We rightly expect more integrity and imitable behavior of church pastors and deacons today than was expected of prophets 3500 years ago.
We rightly expect better theology of our teachers today than we do the Early Church Fathers.
That said, if you claim to be a prophet or a teacher today, you are expected to not model the bad behavior of ancient prophets, or the fumbling theology of Early Church Fathers. We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We join in the life of a body that the Holy Spirit has been maturing for thousands of years.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
We ought not hold Joseph Smith to a 21st century standard, but to a reasonable 19th century Christian standard. By giving Joseph Smith a free pass to secretly marry and sleep with teenagers behind Emma’s back, Mormons have rejected the millennia-long maturing work of the Holy Spirit on the body of Christ.
God sets the standard of behavior. Bad behavior can’t be justified on the basis of other bad behavior. That’s just a weasel way of trying to justify a “prophet” that someone wants to believe in.
Now I must take issue with the statement on the Church Fathers. These guys were super bright, in my estimation, and they thought about questions that I can’t imagine myself ever asking. Read even some of what they wrote and compare it to what the Mormon prophets have proclaimed. The Mormon prophets wouldn’t even qualify as bat boys on the Church Fathers’ baseball team. In fact the Mormon prophets wouldn’t even be allowed any where near the stadium they are that vapid.
Truth is truth, no matter what year it is.
And Mormons should consider that not only did Joseph Smith lie about his polygamy with young girls and the wives of other men, but he fabricated a “revelation” denying that polygamy ever happened. Then he and his apostles lied about it during his lifetime; then all the subsequent Mormon prophets lied about it until last year, as have all the bishops, stake presidents, and LDS seminary teachers that Mormons have trusted for so many decades.
And by the way, any Mormon teachers protesting that they weren’t lying because they didn’t know the truth, should take a minute to consider that they are conceding that Church leaders lied to them.
The church continues to obfuscate using PR firms to help soften the reality. From the Mormon website describing one of Joseph’s wives: “The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.” If I’m not mistaken, “several months shy of someone’s 15 year old birthday” makes them 14. It’s simple word play to soften the horror of Joseph’s predatory behavior, with both the willing and the coerced. All were victims. Here, I’ll do it: Two of Joseph’s wives were 14 years old. See? How hard is that?
The church, as one of its justifications of polygamy says this: “Polygamy had been permitted for millennia in many cultures and religions, but, with few exceptions, it was rejected in Western cultures. In Joseph Smith’s time, monogamy was the only legal form of marriage in the United States.” Since when does a religion base its doctrine and justify its practices based on non-scriptural cultural mores of non western societies? I knew Joseph drew truth from many sources but now basing doctrine on the sexual behavior of the Mendes from Sierra Leone or the Nayars from the Malabar Coast of India. I did not know this. Was Joseph even aware of these practices or are the PR firms rewriting history a little bit?
Joseph at 14 gets called a”Boy Prophet ” yet Helen gets called a ” Young Woman ” at the same age.
Says it all really.
This outline provided by Grant Palmer o MormonThink is worth perusing.
Joseph Smith’s changing view of God as seen in his First Vision accounts
(Outline of a lecture given at the Salt Lake City Library, Nov. 6, 2013, at 7:00 pm)
by Grant H. Palmer
Youtube video presentation: “Joseph Smith’s changing view of God” with Grant Palmer
But guys, an angel with a flaming sword threatened death and destruction if he didn’t comply…
Aaron, I think I understand what you’re trying to say , but it could tend to give those who follow latter days false prophets a excuse to deny that their prophets ( like Joseph Smith / Brigham Young etc)were wrong . Jw’s utilize an excuse to deny their past Presidents were false prophets because now they have more ” light ” , more ” refinement ” . There’s just enough truth in that alibi to allow them to exploit it and cleverly convince people to believe that never once have they misled anyone into embracing false teachings . It’s good red herring that has worked well .
When evaluating those who claim to be prophets , God’s exclusive spokesmen in these latter days who alone claim to have the true gospel of salvation , whether these individuals came on the scene in the 19th century ( Mormons / Jw’s etc ) or yesterday , a proper evaluation will start with the test that the apostle John advised — 1 Jn 4:1 . Other scriptures relevant to use when investigating those latter days prophets who claim to be appointed by Jesus to lead His church : Matt 7:15 , 24:11 ; Gal. 1:8 ; 2Tim 4:3,4 . God has preserved His word for us today to use a measure in evaluating any prophets because being fooled into following false prophets is still a very real problem — just like in Paul’s day 2Cor 11:4,13-15 . Acts 20:29-30 .
Prophets like Joseph Smith / Brigham Young failed the testing , and those that have succeeded them have never admitted they taught/condoned unsound teachings which deceived many in their flock .
Mormonism is not the answer .
The precious Mormon people find themselves in a false prophet led organization . We pray that their eyes would be open and they will seek Jesus to guide them to spiritual safety .
One thing I know…………….for sure. In Mormonism the standard for someone to be considered a prophet is incredibly low. That’s why there’s all of these off-shoot groups being led by some guy claiming the mantle of the prophet.
So what are the techniques used by Mormons to explain away why these prophets are so weak or just plain nutty? It’s just their opinion…..the prophet that is. That’s just folk doctrine. It’s the result of “progressive” revelation, so what was true then, isn’t true now. We have more “light” now.
Have I missed any?
It’s the same deal with any cult and their prophet. Ready made list of excuses must be kept handy to keep propping these guys up.
I agree with you the Mormon P.R. machine can publically resort to what amounts to word games in order to downplay or soften the impact of some of Mormonism’s doctrines making it easier to convince people everything is ok . Having said that I will note that the age of 14 for parents to allow their daughter to marry was not unheard of in parts of some Europe countries a century or so before Smith’s time , and also in some U.S. states after Smith’s time . I think the issue with Smith was not so much the young age of some of his wives ( I personally think 14 years old is way to young ) , but the ” how” and ” why” he married them — that reveals the errors of Joseph Smith and a better reason to dismiss him as a religious authority a person should submit to .
Concerning other groups who practiced polygamy you said , ” was Joseph even aware of these practices or are the PR firms rewriting history a little bit ?”
Young Joseph may indeed have heard about other groups and polygamy which touched a cord with him . But it appears that he believed the O.T. polygamy was to be restored , and supposedly God told him to do that . When certain prophets want to justify some odd practice or belief they’ve usually combed the O.T. to find it , by doing so it is easier to persuade others to follow them . Unfortunately people fall for that type of rationale .
