“I am investigating the LDS church…they seem to discredit this article I gave to them, what is your advice to learn who is right?” – Jason
I would make sure you take the time to look at both sides, both favorable and critical. Mormons often like to given metaphors and analogies that somehow communicate that you can only truly learn about Mormonism from a favorable Mormon source. They also want investigators to interpret certain feelings as divine confirmation of Mormon teachings. If you want to investigate the mainstream sect of Mormonism, it makes a lot of sense to listen to what their own people have to say. But you shouldn’t stop there. It’d be odd in any other area of life to simply ignore all critics. If a consumer group had an important critical report on defects in a car you were looking at, wouldn’t you want to know about it before making your purchase?
As one person once put it:
“Joining a religious group is much like a marriage, often including a type of ‘falling in love’. When two people are seriously involved and contemplating marriage, is it really the ethical responsibility of each to, say, hire a private investigator to fully investigate the background of their loved one to make sure there are no ugly surprises after the wedding? Or is it the moral and ethical responsibility of each party to make that disclosure?”
Since Mormonism doesn’t make full disclosure, it’s especially important to compare the claims of both proponents and critics.
At the end of day, the most importance source you can look at for spiritual truth is God’s very word, the Bible. Be a good Berean (Acts 17:10-11). “Test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Pray that God would open the eyes of your heart and mind to see and love and understand what God has publicly revealed. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
If I can be of any help, please feel free to e-mail questions.
Grace and peace in Christ, who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-8),
A couple of years ago my sister-in-law came to me and said a friend of hers was going through the LDS missionary “lessons”. I gave her a copy of Jim Spencer’s book “Beyond Mormonism” to give to her friend. She read the book and dropped the MM lessons. The friend said that the book was a blue print of what she was going through herself. Jim’s story is a very compelling account of his journey through Mormonism. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering Mormonism.
From the LDS perspective I would recommend reading 2 books (if you can get your hands on them) besides the Book of Mormon; these are “Gospel Principles” and “A Marvelous Work and Wonder”. They are both very well presented and easy to understand. “Gospel Principles” would be the easier one to obtain as the missionaries teach from them at church. If you get the chance talk with members and ask them their thoughts and feelings besides listening to the missionaries.
As for other research, as a researcher myself I agree with Aaron, you need to look at some critics, BUT just beware doing this because some critics do have an agendum against the LDS church. The MRM site is one of the more balanced sites I have found, but although they give qoutes they do misrepresent or misinterepret the actual meaning in some of their articles. Another one I like is Mormon Outreach from Sydney Australia, but again, she has misrepresented/misinterpreted some of the doctrine and quotes she gives, besides most of her stuff is borrowed from other sites.
One of the best things you can do is to pray and ask for guidance from God as He is the ONLY author of all truth. Note I said guidance, not a confirmation of what is true – that will come later.
The LDS general authority should have a new calling for someone. We need a prophet to translate the words of the modern prophet because a lot of what I have been hearing is “Evangelicals misrepresent/misinterpret some of the doctrine/articles of the church.”
Thats what I want for Christmas. A modern day prophet to clear up what is said by the other prophets (old and modern). Maybe we can call it Vice Prophet?
I have heard that claim of misrepresentation/misinterpretation many times but have yet to see any actual references about it. It’s coming to the point where I’m getting sick to death of it. A note for further posts by LDS members here that have more insight than some of us evangelicals: Don’t just say that we are wrong, show us what we are wrong about and what is really the truth. I will honestly take into consideration any referenced material.
Good luck to you Jason. There’s a lot of comparing that needs to be done when investigating Mormonism. You need to compare what prophets say with other prophets and what they say with what apostles say, and what they say with what lay members say, and what everyone says, ultimately, with the scriptures. Don’t act to hastily either way because we humans sometimes make to quick a judgment.
Jeff, one of the reasons that there are discussions on this site is because of these misrepresentations and misinterpretations of the LDS faith. If you want one I’ll give you one.
Take the many discussions that have been about grace, faith and works. Yes, there are many quotes from the general authorities about what we need to do to get to the celestial kingdom and this has been interpreted by many as the LDS believe in working our way to heaven. If you ask any LDS at all if that is what they believe, they will tell you NO. So why do people still write and say that is what we believe? It is a misinterpretation (I’d like to believe this not an intentional misrepresentation) of our beliefs. We believe FIRST and FOREMOST that faith in Jesus as our Saviour is what allows us entry into heaven. Without proper faith in Jesus nothing else will get us there. What we do after faith, ie baptism, temple service, living a good, worthy life ,etc, comes from our faith in Him and us wanting to do what He has asked us to do.
