Mormonism’s Caffeine Debacle and Why It Matters

Jesus used disputes over kosher law to point people to the true nature of the kingdom of God. This is a similar opportunity. Do you really want to be like Jesus? Jesus was pushy and provocative about this sort of thing.

First, I’m going to talk about the “successful failure” of the Mosaic Law, and how it is directly relevant to the debacle.

Second, I’m going to talk about how Mormon leaders and spokesmen lack integrity and are repeating the history of rabbinic absurdity and Pharisaical hypocrisy.

Third, I’m going to talk about what Jesus and Paul have to say about the matter of food, drink, and being “clean.”

Fourth, I’m going to close with a plea for Mormons (and anyone else) to repent of their religious “righteousness.”

Part 1: The Successful Failure of the Mosaic Law

There is nothing inherently wrong with esteeming a healthy lifestyle, nor anything inherently wrong with religious laws about what one can or cannot eat or drink. Our bodies are awesome machines, even God-given temples, and ought to be treated as such. And God set up kosher-boundaries around the people of Israel to give them a religious and cultural identity. So I should not dismiss Mormonism’s “Word of Wisdom” out of hand simply for telling me what I can or cannot eat. If God doesn’t want me to drink coffee, then I hope that I would be willing to give it up. If God wants me to hop on my left foot and stick to a strict diet of peanuts, then so be it.

But that isn’t the issue here. The real issue lies in the difference between the Old and New Covenant. The Old Covenant, the Law, “was our guardian [KJV: schoolmaster] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). If you try to keep the Law — and I mean, really try to keep the whole thing — you learn how corrupt you are in the deepest parts of your heart. You will get desperate for the recreation of your own soul, and thirsty for the true water that satisfies. But if you only try to keep part of the Law, then you get a false sense of righteousness, and you get in the habit of hypocritically judging other people and making a big deal of externalities. In Christianity, we sometimes call that “legalism” or “works-righteousness.”

Paul reminds people in Galatians, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (3:10). That’s the funny thing about the Judaizers — they wanted to judge Gentile Christians with the Law of Moses, but they didn’t actually want to be held accountable for keeping the whole thing. Nuh huh, says Paul. If you want to live by the Law, then your only option is to live and die by the whole thing. Keep all of its commandments, or be cursed.

Was the Mosaic Law successful? Yes and no. It was an intentional flop. It set people up for a failure. Paul bluntly said, “The law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15). When I ask Mormons, “Why is it that the Jews failed to be justified by the Law? What is it about the Law that makes it inferior to the gospel?” The answers I get are typically, “Because it didn’t include Gentiles. It was exclusive to Jews. And it focused on the externals.”

Part of the solution that Mormonism proposes is that we covenant to keep a higher, harder, and deeper law. To keep a moral code more perfectly, more spiritually, and more internally. If we do that, so it goes, then through the atonement we can be forgiven.

But this misses the point. Paul wrote,

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)

Did you catch that? The fundamental issue isn’t that the law of circumcision excludes Gentiles, or that the Law isn’t spiritual enough. No, the fundamental issue is that the Law brings “knowledge of sin.” It shines a light on the ugliness of our heart. And that’s a big problem, because the Law requires that we be without sin. It reveals the absence of what it requires, and it cannot provide what it demands. Going to a supposed stricter, higher, deeper law doesn’t solve this problem, it only intensifies it. If you want to be judged by a stricter, higher, deeper law than the Law of Moses, then you are on your way to hell for all eternity.

The solution to our universal human problem (which the Law of Moses so ably exposed in the theater of Israel throughout redemptive history) is found at the cross. Jesus was shamefully humiliated and executed on a cross and raised three Jewish days later. All who trust in him are immediately justified, forgiven, counted righteous, counted not guilty, and given the gift of the indwelling Spirit, by faith, and faith alone. You want that gift? Then stop working for it, and start trusting God to justify the ungodly:

“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:4-5, every single reputable translation contra the JST)

“Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (Galatians 3:2-6)

Part 2 – Rabbinic and Pharisaical Absurdity 2.0

Many Mormons will justify the modern Word of Wisdom by mentally reducing it to a mere set of health guidelines. “What’s wrong with advising people to be healthy?” Nothing. But I think you know better, don’t you? The Word of Wisdom is more than that now. In LDS culture, it has been perverted into something far beyond what it originally was.

Before we discuss the original Word of Wisdom, it would be helpful to address the issue of Mormonism’s “official madness.” As I have argued elsewhere, Mormonism waffles between minimalism and maximalism, between reduction and expansion, between looking backward and looking forward, and between obeying prophets with discretion and obeying prophets with exactness. Mormonism boasts of going beyond (and sometimes, even against) the canon, but when this puts them in hot water, they boast of only being bound to the canonized Standard Works. The former is a kind of “prima ecclesia”, the latter is a kind of “sola scriptura.”

The original Word of Wisdom in D&C 89 was a principle revealed “not by commandment or constraint” (89:2). Today, one can’t get a temple recommend if they don’t live this “non-commandment” principle. Originally, “hot drinks” really meant just that: hot drinks. Today, hot chocolate doesn’t qualify as “hot.” Originally, drinking barley beer was encouraged (17). Today, if you take D&C 89’s encouragement on that, you lose your temple recommend. Originally, meat was encouraged to only be eaten “sparingly… only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (12-13). Today, most Mormons simply chuckle at this.

