Worshiping Jesus

I’m replaying an old post now that my readership is bigger and those that comment are a little more even keeled.
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There is one fundamental question about Mormonism that I can’t seem to find a consistent answer about. The question is: “Do LDS worship Jesus as their God?” (as other Christians do).

I know that the LDS esteem Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer. I know that they consider him a god, creator of the world and part of the Godhood. I know that they view him as the only way to the Father. I know that they seek to emulate his life. And, YES, by all means I know that his name is right there as part of your church’s name.

While I see all of those things as important and unique to Jesus, the thing that seems to separate Christians from all other religions is that they worship and praise Jesus as God. But LDS seem hesitant to agree or at least come to a consensus on the matter.

I’ve read an lecture by Bruce McConkie in which he makes it quite clear that worshiping any one other than Heavenly Father is inappropriate and is idolatry. http://www.zionsbest.com/relationship.html I know many LDS who disagree with him. What is your stance? Is this a generational shift in LDS doctrine?

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61 thoughts on “Worshiping Jesus

  1. I can’t speak for others but…

    I believe that Christ’s divinity is derivative from God the Father. Christ is our mediator between us and the Father. But he is not the ultimate object of worship. I believe that Christ was “the God of the Old Testament,” namely – Jehovah. But I believe that Israel was required to worship God the Father through Jehovah.

    We seem to resemble the Arians in this respect.

    I think the Mormon term for the arrangement is “divine investiture of authority.” But my memory is a little sketchy.

  2. I think the traditional structure of Mormon prayers is instructional in this matter. Mormons pray to God the Father and do so in the name of Jesus Christ.

  3. No, my understanding has always been that Mormons worship the Father, in the name of the Son. In fact, looking at this citation, I feel fairly confident that I’m not too far off base:

    And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
    Doctrine & Covenants 20:29

  4. For an interesting treatment from a non-LDS scholar of how Latter-day Saints have historically related to Jesus (including their worship of him (or lack thereof)), see the chapter “Mormon Elder Brother” in Stephen Prothero’s “American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon.”

    He addresses Elder McConkie’s 1982 BYU Devotional that is cited in your post, Dando, and also his later stance (that was much softer, if not changed). It’s a great read, and an interesting historical interpretation of this aspect of Mormon theology. It is also interesting to consider McConkie’s final words in the last public sermon he ever preached:

    “And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

    I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

    But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.” (CR, April 1985).

  5. Also significant are the words of the LDS hymn, “Adam-ondi-Ahman” (Hymn #49):

    This earth was once a garden place,
    With all her glories common,
    And men did live a holy race,
    And worship Jesus face to face,
    In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley has also made is clear that he worships Jesus Christ:

    “We love [Christ]. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him. He has done for each of us and for all mankind that which none other could have done. God be thanked for the gift of His Beloved Son, our Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Lamb without blemish who was offered as a sacrifice for all mankind” (Ensign, December 1997).

  6. My personal feelings as a Mormon are that I worship God. At times that worship consists of worshipping God the Father in the name of Christ (i.e. in prayer); at other times it includes worship of God the Son (honoring, thanking, and emulating Christ — all forms of worship); and I suppose at times could even include worship of God the Holy Ghost (but only in the sense of worhsip through reverence and gratitude).

    I guess when it comes down to it, it depends on one’s definition of “worship.” Using the “Biblical Christian” definition found at Theopedia.com (www.theopedia.com/worship), I feel confident in stating that I do indeed worship Jesus Christ as my God.

  7. 3 Nephi 19:16-18

    16 And it came to pass that he [Jesus] spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.
    17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.
    18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.
    19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:
    20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.

    So, the Nephites prayed to Jesus, who prays to the Father on their behalf.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/3_ne/19/18#18

  8. My Mission President taught that the Nephites were actually acting inappropriately at that point, but Jesus allowed it because he loved them so much and was moved with compassion.

    In general, however, I tended to think my mission president was completely full of crap about a great many things.

    These days, I just chalk it up to another instance of how the Book of Mormon was written before Joseph Smith had invented most of what Mormons now think of as “the gospel.” So there are plenty of passages in the Book of Mormon that send apologists circling their own tails trying to justify, because on the face of the text, they completely contradict later (and current) Mormon doctrines.

  9. Hmm. The more I think about this, the more complex I realize the relationship is. I’m not sure that a simple yes or no quite does the question justice. I feel like the primacy of God the Father is evident from Jesus’ teachings, and that in saying “glory be to the Father” he was recognizing the supreme nature of His Father. And yet Christ took his place at the right hand of the Father after fulfilling his mission on earth, and it is only through Him we may be saved. Confusing? Probably. But since Christ’s work is the work of the Father, the difference is subtle. I guess I said I worshiped the Father because it is He to whom Mormons pray, not Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost.

  10. Dando, yes. But that taken with Seth R. and Peter’s initial remarks indicates that indeed, “LDS seem hesitant to agree or at least come to a consensus on the matter.”

    However, I would imagine that in many Mormons’ minds, “esteem[ing] Jesus as their Saviour and Redeemer, … consider[ing] him a [G]od, creator of the world and part of the Godhood, … view[ing] him as the only way to the Father, [and] seek[ing] to emulate his life” does in fact qualify as proper worship. They feel, however, that the proper way to worship Him is by worshiping the Father in His name. (Seth R. and Peter, please correct me if I’m wrong).

