This is a Test: Joseph Smith and Deuteronomy 13

Joshua and MosesIt had been a long forty years of wandering in the wilderness. God’s people Israel were finally nearing their Promised Land. Moses’ life was drawing to a close and the people were about to enter a new way of life under the untried leadership of Joshua. They needed to be prepared for what lay ahead. So God, in His loving mercy, commanded Moses to give His people important instructions regarding their continued faithfulness once they found themselves on the other side of the Jordan River. These instructions today are found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

This biblical book makes known many important truths God delivered to Israel through Moses. However, for the purposes of this article we shall look at only two.

In Deuteronomy 6:4 God gave His people a concise confession of their faith: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” This passage speaks of the uniqueness of the LORD (Yahweh) and asserts that He alone is God (Elohim). This strong monotheistic confession was a call for God’s people to stay true to Him as they lived among polytheistic pagans, for He instructed: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

But God recognized the temptations the pagan worshipers would bring to the children of Israel. Therefore, He warned His people to have nothing to do with idolatry. In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 God said,

“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying ‘Let us go after other gods’–which you have not known–‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The words from the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) were echoed here as God prepared His people for the temptations brought by false prophets. The Israelites were not to be deceived by miraculous signs or fulfilled prophecy; these things were not the standard by which to ultimately judge the dreamer of dreams. Instead, a theological analysis was to be applied: Who was the God the prophet advanced? Was He the one God the people had always known? Or was he a new and different god?

This was a test.

God said He allowed false prophets and temptations toward idolatry in order to test His people, that it would be shown whether they truly loved Him. Those who did were to respond in this way: “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4-5; emphasis added). God demanded total fidelity and would accept nothing less.

Let’s fast forward to April 6th, 1844.

On a hill overlooking the Mississippi River thousands of people sat listening to their prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., deliver a sermon at the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Due to its content being prompted by the death of a Mormon man named King Follett, this address would later be known as the King Follett Discourse.* The Prophet’s stated purpose for this particular sermon was to teach the congregation to “understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes, and decrees of the great Eloheim,” that is, God the Father. After assuring his listeners that he would speak only as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Joseph Smith launched into a theologically jam-packed sermon on the nature of God.

joseph-smithJoseph said,

“…it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the vail, so that you may see.”

Hold it.

What was Joseph Smith saying? His listeners had “imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity.” Why would they have believed such a thing? Perhaps they had read it in the Bible. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

Joseph continued his teaching:

“These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God…he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did…”

Was this the God Joseph Smith’s audience had always known? No, for this prophet said he would refute their long-held ideas about God.

The Prophet further explained:

“Here then is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you,–namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one…”

What’s this? Our God is one of many? He used to be a man but learned to be a God by going from one small degree to another? How does this compare with the revelation of God in the Bible–the God we have always known?

Isaiah 44:6: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,…I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.”

Malachi 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I do not change…”

How about the true confession of faith given by God in Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

Continuing his teaching, Joseph Smith asserted:

“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn in this way, we begin to learn the only true God and what kind of being we have got to worship.”

We now know what kind of being Joseph Smith encouraged us to worship, but what has God previously revealed? “Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:8)

In his King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith did exactly what God warned against in Deuteronomy 13. He essentially said, “Let us go after other gods–which you have not known–and let us serve them.”

What should have been the response of the audience to this heretical teaching? God commanded: “…you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams…”

Unfortunately, most of Joseph Smith’s followers in 1844 did listen to the words of that prophet. Joseph praised them, saying,

“This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know you believe them.”

God allowed Joseph Smith to speak those words for a purpose; and He continues to allow false prophets a voice today, “…for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

It is a great responsibility Almighty God has placed upon us, to know Him, the only true God, and love Him with all our hearts. But He has not left us helpless and floundering, to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. He has provided the means for us to spot false prophets and false doctrine, and commands us to use the tools He has given us.

False prophets test the depth of our love for God, but Deuteronomy also gives us a test to measure those claiming to come in the name of the LORD. In the case of Joseph Smith and his King Follett Discourse, the answer is clear. The fruit of this prophet is heresy.