Mormons do not take the original meaning of D&C 89 seriously, but they do take modern Mormon cultural expectations seriously. One expectation has been the avoidance of caffeine. Caffeine is branded as a “terrible substance” that “has an effect on the brain that is similar to cocaine and heroin.” And an official statement by the LDS Church reads:

“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.” (Priesthood Bulletin, Feb. 1972, p. 4.)

The suggestion is clear enough: this is a matter of unofficial rebellion.

Gordon B. Hinckley confirmed to Mike Wallace on public television that Mormons don’t drink caffeinated drinks. Within Mormon culture, some simply take it as a “higher law.” It doesn’t have to be “official” — much of spirituality and theology in Mormonism goes beyond the “official” script. Just as much as there is “unofficial” doctrine, there is “unofficial” evidence of not being TBM (true blue Mormon). What does Hyrum spike the punch with at the dance in the  Single’s Ward comedy film? Mountain Dew.

LDS Living magazine admits,

“It’s been a long and heated debate among members on whether or not caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom… This is a touchy topic – many Mormons will stick to their belief of no caffeine, while others might take this as a blessing to drink Mountain Dew.”

The issue of caffeine has dwelled in this “unofficial” controversial grey area for years, and the leadership has known about it. And the truth is that they have intentionally let the self-righteous anti-caffeine crowd perpetuate. LDS apostles don’t like to rock the Mormon boat.

Which is precisely why the LDS Church softened their recent LDS Newsroom statement from this:

Despite what was reported, the Church does not prohibit the use of caffeine. The Church’s health guidelines, known in our scriptures as “the Word of Wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 89), prohibits alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco and “hot drinks” — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee. The restriction does not go beyond this.

… to this:

Despite what was reported, the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine. The Church’s health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and “hot drinks” — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee.

While this might seem like a trivial change, it is not. Andrew over at the New Order Mormon blog observes:

The old version, as you can see above, differs from the new version in two relevant ways — it explicitly states that the church does not prohibit the use of caffeine, and then it explicitly states that the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom do not go beyond alcoholic beverages, smoking or chewing tobacco, and “hot drinks” (which refer specifically to tea and coffee).

The main thing that the change does effectively is that it tones down the language of “not prohibit[ing]” to the more vague (yet also completely accurate) “not mention[ing]“.

I may lack creativity, but when contrasting the two statements, the only reasonable conclusion I can come up with is that the new statement is meant to be just a tad bit more vague about the status of caffeinated beverages than the old statement is. But interestingly enough, I think I can understand precisely why the church might want to do this…

I think it more plausible that the change focuses around pushback (whether actual or even projected) from the members who do not drink caffeinated soda — and who, in fact, believe that caffeinated sodas have always been prohibited.

To these folks, the earlier statement on the Word of Wisdom would have come as a system shock. Their entire lives and beliefs regarding the Word of Wisdom were invalidated with three lines (old version). And I’m not saying that these members’ faiths would be so fragile as to be destroyed by such a change…but I think it possible that a destabilizing change could definitely cause some folks to second guess whether they have a good understanding of what is doctrine and what isn’t.

And so, for the Newsroom, it is a relatively easy fix…tone down the language to something that can be read flexibly. Now, those who find caffeinated soda OK can look at the new statement and see a statement that validates them. Those who find caffeinated soda not OK can look at the new statement and see a statement that also validates them — for even if Doctrine and Covenants 89 does not mention the use of caffeine, that’s not the same as the Church (a far wider body of doctrine) explicitly not prohibiting it.

… the church can remain relatively silent — so that when one group or another either speaks in favor of caffeinated sodas or against, it can modulate its reaction appropriately. The church, in other words, has plausible deniability as a result of ambiguous policy statements.

So there you have it: The lighthouse beacon of doctrinal clarity is actually a fog machine. And if you don’t believe me, consider the poll over at LDS Living:

“Before this announcement, did you think caffeine was okay to drink?”
Of 14,458 votes, 38% responded: “No”

“After this announcement, do you think it’s okay to drink caffeine?”
Of 14,102 votes, 33% responded: “No”

When prompted for an explanation for why BYU Dining Services does not sell caffeinated beverages at the cafeterias, spokeswoman Carri Jenkins responded,

“Dining Services has made the decision to not sell or serve caffeinated beverages on campus simply based on what our customers want or do not want.”

Uh huh. LDS scholar Kevin Barney responded with incredulity:

How can they possibly know there’s no demand if they’ve never been sold there? That’s ridiculous, everyone knows it’s a holdover from older folk views of the WoW.

I bet even Carri Jenkins knows that. BYU students, how does it feel to be lied to?

Even if this whole caffeine issue was cleared up, absurdities would remain. If you’re 500 pounds and you religiously eat at McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, you can get a temple recommend. But if you workout six days a week and treat your body like a BMW, yet have an occasional glass of wine, then you are denied a temple recommend.

Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the Word of Wisdom is of God, we are still left with the fact that Mormonism is repeating Pharisaical history. It is going beyond its own scripture, policing who is “in” and who is “out” based on man-made restrictions. And Jesus had something to say about that kind of thing: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9) You are “making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” (7:13)

Part 3: What You Can Pee Can’t Make You Unclean

In a currently-used LDS Institute manual, students are taught to think of Levitical dietary laws as parallel to modern LDS dietary laws:

By voluntarily abstaining from certain foods or by cooking them in a special way, obedient Israelites made a daily, personal commitment to their faith. A formal choice was made, generating quiet self-discipline. Strength came from living such a law, and vision came from understanding it. Furthermore, what we eat (embrace) or do not eat (separate ourselves from) can symbolically remind us to remain pure and keep our spirits, like our bodies, free from contamination.