    Kullervo, I just chalk it up to another instance of the development of Mormon theology. I for one don’t accept the notion that God revealed the gospel in its entirety to Joseph Smith in a vacuum, so to speak, in 1830. Rather, Joseph (and Brigham later, as well as subsequent prophets), received revelations clarifying aspects of theology, doctrine, church government, and practice as different times, and thus Mormons theology progressed. The historical record seems to indicate that Joseph Smith didn’t fully understand that nature of the Godhead at the time the Book of Mormon was published.

    For more on this topic, see Tom Alexander’s excellent article, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine (available here: http://www.mormonismi.net/pdf/Reconstruction_of_Mormon_Doctrine_Alexander.pdf).
    I also recommend Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen’s article, “The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God: Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths” (FARMS Review of Books, 13/2 (2001), 109-169).

  11. Hmm. The more I think about this, the more complex I realize the relationship is. I’m not sure that a simple yes or no quite does the question justice.

    Peter, I think you might be getting a look into WHY we non-LDS hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s a complicated matter to say that both the Father and the Son should be objects of our worship, as the Book of Mormon indicates, but at the same time hold to monotheism (or even henotheism) and worship only one God.

    Christopher said:
    I just chalk it up to another instance of the development of Mormon theology. I for one don’t accept the notion that God revealed the gospel in its entirety to Joseph Smith in a vacuum, so to speak, in 1830. Rather, Joseph (and Brigham later, as well as subsequent prophets), received revelations clarifying aspects of theology, doctrine, church government, and practice as different times, and thus Mormons theology progressed. The historical record seems to indicate that Joseph Smith didn’t fully understand that nature of the Godhead at the time the Book of Mormon was published.

    But shouldn’t we be able to assume that the Nephites mentioned in 3 Nephi had a full and complete understanding of the Godhead, being that Jesus was there with them? Shouldn’t we also assume any departure from what THEY understood to be a departure from clear doctrine? There really should be no room for the Mormon understanding of the Gospel to progress from what Jesus taught to the Nephites (unless you’re willing to say that Joseph Smith is greater than Jesus which I doubt we’ll find).

  12. Bingo. If the Book of Mormon is correct, it should reflect the fullness of the gospel, since unlike the Bible, it supposedly hasn’t been tampered with by the great and abominable church.

    But it seems like Mormons these days are more likely to say that many latter-day Mormon doctrines have been revealed for the first time in the latter days. It’s convenient, because it explains how there’s pretty much no indication (other than some real Biblical stretches, and the practices of some scattered, incongruous heretical groups) that characteristically Mormon doctrines and practices ever were taught or practiced in the early (New Testament and shortly thereafter) church. Or even apparently in the Book of Mormon.

    On the other hand, that completely contradicts many statements made by early (Restoration/Joseph Smith and thereafter) prophets and church leaders.

  13. If the Book of Mormon is correct, it should reflect the fullness of the gospel, since unlike the Bible, it supposedly hasn’t been tampered with by the great and abominable church.

    This is getting on a bit of a tangent, but I think this is a false syllogism. One of the main differences between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity is Mormonism’s belief that more truths will be revealed in the future. I see no reason why that wouldn’t have been the case during the time period recorded in the Book of Mormon. How, then, is continued revelation a problem? Nor does anyone claim that the Book of Mormon completes the record of God’s dealings with His children, or that it contains all the teachings to the Nephites. Mormon doctrine even holds that there are more records that have yet to be restored. So the fact that a point of doctrine does not appear in the Book of Mormon or the Bible doesn’t necessarily indicate it wasn’t ever taught as part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t think this is a source of inconsistency.

    There really should be no room for the Mormon understanding of the Gospel to progress from what Jesus taught to the Nephites (unless you’re willing to say that Joseph Smith is greater than Jesus which I doubt we’ll find).

    Not to be disagreeable, but I also think this is bad logic. If the Mormon understanding of the Gospel allows progression from what Jesus taught the Jews in Jerusalem, how is progression from his teaching to the Nephites a problem? If we really take the claims of Mormonism seriously, we have to accept that continued revelation is possible and necessary. I also think the Joseph Smith vs. Jesus Christ issue is based in a false understanding of Mormon theology. I’ve heard it before, but I think it misses the point. If we accept the premise that God communicates through His prophets, then the teachings of a prophet like Joseph Smith aren’t “greater” than those of God’s. They are God’s teachings, as were those given to Moses and Abraham. This is, of course, a claim not shared bu most of Christianity, but it by no means represents an inconsistency within Mormonism.

  14. Kullervo, we could get into comparing which religion is more authentically God-based. But my experience is that these things tend to end in circular firing squad-type incidents.

  15. The whole point of the Restoration was that something was restored, or needed to be restored.

    The point you’re making, Peter, is a common but recent one. In the early post-restoration LDS church, it was commonly taught that the plain and simple truths of the gospel (including characteristically Mormon doctrines like the degrees of glory, work for the dead, etc.) were always taught. It’s only been very recently that I’ve ever heard anyone try to claim that those doctrines have only been revealed now in the latter days for the first time.

    It’s a convenient claim, but it contradicts past church authority.

    All that’s then left of the restoration is the restored priesthood, and I’ve already pointed out on my blog that the claim for the need for restored priesthood authority is a dubious one at best.

  16. And I’ve already pointed out on your blog that I disagree with your assessment of the priesthood wholeheartedly. 🙂

    Care to share any of those references you mentioned? I can’t see the contradiction without looking at what was said.

  17. I don’t have a reference- it just seems to me that for pretty much my entire life in the church, the idea being taught was that the fulness of the gospel (including the full plan of salvation, etc) had been on the earth many times, and that Joseph Smith was restoring a church that was supposed to be like the apostolic church.