Concerning polygamy Joseph did use the O.T. to justify his introduction of it into his church . The problem with this however is that Mormonism claims to be not Moses’ church , but Jesus’ church —
3Nephi 27: 8 . The gospel that Joseph Smith and his successors preached was the one which Jesus sent out His apostles to preach –Rom 1:16 ; Col 1: 22-23, this is the gospel of salvation that Mormon
leaders say was completely restored by Smith . Yet Paul did not preach polygamy to be an essential ordinance of Jesus’ church like Mormon leaders did , the First Presidency stated in 1891 : ” We formerly taught our people that polygamy , or celestial marriage , as commanded by God through Joseph Smith was right ; that it was a necessity to man’s highest exaltation in the life to come .”
Jesus’ apostles never taught such a thing , and if polygamy was THAT important they would have .
Mormon leader George Q Cannon testified : ” The church of Christ — which is called the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints — has been organized as we testify according to the original pattern with apostles, prophets , , with evangelists , with pastors and teachers and the various officers that were contained in the ancient church [ first century ] , having all the essential features of the primitive church . But not this alone . The gospel as taught is claimed to be the same gospel in every particular as was preached by the Savior while upon the earth and committed by Him to His apostles to declare to all nations , the same doctrine , the same ordinances , the same gifts , and same blessings.” . ( George Q. Cannon , JofD. v 22 p 359 ) Brackets are mine .
The same gospel as Jesus’ apostles preached ? If that were the truth then His apostles should have preached the church ordinance of polygamy like Mormon leaders did , but they did not . This is a classic case of Gal 1:8 . Mormon leaders were latter days prophets preaching a counterfeit gospel , thus : Matt 24:11
Too true. And what I found to be particularly stunning wasn’t the fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy (after all, polygamy was practiced in the Old Testament and in many Arab countries today), nor the fact that Joseph had a distinct preference for underage, teenage brides and the wives of other men (okay, that was pretty disgusting for an urban community in the 1800’s).
I was shocked, as I believe most Mormons are, by the intensity with which he lied about it to his wife and everyone else, and even created false “revelations” claiming that neither he nor his church ever practiced polygamy. And when members of the church discovered Joseph’s polygamy and protested, Joseph excommunicated them and accused them of being prostitutes and adulterers, and physically assaulted them. He even destroyed the offices of a newspaper that disclosed his lying.
Will good Mormons disapprove of Joseph’s actions? No, they won’t even consider them. They won’t even read about them. The church will continue to fill its members’ days with endless meetings, temple work, genealogies, quilting bees, basketball games, and flower arranging, to occupy their thoughts. And any member who asks questions will… — well, not to worry: Good Mormons know better than to ask questions.
See it’s not just the “character” issues with Smith, it’s his doctrine. There have been plenty of solid orthodox (doctrine) Christian leaders who were seduced by power, lust and money. With Smith we get the whole ball of wax. Not only did he succumb to all of these things, but he also invented a new gospel claiming it was a “restoration”.
I shouldn’t be as hard on Mormons as I am, but I keep wondering, “Don’t you even bother to check out the basic premise of Mormonism?” That premise is that after the death of the apostles the gospel message of Jesus Christ disappeared from the earth. I don’t know, there must be some attraction to Mormonism that sucks people in and they don’t bother to check-it-out. It certainly hasn’t anything to do with intelligence because there are and have been many highly intelligent folks who buy into the program. No it’s not a matter of lack of smarts.
I’ve never been in a cult so I don’t know what that particular mind-set is like. I do know that when LDS folks get their minds right they don’t stick around Mormonism long. But, again, Mormonism is a way of life. It defines all aspects of (life) including familial and close personal relationships. The group provides structure and social contact. It’s the feeling of being important and belonging to something labeled the “one true”.
………………….oh, and Mike
You do know of course that the reason we can’t find any record of Mormonism in the Bible is because it was copied so many times that the text is corrupted and in addition to that, Medieval Catholic monks left the Mormonism out when they copied the text.
It’s the old conspiracy theory that allows anyone to claim that they have had a revelation from God restoring that which has been lost.
Again, why don’t these folks check these claims out? Are they lazy? Are they stupid? No I don’t think that’s it at all. There’s such a thing as a seducing spirit and it operates at full throttle in these groups.
What I’ve found with religion is that people are more inclined to accept what is said by someone who appears to be knowledgeable and confident in what they are saying. Why are there people who buy onto teachings like say the “name-it-claim-it” faith type groups? There’s an attraction from a charismatic confident and verbal leader. People get taken-in all the time by con men or women for that matter.
What I’ve learned in life, especially in the age of the internet, it’s really easy to check things out. BUT and here’s the Big But, the sources that someone checks also has to be solid as a rock. There’s a lot out there that appears super solid and is simply someone’s opinion in an attractive package.
There is a reason why LDS leaders are frightened by the notion of a well informed membership. Highly informed people are less likely to fall into the company line.
Interestingly enough, many former Mormons will tell you that they got their information that led to them leaving the LDS church from church resources. Here’s the fascinating thing about Mormonism; all of the information regarding (the religion) is hiding in plain sight. Then one day something comes up and the innocent LDS member looks into it. And then the slippery slide out of the sect begins. It’s like turning over rocks and finding all of this hidden information that, as it turns out, wasn’t all that hidden. There just was no reason to look because the person was happen.
This happened to Lyndon Lamborn who became sort of famous for a short period of time because his bishop was going to announce his excommunication from the pulpit during services on Sunday. Bad move!
Take the three minutes to watch this video.
Thou truly art correct.
We have Joseph Smith’s character and behavior and we have Joseph Smith’s doctrine. Does his behavior make his doctrine illegitimate or are these two separate issues?
The problem with Smith is that he claimed that his doctrine and religious practices were a restoration of first century Christianity which he said were lost after the death of apostles. We know that this is a false premise. So it’s our duty and obligation as Christians to challenge Smith’s claims. It’s pretty easy to see that Smith promoted a practice and doctrine, polygamy, that was a false doctrine. The idea was that a man had to practice polygamy to reach the highest level of the Celestial kingdom and become a god. From studying the life of Joseph Smith it’s pretty evident that he used this religious doctrine to satisfy his own sexual lust. There’s where the character issue and religious doctrine are mixed.
There are religious leaders that have sound doctrine but their behavior is way out of line. I often think that what they’ve done is put themselves in a position of authority in order to take advantage of people. So we can have sound doctrine but bad behavior. In Smith’s case we get both bad doctrine and bad behavior.
As Christians, we don’t excuse bad behavior among leaders regardless of their doctrine. In Mormonism, particularly the LDS/FLDS sects, Smith’s behavior is excused and the doctrine is embraced. A Mormon can’t separate Smith’s behavior from his doctrine and practices. The excuse can’t be made that the LDS church is true because of all of the good it does. As long as the LDS church embraces Smith’s doctrine, what good they do is irrelevant.
Good works, intentions, sincerity and devotion don’t make up for a doctrine that leads people away from God. Creating a false god, a different Jesus, a false Spirit and false gospel won’t get people saved.