Ask students what health and dietary law the Lord has given us today. Read through the Lord’s counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 89 and list on the board which substances might be called “clean” and “unclean” today. Discuss how the Word of Wisdom, unlike the dietary law given to the ancient Israelites, warns of actual health dangers and gives nutritional counsel. However, it also serves as a symbolic reminder of our covenant status, sets us apart from much of the world, and is a test of our obedience. Share your testimony of how God’s covenant people have always had special instructions to be clean.

But is that really what the New Testament teaches us? Does strength really come from living such dietary laws? Are dietary laws part of the way that Christians are supposed to set themselves apart from the world?

No. Paul warns us about such attempts:

“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—’Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)

Jesus teaches about the true nature of what makes us defiled:

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them… Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”” (Jesus, Matthew 15:11, 18-20)

Caffeine and tea and beer don’t come from the heart. Caffeine and tea and beer are peed into a toilet. Ergo, they can’t make you unclean.

The Word of Wisdom is not wise. Jesus is wise.

In Mark 7:19, after teaching these things, the inspired narrator writes, “Thus Jesus declared all foods clean.” And we never hear of another dietary restriction again, although we are called to be sensitive to others like Jews or ex-pagans who don’t want to eat meat sacrificed to local idols (Acts 15:29; Romans 14:13-23). But not even those circumstances seem to involve people who are insisting on living dietary laws as a universal requisite for true Christian living. As D.A. Carson writes,

“If I’m called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotallers, I’ll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, ‘You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol,’ I’ll reply, ‘Pass the port’ or ‘I’ll think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal.'”

Part 4: Repent of Your “Righteousness”

Do you want to be forgiven, and be truly righteous from the heart? Then repent of your efforts at demonstrating “righteousness” before God and come to him as a desperate, unworthy, bankrupt beggar. You are no better than a smoking, drinking, sniffing, tattoo-plastered porn-addict. Until you realize that, the smoking, drinking, sniffing, tattoo-plastered porn-addict will be closer to the kingdom of God than you are.

Jesus showed us what it really meant to be “clean” — the kind of clean that really matters. And he fulfilled a perfect righteousness on our behalf that none of us live up to.

Caffeine and coffee should be the least of your worries. Your hands aren’t clean, your lips aren’t clean, and your heart isn’t clean. You are are a spiritual leper in need of the itinerant preacher, miracle-working Jewish exorcist from the small hick-town Bethlehem, and his name is Jesus. Stop playing with religion and get serious about a relationship with him. Hunger and thirst after true righteousness, and you will be satisfied in Christ.

If you feel the weight of this, then let me give you some practical advice on how to proceed. My pastor once gave me some good counsel: he said, “We are all hypocrites, but not everyone is a hypocrite about being a hypocrite.” Stop being a hypocritical hypocrite, and confess to God that you are a hypocrite. Tell your wife and kids, “I am not worthy, but Jesus is worthy, and he loves me.” Pray to the Father, “Love me liked you loved all the unworthy patriarchs.” Pray to Jesus, “Love me like you loved the lepers.” Pray to the Spirit, “Give me the gift of yourself, freely. I need you.”

Jesus died for religious hypocrites just like you and me. He grieves over you. “Oh Provo, Provo! Oh Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City! The cities of self-righteousness! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” Let his kindness bring you to repentance. This caffeine debacle really is that serious.

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39 Responses to Mormonism’s Caffeine Debacle and Why It Matters

  1. falcon says:

    It’s all about a holier-than-thou religious system. These dietary rules are stumbling blocks put before people, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing can be added to what Christ has done for us on the Cross. Here’s a good dietary law. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water. Whoever eats this “bread” will never be hungry. Whoever drinks this “water” will never be thirsty.
    I would suggest that Mormons concentrate their time and energy coming to a real understanding of who Jesus is and what His death on the cross means in regards to our eternal destiny.

  2. homeschoolmom says:

    Colossians 2:14- having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

  3. parkman says:

    As a member of the LDS Church, I know that by the loving Atonement given to us by Jesus Christ we will all be resurrected from death, even though none of us deserves it on our own. After our resurrection, we will go to our “Day of Judgment” where our individual acts will be judged and we will receive our reward according to our works.

    As to what you say is wrong about that system, remember that God gives us this advice showing He is not the micromanager you seem to say he should be, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26‎)‎

  4. Falcon, loved your comment.

    Awesome passage, homeschoolmom.

    Parkman, glad you joined the conversation.

    I’m a wreck. This evangelical Protestant needs a lot of repeat-forgiveness. I need a forever-clean-slate. I need a Savior who will go to the deepest parts of my heart (where all the black is) and forgive me and recreate me. But it isn’t external dietary laws that condemn me. It is the standard God has for my heart: to love like I should, to feel like I should, to have unending, never-failing passion for God and man like I should. If my final judgment is ultimately up to the worth of my deeds, then I don’t need dietary restrictions to condemn me. I’m already condemned for a host of other more pressing moral issues (lust, pride, laziness, heartlessness).