    The fact that Mormons are changing their tune and now more often the apologeticists are saying that all these doctrines aren’t in fact restored but are being taught now for the first time is really irritating to me. It’s so difficult to even have a critical discussion with Mormons because they keep changing their stance. It’s like trying to nail jell-o to a wall.

  18. Peter, in the introduction to the BoM, it says that the BoM is “a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel”

    Now, if the Nephites (or the BoM) has a fullness of the everlasting gospel, doesn’t it make sense that the Priesthood would be discussed in there?

    I had also always understood that the folks in the BoM had all of the truths of the gospel. Especially during the time after Christ left.

    I mean, I guess you could say that they didn’t have all of the fullness that we enjoy today–but when people were living perfect lives, why didn’t God see fit to give them all of the blessings of the gospel? My understanding was always that Adam and Eve and co. had the fullness of the gospel, but fell away. And that Moses was GIVEN the fullness of the gospel to share, but the people at the time weren’t ready for it (with the golden calf and all), so he got the Jewish law. And, in short that EVERY dispensation had been given the fullness of the gospel.

    Peter, are you saying that the fullness of the gospel changes? That now, the fullness includes more things than it used to?

  19. Well, “the fullness of the everlasting gospel” is sometimes interpreted to mean merely faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, all of which qualify a person for Christ’s Atonement.

    Of course, none of those things are uniquely Mormon.

  20. It seems to me that we seem to be skipping the beginning to argue the end. It’s fruitless to address the nature of God, the divinity of Christ, the true spirit of worship, the truth of the Book of Mormon, the mechanics of revelation, the doctrine of the Trinity, the fullness of the gospel, the Restoration, the Apostasy, the priesthood, or even nailing jello to anything unless we first address the keystone of them all (. . . maybe . . . all but jello). The question we should ask before all others in any evangelical-Mormon dialogue is whether Joseph Smith is or is not a prophet of God. Answer that, and all the above will follow.

  21. Kullervo, you said:

    >Well, “the fullness of the everlasting gospel” is sometimes interpreted to >mean merely faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and >enduring to the end, all of which qualify a person for Christ’s Atonement.

    >Of course, none of those things are uniquely Mormon.

    Almost. The fulness of the everlasting gospel is sometimes (often?) interpreted to mean faith (in Jesus Christ, including faith that He has revealed Himself in this dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith), repentance, baptism by (Mormon) priesthood authority, the gift of the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands of a Mormon priesthood holder), and enduring to the end.

    And this, of course, is uniquely Mormon.

    katyjane-

    >Now, if the Nephites (or the BoM) has a fullness of the everlasting >gospel, doesn’t it make sense that the Priesthood would be discussed in >there?

    The priesthood is discussed in the Book of Mormon.

    Elder-

    >The question we should ask before all others in any evangelical-Mormon >dialogue is whether Joseph Smith is or is not a prophet of God. Answer >that, and all the above will follow.

    Evangelical answer: no.
    Mormon answer: yes.

    I will now await for answers to all the above to follow. 🙂

  22. The question we should ask before all others in any evangelical-Mormon dialogue is whether Joseph Smith is or is not a prophet of God. Answer that, and all the above will follow.

    This is the standard Mormon answer, but I am no longer convinced that it is necessarily the case.

  23. Kullervo, I’d be interested to hear why you think it’s not necessarily the case any longer. I think it is a fundamental question, and that’s the reason I generally avoid it on this blog. It kills future conversations because EVs believe he is a false prophet and LDS don’t want to hear our reasons to believe that.

  24. “The question we should ask before all others in any evangelical-Mormon dialogue is whether Joseph Smith is or is not a prophet of God. Answer that, and all the above will follow.”

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Does that mean 1. that he always told the truth? 2. that all of his actions were dictated by God?

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that he did, by and large, tell the truth about his revelations, and was a true prophet. Does that mean that Brigham Young was the next in line? Just because lots of people agreed at the time doesn’t make it so. There were also some prominent people who split off–including Joseph Smith’s wife. And just because they’ve ordained people in the same way to be prophet SINCE then doesn’t mean that the first time was done right. Joseph Smith wasn’t blatantly clear about it.

    Also, I very very much beg to differ that one cannot find the divinity of Christ outside of Joseph Smith.

    And, if you think that Joseph Smith is the keystone–and not Jesus Christ–then you’ve hung your hat on the wrong hatrack.

  25. “And, if you think that Joseph Smith is the keystone–and not Jesus Christ–then you’ve hung your hat on the wrong hatrack.”

    This is one of my biggest concerns with Mormonism.

    A traditional Christian can base their entire belief on faith in Jesus Christ, and infer the rest. If you begin with deciding to believe Jesus’s divinity, you can infer the reliability of the Bible, and move forward and backward from Jesus thorugh all of the prophets. There’s no other thing you have to exercise separate and independent faith in other than Jesus himself.

    (Many Christians begin with faith in the Bible, and from that they infer the divinity of Jesus Christ, but I think their faith is misplaced and they are in error when they do so).

    In Mormonism, there’s the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, which can’t be inferred from Jesus’s divinity alone. At best, Mormonism’s origin requires separate and independent faith in the Restoration story, and the rest of the Latter-Day Church can be reasonably inferred from it. That alone bothers me- Christianity doesn’t require separate and independent faith in anything but Jesus. Mormonism requires it for either Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon in addition to Jesus. From a theoretical standpoint, this elevates the Book of Mormon and/or Joseph Smith to the same level as Jesus Christ himself, and I think that’s problematic.