Mormons need to come to know who God is and what Christ’s atoning work on the cross does for those who have received (Jesus) by faith. Piety and faith in a false gospel won’t get someone saved.
One of my favorite movies is “The Apostle” with Robert Duvall. I’m providing the trailer for the movie. It’s about a minister who, despite all of his gifts, has some things haunting him. It’s a movie that is quite pertinent to our discussion here.
With Mormonism it’s all about the visual : the huge pristine temples , the well dressed leaders who act polite and smile as they meet their flock and talk a lot about being clean . Considering all these facets it is no wonder that the vast majority of Mormons are easily lulled into a mindset that makes it difficult for them to admit they are in a false prophet led organization . To Mormons false prophets are like Brian David Mitchell , he looks and acts like one ! This type of mindset is why Mormons don’t believe Jesus’ warning in Matt 24 about latter days false prophets is referring to their
Mormon leaders are so clean , so polite , so caring , they just can’t be false prophets . But this is
the mindset that makes it difficult to reach the Mormon people with the truth — the truth about their prophets , and the truth about Jesus and the salvation He offers those Mormons who come to Him alone , no temple and no prophet in S.L.C. Jn 14:6 ; Heb 7:25
I get the overall meaning that Aaron is trying to imply here, but I find one aspect of this post stunning. I find the remark “the fumbling theology of the early Church fathers” absolutely mind boggling. Let me tell you why. I have been studying the early Christian writings for several months now. I am talking about men who were over the Churches prior to the Council of Nicaea. What I find so funny is that some how we today think that our theology is correct and the early Christians got it wrong. Some of the oldest New Testament texts that we have discovered, contained with them the writings of the early Christians. Men like Polycarp who was a companion of the Apostle John and the bishop of the Church at Smyrna. Ignatius was the bishop of the Church at Antioch and a personal disciple of the Apostle John. We have the writings of men like Clement of Rome who was the first bishop over the Church in Rome and was taught personally by the Apostles Peter and Paul. These are the men who were over the Churches that the Apostles set up. They sat at the feet of the Apostles, spoke the same language and lived in the same culture. Again these are the men who determined which writings were inspired and should be included in the canon of scripture that we call the Bible. For example the only reason that we know Matthew wrote the gospel of Matthew is because these guy’s told us. None of the Gospels mention in them who wrote them. The early Christian writings are not authoritative, the Bible is our final authority, but it should give us pause when we see that they interpreted a verse to mean just the opposite of how we interpret it. How ridiculous is it for people to say that they who were taught by the Apostles personally, who spoke the same language as the Apostles, and who lived in the same culture got it wrong, yet we some how got it right? Especially when you see that their interpretation almost always is what you naturally understand when you read the text. It didn’t take me long to understand why Protestant and Catholics both only like to go back as far as Augustine. It’s because the Early Christian writings show us what it really looks like to be a follower of Christ. They expose just how much we who profess the name of Christ really love the world. The early Christians really didn’t have much of a theology. They just took what Christ said at face value and applied it to every aspect of their life. They were followers of Christ because they actually followed His teachings. Reading their writings caused me to go back through the Gospels and look honestly at what Christ actually said. I found time and time again that the theology I held too actually believed that Christ meant just the opposite of what He actually said in most cases. You see the problem is we look at the writings of Paul through the eyes of the reformers. We then look at what Jesus said through that distorted lense. The early Christians started with the words of Christ and viewed everything the Apostles wrote through that lens. They understood Grace not as something that covered our sins and kept God from seeing them, no they understood Grace as the power of God in the life of the believer to actually free him from his sins and turn him toward God in pursuit of Holiness. We have redefined so many words to fit our theology. Their definition of Faith, Repentance, Grace, and Justification was quite different than how we define them. Their view of the Atonement was quite different as well. The popular view of the Atonement we hold too today didn’t originate until around 1100 a.d. It was later further redefined by the reformers in the 1500’s. After reading this I am sure you will be tempted to search out what others of your own denomination have said about their writings. Understand that people quote them out of context the same as they do the Bible. Jehovah’s witnesses like to misquote them. I see people all the time quote the early Christians out of context, not realizing that you must take into consideration the surrounding text to grasp the fact that they understood things to mean something quite differently than we do. So some of what they say sounds just like the verses from Paul that we miss apply, but a further reading of what they wrote makes it painfully obvious that they understood Paul to be saying something quite different than what we understand him to be saying.
I want you to consider what Irenaeus (a.d. 120-202) wrote when he was defending the Church against the heresy of Gnosticism. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp. Consider His argument before you just write of the early Church fathers and what they believed.
“The Church, though dispersed through out the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensation of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.
As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.”
My plea for those who frequent this board often is this. Though the Mormons may be in great error of doctrine, make sure you yourself are built upon the Rock of Truth that is Christ Jesus. Make sure that you are spending every bit as much time studying the Bible as you are frequenting this blog. Take a close look at the examples Christ has given us of His final judgment. Be it separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, or the righteous from the unrighteous, His criteria for judgment is always based on how we lived our life. Not once in any of the examples Christ gives us of the final judgment, does He ever judge someone based on their beliefs. It is always based on how they lived their life. Does this mean that what we believe doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. What we believe matters enormously, but what Christ is showing us is that He need only look at how a person lives their life to truly determine what it is they actually believe. We may say that we are a follower of Christ, but an examination of our life will reveal if that profession was actually true. Never once does Christ Judge a person based on a verbal confession of trusting in His finished work on the Cross alone. No the real question will be what impact has the finished work of Christ had on your life. Consider that today in our Churches we say that obedience to Christ has absolutely nothing to do with our Salvation. It’s Faith alone that counts. As if Faith could ever truly be alone. Some how we have separated faith from obedience. Out of all the charges the risen Christ could of given to His Apostles, he chose to give the following charges to them.
Matthew 28: 19-20 “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
But we today say that those things that Christ commanded His Apostles to teach throughout the world have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with our salvation. We call ourselves Christians, yet we don’t even follow the teachings of Christ.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death (John 8:51). If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me (John 14:21). If a man love me, he will keep my words (John 14:23). He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me (John 14:24). If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love (John 15:10). Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (John 15:14).
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, right after giving us a long list of revolutionary commands and teachings, Jesus says these words:
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
Jesus is not talking about rewards here, He’s talking about your eternal destiny.
Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46).
At the very close of the Sermon on the mount is a verse that people love to quote to Mormons. Though I think it is somewhat applicable to Mormons, the real application is for those who profess the name of Christ, yet they practice lawlessness. Or in other words that live as if Jesus never gave them any commands to obey. They were not built upon the Rock.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
Take the time to go back through all that Christ taught with this question in mind. What if Christ really meant everything He said? It won’t be Paul, Martin Luther, John Calvin, or your preacher that judges you. It will be Jesus Christ, therefore I urge you to take what He said seriously. He’s already given you the answers to the final exam. Will you believe Him?
