A mediator between God and man

The other day I was invited to attend LDS seminary classes at the public high school my youngest daughter attends. Seminary, for those who don’t know, is a four-year program put together by the LDS Church for their high school students. The one-year topics are Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants (church history), which is this year’s emphasis.

ProvoSeminaryMormon students throughout the United States typically meet before or after school at the local LDS chapel. In Utah, however, most high schools have a dedicated building located next door for the students to attend during the school day in a program called “release time.” The majority of this school’s student body—of the school’s 1,800 students, 1,000 attend seminary—are enrolled at this seminary, which is located directly behind the school. My middle child who attended a middle school in 9th grade five years ago told me how LDS students publicly bragged about attending these voluntary classes. She said such attitudes served as barriers with other students. Those Latter-day Saints who didn’t attend were shamed; those who weren’t LDS didn’t seem to matter.

A pastor friend and I are trying right now to begin an Evangelical Christian “seminary” class beginning next year. With 17 years of teaching experience, including my service as the Bible department head at a large Southern California Christian high school, we have an idea of what we want to do. Thus, we have been doing research to find out exactly what takes place in these seminary classes. The seminary’s principal and five teachers have been very accommodating. One teacher, whom I now consider a friend, even told me that he would have his 180 students get the word out to their non-LDS friends when our class begins in January. “Anything that leads people to Christ is worth promoting,” he told me. I told him I appreciated the offer; we’ll see where that goes.

first_vision_1838As I walked into this teacher’s room during his prep period, I was immediately struck by a large poster on his wall listing the scriptural memory verse for the first quarter, Joseph Smith-History 1:15-20 found in the Pearl of Great Price. Specifically, it deals with the all-important First Vision. Let me quote verses 18-20a to give you an idea of Joseph Smith’s account:

18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.  19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”  20 He again forbade me to join with any of them.

An interesting set of verses to memorize, wouldn’t you think? More than half of my daughter’s friends (probably closer to 80%) are going to be reciting these verses in the upcoming weeks. Do the students realize the take-home message? I find this passage a fascinating choice for memorization.

The instructors are given freedom to teach the assigned material, the same across the board for all seminary classes this year. Doing their best to engage the students, the attitude of these five men (professional teachers who are paid a wage by the LDS Church that is equal to their public school counterparts) reminded me why I remained in Christian education for so long.

The lesson for this particular day covered D&C 1, emphasizing the importance of the LDS leadership. In fact, the journal assigned by one teacher asked, “Look around this room and see the different pictures. Who would you choose to eat dinner with and why?” On one wall were the individual photos of the three men comprising the First Presidency as well as the twelve apostles. In addition, pictures of each of the sixteen prophets, beginning with Joseph Smith, were displayed in the back of the room.

When the students were done with the assignment, they were allowed to share their choices with the class. One boy picked Brigham Young, a man he said was vital for the early growth of the church. Another girl chose Gordon B. Hinckley, an obvious pick for someone who was a child at the time when Hinckley was wrapping up his life. Nobody picked Jesus, even though there were two pictures of Him in the room. This would have been my choice, I suppose, if I had been given the assignment.

SeminaryIllustrationAn illustration epitomized for me the difference between Mormonism and Christianity. The teacher drew two stick-people figures on the white board and added a tall wall between them. He explained how human beings were represented by the figure on the right. On the left, he said, stood God the Father. The wall was symbolic of the inability for communication to take place between God and man. My brain’s juices were flowing. Certainly this wall must represent sin! (Rom 3:23; 6:23) Then he drew a third person standing on top of the wall, with arrows pointing up and down to the two lower figures. He said that this figure represented our mediator with God. In my mind, I thought, “What a great illustration! Yes, this is Jesus.” After all, 1 Timothy 2:5 says,For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

Unfortunately, this was not the pick of the seminary teacher. Instead, he explained how this figure represented the prophets…embodied today in the current prophet Thomas S. Monson. What was the take-home message? God has given humanity a living prophet to bridge the gap for humans to have access to God the Father.