    At worst, Mormons hang their faith on the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith, and infer Jesus’s divinity and mission from there (not hard to do, since Joseph Smith saw Jesus, and the BoM features him as a main character). Their faith is hung on something other than Jesus Christ.

  26. As I’ve read over some of the other responses to Dando’s original question, I realize I’m apparently defining worship differently than some of the other respondents. I interpret worship to be giving my highest adorations, which led me to respond that I worship God the Father. However, the way others have responded made me realize that by ‘worship’ they seem to mean showing sacred devotion and recognizing divinity, which accurately describes my relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe asking to ‘pick sides’ obfuscates the issue; Mormons recognize the role of both the Father and the Son in the Creation and what we call the Plan of Salvation. As Jesus said, His work is the Father’s.

  27. I too am using the word worship to mean “giving the highest adoration”. This is what I am getting at in asking the question. It seems in the example of 3 Nephi, that the Nephites gave Jesus that form of worship and Jesus was willing to accept it. He was also willing to accept their “prayers unto him.”

  28. Kullervo,

    You say:

    “A traditional Christian can base their entire belief on faith in Jesus Christ, and infer the rest. If you begin with deciding to believe Jesus’s divinity, you can infer the reliability of the Bible, and move forward and backward from Jesus thorugh all of the prophets. There’s no other thing you have to exercise separate and independent faith in other than Jesus himself.”

    This doesn’t make sense: you cannot exhibit faith in Christ as Savior unless you first accept the Bible as an acceptable record of the Christ figure. Without the Gospel story as found in a text–Biblical and/or extra-Biblical (in the LDS case)–you could not demonstrate faith in Christ in the first place. Your methodology is temporally backwards, as if you could have faith in a person before you hear about them and then trust the things you hear.

    And with that the rest of your post is nonsense, so I don’t know what else to say.

  29. Dando,

    A cursory search through the Standard Works gave the following indications that Christ can be worshiped:

    “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9).

    “And after he had said these words, he said unto me: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him” (1 Nephi 11:19).

    “And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul” (2 Nephi 25:29).

    “And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer” (3 Nephi 10:10).

    “Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Nephi 11:17).

    “And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end” (Mormon 7:7).

    This is also not including harder-to-find references where Christ is referred to in a pronoun, which (as far as I know) may or may not exist. But I also have to admit that this is only one part of the story. There certainly is the question of Christ’s subordinate status (John 14:28) and Christ’s having been called by God to do his work (Hebrews), which LDS take in a literal sense and which Evangelicals, given their classical theology, must see as metaphorical. This also raises questions of ontology, which are inescapable in these matters and about which LDS have little to say: LDS, with very few exceptions, just aren’t interested in philosophy and theology and we have nothing like a traditionally accepted metaphysic on which we can rest. I wouldn’t doubt there are other issues as well, but the above are what is immediately coming to mind.

  30. “This doesn’t make sense: you cannot exhibit faith in Christ as Savior unless you first accept the Bible as an acceptable record of the Christ figure.”

    I disagree, but even if you are right, it still doesn’t mean that you need to have faith in the Bible as a prerequisite for having faith in Jesus Christ.

    Regardless of how I come to know about Jesus Christ and whose report of Jesus Christ I decide to lend credence to, I still must come to a point where I decide if I will believe in him.

    If I am introduced to Jesus Christ by a missionary, does that mean I have faith in the missionary before I have faith in Jesus? Of course not; that’s preposterous. I decide whether I think the missionary is trustworthy enough to give belief in Jesus a chance. That’s not the same thing as having faith in the missionary.

    Once I decide to believe someone’s account, even provisionally, I then have to deal with Jesus himself, and decide whether I will place my faith in Him. it’s fundamentally different. Once I decide to have faith in Jesus Christ, that faith allows me to retroactively confirm the truth of what I’ve been told about Jesus Christ, whether it be from a missionary, a friend, or the Bible. At no point do I have to actually exercise separate, independent faith in the Bible. I can merely decide that the Bible is trustworthy, even provisionally, and then I am presented with Jesus whom I must decide to have faith in or not.

    Especially since Jesus’s historical existence is generally accepted, even by non-Christians.

    Having placed my faith in Jesus Christ, I can at least reasonably infer the truth of the Old and New Testaments, and even of the Christian Church post-New-Testament. Faith in Jesus Christ by itself doesn’t allow me to naturally infer the truth of the Book of Mormon or the First Vision. According to the Mormon way of finding out truth, I have to pray separately to get a testimony of those things.

  31. This is a little bit of a chicken and egg thing. I think what Kullervo says about Joseph Smith is not nonsense though. I’ve met plenty of Mormons who proudly confess that they’d have nothing to do with Jesus if they didn’t believe Joseph Smith to be who he said he was.

    Kevin, thanks for all of those references. So do you think LDS worship Jesus as their God or do you think there is just scriptural evidence to support the idea? If LDS don’t worship Jesus as God, why not, particularly given the references you provided.

  32. Kullervo,

    “I disagree”

    How? Why? In the next few paragraphs you say essentially the same thing I just said: even if provisionally, you still must put trust (i.e. faith) in the messenger who is telling you about this being Jesus, whether they be a text or a person. How is this different from what I said?

    “I decide whether I think the missionary is trustworthy enough to give belief in Jesus a chance. That’s not the same thing as having faith in the missionary.”

    But isn’t faith a synonym of trust? If I have faith in Christ then I put my trust in him for my salvation. When you have faith in the missionary you put your trust in his word, that what he is saying is truthful or something to be believed.