    What I can say is that I have been made into a new person. I have been completely forgiven. There is a new heart inside of my heart. Like a stubborn, beautiful tree growing in the middle of a swamp. Over a decade ago I discovered that God had given me new affections for his word, for my enemies, for difficult people, and for Jesus. He has forgiven me. And when final judgment comes, my post-conversion life will indeed bear witness to the real change that happened, to the work of the Holy Spirit in me. But the works that will bear witness to the reality of me being born again will have nothing to do with not drinking coffee, etc. It will have to do with me trusting Jesus, worshipping him, and loving his people and his creation. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

    I don’t recognize whether a person has been born again by whether they still drink coffee. I recognize it by the new affections they have in their heart for Jesus, his word, and for enemies. My heart is broken over my own sin (and it should be a whole lot more broken), and I love Jesus. I have the Holy Spirit indwelling me.

    I challenge you, Parkman, to read the letter of Paul to the Galatians.

    Grace and peace in Jesus,


  5. falcon says:

    I’m kind of interested in those rewards you can earn.
    Try this:
    “There are two separate judgments. Believers are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). Every believer will give an account of himself, and the Lord will judge the decisions he made—including those concerning issues of conscience. This judgment does not determine salvation, which is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but rather is the time when believers must give an account of their lives in service to Christ. Our position in Christ is the “foundation” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. That which we build upon the foundation can be the “gold, silver, and precious stones” of good works in Christ’s name, obedience and fruitfulness—dedicated spiritual service to glorify God and build the church. Or what we build on the foundation may be the “wood, hay and stubble” of worthless, frivolous, shallow activity with no spiritual value. The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal this.”
    First of all, the key word is “believers”. Are Mormons “believers”? A believer is someone who knows Jesus personally. As far as I can tell, Mormons don’t know Jesus personally. There’s a Jesus in Mormonism but he’s not the Jesus of the Bible. The Mormon Jesus isn’t a qualified Savior. Faith in the Mormon Jesus isn’t going to meet the faith requirement for eternal life, as I see it.
    So all of the works that Mormons are doing, hoping that they will reap a reward, are really fools’ gold.

  6. falcon says:

    I don’t have a word from the Lord on this but putting faith in a false Jesus would not appear to be a good idea. In fact that would classify someone as an “unbeliever”. Here’s the type of judgment unbelievers face.

    “The second judgment is that of unbelievers who will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). This judgment does not determine salvation, either. Everyone at the Great White Throne is an unbeliever who has rejected Christ in life and is therefore already doomed to the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12 says that unbelievers will be “judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Those who have rejected Christ as Lord and Savior will be judged based on their works alone, and because the Bible tells us that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16), they will be condemned. No amount of good works and the keeping of God’s laws can be sufficient to atone for sin. ”
    So Mormons are knocking themselves out with all of their rules, regulations, rituals and callings thinking they’re going to reap this huge reward; specifically to becomes gods, have a goddess wife and rule their very own planetary system. The false Jesus of Mormonism can’t provide anything. Certainly not personal deification.
    This is where the rubber meets the road and things get very serious. Without a personal relationship with Jesus, someone is lost for eternity. No amount of progressive revelation or religious fervor can reverse the tide.

  7. Mike R says:

    We have men today [latter days ] claiming that they alone have the true gospel ,
    the very same one that Paul preached –Rom 1:16 . It was unavailable for 1700
    yrs or so but now is fully restored and promoted by the men in leadership of
    the Mormon church. Yet these men have proceeded to revise the Gospel preached
    by Jesus’ apostles in the N.T. by adding their own ideas to it and advertising it as
    the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Polygamy and the Word of Wisdom are examples of how
    Mormon leaders have deviated from the true Gospel by ” teaching for doctrine the
    commandments of men ” , and the way they have elevated the prohibition of coffee
    to a “gospel standard ” is a good example. Refusing to drink coffee for health reasons
    is one thing , but will coffee keep you from God’s presence ? No. Can’t people be
    trusted with exercising a little common sense in what they eat or drink ? By
    teaching that this view of coffee is an important part of the gospel of salvation allows
    Mormons to keep in line thru fear of not being worthy enough to gain God’s approval
    with eternal life at stake, and thus these precious people continue to render
    submission to the men who created this doctrine . Jesus warned of such men in the
    the last days –Matt 7:15 ; 24:11 , who would introduce [ 2pt 2:1] false doctrines into
    the true gospel of salvation .

  8. falcon says:

    Yup lots of stuff added on and then subtracted as the need arises. There are many different versions of Mormonism floating around out there not to mention all of the different interpretations by the SLC denomination members.
    Mormonism, particularly Nauvoo style Mormonism looks nothing like what the religion was like at the beginning. The fact of the matter is that a bunch of men calling themselves prophets just got there creative mojo going and spun all sorts of ideas. Many of these ideas are now referred to as folklore which is really convenient I think.
    We see with this Word of Wisdom update how creative the Mormon authorities in SLC can be. But it’s par for the course.
    The Christian church settled most of these dietary rules early on as can be seen if someone reads the Book of Acts and Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It’s funny how men just can’t leave well enough alone. In the Christian faith this sort of re-creation of rules is known by the term “legalism”. I came out of such a tradition.
    What works for me is to be as close to the Lord as I can. Being in His Word and in prayer has a marvelous result of being transformed by the Holy Spirit. We can either be enslaved by rules that appear to have wisdom, or we can be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Being born again by the Spirit of God results in a spiritual heart transplant.
    Paul tells us that the Law was given to be our tutor. We can’t keep it. There is a better way. Drawing closer to God by faith in Jesus results in our being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are God’s temple. We are God’s living sacrifices. We serve in newness of the Spirit not by the Law.