When you look closely at what Christ said you can see that He requires a lot from us. He says some very radical things that go against our human nature. He says in Luke 14: 25-33 “25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that to be His disciple, to enter in to the kingdom of God, we must love Him more than father, mother, brother sister or wife. We must pick up our cross daily and follow Him. The cross is an instrument of death. He is saying that we must daily die to self and live for Him. This is why He is telling us to count the cost. What will it cost us to be a disciple of Christ? He tells us quite plainly in verse 33, it will cost us everything. You will have to lose your life and find life in Him. You will have to die to self and live for Christ. Does this mean that we earn our salvation? Absolutely not. The gift that Christ offers us could never be earned. Its worth is beyond our comprehension. We could never earn it, merit it, or add one bit to the work that Christ did on our behalf. We don’t deserve what He offers us and we never will. However we can clearly see that Christ has set conditions on receiving this gift. He said follow Me, and that we must do. The beautiful thing is that He doesn’t want us to do these things that He requires under our own power, we do it by surrendering our life completely to Him and letting His power work in our life.
Why do Mormon’s, even intelligent Mormon’s believe what they do? It is multifactorial and complicated:
1) Mormon doctrine has enough of Christianity in it for people with a cursory background in it to feel comfortable exploring further. It’s not all lies. Truth can be found in many places and truths resonate with each of us. Whitewashing church history helps with young children and new converts.
2) The idea of personal revelation and ability to find answers to life’s questions. Even if this is merely a conformational bias. See below. But the idea of it is very empowering and intriguing. If one has never trusted there feelings they have a name for it. If you get the wrong answer they even have a ways to help you through that, it may not be worn but it’s wrong now, or maybe personal worthiness, or “line upon line”, you aren’t ready for it.
3) Inertia: “I’m too far along this path with too much time, emotion and social framework to leave now. This is a big deal no matter life’s endeavor. Some people never commit enough of themselves to ever get this but it’s one reason why most doctors say they would never ever do it all again. But they did initially. Why? Because at some point you have too much time, energy, and money invested to turn back.
4) Mormon’s see good resulting from their works. Even if most of the good is distributed towards its own membership. Mormon values do promote good citizens to a point. Mormon service is typically directed within as are their financial offerings but most would say of Mormons they know, “they are good people”. And as most know, they are groomed to be obedient. This is good within the laws and norms of society and in employment, many employers value those who are obedient and abdicate personal responsibility to a higher authority.
5) Mormon prophets and leaders are called of “men” (I mean the gender and the larger meaning of “humans” but that is a different topic) and these men are subject to the same mistakes all of us are. Many justify changing doctrine over time by receiving new light and knowledge. Others view all prophets as men and maybe that man/prophet was the best God had to work with in the framework of his time. So maybe Joseph made some mistakes any man would make but he was still the best God had to work with. He was still a prophet.
6) Coercion: Any religion which promises obscene blessings (in this case life with your spouse and family forwards and backwards and with God and Jesus for eternity) for proper behavior and then horrifying punishment (no spouse, no family, no God, no Jesus, and no way to bridge the gap after this mortal existence) for non-compliance sets it’s followers as controllable. Add in reliance on strict obedience to principals and commandments which no human can ever abide (for long) and then interview members on worthiness with that carrot and stick (blessing punishment) and you have members who learn top lie and live in shame. Once you have someone willing to lie and then hate themselves for it you have them right where you want them.
7) Social: all Mormon’s lives are dominated by their personal families and ward families. In fact, the ward family is actually stressed over the nuclear family (not in doctrine but in practice!) so leaving it becomes leaving everything you’ve ever known if born in the covenant. That’s why LDS children are indoctrinated so early, even before the age of 3 and baptized at 8 (age of accountability. Were you accountable or independent at age 8? I wasn’t.) This early conditioning colors everything you later learn in life. This is not unique to Mormonism, most “-isms” do this to some degree. How many Catholics are Catholics based on infant baptism and family and cultural values yet have rarely, if ever, stepped inside a church or live a Christ-centered life?
8) Confirmational bias. Every human being does this. Some less than others. Every bit of data presented to us is viewed from the perspective that what we have already accepted is truth. So we glean other “truths” which confirm those we already know to be true. We actually look to things to support our beliefs, not the opposite. Don’t throw too many stones at Mormons, we all do this to one degree or another.
9) Cognitive dissonance: Also a behavior all humans are guilty of to one degree or another. We can throw out items that don’t fit at all with other scientific or proven facts because of faith. We make excuses for facts we are uncomfortable with and then “apologize” which means looking for any sliver of data to back up our belief system. If there is no data at all to support our beliefs, we say things like “milk before meat” or maybe the science just hasn’t found the answer to everything yet. Ultimately there is a confidence that our beliefs will be validated at some future point. This is what anti-vaccinators are so adept at: “Hey, we got a guy with a medical degree that shares our theories”. Never mind that he’s one out of 60,000 doctors and their are another 59,999 don’t agree!)
10) Busyness. As alluded to elsewhere in this thread, Mormons are kept so busy and still made to feel guilty for not doing enough already that they are chronically physically, mentally and emotionally fatigued. Way too many early morning, late night, Sunday, weekday meetings, socials, missionary work, home teaching, visiting teaching, callings…way too much to ever leave enough time for personal meditation and prayer or actual study. Plus the gospel is presented as easy to understand and one shouldn’t have to be a scholar to understand it. So, it’s easy to see why most Mormons don’t actually invest much time in critical thought about what they believe in. Add in that Mormons are still socially pushed to higher paying professional careers for men and larger families and add that to the above time constraints and there is no time to question what you are doing.
It should be clear that it’s very difficult to leave anything when there is so much riding on the line. It’s easy to laugh at it from the outside. Trust me, as someone who voluntarily left, it is on the one hand freeing and exciting. It is feeling alive like you never have felt before. It allows yourself to trust your instincts. It feels so good to stop feeling you are being treated as a child. On the other hand, it is scary to leave the one thing you trusted as truth, it is extremely socially isolating and painful beyond anything I have done before. At times I was suicidal. For those others that leave I am humbled at their determination and sacrifice because, for most, they sacrifice everything near and dear to them, many their entire families and all or nearly all of their friends. When you leave, you are dead to them. It is astounding to me still. People I had relationships with for 30 years never returned my calls or my attempts to maintain friendship. Leaving Mormonism is a form of social isolation and pain most would shrink at. That’s why many stay, there is way too much to lose, whether they fully buy into it or not.
I appreciate your efforts in your two posts. I found Aaron’s words a little troubling also. I don’t know exactly what he was trying to say.
You might enjoy this website.