    “At no point do I have to actually exercise separate, independent faith in the Bible. I can merely decide that the Bible is trustworthy, even provisionally, and then I am presented with Jesus whom I must decide to have faith in or not.”

    Yes, and I can merely decide that the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the message of the Restoration is true, even provisionally, and then I am presented with Jesus whom I must decide to have faith in or not. I fail to see the difference between your account and what you think is demanded in Mormonism.

    “Having placed my faith in Jesus Christ, I can at least reasonably infer the truth of the Old and New Testaments, and even of the Christian Church post-New-Testament.”

    But that is by mere historical coincidence: if you first and only reference to Jesus Christ, his life and death, and the necessity of his life and death for your own life and salvation was the Book of Mormon, then retroactively that would be seen by you as evidence for the Book of Mormon (and, secondarily by that same record, the Bible). It is mere historical coincidence that you have heard about the Christ figure from your tradition and its texts.

    “According to the Mormon way of finding out truth, I have to pray separately to get a testimony of those things.”

    First, I don’t know of any “Mormon way of finding out truth.” You speak of it so monolithically. Second, must we also not pray to Christ himself for our salvation, pray to God to know of our standing before him, etc.? Prayer is as necessary in your account as in mine and, again, I fail to see the distinctions you are trying to make.

  33. Dando,

    I would probably say that most don’t worship Christ independently, but I would also say that the reasons behind them are because of theological ignorance. I don’t see this as particularly damning as I don’t think that believing theological fictions is sufficient for annulling Christ’s sacrifice in one’s life (thank goodness or we’d all be lost!). Most certainly there is scriptural warrant for worshiping and praising Christ, but most LDS simply don’t care enough about theology to really think about what that may mean and, instead, simply follow what they think is common teaching (which is simply human nature; we can’t all be experts), i.e. Bruce R. McConkie’s statement that you have referred to. McConkie is still very present for some, for good and bad. I would be quick to say that most of what McConkie taught is probably true, but there are a number of things that I would personally dispute.

    For myself, I honestly don’t know where I stand on the issue. I know the scriptures, I know McConkie’s position, I’m familiar with a number of approaches various LDS use to understand God, but I just don’t know. I’m at least not against it in principle.

  34. Look, even if you think I’m full of crap up until this point, think about it this way from the Mormon perspective:

    Mormonism stresses the importance of gaining a testimony of critical principles of the Gospel, right? That testimony is theoretically gained by praying for a manifestation from the Holy Spirit of the truth of something.

    Lets say I’ve read the Bible and I want to know if Jesus is really my savior. According to Mormonism, if I pray and ask God, he’ll tell me, and I’ll have a testimony of it, right? Now, that testimony is sufficient to infer the truth of the bible, because history places Jesus squarely in the middle of it. Sure, I could also pray to know that the Bible is true, but I don’t need to. Because if I know that Jesus is the Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost, the that means the New Testament must be true, and since the New Testament affirms the Old Testament on a number of occasions, I can also therefore infer that the Old Testament is true. I certainly don’t need to pray for a specific testimony based on a spiritual witness of each book of the Bible, each apostle, each epistle, and each prophet, do I? Again, I could if I wanted to, but it isn’t critical. If God has witnessed to me the truth of Jesus Christ’s divinity and mission, then the rest can be reasonably inferred.

    But my testimony of Jesus Christ alone doesn’t let me reasonably infer the truth of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or the Latter-Day church.

    In order to know those things, I also have to pray to ask if either 1) the Book of Mormon is true or 2) Joseph smith was a prophet of God. Mormonism teaches that once I know either of those things, I can reasonably infer the rest: if I know that the Book of Mormon is true, then I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. If I know that, then I also know that the D&C and PoGP are true. I also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true, that the Priesthood was restored, and that the church is still led by a prophet, that the plan of salvation as laid out in the LDS church is true, that the Word of Wisdom is true, etc.

    I can get individual spiritual confirmation of each of these if I want or if I’m having a particular struggle, but the standard answer is that I should be able to get a testimony of just the one thing (either the BoM or the First Vision) and reasonably infer the rest. Latter-day prophets have taught that, and the missionaries teach that all the time.

    If all I had was a spiritual witness of Jesus Christ, I could in the same way infer the truth of the Bible and the Biblical prophets, and even reasonably infer the truth of the early Christian church, based on their historical connection to Jesus Christ, either before or after. A testimony of Jesus would be enough to let me be a faithful Protestan, Catholic, Orthodox Christian. But a testimony of Jesus alone isn’t enough to convince me of the truth of Mormonism.

    To be a Mormon, I would at the very least need to get a separate testimony of The BoM or Joseph Smith. And I find that problematic because to me it places them on the same level as Jesus in terms of where our faith is placed.

    What I find more problematic is that many Mormons don;t have a separate testimony of Jesus and BoM/JS, but that instead they begin with a testimony of the Book of Mormon or JS and infer the rest, including inferring the divinity of Jesus, the existence of God, and the truth (or at least general reliability) of the bible.

    That means for many Mormons, the lynchpin of their faith is not Jesus Christ, but Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. Either that or they have two equal lynchpins, only one of which is Jesus.

    If your faith is built on anything but Jesus Christ, you have a house built on sand. I think that’s why it seems that most people who leave Mormonism become atheists: their faith was ultimately grounded in the Restoration, not in Jesus, and when they lost faith in the Restoration, they lost faith in everything.