May all who truly love God respond as He has commanded: “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

Amen.

* All quotes from the King Follett Discourse can be found in any of the following sources where the text is fully recorded: History of the Church 6:320-317; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-362; Journal of Discourses 6:1-11; Millennial Star 23:245-280.

This article originally appeared in A Word in Season, Fall 2000.

About Sharon Lindbloom

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

This entry was posted in Authority and Doctrine, Early Mormonism, General Conference, God the Father, Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, LDS Church, Mormon History, Mormon Leaders, Nature of God, Nature of Man, Nauvoo, Prophets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to This is a Test: Joseph Smith and Deuteronomy 13

  1. falcon says:

    Great article Sharon.
    One of my favorite topics, the doctrine of the nature of God. Let me short-circuit any LDS who might show-up here claiming that they are monotheists because they believe in one god “of this world”. That dog just won’t hunt. I would challenge an LDS to go and find an orthodox Jew and explain to him what the LDS and FLDS believe regarding the nature of God. Then ask if the Jew agrees with this? News flash to the LDS. Don’t bother. The orthodox Jew will think you’re nuts. And see, that’s why LDS believe this nonsense. They believe that they are special and super spiritual because they believe in a convoluted doctrine regarding the nature of God. It’s because it’s so off-the-wall that they conclude that it must be true. Process that thought if you can but it’s the way cultists think.
    The early Christian converts were Jews. What was the defining characteristic of the Jews when comparing them to neighboring peoples? It was that the Jews were monotheists believing in one God not one god among many gods-pantheism.
    So, these early converts asked, who is Jesus? He’s more than an anointed man. He’s not a created being like some sort of super angel. Who is Jesus? Recently I’ve been scouring the NT asking myself that question as if I were a first century believer. When the Scriptures are read with a very critical eye focusing on that one question and asking what the writers were saying it becomes clear.
    Mormons like to point to the Council of Nicaea as the place where the gospel was lost. Yet upon questioning, it’s clear that these Mormons have no clue what the Council was all about, what the question was that was being asked and what the out-come of the discussion was.
    Here it is: Is Jesus of like substance or of the same substance with the Father? It gets to the idea of whether or not Jesus was created by the Father or if He was begotten, came from the Father. That Jesus was with/in the Father from all eternity.
    Why is this important? It’s the whole ball game quite frankly. John said it all: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” I just had a burning in the bosom typing that.
    So if a Mormon really wants to test whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet with a restored gospel and revelation, they need to take the time and study carefully what the Scriptures say about the nature of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Smith is not consistent with the Scriptures he’s a false prophet, which he was.

  2. makeitshine says:

    Mormons claim to fame is that they have a living prophet. Mormons living prophet is basically an elected official, that the people are just supposed to accept as prophet assuming God put him in that position.

    Their claim that Christianity has no prophets couldn’t be farther from the truth though. The new testament Church has had prophets from the beginning at pentecost up to this very day. The Truth received by the illumined at pentecost is always the same truth, It’s the revelation of uncreated Glory of Christ himself to the human heart.

    True prophets are only those who have experienced this illumination. They are not occultists, spiritualists, mentalists, scryers. Those people are operating at a mere psychic level. They appear to be able to do “magic” show miracles and signs and wonders etc but they have no life in them, they are in cohorts with demonic forces, who present themselves as angelic beings without being aware.

    Nothing can be added to this revelation and words cannot describe it. The scriptures can only point us to it.

    What is this one revealed Truth?

    Father John Romanides describes it in “The sickness of Religion” here –

    “All who have reached glorification testify to the fact that “it is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive Him” because they know by their experience that there is no similarity whatsoever between the created and the uncreated.

    Falcon – you are right, those who teach that the trinity was some later invention, or speculation about God which came later is so far from truth. All you have to do is READ the works of the successors of the apostles, those within the tradition to see the claim is completly false. It was the un-illumined who fell into heresy, and it is the same today with heretics.