The comments by our general authorities are preaching to the converted – ie those who already believe. It is reminding us of the requirements that we need to live AFTER faith that will keep us worthy of heaven. It is like teaching a first year university class – do you start from 1 1=2 or do you assume basic knowledge and go from there? This is what we LDS on this site have been trying to say all along but maybe we are not saying it clearly or maybe no one is trying to listen. But we do believe that we are not working our way to heaven, but we are living our lives the way Jesus wanted us to because of our faith in Him. Maybe we do ‘focus’ too much in our teaching on ‘works’ but its mainly because we already have faith in Jesus and we are moving on from there. I can remember a General Authority chastising the members in a conference talk about this ‘focus’ once but can’t find the talk.
B Young said. In the book Discourses of BY pg 194 1925 edition also found in JOD vol 1 pg 237 a person ask’s BY a question.
Now my question is, why cannot this apply to other LDS teaching? What I mean is, LDS say we mis quote or take out of context other LDS teaching. Did you ever think we are taking what is said at face value and simply believing what was taught?
Now Ralph, I know your not Amanda and cannot speak for her, But their are a few topics that Aaron or me have pointed out problems to her, she sorta brought up the problems and we addressed them, While we wait to see if she replys, maybe you could address the problems and show us the error of our ways if we really our wrong or in error. I can list the 2 topics if you need me to. Rick b
I agree I don’t “think Mormon” so please help me here. You wrote: “requirements that we need to live after faith keep us worthy of heaven.” Doing things like baptism and temple works allows you to maintain your salvation, right? That my friend, is a works orientation not a grace orientation. Mormons have faith in Jesus to get saved and must then “do stuff” in order to stay saved, right? Jesus’ shed blood of the cross saved me, period. I can’t add anything to it. You can run laps around the temple all day long and the activity won’t do anything for you as far as salvation maintenence goes. Might not be a bad physical fitness program though. I think that we pretty well understand the concept. We just don’t believe it.
RickB, Your comments about the barges are interesting as it shows that you have either misunderstood the story or not read it properly. The holes were to be plugged for the majority of times so the barge could be submerged during storms without destroying the barge or killing anyone. They could unplug them at specific times if the boat was on the surface for air, or to get rid of the refuse when nature called. I see nothing that would indicate that how God told them to make the barges would kill them. As for the Tower of Babel story – I don’t understand how you get 2 different stories as they both sound very similar to me.
Falcon, If you read what I have said I made the comment that these actions we do are from our faith in Jesus because we believe that is what He has asked us to do. You do actually believe the same because you believe that you have to live a good life in order to get into heaven and that this comes through your faith in Jesus. To list a few things – no murdering people, no adultry or fornication, no idolatry, etc. These are all in the NT and regardless if you believe in Jesus or not, if you do any of these it will keep you out of heaven. For some people these are easy to keep away from, but for others it can be a real work. In James we find that pure and undefiled religion acknowledged by the Father is visiting the widowed and fatherless – this is an action (or work if that’s how you want to word it). So if you are not visiting these people your religion is not acknowledged by the Father. Jesus told His apostles to go and teach repentence and to baptise everyone who will believe – if Jesus taught this then it must be important. So we all believe in requirements to get into heaven, we LDS believe in just a little more that Jesus, Himself, has asked us to do. But it all comes from our belief in Him, without which, anything else will not get us to heaven.
Ralph, This is from “A Study of the Articles of Faith” by James Talmage (p.89). “The Individual Effect of the Atonement makes it possible for any and every soul to obtain absolution from the effect of personal sins, through the mediation of Christ; but such saving intercession is to be invoked by individual effort as manifested through faith, repentance, and continued works of righteousness….The blessing of redemption from individual sins, while open for all to attain, is nevertheless conditioned on individual effort.”
This is where we differ: Christians do good works because we are saved, not to get saved.
Ralph, I admit that there are Christians who think that LDS believe that in order to obtain any salvation, one must do good works. But I don’t think, especially with guys like Aaron and Bill who have studied Mormonism for quite some time, believe that. It is well known that even murderer’s and adulterer’s are saved into the Telestial kingdom. So, regardless of any works or faith of any sort, your still saved.