    I’m cross-posting this comment on my blog, by the way, at http://byzantium.wordpress.com/2007/07/24/a-house-built-on-sand/

  35. Pingback: A House Built On Sand « Sailing to Byzantium

  36. Kullevro,

    “Lets say I’ve read the Bible and I want to know if Jesus is really my savior. According to Mormonism, if I pray and ask God, he’ll tell me, and I’ll have a testimony of it, right?”

    No, actually, that’s according to the Bible, as found in such scriptures as Exodus 33:13, Numbers 22:19, Judges 18:5, and James 1:5-6. We are commanded to ask God for knowledge and it is done throughout the scriptures.

    “Now, that testimony is sufficient to infer the truth of the bible, because history places Jesus squarely in the middle of it.”

    This doesn’t follow. Just because you believe in Christ doesn’t mean that you must then believe in a particular record of his life. Heck, Christ is the very center of the Book of Mormon: maybe the Bible is full of errors (even beyond what LDS would claim), yet Christ was still divine. You are being too simplistic in your inferences here. Why not other texts that haven’t been accepted by classical Christianity as part of the Bible? Does Christ’s divinity demand that they are true? If not, then what is your criteria and, per your claim, how does that criteria stem from Christ’s divinity?

    “If God has witnessed to me the truth of Jesus Christ’s divinity and mission, then the rest can be reasonably inferred.”

    You cannot “reasonably” transfer the authority of God’s voice telling you that Christ is divine to any particular text. You are already assuming things about the said text before you even make the inference, none of which is necessarily implied in Christ’s divinity or God’s witness as you describe it. Unless God’s witness includes some reference to the Bible as it has been historically canonized with the classical Christian tradition, you have no reason per that witness to infer anything about the said text.

    “But my testimony of Jesus Christ alone doesn’t let me reasonably infer the truth of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or the Latter-Day church.”

    I agree, so we can set this aside. What we can’t set aside is that it is the same case with the classical Christian tradition. And merely pointing to tradition–“Oh, look, we’ve been around a long time so we can be trusted”–is not itself sufficient for the claim you are making. The “historical longevity” card doesn’t carry much (any?) force.

    “To be a Mormon, I would at the very least need to get a separate testimony of The BoM or Joseph Smith. And I find that problematic because to me it places them on the same level as Jesus in terms of where our faith is placed.”

    By what logic? I’m entirely unclear on this and I’ve already given my reasons above, but let me repeat them: you must have faith (put trust) in the messenger, be it a text or a person, before you can have faith in the message. This doesn’t mean that the faith is equivalent as your faith in the messenger is that their message is true while your faith in Christ is different: it is faith in him for your salvation. In this movement from faith in the messenger to faith in the message, the content of the faith is different hence (QED?) they are not “on the same level.” If you respond to anything in this post, please respond to that as it is the crux of the issue. In fact, I’ll just end here as anything else will simply be repetition.

  37. Well, I disagree that you need to have faith in the message in order to have faith in the messenger, but I’ll grant that the disagreement here may be purely semantic.

    Also, check my language carefully, I did not say that Jesus’s divinity proves the truth of the Bible or historical Christianity. I only said it allows the reasonable inference. This kind of thinking is not something I made up- it’s standard Mormon logic that says if the BoM is true, etc, yadda yadda, the church is true. In both cases it isn;t an airtight proof- the Book of Mormon’s truth really doesn;t prove anything about modern day Mormonism. But it does allow a reasonable inference, and latter-day prophets and missionaries have been asking members and missionaries to make that inference for years.

    And the Mormon church, at least since Ezra Taft Benson, has consistently asked members and investigators to base their entire faith on a testimony of the Book of Mormon, following these steps of reasonable inferences. Once more, I think that’s building a house on a foundation of sand, because the rock is Jesus Christ himself.

  38. Kevin,

    First, I don’t think that faith is synonymous with trust. While they can often be used interchangably, they have slightly different meanings and connotations.

    Let’s say your argument is correct–that you must have ‘faith’ in the messenger before you can have faith in the message. (I disagree, but I don’t know that I can express it articulately enough to make sense.)

    In order to believe in Christianity, you ONLY have to believe in Christ. In order to believe in Mormonism, you have to believe in BOTH Christ AND either Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. While both testify of Christ, you cannot become a Mormon if you ONLY believe in Christ.

    As such, one could come to the conclusion (and I’m not saying this is the necessary or the only conclusion) that these other things are as important as Jesus Christ–if you have to “know” these things are true, you can’t only have faith in Christ–you also have to have faith in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and continuing revelation through God’s chosen prophet at the very least (as evidenced in the baptismal and temple interview questions).

  39. Kullevro,

    No, it is not merely semantics. Quite frankly, I’ve never been able to make sense of that claim as it is usually used inappropriately (much like Okham’s Razor). There is a difference between believing the messenger and believing the message and the relation between the two is important for discussing the reasons for accepting truth claims. If I do not believe the messenger then I have no reason to believe their message; if there is no messenger then I will not receive the message in the first place and, thus, cannot receive or reject the message. It is true that I may not believe or have faith that the messenger is telling the truth and yet I may still believe their message. But if we are speaking of warrant for belief, doubting the truthfulness of the messenger is reason for doubting the message they give. Again, yes, you could believe their message, but such would be un-reasonable and, I would wager, uncommon.

    “Also, check my language carefully, I did not say that Jesus’s divinity proves the truth of the Bible or historical Christianity. I only said it allows the reasonable inference.”

    Granted, it may lend a degree of credence to Biblical and historical truth claims, but such allowances could extend to other traditions than the “historical” approach, which is my point: it is not as easy as you claim to can move from Christological divinity to so-called “historical Christianity” (a term that I think is a misnomer, despite its widespread use). So much depends even on how you understand “divinity” that it is far from clear that such an inference is correct.

