To Contend or Not to Contend…

I was surprised the other day while reading the January 2006 issue of the Ensign. There’s an article beginning on page 20 about the fourth LDS prophet, Wilford Woodruff, titled Contending for the Faith. The tag line to this article is, “While contending for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, President Woodruff taught principles relevant for our lives today.”

My surprise comes from the idea promoted within the article that “contending” is a good thing. Of course, as a Christian I support Jude’s exhortation to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). But Mormonism typically shuns contention as being from the devil himself. The Book of Mormon says, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me [saith the Lord], but is of the devil, who is the father of contention…” (3 Nephi 11:29).

Some people might say that contention is argument accompanied by anger. However, LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson wrote an article for the Ensign titled The Canker of Contention (May 1989) in which he made the claim that conflicting ideas are “the beginning of contention.” This really sums up the usual Mormon-on-the-street understanding of the issue.

An online letter at Contender Ministries illustrates this point. On November 16th 2005 a Mormon wrote, “Argument, no matter what kind, is a form of contention.” Contender Ministries provided a good response to this Latter-day Saint. You might want to take a look.

It’s been my experience that this is how most Mormons understand their Church’s injunction against contention. Typically, when I have a friendly encounter with a Mormon, if we reach a point where he feels at a disadvantage in the discussion he does one of two things. He either drops the topic and proclaims his testimony of the truth of the Church; or he says, “I feel a spirit of contention,” and refuses to continue the conversation. I once asked a Mormon “host” at the Orlando Temple Open House how he determined when a discussion became contentious. His answer: A conversation became contentious whenever someone disagreed with him.

And truly, this is a good definition of contention. My dictionary says “contend” is when someone “asserts something as a position in an argument.” Therefore, any disagreement–no matter how friendly or easy-going–would be contentious and, according to Mormonism, would be “of the devil.” Thus my surprise to read of the LDS praise for Mr. Woodruff ‘s public contention for the LDS faith.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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2 Responses to To Contend or Not to Contend…

  1. rick beaudin says:

    The issue of do we contend and are we being contenious. Let’s see what mormonism teaches as does the bible.

    If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined; their foundation must be very weak.
    — (Journal of Discourses 14:216-217)

    I see this is happening in mormonism today, Mormon missionaries I speak with show their faith is very weak, they seem to avoid questions like the plauge, I would never be like this if I were a mormon, for that fact I am not like this a a christian.

    First off Jude 3 states we must contend for the faith. Then how would mormons define the word contention? But anyway, lets look at some things Jesus said or did that might be worded Mean or even contenious. Jesus made a whip of cords and beat the backs of people. Some might argue he could have handled that with out hitting someone. Jesus said to his own apostles, You slow of heart to believe, In other words he simply called them stupid. He said to others you white washed tombs, Plus other things he did, could be labled, contentious.

    Now Acts 17:11 says, search the scriptures. Lets look at what the BoM and your prophets teach or have said. Alma 14:1 17:2 33:2 all say the same thing, Search the scriptures. So why is it wrong to search the scriptures and if I see things I disagree with, then to ask questions only to be told, I am conteniuous. We could be in serious trouble if we just believe everything we read or here if we dont search the scriptures.

    But along that lines let me add this D and C 131:6 say it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorence. So if I am or you are ignorent of this stuff how can you be saved?

    Also I know this works both ways, and I find it very sad. Yet I know many christians who refuse to share with mormons, we believe mormons are a cult and will go to hell, so I find this a catch 22 here. If I say I believe you have a false gospel and are going to hell them I get accused of being hateful, yet on the otherhand if I truly believe that, yet dont say anything and just allow you to go to hell where is the love in that. I also know mormons who believe they have the truth yet refuse to share so that is why I said it works both ways.

    Read also D and C 71:5-11 98:14,23-26 it says meet your enemy in public. if I am your enemy which I dont feel I am but if I am, it says meet me in public to talk about this stuff. But Jesus said love your enemy. If you were my enemy I could still show love by sharing the gospel. D andC 66:7 68:1,9 go into the churchs public or private to discuss this stuff. D and C 6:9-11 says convince us of our error if we have any. why do I get accused of being contentious for doing what the scriptures teach. Now let me add this, would you agree it is good to listen to the mormon prophets? If so then I am. Read pg 188 of doct of salvation vol 1 I quote. “CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS WITH JOSEPH SMITH. MORMONISM, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. their is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deciver, who wilfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed: his claims should be rufuted, and his doctrines shown to be false”.

    Why if your president and prophet said to do this and I believe it, I am in the wrong?. Did your Prophet not read that verse about contention? Let me also add what the apostle Orsen Pratt said. The Seer pg 15. I quote ” if we cannot convince you by reason nor by the word of God that YOUR religion is wrong we will not perscute you”. Notice he is speaking to people of others faiths. And he states he is tyring to show they are wrong through talks, but says if we cannot convince you. well I dont feel I have persecuted anyone if they disagree. Let me add what else he said.