  9. falcon says:

    In religion, rules are a good way for leaders to control the followers. It’s a way of keeping the little people in line and under the thumb of the religious ruling class. The followers keep the rules out of fear. The biggest fear is of going to some form of hell or losing a reward. In this world there are all sorts of sanctions applied by the religious leaders. Even the “group” applies pressure in subtle and not so subtle ways. These could include dirty looks, the cold shoulder and even verbal admonishments. Mormonism, SLC style, appears to be very “good” at applying pressure to get members to comply with the group norms.
    This is a far cry from what God has in mind. It’s explained in Jeremiah 32:31-34. It reads:
    “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, ” declares the Lords. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
    That’s good news!

  10. grindael says:

    The only thing that comes to my mind here, is why their “prophet” would not just ask God and get a revelation. Why hasn’t he? This is simple stuff. Joe Smith did it all the time.

  11. parkman says:

    (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26‎)‎
    26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

  12. grindael says:

    So why then, was tithing made a commandment? Why then, was it commanded that coffee and tea are forbidden, as well as alcohol and tobacco? If it is “not meet” that God should not “command in all things”, why command for those things? As usual, Mormonism makes little sense.

    I guess all those that had to be commanded to pay tithing, and not drink coffee and tea & alcohol and smoke tobacco, are “unwise and slothful servants”. Or should those that gave the commandments be labeled as such?

    In the 1835 edition of the D&C the word commandment appears 87 times, the word command appears 26 times, and the word commanded appears 61 times. It appears that there was sure a lot of commanding going on back then.

  13. grindael says:

    Another example from the Doctrine & Covenants,

    D&C 5:26 And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.
    D&C 5:27 But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.
    D&C 5:28 And now, except he humble himself and acknowledge unto me the things that he hath done which are wrong, and covenant with me that he will keep my commandments, and exercise faith in me, behold, I say unto him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of the things of which I have spoken.
    D&C 5:29 And if this be the case, I command you, my servant Joseph, that you shall say unto him, that he shall do no more concerning this matter.
    D&C 5:30 And if this be the case, behold, I say unto thee Joseph, when thou hast translated a few more pages thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again; then thou mayest translate again.
    D&C 5:31 And except thou do this, behold, thou shalt have no more gift, and I will take away the things which I have entrusted with thee.

    I can go through the D&C and pull up many of these kinds of “commandments”. I guess ol Joe, and Martin, were “unwise and slothful” and will “receive no reward” for they sure had to be “commanded” in every little thing. Like, this one,

    And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more unrightly before me, and yield to the persuasions of men no more; and that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you. D&C XXXII:4 (1835 D&C)

    Gee, isn’t this basic stuff? Why would Smith need to be commanded to “walk more uprightly before me”?

  14. falcon says:

    Here’s some good Scripture for people who like to be under the Law. Now the Law can be the Mosaic Law or some religious law that folks in charge want to saddle you with. Here it is Galatians 2:16. It says:
    “..nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by he works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”
    This passage of Scripture will have, in a sense, different meaning to a Christian than a Mormon. Mormons are caught in a system that demands that they conform to a certain standard of works in order to achieve personal deification. So we have a false notion to begin with (becoming a god) reinforced by a system of works.
    Within the confines of Mormonism it makes sense that someone isn’t going to get to be a god without working for it. That’s the false premise.

  15. parkman says:

    “many of these kinds of “commandments”” is in no way “all things”, unless you believe that these men did nothing else in there lives.

    (New Testament | James 2:24‎)‎
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    All I have said is that after we are saved by grace, then our works determine which of God’s mansions we will live and work in.

  16. parkman says:

    I have found that Trinitarians do not agree with each other on this.
    What is your belief on this subject?
    Can you do anything, no matter how bad it is, after you are saved, or are bad deeds a sign of a false saving of that person?

  17. Mike R says:

    Parkman , you’re trying to move this thread away from the topic at hand , so address the issue
    of why drinking a cup of coffee with offend God and keep you out of His presence if not
    repented of . Since this is important part of the Mormon gospel of salvation , why should we
    accept it as the true gospel today ?

  18. falcon says:

    What’s the purpose of the Mormon “Law” .? There must be a purpose attached to it. Does it have to do with “salvation”? Does it have to do with becoming a god?
    What do we know about Mormon salvation.? In Mormon lore, everyone gets “saved”. It’s a universal salvation.
    Then there is the second tier of salvation in Mormonism. That tier has to do with becoming a god. Would drinking coffee or having a beer once or twice a week keep a Mormon male from becoming a god?
    There’s also the idea that a Mormon works like crazy at doing the Mormon program and then if he should fall short, Jesus covers what’s left. I’ve often wondered if there’s a point at which the Mormon Jesus won’t cover the short fall necessary to become a god.
    But any way, certain types of caffeine consumption obviously will not allow a Mormon male into the god club.
    How do we know all of this? Is it in the Bible? No. Does it appear in the BoM? No. But these are things that emerged later on like the prohibitions against tobacco use etc. Wait a minute. Didn’t Joseph Smith and the boys use tobacco. Wasn’t Joseph Smith known to drink alcoholic (drinks)? Seems to me he did. I guess he isn’t in the Celestial Kingdom.