    “This kind of thinking is not something I made up- it’s standard Mormon logic that says if the BoM is true, etc, yadda yadda, the church is true. In both cases it isn;t an airtight proof- the Book of Mormon’s truth really doesn;t prove anything about modern day Mormonism. But it does allow a reasonable inference, and latter-day prophets and missionaries have been asking members and missionaries to make that inference for years.”

    Granted, such is a common understanding and practice, but that doesn’t make it right. To be up front, I disagree with it: the veracity of the Book of Mormon is not itself sufficient to demonstrate the veracity of modern Mormonism. So we agree on this. But I would say that the same is true in relation to both the divinity of Christ and the veracity of the Biblical account. There are so many other extra-Biblical factors–such as what metaphysic one assumes, what tradition one adheres to, etc.–that Christ’s “divinity” (however understood) is fundamentally underdetermined in the inference you are trying to make.

    “And the Mormon church, at least since Ezra Taft Benson, has consistently asked members and investigators to base their entire faith on a testimony of the Book of Mormon, following these steps of reasonable inferences.”

    Really? Can you give me some quotes to validate the “entire faith” aspect of this claim? As far as I can tell, there has been one consistent story throughout the life of Mormonism: that our faith is to be based on the testimony of the Holy Ghost, i.e. revelation from God, not on some text. Our faith in the text is based on the revelation of God. Our direct contact with God has been central to the Restoration since Joseph Smith and I think you are misrepesenting the LDS claim by reducing it to faith in a text. We are always to ask God and that revelation is the ground of our faith in Christ, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

  40. KatyJane,

    “First, I don’t think that faith is synonymous with trust. While they can often be used interchangably, they have slightly different meanings and connotations.”

    How would you differentiate them? While I will grant that there are some differences between the two terms, they seem minor.

    “In order to believe in Christianity, you ONLY have to believe in Christ.”

    Actually, no, not by a long shot. As it has unfolded in the Mormonism Isn’t Christian entry, believing Christ is not sufficient. Rather, one must believe in the classical Christian understanding of Christ as found in the (or, I think better, a) historical tradition that includes the acceptance of a neo-Aristotelian metaphysic (that is essential for the Trinitarian dogma) as essentially canonized (i.e. put on par with scripture) in various creeds (Nicene in particular).

    You see, I will say that I fulfill this criteria: I believe in Christ; I believe that faith in Christ is absolutely necessary for my salvation and that salvation comes by no other means than by that faith. But then you will respond (variously) with, “But you believe in the wrong Christ,” or, “You don’t worship Christ,” or, “It is not the Christ of the Trinity,” or other some such things. You see, once I claim belief in the “ONLY” thing that is necessary to “believe in Christianity,” you will then throw on other stipulations that are apparently necessary but which exceed faith in Christ simpliciter. It is not merely faith in Christ, but faith in a particular tradition’s understanding of Christ with its metaphysic, soteriology, and theology. Maybe you can see why I am skeptical of your claim.

    “As such, one could come to the conclusion (and I’m not saying this is the necessary or the only conclusion) that these other things are as important as Jesus Christ”

    While understanding your qualification, it’s not even a good conclusion. Christ is the foundation, the ground of all the other claims. Without Christ the other claims are meaningless, without cogency, impotent, without saving power, etc. To say that Christ’s divinity is somehow “as important” as Joseph Smith’s prophetic status is simply skewed, a misplaced emphasis that is not even implied in the Restoration message. Christ is certainly and essentially more important than the other claims.

    “you also have to have faith in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and continuing revelation through God’s chosen prophet at the very least (as evidenced in the baptismal and temple interview questions).”

    And, in order to really believe in Christ (i.e. without you raising other qualifications that I, as a Mormon, do not fulfill), I must also have faith in the classical creeds, the Bible, the Reformation, and the sealing of the heavens to scriptural revelation at the very least. I’m sorry, but Kullevor and your claim that belief in Christ is the “ONLY” thing you need is surely too simplistic as dozens of conversations where I have tried to claim such in the presence of Evangelicals (and the other thread) have amply demonstrated otherwise.

  41. I use “believing” and “having faith in” to mean two vastly different things. You are using them to mean the same thing. Thus, it is a semantic difference.

    Do you realize that when you say things like “I’ve never been able to make “sense of that claim as it is usually used inappropriately (much like Okham’s Razor)” you come across as dismissive and arrogant?

    In any case, the issue of whether you can start with faith in Jesus or the Bible is a chicken-or-the-egg issue that’s kind of tangental and not completely fatal to my argument. Many Christians would indeed say that you have to begin by having faith in the Bible. I disagree with those Chrsitians.

    “Granted, it may lend a degree of credence to Biblical and historical truth claims, but such allowances could extend to other traditions than the “historical” approach, which is my point: it is not as easy as you claim to can move from Christological divinity to so-called “historical Christianity” (a term that I think is a misnomer, despite its widespread use). So much depends even on how you understand “divinity” that it is far from clear that such an inference is correct.”

    I agree with you. I never said that if you took faith in Christ as the starting point it would prove historical Christianity (why a misnomer? I mean it to include the entire development of Christianity from the apostles through Constantine, the early schisms, and on down to the Reformation and through to the present). I said that if you had faith in Jesus alone you could reasonably infer historical Christianity. Not that it was the only possible inference, or the most reasonable inference, or even a more reasonable inference than many others. But because there’s a chain of historical events, the believer can have faith in Jesus Christ, and then because of Jesus’s place in a more-or-less accepted chain of historical events, that believer can also believe in the rest of Christianity without having to have faith in any of it.

