything without first consulting scripture. So, your conclusion that your spirit always leads you to truth may not be true.

    I hope you also see the contradictory statements in your own comment.

    Finally, I don’t use a single translation. I use a variety of them, including the KJV. I do this to get a better understanding of the text. Given how each uses a different method of translation, even the KJV, each has strengths.

  47. MJP says:

    Shem, I just forwarded the messages I sent Jul 16 and 17 to you again. Hopefully you receive them.

    I was thinking about your last substantive post, and I have some more thoughts. First, you do know that the Bible is the word of God, literally God breathed, don’t you? I know you have problems with translations, but consider that we now have far more very early documents showing the text is consistent with what we have now. In other words, the extensive documentation of early and subsequent texts shows that the manuscript has been translated accurately.

    You may object that we do not have the original, so we don’t know what was in them. Fair enough. But you do realize that we have absolutely no evidence that there ever were golden plates beyond a good friend or two of Smith corroborating what Smith said. The only physical evidence is the script created by Smith supposedly from the plates. We have no plates, no copies of plates, nothing. We do have Smith using a magic rock, which he called sacred, to supposedly translate the plates though a sack. How many revisions has the Book of Mormon had since it was first put together?

    I almost hate to ask, but which is the more credible claim? Reliance on a book that has thousands of years of consistency in translations and has shown to be historically accurate, or a book that has absolutely no manuscript evidence to support its origins and historic claims? In a court of law with unbiased jurors, which is the better case to make: supporting the former or the latter?

    You also mention that the spirit is not going to lead you astray. The Holy Spirit will not, but the Holy Spirit will also uphold everything that is of God and written in the Bible. There are many spirits out there besides the Holy Spirit, right? We are told to watch out for false prophets and not be led astray by spirits that will deceive us. Surely you are aware of these admonitions. Christ himself warned us.

    I know you are confident that your spirit has given you the truth, but challenge it. Put it to the test. You accuse me of not knowing what you have done to challenge it, but you have given me no reason to think you have. Rather, you have inferred that you doing so is impossible, akin to denying that you are American or a man. You now have told me that you rely primarily on your spirit, which I take to mean you are not willing to challenge. But, you are right, I cannot prove what you have or have not done.

    All of this, though, leads me to this statement: there is no doubt that our faiths are very different. There is no doubt that you rely on very different sources of information than I do. There is no doubt that how we approach the Bible, or any given text, is very different. There is no doubt that our approach to God and relate with God is very different.

    We have a choice as to which view to take concerning God, the Bible, and how we live our lives. I follow a God who is all forgiving and wants all to come to Him, and who will fully, 100% take in all who come to Him. He’s waiting there, with open arms, to accept all who believe in Him into his flock. Once in His arms, you are forever protected, and it is a beautiful place.

    Shem, what do you choose?

Leave a Reply