  19. spartacus says:


    Your use of DnC 58:26 is not a good response to grindael. I know I’m going out on an interpretive ledge here, but…

    Grindael asked, “The only thing that comes to my mind here, is why their “prophet” would not just ask God and get a revelation. Why hasn’t he?”. Grindael was asking why LDS “prophets” don’t just ask God for a clarification of the WoW by which we would know whether caffeinated drinks were “good” or not. This is not asking for a new commandment but a clarification of the first.

    If that isn’t a strong enough rebuttal for your use of DnC 56:28, consider this:

    LDS rejoice in having a prophet to lead them TODAY because they need or could use some guidance for TODAY’s issues. So if caffeinated drinks exist now, but not when the WoW was given, shouldn’t a “Prophet for Today” be able to get a meager clarification?

    And if that isn’t a strong enough rebuttal, lastly, there’s this:

    The WoW is not really clear to begin with, and it is made even less clear by recent leadership declarations. If “God” is “not a god of confusion” then why did he ever start with such vague terms as “strong drinks” and especially “hot drinks”? If God shouldn’t have to command in all things, then why did they ever add “cold drinks” like tea? Or how did they know to say that a “hot drink” like hot cocoa was ok? Surely if we can get those “clarifications” then we,in this day of caffeinated drinks, should be able to receive direction from a “prophet for today”.

  20. spartacus says:

    The whole LDS use of WoW is legalistic absurdity incarnate. How many times have LDS leaders called LDS to “please” God by only eating meat in winter/times of cold/famine, or even just “sparingly”? Aaron brought that up, but what about baptism and temple worthiness interviews? They ask about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and tea, but what about meat sparingly? Or better, for missions and temple entrance, why not “please” God with confirming you only ever eat meat in times of famine, cold, and winter? How can this not be an example of denying the power of God with the commandments of men?

    On a side note: while I was looking up parkmans DnC 58:26 verse, I came across some bold exclamation points I wrote into the margin years ago. It was marking 58:21, which says:

    “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”

    I noted in the top margin that this was not only a command to obey the laws of the land, but a promise that GOD’S COMMANDS WOULD NEVER REQUIRE THE BREAKING OF THE LAWS of the land. This is tough news for Joseph Smith’s bigamy/polygamy. I guess that’s why some if not all LDS apologists are so determined to argue that polygamy was not outlawed in the U.S. during Joseph’s time. Maybe they’ve read that verse, too. Really read it, and understood the implications.

  21. parkman says:

    @ spartacus
    I find more to think about in your off topic remark then with anything else written here.

    The way most people keep harping on me to stay on subject and the strong demands that I answer questions instead of giving me good answers makes me sometimes think that they want someone to show them why they should rejoin the Church.

  22. Rick B says:

    Again, Why are you here?
    Maybe it’s just me, but I would think that if you claim to be a Mormon your doing a lousy job of showing it. You started to change the subject of the WoW to Works vs Faith, then you act like, I cannot believe everyone is getting on me.

    Well lets see here, You quote D and C trying to prove your point, then when people asked, well according to the verse you quoted then if I say this…..

    It fits with that verse and shows your mis-using it, Yet you then try and change the subject and ask another question. Thats typical of you. Then Mormons pride themselves on claiming to follow the WoW, Yet when the WoW first came out, it was NOT a command of God, only a good idea if you do this. And BY and JS drank hard liquor made their own, and used Tobacco products. Then as Spartacus pointed out, Mormons do not follow the entire WoW, they only pick and choose the no drinking Hot drinks and liquor and Tobacco portion of it.

    So it should be follow all or nothing. Yet again parkman, you cannot answer these things, so you complain about us and try this righteousness non-sense. I am not buying it and simply pointing it out for everyone who cannot see it. I figure if its pointed out and then they see it, then maybe you will stop your trolling and either give honest replies, or go back to the bride you came from.

  23. falcon says:

    ……..and the point of the W of W is what?
    Is it a means by which people can feel a great deal of pride in that they conclude that by following these rules they are better than people who don’t?
    ………or is the point of the W of W that it is a requirement for cleansing yourself and beginning the process of transformation to becoming a god? I’m guessing that the road to becoming a god is progressive in nature. As a matter of fact, there is a school of thought in Mormonism that even the gods are progressing to more wisdom and light and becoming…..what…..higher up the god chain?
    If I’m not mistaken, in Mormon lore even Christians who are strong in their faith and live righteous lives will get pretty fancy digs in the after-life.
    For a contrast, Christians walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. That’s the point of sanctification. The idea is to lead a life pleasing to God out of gratitude for what He has done for us through Christ Jesus our Lord. We don’t do the behaviors consistent with being saved for no other reason than we want to please our Heavenly Father. Key concept: Out Of Compulsion.
    It’s great to be free from the Law and under God’s grace. The process of being transformed by the Holy Spirit brings contentment and peace not guilt and shame for falling short.

  24. Rick B says:

    What is really sad is, The bondage Mormons are under for following the WoW.
    As I said, at first it was just a good idea and suggestion of dont do these things. But then turned into a command of God that you cannot enter into the temple or highest heaven if you do these things.

    Yet Jesus said to everyone, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of his heart. So Coffee, tea, beer, wine, smoking according to Jesus does not defile a man. Yet according to LDS prophets, God claimed these things do. Since when did God change His mind on these issues?

    Then Jesus was drinking wine, so How come He can Drink wine, then claim we cannot or we will not be able to enter the temple and heaven? If any mormon thinks, I will reply to the Jesus drinking wine issue by saying it contained no alcohol, then let me remind you, Jesus was accused of being a drunk by the religious leaders, so yes it did, since you cannot get drunk off of pure grape juice.