I don’t know for sure what Aaron meant by that statement either, but people like Aaron who hold to a reformed theology don’t like a lot that the early Christians had to say. Mainly because early Christians clearly and unanimously believed that man had free will, and they also did not believe in eternal security for those who fell away from the faith back into rebellion. Therefore they claim that the theology of the early Christians was flawed. Some how the early Christians just didn’t get it. Surely anyone who looks in depth at that kind of statement can see just how preposterous that is. We with our theological training and great knowledge of Greek better understand what the scriptures mean than those who actually spoke personally with the Apostles and spoke the same language as their native tongue. A lot of what they believe goes against what we today believe, but I find that their beliefs are actually more in line with scripture than ours are. Jesus said some pretty radical stuff, that we today explain away. Were as today if we wanted to teach someone about the Gospel we would take them down the Romans road. The early Christians would take them through the Sermon on the Mount.
I understand the danger of “chronological snobbery”, and I am eager to appreciate the Early Church Fathers, but I also feel free to dismiss their theological misfires. I hold to sola scriptura — scripture alone is my final and infallible and sufficient authority for faith and practice. All other authorities are to be derivative and subordinate authorities.
If B.B. Warfield is correct (and if I read him correctly), the Early Church Fathers had a misguided view of baptismal regeneration and infant damnation (i.e. all unbaptized infants who die go to hell). Not only do I disagree with some Early Church Fathers on this, but I also believe that Christians shouldn’t want a local church to have a leader that shared their view. “We rightly expect better theology of our teachers today than we do the Early Church Fathers.”
Christians have had 2000 years to think through what the Scripture says. We have made progress in solidifying thought around some fundamentals. We expect alleged prophets to avail themselves of the collective wisdom of the historic saints in wrestling over the text and systematizing theology. Joseph Smith and Mormonism are not only rejecting infallible Scripture, they are rejecting the wisdom of fallible Christians over 2000 years in interpreting the scriptures. When BYU professor Robert L. Millet says that we’ve had 2000 years to get our doctrine straightened out, but that Mormonism has only had 180+ years, this exposes Mormonism’s rejection of the interpretative work of the Spirit in the people of God for thousand of years beforehand. And when Mormons justify Joseph Smith’s self-justifying, unrepentant, outrageous behavior (especially with regards to sexual conduct) by appealing to the ancient patriarchs from polygamous culture, they reject the New Testament standard for an elder of a church, and a reasonable 19th century standard for Christian maturity and leadership.
Grace and peace!
I know you think that you go by Scripture alone, but the truth is much of the way we look at the Bible today has been shaped by something other than the Bible. The battle cry of the reformation was scripture alone. Where has that gotten us? We have thousands of bible only denominations that interpret the Bible differently. We have multiple competing theologies that differ on significant issues. We have an extreme amount of division within the body of Christ. I am sure you feel that the theology you hold too is the one the Holy Ghost has inspired, but others feel equally as strong about their theology, and they too believe in scripture alone. I can’t find one belief that the early Christians held that isn’t supported heavily by scripture.
The reformation has never been scripture alone. When Martin Luther made his translation of the Bible into German, He included lengthy introductions to each book. Some books like James and Hebrews he called epistles of straw. Other books like Romans he stated were far superior to all others. He said the Gospel of John was far superior to the other three Gospels. So anyone who read his bible was already being preconditioned by the introduction as to the meaning of the following book of scripture. I doubt many who hold to reformation theology have even taken the time to read much of what Luther and Calvin wrote. Much of it you would disagree with I can promise you. It should give you great concern that the pillars that hold up your theology (predestination and determinism) were completely absent from the writings of the early Church. If those two things were indeed an intricate part of the Gospel then how in the world did the Apostles fail to communicate that to the men they entrusted the Church too? What ground do you stand on when you disagree with the early Church writings? The Bible you say? Well so did they. Everything they believed in is supported by scripture. The advantage they have over you is that they actually were taught by the Apostles. They spoke the same language. Do you really think that the Apostles who dedicated their whole life to spreading the Gospel failed in communicating it accurately to those whom they entrusted the Church too? That claim is just as ridiculous as the Mormon claim of a complete apostasy.
There was actually a group who believed in determinism, who believed that man had two natures, that with the proper knowledge he could be saved spiritually even though he lived in complete willful sin, sinning in thought word and deed daily. This group believed that your knowledge brought salvation, and your conduct had nothing whatsoever to do with your salvation. They believed that as long as a person believed the right things he could never lose his salvations. This group of course was the Gnostics. The Gnostic heresy was very complicated with special numbers and syllables and such, but it did indeed include the ideas I mentioned above. Much of what the early Christians said about free will was aimed at the Gnostics. The Gnostics actually used the same scriptures out of Romans that reformed Christians twist today. The early Church refuted those ideas and gave the universal understanding of what Paul taught. The epistles of John in the Bible were aimed at the Gnostics. The Gnostics believed that man could be righteous by believing correctly even though in reality he lived in complete carnality and sin. Much like what we believe today. We believe that all that matters is that we believe correct doctrine, and Christ’s righteousness will be imputed to us. When God looks at us, He will only see the perfect obedience of His son. He can’t even see the sins we commit. What we do has no bearing on how God sees us. This is why the Apostle John wrote the following in His 1st epistle.
1 John 3: 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
If I am sinning in thought word and deed daily, has Christ really destroyed the works of the devil in my life? Is my life really bringing Glory to God? If I serve sin, am I still serving Christ? Can I have two masters? Do we really believe all that Paul taught in Romans 6?
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Oh but we say sin only leads to death for those who haven’t asked Jesus into their heart. Sin doesn’t lead to death for all those who have prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into their heart. God will count us as righteous even though we are living in complete sinful rebellion to what Christ has commanded us to do. Much of this confusion comes from the fact that we don’t understand the atonement the same way the early Christians did. We view redemption as a change of legal status in the law books of Heaven. God can now declare us as righteous, even though we actually are wickedly sinful. All that Christ taught really didn’t matter. It was just good suggestions. Where as the early Christians viewed the Blood of Christ as cleansing us from our sins. Not just painting over them so God could no longer see the sins we commit. They believed in the power of Christ to come into the life of one who truly believes and actually make Him righteous. Where as we view justification as a legal declaration, they viewed justification as being made just. So when the Bible says: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness,…” The early Christians understood that not to mean that we were declared right with God freely by Grace through faith, but that we were actually made right with God freely by His Grace through faith. They actually believed that there was power in the Blood of Christ to enable a man to obey the things Christ has asked us to obey. They understood that the Mosaic Law weak in that it could never Change a mans heart, but that the Blood of Christ could. That’s why they were able to endure the great persecution that they experienced. That’s why most of them died as martyrs, going to their death singing songs of praise to the God they served. They understood what Faith really was.