On a street outside the Ogden temple last month, a Mormon said I was splitting hairs when I said the beliefs of Mormonism and my Christianity contradicted. They are really the same, I was told. “No ma’am,” I replied, “no hairs are split.” This illustration is the difference between truth and error, orthodoxy and heresy.

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114 Responses to A mediator between God and man

  1. makeitshine says:

    @MJP – Is the Church the entire body of believers, or just those who believe in the EO tradition?

    — I would say the entire body of believers, but that they would say they have the right doctrine and right worship and nothing that will lead you away from Christ. that is why they claim to be the one true church, and that other churches may have added or taken away, but on the main points all agree. Seems like EO for the most part mind their own business on these issues. Hence why they say we don’t know where its NOT. Personally I believe that all believers are part of the body and I came to this conclusion through EO.

    I dont know anything about worship, I only know main theology so far so I cant say if I agree with them or not. I’m seeking what will bring me closest to him. I dont know anything about Evangelist either but MJP it seems like I agree with your posts. Everything else is splitting hairs, and doesnt really matter here since we are just trying to lead people into the trinity.

    MT – universalism is not the same thing as I was talking about. Jesus has saved everyone because he offers his salvation to all. There are some that do not accept it. Universalism says that everyone will eventually come to Christ even those in hell. That is not EO teaching, some EO might believe it. I don’t.

    “And I want to emphasize that the Trinity is not an easy thing to understand”
    . – so true, the closer you get the farther you realize you are, but it would be good to have some ways of talking about God that make it easier to understand at least somewhat rationally and Biblically. This is what I have been trying to do so that I can help other Mormons to understand, I’m still working on it.

  2. cattyjane says:

    RikkiJ reminded me of Isaiah 9 where it talks about his name being Mighty God. I didnt believe this to be Messianic for a long time but in the last couple of weeks i have seen some evidence to say it is. So i guess if it says this then somehow the Messiah is.

  3. makeitshine says:

    What we are doing here is important. It was actually through a friendly debate between an EO a Lutheran and a Mormon on a non religious forum I belonged to that was a major turning point into leading me to Christianity. Even though I was studying chistianity, I was still defending some Mormonism, and actually going down a path to New Age Gnosicism. Thats probably where I would be now if I hadnt been watching that conversation (watching because I knew the one Mormon involved from the Board) I had gone to ex-mormon sites a little bit, but there was too much negativivy and ignorance there for me to stay, same with watching other religious forums. One person, one conversation, can change a persons direction.

  4. falcon says:

    You folks may be familiar with Shawn McCraney who had a TV show out of SLC called “The Heart of the Matter”. Shawn’s story is that he had been a life long Mormon but became a born again Christian and eventually left the LDS church. Shawn was a real attention grabber because of how he dressed/looked and his aggressive manner in dealing with Mormonism. He wrote a book called “Born Again Mormon”. Anyway, I’d pick his show-up off of the internet and found it to be pretty effective in dealing with Mormonism. Maybe a year back or so Shawn all of a sudden starts to go-off on the orthodox view of the Trinity. He didn’t lack in zeal that’s for sure but he went way off on a tangent. I’ve been reading different reports about this and I’ll link to one that I think offers a good view of how people can take some information and run with it without fully vetting what they are saying. Here’s the conclusion to the article, then the link.

    “Many of McCraney’s arguments against the personhood of the Holy Spirit, if applied consistently, would also “disprove” that God the Father is a person, or that Christ is a person. All of his objections to the orthodox doctrine are based on misunderstandings, some of them egregious.”

    “The tragedy is that these errors could easily have been avoided, if McCraney would have listened to sound teachers and studied these things carefully before publicly teaching on matters he doesn’t understand.”