  25. falcon says:

    I have a serious proposal. Why don’t you give Parkman your e mail address and then you can answer all of his questions directly.
    I mean the guy is here, there and every where. He’s like a Mormon super ball. You and I are the senior members of the contributing fellows here on MC and we’ve seen Parkman’s type before.
    We’ve found that when given this opportunity, our Mormon friends pass on it with rare exception. Why is that? It’s because the real reason for them being here in the first place is just to be disruptive, to merely agitate. I call them drive-by posters.

  26. grindael says:

    The way most people keep harping on me to stay on subject and the strong demands that I answer questions instead of giving me good answers makes me sometimes think that they want someone to show them why they should rejoin the Church.

    This is so funny that it would make a great South Park episode.

  27. grindael says:


    Your quote of D&C 58:21 goes much farther than Joe’s adultery. For example, Abraham Cannon wrote in his diary that the Church leadership had bribed a U.S. Supreme Court Judge:

    Dec. 17, 1892: At my Quorum meeting on Thursday the brethren were told that our success in the Church suits was in a great measure due to the fact that we have a partner of Justice [Stephen J.] Field of the Supreme Court of the United States in our employ, who is to receive a percentage of the money if the suits go in our favor, and the property is returned to us. It was decided at this meeting that we would dispense with the services of the Church attorneys at the end of the year. Those now employed are F[ranklin] S. Richards and Le Grand Young. The former receives $5,000 per year, and the latter $3,000. The latter has felt some reluctance at accepting his pay for the work now being done, but the former has felt it was his due.

    The Mormon Church has been filled with hypocrisy since it’s inception. Nothing has changed, and there are many, many more of these kinds of historical incidents that can be quoted.

  28. grindael says:

    Someone might want to look into what James meant by works. Here is what he defines as works:

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

    James never mentions petty regulations like tithing, like food restrictions, or the plethora of others that Mormonism embraces. But he does mention the “Royal Law” of loving your neighbor as yourself, (James 2:8), which is of course the higher law that Christ taught as an end to the regulations of the Mosaic Law, which were then no longer needed, for those guided by the Holy Spirit, do not need to be compelled by regulations, as Mormons are. James also mentions this “work”:

    “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

    Again, James equates works with helping others, not the self aggrandizement of Mormonism. Contrast James with the “prophet” Joe Smith:

    Joseph Smith said that some people entirely denounce the principle of self-aggrandizement as wrong. ‘It is a correct principle,’ he said, ‘and may be indulged [in] upon only one rule or plan–and that is to elevate, benefit and bless others first. If you will elevate others, the very work itself will exalt you. Upon no other plan can a man justly and permanently aggrandize himself’ (quoted in Andrus and Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet, 61).

    This may sound good, but it is based on selfish motives: to become a god. For Joe, the end always justified the means, like when he explained to the parents of a fourteen year old that if they allowed him to have her for one of his “spiritual wives”, it would save their entire family. Then, two months after the marriage of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the following certificate was published:

  29. grindael says:

    We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, (The Article on Marriage, which was removed in 1876 that stated that a man could only have one wife) and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett’s “secret wife system” is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did.

    S. Bennett,
    N. K. Whitney,
    George Miller,
    Albert Pettey,
    Alpheus Cutler,
    Elias Higbee,
    Reynolds Cahoon,
    John Taylor,
    Wilson Law,
    E. Robinson,
    W. Woodruff,
    Aaron Johnson.

    This was a blantant lie. (No surprise there) Wilson Law, of course – was lied to by Joe, and knew nothing about Joe’s own “spiritual wifeism” at that time, but when he found out, published the Nauvoo Expositor, which Joe – in a panic destroyed – and in doing so destroyed himself. Law would later write:

    “One of Joe Smith’s weakest points was his jealousy of other men. He could not bear to hear other men spoken of. If there was any praise it must be of him; all adoration and worship must be for him. He would destroy his best friend rather than see him become popular in the eyes of the church or the people at large. His vanity knew no bounds. He was unscrupulous; no man’s life was safe if he was disposed to hate him. He sat the laws of God and men at defiance.”

    This was not the way of the Savior. His message was not about self-aggrandizement, but of selflessness. It wasn’t about helping others with the selfish motive to help yourself, which James condemned, teaching that “if you harbor envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it” (as Joe did), and then James adds, “Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:13-15)

    And this could not be more true of the evil practice of Joe Smith’s spiritual wifeism, where he was envious of other men’s wives, sending some on missions so he could marry their wives and commit adultery with them, all the while crowing about “self aggrandizement”.

    The contrast here is clear. What James speaks of, is not anything like the forced regulations of Mormonism. It would benefit one greatly to read his letter in the context it was given in.

  30. grindael says:


    “many of these kinds of “commandments”” is in no way “all things”, unless you believe that these men did nothing else in there (sic) lives.

    Huh? Don’t you even think about what you are going to write before you write it? I’m not the one who brought up the “all things”. You did, in response to my ONE THING (asking God about caffeinated drinks). And I gave you a pass, as Spartacus adequately explained above, because your Mormon “scripture” quote was misapplied.

    I brought up ONE THING, and then gave examples of SOME THINGS in response to your quoting Joe’s “revelation” about being commanded in “all things” in response to my ONE THING.

    And my examples were spot on, if you bothered to read a little past the verse you quoted:

    But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

    Again, why would Joe have to be commanded to keep the commandments already given to him? Shouldn’t he have been doing that already?