Take the time to do a word search in the Old Testament for the word righteous. Take a look at all the people that God counted as righteous. Abraham is a good example. Every single time God counts them as righteous, spotless, or blameless it has to do with how they live their life. Never once does God count someone as righteous because of some foreign imputed righteousness that isn’t actually tangible and active in the life of the believer. Understand this though, what God considers righteous is not sinless perfection. It is a heart given completely to Him in love and obedience. Many of the people God declared righteous made horrible mistakes, but the thing that they all had in common was a complete devotion to God. God disciplined them as they stepped out of line, and they responded with sorrow and repentance. This kind of relationship is spelled out well in Hebrews 12. Look closely at the reason that is Given in Hebrews 12 for God’s discipline. Take a look at the examples given in Hebrews 11 of the great heros of faith. Look at the common thing that characterized their faith. The writer of Hebrews gives examples of their obedience in order to show you their faith. Simply because a faith that doesn’t include obedience is not really faith at all. God values obedience and devotion to Him the same in the New Covenant as He did in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant the Blood of Christ does what the Blood of bulls and wild animals could never do. It actually circumcises our heart. God doesn’t have to hold tablets made of stone over our head, because when we are truly born again He writes His laws on our heart.
I am for sure not aware of the early Christians teaching infant damnation. I am almost positive they didn’t teach infant baptism. They did however hold baptism as something that was very important. They did view baptism as something you did for the remission of sins. If you will go back through the book of acts, you will see that the Apostles viewed baptism the same way. Jesus commanded Baptism. As I mentioned early Jesus’s charge to the Apostles was to go into all nations Baptizing them and teaching them to obey, yet we today say that those two things have nothing whatsoever to do with your salvation.
Step back and look at this logically. In what way are we better able to understand the scriptures than the men who sat at the feet of the Apostles? Do you really think that we are in a position to better understand what Paul meant by a certain word than they were? In no way do I hold their writings above what scripture says. I find that their writings point me to scripture, and help me see just how complicated we have made our theology. Repent and obey is all we really need to understand. Through faith turn from sin and turn to Christ. Stop looking to yourself for strength, and look to Christ. This was their theology.
As I think you know, I’m an ex-Mormon trying to understand traditional Christianity. I don’t claim to be anywhere near an authority on Christianity. So, between Falcon, luvinlife, and Aaron Shafovaloff, I’m pretty confused right now. Please tell me if we have a solid answer to the following questions you’ve been discussing.
1. Are infants damned to hell?
2. If someone truly accepts Christ, then backslides into great sin, is that person saved?
As to the first question I think all would agree with the fact that there is an age of accountability. The Early Church held baptism as very important, but they didn’t put God in a box that scripture doesn’t put Him in. If a man truly gave his life to Christ and died before having a chance to be baptized, they in no way would attempt to say that man was lost. However if a man delayed his baptism simply because he thought it not important, then that man stood in danger of judgment. We know that not only did Jesus command Baptism, but He also told He Apostles to go into all nations baptizing. So I can’t really see a good reason not to be baptized.
As to the second question, I am going to try to give you the short answer. The Bible gives complete assurance of salvation for the believer. However no where in it’s pages does the Bible offer security of salvation to the unbeliever. Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, he doesn’t tell us to look back and see if at some point in time we were once in the faith. The early Christians didn’t run around scared that they might lose their salvation. Why? because they didn’t rely on some profession of faith as their security, they relied on the obedient love-faith relation ship that they had with Christ. It was actually the Puritans that had a much greater fear of not being found as one of the elect because they failed to persevere. The early Christians did however understand that a person could make shipwreck of their faith. That the Bible gives a lot of IF statements in regards to salvation as well as many warnings about the consequence of falling away. Now we today say that those warnings aren’t real, they are just meant to motivate us, but the early Christians understood them to be real, as will you if you take the time to study it out for yourself. So you might ask, well if I mess up and sin will I loose my salvation. The answer to that is no. Read carefully Hebrews 11 to understand what true faith is, and Hebrews 12 to understand how God handles those who are His children. He disciplines them and brings them back into repentance and obedience. He doesn’t discipline in order that they might trust again in the imputed righteousness of Christ. No it says He chastens them so that the will actually live righteously. If however you continue willful in sin and rebellion, there will be a time when you will no longer be saved. I encourage you to read through John 15:1-17. Here Christ gives a beautiful and detailed example of what a true saving relationship with Him looks like. Read it several times. Ponder on it. Then go back to it and try to mesh those verses in with the doctrine of once saved always saved. Before you say that those who were plucked off and cast into the fire were never really saved, look again at the verses. They were in Christ, washed clean. There are a few verses that people like to hold up to support once saved always saved, but there are at least three times as many that teach otherwise.
The early protestants didn’t believe in once saves always saved either, they believed in perseverance of the Saints. Under their theology if you fell back into willful sin and rebellion, you were never saved in the first place. This proved that you were not one of the elect.
I want you to consider some other verses in Hebrews as well. This letter was not addressed to unbelievers. This was addressed to people in the Faith.
Hebrews 10: 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
The verses above say they trampled under foot the blood of the covenant that sanctified them. Does that sound like something directed at a person that has never been saved?
Hebrews 6: 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Again look honestly at the verse above. Do you really think that this is directed at someone who has never been saved? Can an unsaved person share in the Holy Spirit, Taste the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age? If they have fallen away, then what is it they fell away from?
Hebrews 3: 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
Take seriously the verse above. Read it in context with the whole book of Hebrews. Don’t let someone deceive you into thinking that what you do has no bearing on your salvation. We can go back to the Greek, the root meaning of words and all kinds of other fancy stuff to justify our disregard for these scriptures. The fact remains though that the early Christians understood these verses to be talking about people who were in the faith. I think any honest reader would come to the same conclusion. It would take up too much space, but there are many more verses just like this one. Take these verses in conjunction with what Christ said in John 15. Study it out for yourself. It was the doctrine of once saved always saved that drove me to the writings of the early Church. I saw the destruction this doctrine had on the lives of many who held it. I read so many verses that seemed to contradict it. I finally decided too look at how the people closest to the Apostles understood these verses. They understood just exactly what the verse implies as you read it naturally. You’ll find that others explain these verses away with man made theologies. I guess this is the reason Luther thought the book of Hebrews was an epistle of straw.
This is still confusing to me, but as I understand your answers:
1. Are infants damned to hell?
“As to the first question I think all would agree with the fact that there is an age of accountability.” Your answer is a bit vague, but I think you’re saying that infants and those who never heard of Christ or who never learned of His teachings are not damned to hell.
2. If someone truly accepts Christ, then backslides into great sin, is that person saved?
You were fairly clear on this one. “If however you continue willful in sin and rebellion, there will be a time when you will no longer be saved.”