However to obtain the best part of heaven, one must do good works in order to be saved to that kingdom. What is sad, is that I think a good amount of LDS people do good works for that “paycheck” at the end which is blasphemous to traditional Christianity because all Glory is to be given to God. You simply being saved is whats important. Not becoming a God and creating new worlds. If someone were to offer me free gas for life without me doing anything, but if I do good works I get a Ferrarri also, my human nature of wanting pretty expensive things would take hold of me and I would be more inclined to do good works for the car, not as a way of saying thanks for the free gas. Just being personally honest.
If there was only one degree of heaven that you were to share with adulterer’s and murderer’s, would you still put in extra work for the glory of God, or would you probably not put in some extra work?
The problem with the Telestial kingdom is that it is considered by LDS as still a kingdom of Glory. But in the Bible, the people that supposedly inherit that “kingdom” will.. well, let the word of God speak for itself..
“…the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
So the Telestial Kingdom will have “saved” people who have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone. Sounds more like Hell to me.
It just doesn’t line up Biblically.
Ralph, I realize your recent comments were between you and Falcon, but I read what you wrote with interest. I don’t know what you mean about the idea of certain sins keeping people out of heaven–I believe this is more Catholic theology with mortal sins. But I don’t know a lot about Catholicism, so perhaps someone else on here has more info. on that than I do.
The most important thing when a person comes to Christ is the state of their heart. They must approach God with a sincere repentant heart and give their lives over to Christ. The attitude is, God, I need you, and you are now in charge of my life. Help me through your divine power, because I can’t help myself. James 2 gives the illustration of a man who made a confession of faith but had absolutely no evidence of regeneration in his life. It was a faith of the head only, but did not include the heart. James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” In other words, even the demons know the truth, but of course don’t live it.
We believe death-bed and even death-row conversions are just as valid as a person who makes a life-changing confession of faith at age 5. The thief on the cross is the primary example of this. Although he lived a terrible life, his repentance was genuine. He not only recognized Jesus as his Lord and savior, he wanted to change.
Many of us Ev. on here have said this already, but we don’t do good works to become saved, we do them because we ARE saved. See the difference?
The LDS approach to salvation as it appears in the LDS manual Gospel Princilples “could be summarized by saying that we accept Christ’s atonement by (1) repenting of our sins (2) being baptized, (3) receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and (4) obeying all of the commandments. In this way we are cleansed from sin and we become worthy to return and live forever with our Heavely Father….Christ’s atonement makes it possible to be saved from sin if we do our part.”
The Bible teaches, however, that all who accept Jesus’ sacrifice receive the benefits of that sacrifice (Rms. 10:9). We have forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43)and entrance into heaven (Rms. 3:24). Those who receive God’s salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10)have this gift. Any additional conditions are simply unBiblical. However, I imagine someone could develop a different system, but it isn’t based on what the Bible says.
Ralph, I think it is you who need to read and understand the barge story better, read verse 20,
If you pull the plug and water comes in, put the plug back in, Sorry Ralph, but that is bad planning on Gods part. Take in enough water and you will sink like a rock.
Then the Tower of Babel, lets see, the Bible does not teach that any one person or Group spoke to God and said, please do not confound our speech and God said, OK. So that is the difference and shows to different stories. Rick b
Yes RickB, take on enough water and you’ll sink. However, there is a hole in the bottom – unplug that and let the water out so it doesn’t accumulate; no more sinking feeling. The design was good. If you don’t believe me turn a cup upside down and put it straight into a sink of water. The water will only go into the cup 2 to 3 millimetres but will never fill the cup.
As for the Tower of Babel, just because the Bible doesn’t say that a group of people asked God to keep their language the same doesn’t mean it did not happen. The Bible is mainly a narrative in Genesis as the writer was not present at the time of the events to witness them, thus the Bible is not omniscient, only God is. An example is baptism. There is no explicit instruction to be baptised in the OT, but people came in droves to be baptised by John. Jesus Himself came to be baptised by John to “fulfil all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). So this implies somewhere that in the Law of Moses or in OT religion/faith baptism was important to one’s salvation/righteousness, but no where is it stated. And I’d like to remind you that there is no explicit description of a Trinity in the Bible. So just because it is not explicitly stated in the Bible does not make it untrue.
“Mormons often like to given metaphors and analogies that somehow communicate that you can only truly learn about Mormonism from a favorable Mormon source.”