    Here is a great testimony from an early Christian, of the existence of current Christian theology (not to mentions its actually in the book of John itself, this just expands on the teaching)

    Athenagoras – a Christian philosopher year 133-190.
    In his apology he attacks the silliness of paganism –

    …………..”That we are not atheists, therefore, seeing that we acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by light, and beauty, and spirit, and power ineffable, by whom the universe has been created through His Logos, and set in order, and is kept in being…………

    But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of spirit, the understanding and reason (νους και λογος) of the Father is the Son of God.

    But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos); but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter.

    The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements. “The Lord,” it says, “made me, the beginning of His ways to His works.” The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists?

    Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognise also a multitude of angels and ministers, whom God the Maker and Framer of the world distributed and appointed to their several posts by His Logos, to occupy themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the world, and the things in it, and the goodly ordering of them all.”……………………..

  3. falcon says:

    shine
    Think about this little tid bit in your post: “…..the Father and the Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son….”
    OK hopefully I’m not teaching heresy here. You can judge.
    The Father is eternal. Jesus is eternal. Jesus was in God. He is the Word/Logic of God. One of the Church Fathers described this like a word or thought within us.
    Tertullian explains what Logos is:
    “Observe, then, that when you are silently conversing with yourself, this very process is carried on within you by your reason, which meets you wit a word at every movement of your thought…Whatever you think, there is a word…You must speak it in your mind…”
    “Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech…The word is itself a different thing from yourself……..”

    I’m going to link to a website that provides some very interesting information. It’s called “Christian History for Every Man”.
    http://www.christian-history.org/index.html

  4. makeitshine says:

    Falcon, you said-

    “Here it is: Is Jesus of like substance or of the same substance with the Father? It gets to the idea of whether or not Jesus was created by the Father or if He was begotten, came from the Father. That Jesus was with/in the Father from all eternity.”

    – I want to point one thing out, not a correction, but just so you don’t confuse the Mormons.

    In the Mormon mind Jesus is a pre-existent human spirit being who incarnated into a flesh body. The wording of your phrase might confuse them so its good to explain that there was no MAN (human spirit) Jesus before the incarnation. There was only the Word of God /divine son/second person of the trinity who BECAME man. ( the definition of Person is a whole other subject, but just dont think of the divine person of the Word as an individual)

  5. makeitshine says:

    I don’t understand mormon metaphysics.

    Some of Mormonisms teachings are more in line with Christian Metaphysics than their own system of Gods, like this one:

    Christianity: – The divine energies are “within everything and outside everything.” All creation is the manifestation of God’s energies. Vladimir Lossky says in the Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church: “These divine rays penetrate the whole created universe and are the cause of its existence.” The uncreated Light and the knowledge of God in….”illuminates every man that cometh into this world.”

    Yes – makes perfect sense, the ONE God eternal creates everything through his Divine Word and Spirit by his energies. He is God, everything else is created and participates in God.

    VS.

    Mormonism: The Light of Christ is the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things…….The Light of Christ “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” It is “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” (D&C 88:12-13;

    Hey this sounds really cool and mystical and even scientific! Wait…..that do you mean by God? are you talking about the Exhalted man who lives near Kolob? And who do you mean by Christ? The spirit son of that Guy from Kolob? I assume both of these guys are also made of this Light then right, as is the world they inhabit?

    It’s God-ception! A God within a world within a God within a World……
    .
    Mormonisms is not and has never been consistent even within itself.

  6. historybuff says:

    Makeitshine —

    Funny you should mention Kolob. The LDS concept of God (and Gods) is one of the more remarkable doctrines of the Church and one they don’t talk about much. For good reason. According to Joseph Smith and his successors, all these Gods live on or near the planet “Kolob”, which Joseph Smith describes through the voice of the Prophet Abraham:

    “2. And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
    3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
    4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.” Book of Abraham, chapter 3, v. 2-4 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/3?lang=eng

    Kolob is right next to the planet Oliblish and more distant from the planet Jah-oh-eh – naturally. He goes on. And on. Basically, all the Gods live on or near Kolob, which is somewhere near the center of our universe. Some of this is – again, remarkably – described in the Book of Abraham’s Facsimile No. 2.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham
    https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/facsimlie-book-of-abraham-1240976?lang=eng

    This of course came as news to professional astronomers. And to Egyptian scholars. However, if you really want a glimpse into the mind of Joseph Smith, check out Figure 7 in Facsimile 2. It’s upside down in the facsimile so you’ll have to look carefully. Joseph Smith describes it as –

    “Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Abraham

    Now, remember: this is in canonized DS scripture. If you look carefully at “God sitting upon his throne”, you’ll see that Joseph Smith has characterized Elohim as having an erect phallus. Some of the less charitable among us might consider that blasphemy. Is it any wonder that Smith also thought polygamy with young girls was the divine order of heaven?