Did I understand correctly?
historybuff, I don’t believe infants who die go to hell.
I also believe that people converted will be preserved by God, ultimately persevering and inevitably heeding warnings not to definitively apostatize. Their endurance is secured.
But this seems pretty off-topic.
“The battle cry of the reformation was scripture alone. Where has that gotten us?”
A return to Biblical orthodoxy and celebration of justification by faith alone among believers. I eat the fruits of Sola Scriptura every day of my life.
If you want to promote Eastern Orthodoxy, etc., this probably isn’t the blog for you.
I never mentioned anything about those who have never heard the teachings of Christ. There is plenty to discuss about that, but we will save that for another day. My point about the age of accountability was that an infant can’t be held accountable for sin, if it doesn’t truly know what sin is. All the early protestant churches believed in infant baptism, hence why this was a big deal in Mormonism. It’s actually people like Aaron who hold to a reformed or Calvinistic theology that have a harder time explaining away infant damnation. The reason being is that they believe man is born a hell deserving sinner right from birth. Even though Paul says we all have Gone astray, they teach all are born already astray. So explaining how a totally depraved guilty of Adam’s sin baby goes to heaven is a much harder issue for them. Any pretense that they would apply to justify God saving a Baby under their theology could just as well be applied to those who teach Baptism being a commandment we should take seriously. We all agree that Jesus said that you can’t see Heaven unless you are born again. Since an infant cant possibly comprehend the Gospel in order to be born again, we must all hold to an age of accountability or else fall into the belief of infant damnation. So I believe that there is an age of accountability, and I don’t believe infants should be baptized. I believe that Baptizing a person, be it an infant or an adult, that has not yet truly believed in Christ will benefit no one.
As to the second question, read back over all that I have said in the last two posts. Many people like to use David as an example of someone righteous who fell into sin. Look closely at how God dealt with David. He disciplined Him. He caused David to suffer some life long consequences. David experienced Godly sorrow. He repented and turned from his way. God dealt with Him just like it is described He will deal with us in Hebrews 12, If indeed we are His children. If you are living in willful sin, and God is not chastening you, then as it says in Hebrews you are a bastard and not a child of God. The verse in Hebrews that says without Holiness no one will see the Lord, was preached on by all the greats from a few centuries back. Men like Spurgeon, Wesley, JC Ryle, and so forth . I can send you sermons from all of these guys. Though I don’t agree with everything they taught, I at least appreciate their understanding of what saving faith looked like.
Vax, what you shared was informative . Thanks .
Infants, and little children are definitely NOT damned to hell .
Your second question is not so easy to answer . A Christian can black slide , struggle with certain issues during their lifetime , but that does’nt mean they lost their salvation . A Christian will perservere because the Holy Spirit gives them the help to do so . There are some sins or practice thereof which can rightly cause us to question that persons salvation however .
From reading your comments it appears to me that you are agitated , frustrated , by how many Christians live a lifestyle wholly inconsistent with what Jesus asks of His followers , and you blame this problem on them thinking that since they’ve confessed Christ then they can go and live anyway they want to etc .
Many years ago I also went through such frustration , but I soon found that it gave me a attitude towards others that was robing me of my joy in serving Jesus . I realized my focus had drifted .
I appreciate your concern about this issue and want us here to make sure we are steering Mormons/ ex Mormons straight . But honestly I know of no one here that tells Mormons just come to Jesus and then do anything you want to after that . When we bow before Jesus and ask for forgiveness , Jesus forgives , the Holy Spirit comes into our heart and a new life — the Christian life , begins . It’s a daily walk with a very personal Savior and Lord . We get to serve Jesus !
The Christian life is a coin : one side is conduct – how we are to live ; the other side is confession —
what we believe about fundamental truths ( God, Jesus , salvation ) . Both are what makes a person a true follower of Christ , and in the final analysis both sides of the coin are what decides .
Salvation is by faith in Christ alone , not by works . That’s our message to Mormons or ex Mormons because that is what the N.T. teaches .
Since you wrote such a large amount ( you may hold the record ) I am not going to say anything more about what you wrote , and actually I don’t need to because I agree with 98% of it . Where I find you running to a little to far ahead of sound advice is your insistence that the early church fathers are the hidden key to understanding what the Apostles taught . It’s valuable to look at what the early church fathers taught , especially for Mormons and Jw’s because the early church fathers were neither of these — that fact has opened the eyes of Mormons and Jw’s .
However , by placing to much emphasis on the early church fathers as our authority in understanding the apostles teachings can start us down a slippery slope . We are all accountable to read the N.T. , and it is what is written therein which we are accountable before God , not anyone else’s writings . That’s the safe course .
Please , I won’t take up any more space on this topic , it’s gotten to be a rabbit trail . I have to repeat
Aaron’s advice to you , namely that taking up this much space with this personal issue of yours might be better someplace else . I hope that this does’nt offend you . Let’s try and zero in on rescuing the Mormon people from the false prophet they follow .
Thanks for sharing .
I know we’ve all gotten off track with this discussion, but it’s been very enlightening for me who finds this all to be new territory. I appreciate all your help and comments. Again, thank you!
Hm, let’s actually do a fact check on your paragraph statement on Abraham.
1. Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Gen. 15:6)
No mention of living a holy life, even though he believed wholeheartedly and began to follow God in his heart (faith).
2. Abraham is now credited with righteousness prior to obeying God.
Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
This is clearly imputation or being credited for being righteous.
So here, Paul clearly distinguishes between what Abraham did and Abraham believed. He believed first, and was justified (made righteous through his faith), and not through any of his deeds.
His faith manifested as righteousness much later on. Consider yourself debunked, luvinlife.
Let me give you an example of the type of frustration that we as Mormons face when coming out of Mormonism. A scripture that you guy’s read on this blog often quoted is Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;”. This verse is quoted so often, many times as an excuse for not obeying God, but are we really using it in context? Jesus never quoted this scripture. The Apostles never quoted this scripture. The early Church never quoted this scripture. When we begin to look closely at this scripture we can easily see that we are using it out of context. Isaiah wasn’t making a blanket statement about all of humanity. He was addressing that statement to a specific group of people. Take a look at the verses that precede verse 6.
4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. 5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.
Not only is the way we use this verse out of context with this chapter in Isaiah, it is out of context with the whole of the old Testament. Over and over again God speaks of His pleasure with those who through faith diligently seek Him and do right in His sight.
Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm— (Deuteronomy 11:1-2)
And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11: 13-17)
In Isaiah 64:6 Isaiah was specifically talking about the wretched state of the nation of Israel. The divine righteousness, which pleases God, had disappeared from among the people and what was left was a polluted self-righteousness that was detestable to God. They had not abandoned the God ordained, sacrifices, feasts, New Moons and Sabbaths, however, their hearts had grown cold toward God. What were, in time past, righteous acts faithfully performed with godly intentions, had now become an abomination to God, and all their so-called righteousnesses had become as filthy rags. Isaiah 66:3 gives us God’s description of their self-professed righteousness:
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations.”