    I qoute orsan pratt still pg 15. “we ask from you the same generosity–protect us in the exercise of our religious rights–CONVINCE US of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever gratful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds”.I am just trying to look at mormonism in a logical way and point out what I believe are problems. I find it intersting that mormons of old were willing to tell others they were wrong or be open to talks, But it does not apper to be that way today. Then even after what Orson Pratt said he does and feels should be done with the LDS I am still accused of being Contentious for sharing.

    Read D and C 1:14 it says listen to the lord the prophets and the apostles or you will be cut off. I am listing to them, what did they say, they said search the scripture, convince us of our error, ect. so where am I going wrong in what I do? How am I being contentious for doing what Your scriptures or prophets have taught? Personally, I believe JS and the gospel of mormonism is of the devil, but the devil uses that verse to keep LDS from speaking or searching the scriptures lest they have their eyes opended to the truth, because they seem to thrive on this verse as a way to avoid “hard questions”.

    Mormons say contention is of the devil. I say, really?
    Just because that verse is in the BoM means nothing. I say that because, your church and prophets teach this totaly contrarty to that, Lets look.

    This is stuff your Prophets have said about Christians. And if this is true, how can you say your a christian. If it is false, then your prophets were wrong, so could they be wrong about other stuff? Also regardless of wheather it is true or not, could this be taken as a form of contention?

    Here is what some of the former LDS Prophets and presidents have said about christians and I Quote:
    “B Young: “with a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called christian world” (Journal of Discourses 8:199). I quote 3rd president John Taylor (Brigham Young quotes Mr Taylor) “Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell, the eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked onto the earth” (J.O.D 6:176). I quote Heber C. Kimball “Christians-those poor, miserable priests Brother Brigham was speaking about-some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth” (J.O.D 5:89).” then we can add the first vision by Joseph Smith. If God really did speak to him then he said all the christian creeds are an abomtion in his sight.

    I would like to share my thoughts on this subject. I feel that it was a doctrine of man, by man and for man. Not from God and here is why I say this. In the Journal of Discources number 5 pg 203 Heber C Kimbal said this and I qoute extra for context that some seem to feel people leave out.

    “Some quietly listen to those who speak against the lords servents, against his anointed, against the plurality of wives, and against almost every principle that God has revealed. Such persons have a half dozen devils with them all the time. YOU MIGHT AS WELL DENY “MORMONISM,” AND TURN AWAY FROM IT, AS TO OPPOSE THE PLURALITY OF WIVES. Let the presidency of this church, and the twelve apostles, and all the authorities unite and say with one voice that they will oppose that doctrine, and the whole of them would be damned.

    Let us add to this D and C 132 read verses 1 and 2, I will start on 3. 3.therefore, prepare thy heart to recive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. 4. for behold, I reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant, then are ye damned;for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. I would like to point out some things here. first off in D and C 1:14 it says we must obey the lord, the apostles, and the prophets or we will be cut off. I added this for two reasons. 1, Is the fact that Heber said if we deny this teaching we might as well be damned to hell, That seems to be a bit contenious to me, For him to say be dammed to hell for denying a teaching that cannot be supporetd by scripture. Also I used it to show, if the Prophets are wrong on this also, how can we trust them?

    Who gave this new and everlasting covenent? The Lord did so the LDS claim. Since when does everlasting mean only 60 plus years? The Lord said for all who have this law revealed unto them MUST obey it. well if you read D and C or just read what I wrote you fall under all who have it reveled unto them. Now you must obey it. Not only are Mormons not following D and C 1:14 but the concept of on going revelation now shows it’s flaws. Ezra Taft Benson taught the prophet does not need to say thus saith the Lord to give us scripture. But the Lord was clear, he gave us that scripture. And the councel backed it up as I stated above.

    Then Ezra Taft Benson also taught the prophet cannot lead the church astray. So which prophet is leading us Astray? The prophets of old followed and taught it, but now deny it. Hebrews 6:16 say it is impossible for God to lie, Titus 1:2 enos 6, Ether 3:12 and D and C 62:6 all teach God cannot lie. so did God lie? He states it is a new and everlasting covenet. Again since when is everlasting only 60 plus years. Also if God did not lie who did? Mormons teach that the plural wife teaching was for a select few men, God said it was for all that it was reveled unto. Again if you heard it, it was reveled unto you, why are you not obeying it? Rick B

  2. Ben Rast says:

    Excellent post, Sharon. I wholeheartedly agree. The “spirit of contention” argument serves as an escape hatch from facts – no matter how lovingly they are expressed. – Ben Rast, Contender Ministries

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