    If you want to watch a Mormon go pale, tell him you don’t understand Figure 7 and ask him to explain it to you.

  7. falcon says:

    To tell you the truth, I don’t think your average run-of-the-mill Mormon gives much thought to who God is. They just cruise through their LDS life doing their LDS activities and feel emotionally and socially connected to a community that defines their lives. They do what they are told and believe what they are told to believe. In their minds they belong to the one true church headed by a living prophet and therefore they are mega-special.
    We’ve had Mormons show-up here claiming that the LDS god is the same God as orthodox Christianity. They insist that the LDS Jesus is the same as Christianity. We’ve also had those who tell me, in particular, that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to Mormonism. When faced with the information that is provided along with documentation, they quickly give their testimony and disappear.
    So we’re dealing with two levels of information. One level is the nature of God and the gospel revealed in the Bible. The second level is the history of Mormonism and what has been hiding in plain sight from them. It’s too bad that former Mormons who learn the history of Mormonism end-up losing any and all faith in God.

  8. historybuff says:

    Amen, Falcon. Too many of them just don’t care. I wonder how they plan to explain that to God.

    Revelations 3: 15

  9. historybuff says:

    There are several areas in Utah that are referred to as “Happy Valley” (Provo and Bountiful come immediately to mind), where there seem to be a prodigious number of LDS who don’t really know anything about their Church and don’t seem to care. They won’t even follow the instructions of their prophets:

    “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, 1978, page 126)

    Instead, they just smile and attend church meetings, even bear their testimonies that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and happily ignore anything substantive about their Church. As Solomon might have described them, they just “skip around like young unicorns.” Psalms 29:6 One can only hope that someday they will develop the desire to think for themselves.

  10. falcon says:

    I’ve been to Nauvoo. Took all kinds of tours. I think I went past the spot where the sermon was delivered. I remember the guide talking about it. So how do the LDS know that what Joseph Smith preached is actual fact regarding the nature of God? Oh, that’s where the feeling comes from. You pray about it. If it makes you feel good, it’s true. Has any LDS in the history of the religious sect ever disagree with what the “prophet” declared? If they did, they weren’t around long. There’s something in the LDS church called excommunication. It’s applied to trouble makers who won’t go along with the conventional wisdom.
    One of my favorite concepts is that called “out sourcing” which is what your typical LDS does. While some may declare that they are independent thinkers, they always go along to get along.
    I always say that if you get God wrong then it really doesn’t matter how sincere, devout and moral you are. You are lost.

  11. historybuff says:

    I just noticed that when I referred to Psalm 29: 6 in my previous comment that the link mentioned a “young wild ox” rather than a unicorn. Interesting Old Testament story there. Sharon cited the Books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy in this blog post. Interestingly, all those books of the Bible mention unicorns, as do Numbers and Job.

    In fact, unicorns are mentioned in the Bible 9 times, in 5 different books, by at least 5 different authors: by Moses, David, Isaiah, and even Solomon or God himself in the book of Job.
    • Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”
    • Numbers 24:8 “God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.”
    • Job 39:9 “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?”
    • Job 39:10 “Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”
    • Psalms 29:6 “He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.”
    • Psalm 92:10 “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
    • Deuteronomy 33:17 “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
    • Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
    • Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”

    The word “unicorn” was used by the Old Testament prophets and the translators of the King James Version, the Jubilee Bible 2000, the Douay-Rheims Bible, and the American King James Version. Other translators felt entitled to change these Bible scriptures because they believed a reference to unicorns hurt the Bible’s credibility. They changed unicorn to “ox” or “buffalo.” Your preferred translation of the Bible is likely one of those “altered” versions that differs from the early manuscripts.
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+39%3A9&version=KJV

    Only one historian, Marco Polo, has actually seen a unicorn. He described it as having “hair like that of a buffalo, feet like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle of the forehead, which is black and very thick. … The head resembles that of a wild boar, and they carry it ever bent towards the ground. They delight much to abide in mire and mud. … ‘Tis a passing ugly beast to look upon, and is not in the least like that which our stories tell of as being caught in the lap of a virgin; in fact, ’tis altogether different from what we fancied.”