The obvious teaching of the Bible is that acts of virtue and goodness are pleasing to God. He does not view them as filthy, unless they are done with false intentions. In fact, God was pleased with Cornelius’ alms, even before that man was converted to Christ (Acts 10:4). This alone should negate the popular application of Isaiah 64:6.
Jesus taught that God will reward even small works, such as giving a child a cup of water (Matt. 10:42). Our Lord commands us to let our good deeds “shine before men,” that they might glorify the Father (Matt. 5:16). Paul writes that we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10).
The apostle erases all doubt as to how God views works of righteousness. Paul urges the saints to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10). Notice that pleasing God is connected to righteous works. They are clearly not filthy rags in the sight of God; they are a delight to Him.
Yes, our works are imperfect. But the Scripture affirms repeatedly that our Father smiles upon our acts of goodness. No one will be saved without them. Jesus states in John 5:29 that the resurrection unto life is for those who have “done good.” Look at how Paul describes the result of Grace. Is Grace doing this in your life?
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
No, we do not put God in our debt by doing good deeds. We cannot merit salvation by balancing our works with our sins. Salvation and forgiveness lie in our covenant status with God through Christ. But the imitation of our Lord – which includes works (Acts 10:38) – is an obligation of the covenant. It is also a high privilege and a joy.
Clearly, God does not view our righteous acts as filthy rags, but as costly apparel purchased with the blood of Christ. The problem is, we don’t understand the distinction that God makes in scripture between righteousness and Self righteousness. The righteousness of God is a righteousness of faith, but it is tangible and active in the life of the believer. No where in scripture will you find an unrepentant sin loving rebel being considered as righteous because of some verbal confession. Look closely at the examples I talked about before in Hebrews 11. You will also not find sinless perfection in those that God has considered righteous.
Scripture makes an important distinction between a righteous behavior that originates from the flesh resulting in self-righteousness and that which originates from the Spirit resulting in a God honoring righteousness. Self is involved in the practice of both; however, the determining factor as to whether or not the righteousness is acceptable to God is dependent on the source from which it is derived. If the flesh is the source of the righteousness, it produces pride. If the Spirit is the source, it produces humility. For in both cases, the source of the righteousness rightly deserves the glory, for it is solely responsible for what it produces. Therefore, in the practice of a righteousness that originates from self, man is glorified; in the practice of a righteousness that originates from the Spirit, God is glorified. Don’t be deceived into thinking that God will consider you righteous because of a profession of faith you made, even though you live in complete rebellion to Him. God still values the same devotion in the New Covenant as He did in the old covenant. The imputed righteousness of Christ is not some cover for your sin. It’s not some shield that keeps God from seeing how you live, or giving you a license to sin. The righteousness of Christ will be active and visible in your life. As I have shown in so many scriptures, God’s Grace is not a cover for sin, it is the power of God in the life of the believer to actually destroy the works of the devil in their life. You can’t find any example of someone being called righteous by merely something they said. Every single time, there life is pointed to as an example of their righteousness. Again if it is pleasing to God it will be a spirit derived righteousness produced by faith, but in every case it will be something observable. Something active and tangible, Not just a mere confession of faith.
Take a closer look at the context of what Paul is trying to say there. He is not saying that Abraham was found to have faith apart from obedience. He is specifically talking about the fact that Abraham was saved by faith apart from the Mosaic Law. In Romans and Galatians Paul is specifically addressing the Law of Moses. In no way is Paul trying to discourage obedience to Christ. This can be seen easily by taking the whole of what Paul said in both of those books. This is the reason for His repeated reference to circumcision. Christ never commanded circumcision. Paul is showing that the promise of salvation by faith was made to Abraham well before the Law of Moses was ever given. The law of Moses was never meant to save anyone, salvation was always by faith. We are foolish to try to think that Paul is talking about a faith that is void of obedience. Like I said, look closely at Hebrews 11. All these examples of saving Faith are proven by what they did. Of course Abraham’s faith was present prior to Him ever obeying, but had he not obeyed, then it would not have been true faith. But we know that he did obey. Faith is never described as separate from action. Paul’s problem was trying to get people to separate faith from a mechanical observance of the Law of Moses.
“8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”
Faith and obedience are inseparable. A faith that lacks obedience isn’t really faith at all. You can’t claim to have faith in Christ if your not obeying what He said.
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?
I’m going to address two points that you made. Both of which are incorrect. You seem to know quite a bit about the Bible, but I think you haven’t held yourself to the same standard you demand of others. You need to look at the context.
1. Romans 4 ~ Paul is explicitly talking about works versus faith.
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:2, ESV
And again in the same passage,
“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…” (Rom. 4:4-6)
The Mosaic Law came well after Abraham, so Paul was definitely not talking about the Mosaic Law here was, he luvinlife? He was talking about works. Please read the context.
In Romans and Galatians Paul is specifically addressing the Law of Moses.
He’s not addressing the Law of Moses, because if he was, he wouldn’t take him to Abraham, who was before the Mosaic Law.
Is he talking about the greater context of works that includes the Mosaic Law? Absolutely. Any law cannot bring righteousness. You can only be saved through your faith.
Also, another debunk for you luvinlife ~ the works’ references you’re talking about are following faith and salvation not to earn salvation. Works to earn salvation (this is classic LDS faith) is what Paul is arguing against. The verses you have quoted relate to works that follow once salvation is given.
Please see the difference.
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom. 3:9-18
The quotes here are from all over the Psalms and Isaiah quotes this in 64:6, because Isaiah came after the writings of the Psalms. (cf. Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 40:3, Prov. 1:15-17, Psalm 36:1). These all predate Isaiah and this is where Isaiah 64 quoted from. And this is where the early church – the Apostle Paul, quotes from.
I agree with you that true, saving faith is followed with works. But you cannot be saved or please God by your works in terms of your salvation (see Galatians 3:21-22) . In terms of a verification of your faith following your salvation, your works can be used to prove whether your faith is alive (before men).
You’re right about Jesus not using these verses, but he didn’t need to. He had others use them, His premier author of the NT, Paul. Hope this helps you.
Gal. 3:21-22, ESV
Luvinlife, I appreciate your passion regarding this important issue. Your arguments, though, have the appearance of a strawman. Nobody here advocates disobedience to Christ; nobody here discourages obedience to Christ. Nobody here claims that obedience is not an important element of the Christian life. While this is a significant topic for debate, Mormon Coffee is not the place for it. Please take it to a different venue.
Further commentary on this subject will not be approved for posting. Thanks, everyone, for allowing this off-topic discussion to stop here.
Rikki j ,