Actually, this isn’t quite right, Aaron. What I believe many Mormons TRY to say is ..go to MORMONS to find out what we actually believe and teach..THEN go to GOD in prayer to find out if it is favorable with Him, not “Beyond Mormonism”. God, and his gift of the Holy Ghost are probably more dependable sources for those who seek wisdom.
Yes, we object to what outside sources say we believe, when they are outright wrong, or even characterize it negatively and pass it as fact rather than personal opinion. And the reason for this is that most of us actually BELIEVE it- and cringe at the prospect of an investigator being tainted with misinformation. We actually care, and want people to accept His restored gospel.
Characterizations are judgments that the individual can discern using the Holy Ghost and asking in humble prayer- they should not depend on ANYTHING else- I don’t care how moving a book was to someone, or how clever Sandra Tanner is 😉
Oh please Amanda.
People have brains and God expects us to use them. James Spencer who wrote “Beyond Mormonism” was a Mormon elder. He made an effort to study and do the research into the historic and doctrinal issues of Mormonism that he had questions. Yes, he did pray. And guess what? God spoke to him and led him out of the Mormon church and to salvation through Jesus Christ. The Tanners did the work, and came to the conclusion that Mormonism was not true. If some source is wrong, that’s one thing, but the truth about the Mormon church is clear and prevasive and the evidence is overwhelming that Mormonism is not true.
Ralph, maybe logic is blinding me here, but if your in a barge, it has a plug in the bottom and a plug in the top, it is like a boat, the bottom is in the water the top is not. So it would stand to reason that you would not want to pull the bottom plug for fear of bringing in water, so you pull the top. But if you pull the top plug, and water comes in, you have a problem.
Then since you have a plug in the top and the bottom, that “Implys” your turning over and over at any given time, so you will crash around and could get seriously hurt. But that is my thinking. Rick b
Hey RickB, did you try the experiment with the cup? It will answer your question about opening the bottom plug. As long as there is air pressure in the barge (ie if they do not open both the top and the bottom plug at the same time) the water will not enter the boat. This will allow the removal of excess water when some comes in from opening the top, as I said in my last post. They have this kind of set up on some research vessels. The hole in the bottom could also allow the removal of refuse when nature called as I said earlier, as they spent quite a long time in the boats and I don’t think they would be able to hold on that long. So yes it could imply turnig over, but it also has a more functional property to it.
As for the turning over of the boat, it was from my understanding and from depictions given by the LDS church that the boats were like an oval disk. So there was a definite top and bottom so it would float properly. This would negate any flipping that you are thinking of except during harsh storms, but God said that during the storms they would be submerged – which given the shape of the boat is possible to do without turning over. But that’s my thoughts, I’m not a physicist or engineer or boat builder.
I’d encourage someone like Jason to check out the following: http://www.howcultswork.com/
When you step back and look at the big picture, you’ll see some common tactics used by many religious groups today. A few warning signs to consider:
Does the group lie or “mislead” about what they practice and believe? NO legitimate group needs to do this. Beware of a slick well-rehearsed PR front which isn’t forthright about what they teach.
Does the group say you must belong to their organization to be saved/have eternal life/exaltation? Do they claim to have some “exclusive” truth or are the “one true church”? Do they have a better grasp of the truth and are thus more enlightened?
Does the group claim it’s leaders have direct authority from God? This gives the leaders tremendous power. If members are led to believe leaving the group equals leaving God they’ll probably obey even when they disagree rather than risk being kicked out.
Do they use fear, intimidation, or character assassination? How about of those that ask uncomfortable questions about history/doctrine, etc.? Are *they* made out to be the bad guy (a smear campaign perhaps)? What about people that have left or even think about leaving (apostates)?
Does the group frown on reading information critical of the them? Do they persuade people to destroy or disregard any critical information, and to not even entertain the thought that the information could be true?
I’d also add to be careful of the power of emotions. Emotions and feelings can be manipulated, so weigh everything against God’s Word and “test all things, prove that which is true”. Be careful of anyone who implies to keep on praying until you get the answer they think you should get, kind of like a scene out of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Only the pure and noble (with a sincere heart…) will be able to see.
These are just a few ideas. I’d encourage anyone to please check out the website and give it some thought.
jer1414 thanks for sharing that. It is amazing how closely that resembles the LDS church. The only thing is that that is the definition of that website, but that also lines up with the majority of people’s definitions of the term Cult.