    Close, Marco, but you were in Sumatra and that was a rhinoceros.
    http://modernnotion.com/marco-polo-thought-rhinos-were-unicorns/
    http://biblehub.com/psalms/29-6.htm
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+34%3A7&version=KJV

  12. falcon says:

    I’ve been told that questioning the LDS “prophet” Joseph Smith is a non-starter when addressing the claims of Mormonism to a true believing LDS member.
    Why is that? Well because Mormonism is Joseph Smith, at least the positive image that has been cultivated by the LDS church. Interestingly enough there are other sects of Mormonism that are not all that gung ho about Smith. In fact at least one of the major groups saw him almost immediately as a fallen prophet. He is said to have gone almost immediately into apostasy after “translating” the golden plates that formed the BoM.
    What most LDS folks don’t know is that Smith at the on-set was pretty conventional in his belief system. Conventional meaning following the doctrines of the Christian faith especially as it has to do with the nature of God. But as Smith motored along he introduced all sorts of destructive doctrines and practices including plural marriage and multiplicity of gods.
    But that’s the way it works with false prophets. They find a hook to get people into their religious sect and then steadily move to destructive doctrines and practices.
    It’s too bad that the LDS have out-sourced their responsibilities to test the prophets and will accept without question what they are told by church authorities.

  13. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    You’re exactly right that Joseph Smith started out fairly conventional but then wandered off into some very bizarre doctrines. Looking at his early “Lectures on Faith”, published as part of the early “Doctrine & Covenants”, we can see some of the changes over the years.
    http://www.ldslearning.org/godhead-two-personages.pdf

    As I get older (which seems to be occurring at a faster rate than expected…) I see more and more the value of the Bible and the importance of staying close to its teachings in order to avoid wandering off (which I also seem to be doing more as I get older…). But then, I digress. And wander.

  14. makeitshine says:

    A plea to mormons to read.

    I don’t know that it’s fair to say Mormons don’t care about truth. The problem isn’t really that. The real problem is they don’t understand the Christian God (mentally) so its easy to reject him by way of misunderstanding. It takes a ENORMOUS amount of brain changing and energy, to change the way you look at God and they simply don’t know where to look for answers. That’s the main reason I come on here to try and show some of the things that helped me. My plea to Mormons is to make an effort to understand the God that you are rejecting. Also if you are just a nominal Christian without a good understanding of the Bible it would be easy for you to also be convinced of the Mormon God. Probably because it’s a man made concept that reflects life on earth, so it’s just easier. When the pagans invented gods, they reflected human life.

    A Bit on Personhood:
    Maybe I should go ahead and explain “personhood” in the Christian scheme. What does it mean the Christians say God is 3 persons. Christians distinguish between the 3 persons of God because we have a distinct/different relationship with the Father that differs with our relationship with the Son and the Spirit though all 3 operate in harmony. The 3 divine persons are not individuals and do not exist the same way human “persons” exist in this realm or any other- as individual beings who can be obverved separate from one another.

    We call God PERSONS because personhood described RELATIONSHIPS. The Father(God) is the source of the Breath (spirit- also God) and Light(word- Also God). When God “breathes” the “light” is delivered. Try not to picture these as 3 separate events though. The Light and Breath of God is what is everywhere filling all things. We hear the words of the Father (the baptism of Jesus). We see the Son(the light) -Moses saw it on Sinai, Jesus revealed it at the transfiguration. We feel and know God through his Holy spirit. This is all one operation happening at once. Jesus said if you SEE me, you have seen the Father when you hear his words you hear the Father. To know him by the Spirit is to know the Father.