    If you don’t understand what I’m saying, you are (in typical Mormon fashion) trying to accuse me of doing something you did yourself.

    Ignorance at work.

  31. Mike R says:

    Is’nt it sad to see how decent people can be so diverted from the simple gospel of Jesus by
    false apostles today . The Mormon people are striving to follow God , but have been detoured
    by their apostles into embracing a legalistic lifestyle in hopes of being worthy before God .
    The way Mormon leaders have vacillated on the Word of Wisdom is a clear picture of why
    they can’t be trusted to provide consistent divine direction as they claim to offer . A cup
    of coffee keeping a person out of the Temple , and the top of the celestial Kingdom ? I
    guess it’s no surprise to read of testimonies that recently it was various Bishop’s counsel that
    men with beards could not receive a temple recommend [ see ” facial Hair” at Mormon
    Curtain. com ] . Why is this ? I think the answer lies in the fact that the scriptures mean little
    to most Mormons , rather it’s whatever their Hierarchy says and when the prophet speaks the
    debate is over . Mormons have been convinced by these false apostles that to reject or call into
    question their counsel is to start on the road to personal apostasy , to give place to the Devil in
    their lives. Makes you wonder what the next thing Mormon apostles will declare it is that makes
    a member “unworthy” ,” impure” to enter their Temple ? The Mormon people need to know
    that there is a better way —-a Person , not a temple [ Jn 14:6 ]

  32. parkman says:

    @ Rick B
    The way the word of wisdom was presented here it was used to show the difference of your understanding of faith and how you say you have no other responsibility vs how we believe that works have a place in out progression, so don’t try to pretend that I am changing the subject.

    Rather then asking me why I am here, a better question for you to ask yourself is weather you are posting here to convert people to what you think is the only way to God, or are you here to @#$%$@!#$%^^$#@! at the Mormons?

  33. Rick B says:

    I am here to share the Real Jesus with Mormons, Point out things the LDS dont openly share with those seeking, and show all of the problems with in the Church.

    Again, stop with self righteousness nonsense. If your going to say,

    is weather you are posting here to convert people to what you think is the only way to God,

    You know very well, Mormons come here, tell us we are wrong, try and make converts, and thats why they send out Missionary’s. Then it was your Church, prophet and scriptures that tell us we are wrong, so like it or not, we can defend what we believe.

    As to the WoW, It was simply a good idea to follow at first, yet JS and BY did not follow it, then it later was a command by your god that it MUST be followed. Then Mormons only focus on the dont drink alcohol, Coffee, tea and smoke part of it, while ignoring the rest of it.

    Then again as I pointed out, Jesus Drank, so he never followed the WoW nor did he commanded it or give it out.

  34. parkman says:

    And you spend your time chasing me out of my faith and very little time telling drawing me into your faith. You do the math.

  35. Rick B says:

    Again, you have no idea what you are talking about, but thats not much of a surprise.

    I’m not chasing you out of your faith. Yes I believe you have a false gospel and are leading people to eternal destruction, But I simply share with people, and debate people like you, or at least try. It’s not much of a debate when you cannot answers questions and dont even try.

    As far as drawing you into my faith, It’s simple, everyone from Me, to Falcon to Mike and other have shown you scriptures that teach, Believe and you will be saved, It’s that simple. If you choose to do other wise, thats your choice.

  36. parkman says:

    @ Rick B
    Since you teach that I have to be chosen by God before I was born to become one of your elect born again Trinitarians, and that I can do nothing about becoming born-again, why should I do what you say? Since reading is a works, your teachings say that it will not help me. You teach that all I can do is wait for God to let me know that I am born again. If I am not born again, your teachings also say that that was God’s decision before I was born and no amount of reading will change God’s decision.

  37. Rick B says:

    I have told you already, your nothing more than a little troll who refuses to hear what we say, and you refuse to answer questions.

    Your questions have been answered many times by use all and I’m done playing games. Go away.

  38. parkman says:

    I hear what you say and then I ask you about it. I treat your faith like you treat mine. If your life and faith and religion cannot stand up to what you ask of us Mormons, you are only a big noise, just a disturbance in the air, nothing of substance.

    So, instead of addressing what your religion is truly like, just keep hiding behind your habit of calling me a troll.

  39. Mike R says:

    Abstaining from coffee a part of Jesus’ gospel of salvation ? How ? This is taught to be part of
    Jesus’ “restored” gospel, but in reality it is Jesus’ gospel “revised ” . I have to wonder why the
    Mormon leadership did’nt issue a revelation for the need to avoid trans fats . Last year in CA. it
    became a state law (in restaurants) to use them etc. Trans fats have directly contributed to
    the deaths of millions of people . If abstaining from drinking coffee became a “gospel law”
    why not the same for trans fats ? Since a person could have taken the time to ask about
    coffee or other foods that might not be healthy , and found that through a little homework that
    these things were not in their best interest health wise , this does’nt take a “revelation” from
    God thru some prophet who then elevates it to be requirement to keep in order to gain
    salvation . That’s going way to far . This is the trap that Mormon leaders have created for their
    followers who are striving to please God with their lives — they submit to anything that their
    leaders teach is a gospel “law” as being God’s will . The Word of Wisdom is not a revelation,
    however it is some common sense which the Mormon people could have come to find out for
    themselves and then decided to what extent to incorporate it into their lives without fear of
    losing out on eternal life with God .

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