Study traditional Christianity all you want in my opinion. Read every single negative thing out there and give it serious thought! Do everything you can possibly think of in your search for truth, leaving no stone unturned (Pray, read, listen, ponder). Dig as deep as possible into the history of Christ Jesus and the Bible. You shall see the truth and the light that emanates from the Glory of God. Thats how I feel about Christianity, brothers and sisters. I hold no one from nor try to direct anyone’s actions when seeking out God and his Gospel.
[quote]Now my question is, why cannot this apply to other LDS teaching? What I mean is, LDS say we mis quote or take out of context other LDS teaching. Did you ever think we are taking what is said at face value and simply believing what was taught?[/quote]
Rick B. that is not quite accurate, when someone says we believe Jesus Christ and Satan are brothers, in that particular context it is not taught or written. What you try to do is sensationalize a particular gospel doctrine of our church. You know exactly what you’re doing by not giving the full context or principle as we believe it. You don’t mention we believe in a pre-existenance, that we believe Heavenly Father is the creator of our spirits, Jesus Christ was his first born, He is our older brother, Satan was in the beginning, was also a spiritual son of God. Hence if we find this in our doctrine and preach it in our Church as the plan of salvation, you take a snippet of doctrine and enhance it for selfish reasons. You do not or will not allow room for honest debate, and you do this on purpose to fulfill your agenda of tearing down a wonderful religion filled with good people.
Hank, Give me Chapter and verse from the Bible or the Book of Mormon that teaches what you just said. Rick b
“Hank, Give me Chapter and verse from the Bible or the Book of Mormon that teaches what you just said. Rick b”
Rick, why don’t you first address my concern? Is this not true? do I not see in the media and every where else the cherry picking of doctrine to sensationalize your agenda to create a false philosophy about Mormonism, is this not true, Rick? Why not be more open and honest and say — here is what the Mormons believe and what they teach in their Churches. You, maybe not you, but others make is sound like, HankSaint the Sunday School teacher is now going to teach on Christ and Satan as Brothers. This is so far from the truth, that it reeks of phony and manipulative accusations.
Am I right? Rick!
HankSaint, if you look on MRM and on other posts of this blog, you’ll find that plenty of context is given on the subject of the Mormon teaching that Jesus and Satan are spirit-brothers.
HankSaint again gives us a great example of the kinds of intimidation and character assassination used by the Mormon church as he accuses Rick B and others of sensationalism while asking “Why not be more open and honest and say — here is what the Mormons believe and what they teach in their churches.”
How about the Mormon church ITSELF be open and honest in what they teach? How about just lay it all out there for the world to see? It is a shame to have to go to such lengths to cover it up, and then to persecute the person who questions it. But this does provide us with two great examples of how false religious groups work – misleading people about what they believe and teach as well as intimidation.
So these quotes are not true?
Their are more if you need them. Rick b
Aaron wrote, “HankSaint, if you look on MRM and on other posts of this blog, you’ll find that plenty of context is given on the subject of the Mormon teaching that Jesus and Satan are spirit-brothers.”
Aaron, you are in such a hurry to show your lack of understanding it amazes me, Where did I not say Jesus and Satan are spirit-brothers? huh. Re-read my post, I’ m addressing the cherry picking of doctrine to show a bias by just using a snippet of that doctrine we call the preexistence, which you know and I know is not the complete picture, that my friends is called drive by reporting. When the doctrine of preexistence is taught and compared to the plan of salvation hinted to in the Chapters in Geneses, guess what? Many who convert over to Mormonism, find this to be not only new, but makes for common sense in light of the scriptures.
Jer speaks —– “he accuses Rick B and others of sensationalism while asking “Why not be more open and honest and say — here is what the Mormons believe and what they teach in their churches.”
Gosh JER, could not have said it any better, now we can all debate and talk about the Mormons and what we teach because you will be more forthright and show the complete teaching of our church and not the little snippets and cherry picking which you are more than aware of, slant or mislead the full story. Glad your on board and look forward to your renewed honesty.
Rick B’s remarks, “So these quotes are not true?
In 1949 Apostle Joseph F. Merrill stated:
Speaking in 1857, Apostle Joseph Young taught:
Rick and your point is??? This is exactly what we teach, becasue this is what we find in the doctrine of the church. Thanks for showing a little more of the doctrine, but this is only a beginning, much more is stated than just this.
You’re learning Rick, Aaron has some catching up to do though 🙂
Hank, my point is that it’s not a mere context-ignoring, cherry-picking snippet, precisely when context is given. But if you expect a systematic run-down of the entire plan of salvation and Mormon worldview every time the issue is brought up, you’re not going to get it.