    The main point of Christianity that distinguished it from all pagan religions and systems is that we believe in a PERSONAL God. This personal God is ABOVE the system – the system/ or laws/creative force is a result of the outpouring of love existing between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the divine MIND that creates the system. Mind before matter. You could say that selfless love is the highest of these laws and the core of our being. The Laws exist simultaneously with God, but he is the source of them, they don’t exist before him. The laws are what governs the CREATURES and when they don’t live according to them, this causes spiritual death (which resulted in physical death) Christians also believe that man can be “exalted” by becoming what they were truly made to be by God. Man becomes ONE with (the)God in theosis. We participate in the creative forces on earth by building houses, or painting by physical laws. We will still participate in the creative force in the spiritual realm as well (probably doing similar things but according to the spiritual laws) However will not be creating planets and worlds and inhabiting them with incarnate spirit children and them ruling them. THE ONE God is the only God and source and ruler of creation of this planet and every other planet and life form out there, both in the spiritual and physical realm. This belief requires no mental gymnastics, cognitive dissonance and is in complete harmony with scripture. There is no Shelf here.

    Mormons also say they believe in a personal god, but he lives within and is governed by an impersonal set of Laws as are all other creatures and gods before him. In the pagan/mormon system the laws exist side by side with the gods and the impersonal laws are likely equal to and govern the persons. god the father is one such being, as is jesus and the rest of us and know one really knows who the holy ghost is, but he is some sort of personage. I am god, you are god, everyone is god. This could be the reason that Mormons (especially right now) are sometimes MORE interested in following the rules, than loving their neighbor. Its all about ME reaching godhood (though I suppose love is part of that). That seems to be what is happening right now anyways. This idea could hold some water if it were presented as its own belief system and not as a lost form of Christianity that has tried to shove itself into the Biblical tradition. That requires an extreme amount of mental gymnastics if you really read the words of Jesus, the apostles, the writings of the early church Fathers all which are cohesive. It doesnt fit!

    More on Prophets:
    Mormons apologists will argue that because there were different ideas within sects in early christianity, that meant Christians were confused and didn’t know what to believe. Thats like saying, well there’s many different mormon sects, that proves that yours isn’t true. The reason there were heretical sects is because people weren’t listening to the prophetic voice within the Church. This wasn’t an appointed position, God raised up prophets from within the Church as needed and those who heard his voice knew who to follow. (such as Iraneus when fighting the gnostics, or Athanasuis when fighting the arians) Just like today, false teachers would come along claiming something new and probably exciting, and people with itching ears who lacked knowledge of scripture and fell away from the apostolic tradition would follow them.

    Each community in the early church was headed by a bishop but the bishops weren’t always prophets and the prophets weren’t always bishops. It’s been this way ever since because the Church is a BODY and sometimes the hand communicates with the foot and the heart communicates with the brain. In the Old Testament times the Holy Spirit, and Word came to the person from the outside and illumined them. Now that Christ has come the prophetic voice comes from within. Within the Body of the Church. Within the illumined person. Christ promised to be with his Church always and he has kept that promise. Even though there are lots of different denominations, all confess the ONE TRUTH the answer to the question who is Jesus. Thats because it is THE truth.

    The faith of Mormonism is that you believe that Joseph is a prophet, that the church is true, his gospel is correct and that you need to obey the mormon system and do A, B and C to get to the celestical kingdom so you can also become a God.
    The FAITH of the Christian is simple. It’s the knowledge that HE IS (and subesequently you are not) The trust that He loves us and that he will fix this mess that we have gotten ourselves into and that in the end his judgements will be just.

    Phew. The End.

  15. historybuff says:

    Makeitshine —

    Thank you! That was clear and well stated. As a former Mormon I could understand the logic. I just hope other LDS will see your message and take the time to read it.

  16. makeitshine says:

    No problem historybuff.

    I think if more people had this understanding of the God as trinity that the Fathers have, it would make questions like these moot (which mormonism seems to thinks it answers, but only on a very surface level)

    “why didn’t God the father die on the cross”
    “why didn’t Jesus know when he was coming back”
    “Why did Jesus say the father is greater that I”
    “Why did the Fathers voice come from heaven while Jesus was standing in the river if Jesus is God.”