  5. cattyjane says:

    This is all messed up. I dont understand why this is such a big deal. We know that the one true God is the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and delivered Israel from Egypt. We know that Jesus, as you call him, was and is the promised Messiah who will be King in the last day. Why should anything else matter?

  6. MJP says:

    “I am, I am,” Cattyjane. That’s what matters, and that’s who Jesus claimed to be. Jesus is I am, and a false view of Him is a false view of God.

    Jesus is God, not just the Messiah. And it matters also because the only way to Him is an acceptance of the true Jesus, an acceptance of God into our hearts.

    Yes, we can and do approach Jesus in different ways, but we cannot say that Jesus is something he is not.

    I’ll urge you again to consider your admonition to us to consider alternate views. I appreciate your journey and your struggles, but we cannot say that Jesus is just the Messiah when he is also much, much more.

  7. Rick B says:

    Hello Make it shine,
    You said

    Sooooo. I do believe a buhddist, or an unbaptised baby and many others can be saved. Why? 1. Because Christ has saved EVERYONE by his death on the cross.

    I do not agree with you and here is why.
    Buddhists do not believe in Jesus, and if you reject Jesus you reject salvation.
    As to Baby or people in General, baptism is not a requirement of salvation. Paul said,

    1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

    So if Paul was not sent to baptize then it must not be required to be saved. But here for me is the best one,

    John 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

    Jesus did not baptize, so if He did not do it, then it must not be required to be saved.
    Now Jesus said,

    John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do

    So if Jesus said your of your the father the devil, then that tells me that not everyone has God as their father, but they can be and are, Children of the devil.

    Now Jesus also said this

    Mat 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Jesus said people are in err of scripture and dont know it.

    Now Jesus did not save everyone, not everyone is saved, He died so everyone has a chance to be saved if they come to Jesus, but not everyone is saved.

    The Bible teaches many of us are enemies of God.

    Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    Phl 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

    Here we find Children of the devil, so if your a child of the devil, your not saved.

    1John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

    Only those who receive Him can be called Children of God.

    John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

  8. Mike R says:

    I think there is a lot to be said about having patience with exMormons who are in transition . It goes without saying that some will be confused at what the Bible teaches about certain important doctrines . Cattyjane is progressing in the right direction . I tend to think her spunky demeanor is why she appears at times to sound like a know it all type etc . But everyone’s different in personality and I have to just have patience with those like her . She’s worth the time .

    I think that makeitshine has reminded us of a great point , which is that on Mormon coffee blog we have a decent tone , respectful . At times we have arrogant Mormons stop by here who would like nothing more than to hinder this ministry outreach to the Mormon people . We take a firm stand doctrinally against these individuals . 1 Pt 3:15 is good counsel in dealing with all kinds of people.

    Concerning the Trinity : this is a true Biblical teaching . We must be careful though to not leave the impression that someone is not saved until they can understand it . Salvation is received by coming to the Savior , the Lord Jesus Christ . Finding out who Jesus is and inviting Him into their life . Then more about the True God will be discovered .It starts with Jesus . With ex Mormons and ex Jw’s there is a lot of baggage to deal with when working with them , some come to see the truth about Jesus ( and the Trinity ) sooner than others . It’s not an easy ministry , but is very rewarding .

  9. Rick B says:

    Falcon said

    The falcon, in a perverse way, is sort of enjoying this. If rick is around I bet he is too. rick and I could probably be labeled “The Tone Brothers” not to be confused with “The Blues Brothers”. Maybe more accurately it would be “The BAD Tone Brothers” and that’s not as in, “You be bad tone, brother” sort of compliment. My apologies to those who can actually speak jive.
    I think I have taken the edge off a little over the past five years here. I can definitely say that rick has not.

    Let me put it this way, what I’m enjoying is that their are people who are speaking the truth and not caring if someone is offended by it.

    Just so people know what me and Falcon are talking about is this, I am very outspoken in defence of the truth and I dont hold back and dont mince words. Yet their is one “Christian” who would jump all over me for what I said and how I said it.