  17. historybuff says:

    Makeitshine —

    Permit me to suggest one additional question for your list:

    “If I realize that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and that many LDS doctrines are false, does that mean all Christianity (which Smith condemned) is false, too, or should I be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water?”

  18. makeitshine says:

    Unfortunately historybuff its true, and it almost happened to me. I’m seeing it happen on facebook.

    Mormons are becoming atheists not realizing that the “god” that your typical athiest DOESN’T believe in (while different from the mormon god) isn’t even the Christian God. The atheists idea of “god” is usually an invention of “Christian” fundamentalist Bible literalists.

    A great book on this is the brilliant David Bentley Hart’s – “Atheist Delusions”

  19. Mike R says:

    The importance of what Deut 13:1-3 cannot be forgotten . Some false prophets can and have impressed people that they are God’s exclusive messenger because of a prediction ( prophecy ) they made that came to pass . As Deut 13:1-3 shows that is not enough to identity a prophet as being a true one .

    In our day the concern is to take Jesus’ warning in Matt 24:11 very seriously . Christians in ministering to those who follow prophets who make exclusive claims of authority can rightly use 1 Jn 4:1 as the primary way to evaluate those prophets . What does the prophet teach ? Is it in line with what God’s prophets/ apostles in the Bible have taught ? The two biggest false prophets these days are Mormon leaders , and Jw leaders . Both make the same type of claim : exclusive authority to be God’s sole mouthpiece to mankind , no salvation unless one submits to their teachings and joins their church ( organization) . So they MUST be tested as the apostle John advised .

    It’s always amazed me how LDS want non LDS to evaluate Mormonism because of the moral lifestyle Mormons live etc . , ” look at our fruits ” is a well used response by LDS to convince non LDS that in Mormonism resides the one true church with the true gospel of salvation . Apparently , it escapes Mormons that many people in other churches are just as nice and moral as Mormons appear to be , yet, that is the kind of test that Mormons want non LDS to use as the primary way to evaluate Mormonism !
    Sorry , but that is simply not the primary way to test prophets/ messengers who claim to be sent by God , especially in the latter days . What the apostle John recommended in 1Jn 4 :1 is still the primary criteria to use ( i.e. comparing teachings ) to test the teachings of new prophets /messengers we meet today .

    Mormon leaders have failed that test , but because they dress well , act polite, and talk about
    ” living gospel principles ” , LDS are lulled into thinking that they don’t need to test these men as the apostle John advised . The Mormon people are kept so busy doing good things that they can’t find time to do the right thing — Jn 4:1 .

    Pray for the Mormon people .

  20. falcon says:

    There is a reason why the apostle Paul implores his charges, Timothy and Titus, to teach sound doctrine. He writes this over and over again.
    False prophets lead people into doctrinal error because the people have no confidence in their own ability to study, pray and seek answers. They are often lazy and won’t do the work. So when someone comes along who appears to be very confident, speaks well and has a certain magnetic personality, they jump on board.
    Supplying answers to the challenges of life are the stock-and-trade of false prophets. Desperate people want to be led and assured.

  21. falcon says:

    I see where there’s a mass resignation rally planned for today. Makes you wonder doesn’t it? All those people must have been offended or they have fallen deeply into serious sin. They probably had weak testimonies anyway or never really had a testimony of the prophet Smith and his one true church. Notice that it never be that people figured out the scam.

    About the event:

    For anyone ready to resign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and those who wish to support them.
    **Not for those wishing to disrespect or dismiss the feelings of those wishing to participate..that said I will remove any thread that is dissmissive or rude
    For those not local: Please feel free to participate by sending in your letter the day we submit ours. You will be with us in spirit as we will be with you. http://www.mormonresignation.com/
    OK SO here’s the plan so far (will be updated periodically):

    1) Meet at City Creek Park for speakers and paperwork (if Mark is representing you- you will need to see the legal tables for turning in Authorization Forms and having your Resignation Letter signed)

    All those simply in support, member and nonmember alike, are of course welcome too. We will listen to 4-5 tesimonials/ speakers at the park while people who need to get their letters together.

    2) Walk/ March together around Temple square and deposit our letters in a mail box near the church office. (We have found a mail box for this..yay)

    On Site Resources: Two notary publics have volunteered to be present at the event to notarize your letters. Thank you Bryan and Lindsey.

    Extra letter templates and envelopes for those that forget to bring theirs, but with the number of participants (this will be in limited supply so please plan to bring your own).

    A lawyer on site and affiliated with the event will be offering advice to make sure our resignations are processed immediately and without ward leader intervention.

  22. historybuff says:

    Very true. And complacent people want to be led and assured, too. The term “blissful ignorance” comes to mind when I think of most Mormons.

  23. falcon says:

    Mormons have been taught that the doctrine of the Trinity was developed at the behest of the Emperor at the Council of Nicaea in 321 AD. So what would they say if it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that that doctrine was being expressed by the Christian Church at its inception?
    My friend Andy Watson did that with one of our Mormon posters a few years back. I don’t know what the guy did with the information. It probably ended with him bearing his testimony. That’s the way it works in the world of Mormonism. Facts and evidence are to be viewed suspiciously. What counts is that “inner witness” that they suppose comes from…………where? I’m not quite sure given the Mormon confusion over who God really is. In their program “god” is a former man who, by obedience to eternal principles, became a god.
    Mormons want us to believe that that was what the primitive Christian church believed. The problem is there’s no evidence for that. So what to do? Trust your feelings and your leaders of course. They will never lead you astray.

  24. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    I was just reading the latest edition of “Mormonism Researched” and, wouldn’t you know it, Bill McKeever, Director of Mormonism Research Ministry, mentioned the LDS belief that their leaders will never lead them astray.
    http://www.mrm.org

    He quoted Brigham Young to that effect:

    “I have never given counsel that is wrong….”
    https://carm.org/brigham-young-quotes

    And 15th LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:

    “This church is established on principles that are divine. From the day of its organization, it has been led by prophets, and I solemnly testify that the Lord Jesus Christ, whose church it is and whose name it bears, will never let any man or group of men lead it astray. His is the power to remove them if they should ever be found taking the wrong turn.”
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/bring-up-a-child-in-the-way-he-should-go?lang=eng

    And Marion G. Romney of the LDS First Presidency:

    [A]lways keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. … You don’t need to worry, however; the Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead his people astray.”
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1972/04/the-covenant-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

    It’s very obvious now, in 2015, that either these LDS prophets were either woefully unaware of LDS history or they were simply not being truthful. Too bad for the LDS faithful. They deserve better.

  25. falcon says:

    Buff
    They live in a dream world, the leaders and the rank-and-file. Mormonism is its own reality with platitudes and wishful thinking. They actually believe their own spin, at least the members do when they repeat it. They live on mottoes that reinforce a false belief system.
    One of the big ones is that people can’t be happy outside of the LDS church. They mean member, former members and people who have had no connection to the sect. I suppose they have a self-fulfilling prophecy in this because so many of the women take mood altering prescription medication.

  26. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    I suspect this may be a case similar to “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, where LDS leaders want so badly to believe they are divinely gifted that they will ignore the reality of the situation.
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=the+emporer+has+no+clothes

    The LDS Church has this huge middle-level bureaucracy of yes-men that has been brought up to tell the leaders exactly what the leaders want to hear, and the leaders actually believe they don’t make mistakes and that the faithful believe their leaders are omniscient.

    I suppose we should be grateful that the LDS leaders are so short sighted: To use another analogy — the tortoise and the hare — they are so convinced they are invincible that perhaps they will inadvertently allow the truth to spread and eventually prevail.

    “When a great truth once gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it, or prescribe its limits, or suppress it. It is bound to go on till it becomes the thought of the world. ” — Frederick Douglass
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass

    In fact, LDS leaders can be so blind to reality that I’d be willing to bet that any one of them reading that quote will immediately assume that it’s meant to reassure them of the rightness of their position.

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