    I would call people out if they lied, or were getting their facts wrong, and this self Righteous believer would jump all over me and complain about how I said things. I would point out that Jesus and the apostles said some very hard things, to which he would claim, they could but I cannot.

    I would point out that I was not saying anything that was inaccurate or wrong, yet that did not matter to this person. Then I would point out people like Falcon and others would say the same things I would say, yet this person never said anything to them. I even asked, Why can they say and do the things I say and do, and you never say a thing to them, only me. This person never answered that question.

    So that told me they had an agenda and wanted a piece of me for some reason. So now Falcon, I am still around, I read every topic and all replies, I just dont post as much since their are people that are outspoken and standing for the truth. I am happy to say, that I was offered my own radio show and I said yes. So I now have a live radio show every saturday from 3-4 PM central time and it’s broadcast through out 70 countries and heard through out the weak on the radio station and then put in podcast form on my website.

    I am very outspoken on my show and dont hold back. I cover all aspects of religion, I name names, I call people out. I have spoken about Christians being hypocrites, homosexulas, false prophets, mormons, next week I will talk about Islam, and the pope and the Catholic church will be on my radar. it’s not a live call in show, but I do tell people, if you want to come on my show for a interview or a debate, please write me. So MJP and the few outspoken not PC tell it like it Christians, Keep up the good work, I have the ut most respect for you guys. The PC cowards, No love or respect from me. Rick “The Hammer’

  10. falcon says:

    I am really enjoying this conversation. I’ve been a bit concerned of late that maybe MC was running out of steam since Mike and I seemed to be the only posters. Since this is my main ministry outreach I was thinking maybe God was wrapping up this gig for me. So I’m relieved at the quantity of posters and the quality of posts.
    This conversation would be, I’m afraid, a tough one for folks who have a low tolerance for ambiguity. But let me say this. If someone has a low tolerance for ambiguity it allows those who want to claim to have the definitive answers an avenue to seduce people. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual matters. Cults thrive on this.

    cattyjane and anyone else.
    Take a look at this four part series Andy Watson wrote on MC some time ago. He really did yeoman’s work on it and I think it may bring some clarity to our discussion regarding the nature of God and Jesus as our Mediator.


  11. Rick B says:

    Just thought I would share this,
    I did not create my website, thats more than I know anything about. But I was saying people from 70 different countries are listing to my show. Well I went into see how many countries really are following, and I’m happy to say, I have listeners from 115 countries, and it gives a break down of exactly how many people from each country follow/listen to me. So God is using me and I love it.

  12. MJP says:

    “We must be careful though to not leave the impression that someone is not saved until they can understand it .” I don’t think anyone has said this. What has presented is a rejection of the Trinity in favor of something else, something more akin to a Unitarian point of view and influenced by Mosaic teachings.

    No, fully understanding the Trinity is not necessary to be saved, but the identity of Christ is apart from that. The Trinity trips me up from time to time, and its fun explaining to my 8 year old how Jesus is both God and man.

    I can’t pretend to know what is in the hearts of others. Personally, my only intent in this conversation is to ensure Christ is portrayed accurately and to encourage an open reading of New Testament and NT scholars.

    I also believe, as I have said over and over, that there are different ways to come to Christ, and that we need not agree on all of the finer points. The identity of Christ is a point that requires accuracy, though.

  13. Mike R says:

    MJP , we’re all here for the same reason , to bring to the attention of the Mormon people that they are in a false prophet organization . MRM is faithfully trying to equip the Body of Christ as to the spiritual danger that Mormonism poses . MRM allows us to be on line to share the love of Jesus with Mormons . I appreciate Bill, Eric , Aaron , Sharon , Johnny and the others who make MRM a much needed ministry .

    I think you summed up my sentiments well .

  14. MJP says:

    Mike R,

    Cheers! Amen to that.

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