    I’m saying that it’s a possible to reasonably infer. That’s all.

    And actually, you can leave “historical Christianity” out of it if you want- it isn’t central to my point anyway. If I begin by having faith in Jesus, it is possible for me to reasonably infer the truth of the Bible, the existence of God, the divine calling of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament, and even the reality of sin and the necessity of salvation. If that’s all I believe, that is more than sufficient for me to be a Christian.

    On the other hand, I think that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon don’t reasonably exist as a part of this chain of inferences. No reasonable person, assuming Jesus Christ, would reasonably infer the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.

    In fact, if you it makes it simpler and will keep people from nitpicking, I can use that vocabulary: if I assume belief in Jesus Christ, I can reasonably infer things that he is connected to historically. But I don’t think I can reasonably infer Joseph Smith/Restoration/Book of Mormon.

    Thus in order for me to be a Mormon, I have to have separate, free-standing (i.e. not inferred from anything else) belief in the Restoration.

    “Really? Can you give me some quotes to validate the “entire faith” aspect of this claim? As far as I can tell, there has been one consistent story throughout the life of Mormonism: that our faith is to be based on the testimony of the Holy Ghost, i.e. revelation from God, not on some text. Our faith in the text is based on the revelation of God. Our direct contact with God has been central to the Restoration since Joseph Smith and I think you are misrepesenting the LDS claim by reducing it to faith in a text. We are always to ask God and that revelation is the ground of our faith in Christ, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).”

    I’m starting to feel like you’re misreading and misinterpreting me on purpose. I said that our faith was supposed to be based on a testimony of the Book of Mormon, i.e., that the starting point is reading the Book of Mormon, praying about it, and receiving a witness of the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Look, you don’t have to agree with me, Kevin. And as a believing Mormon, it’s almost a given that you won’t agree with me since doing so would be to concede a flaw in Mormonism (which you don’t think exists, and which I do). But you’re picking my argument to pieces at the edges, the details, instead of just trying to listen to the idea that I’m trying to convey.

    Do you really have such a driving need to prove me wrong?

    I’ll admit that at the heart of it, this is a problem I have with Mormonism. Something that bothers me about the religion. When I first made a comment, I prefaced it with “this is one of my biggest concerns with Mormonism.” You can’t argue me into not being bothered about it anymore, so why are you trying? Especially if your method of convincing is to show all my argument’s holes and flaws. Not only is that unconvincing because many of these “holes and flaws” are issues of semantics- and I really do know what semantics means, so please stop trying to infer that I am stupid- but doubly so since my “argument” isn’t a formal argument at all. It’s something abstract that bothers me that I’m trying to articulate.

    All I’m looking for is for people to at least acknowledge that my concern is makes sense, even if they don’t agree with it. But instead you’re doing your best to show that my concern is incoherent, and I don’t really understand your motivation. We’re not in a duel. You don’t get a prize or anything by besting me. And you’re certainly not resolving my concern with defensive nitpicking.

  42. Kullevro,

    I’m sorry if I am coming across as condescending. I try not to do such, but sometimes it does come out. My apologies.

    “I said that if you had faith in Jesus alone you could reasonably infer historical Christianity. Not that it was the only possible inference, or the most reasonable inference, or even a more reasonable inference than many others. But because there’s a chain of historical events, the believer can have faith in Jesus Christ, and then because of Jesus’s place in a more-or-less accepted chain of historical events, that believer can also believe in the rest of Christianity without having to have faith in any of it.”

    I just don’t see it: you must develop faith in the Bible, in the historical claims of traditional Christianity, of the classical theology that is (in my mind) forced on the Bible, etc. If you didn’t, why would you unite yourself with that tradition? Are you advocating some form of blind faith in relation to everything else? But then you couldn’t put forward the claim that Mormons aren’t Christian because of our view of Christ since such a criticism rests on the conviction that the classical Christology is, in fact, true. But if you had no such conviction, because you don’t “have faith in any of it,” then you would have no motivation for putting forth the argument; Christ is enough, these other things aren’t really important.

    “If I begin by having faith in Jesus, it is possible for me to reasonably infer the truth of the Bible, the existence of God, the divine calling of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament, and even the reality of sin and the necessity of salvation. If that’s all I believe, that is more than sufficient for me to be a Christian.”

    I have the same belief: I accept the truth of the Bible, the existence of God, the divine calling of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, the reality of sin, and the necessity of Christ for my salvation. Such are taught repeatedly in the Standard Works, in Sunday School, from the pulpit, etc. So, despite your claiming quite explicitly here that the above “is more than sufficient for [anyone] to be a Christian” (I imagine your claim is universalizable), you also say elsewhere that Mormonism is “a different religion,” even that someone who changes from Evangelicalism to Mormonism “has actually switched religions.” Do you see why I’m having problems here? You are simplifying things here and complicating things there; you are being inconsistent in the criteria you employ.

    “On the other hand, I think that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon don’t reasonably exist as a part of this chain of inferences. No reasonable person, assuming Jesus Christ, would reasonably infer the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.”

    Sure they would: they would read the Bible, they would see the continuation of prophets throughout the generations, they see the need for divine authority to act in God’s name, they would notice how important ritual is and its nature (i.e. not the “works righteousness” interpretation that too many Protestants give it, being ignorant of the nature of rituals), they would see the differences between Roman Catholic authority from that found in the Bible, they would see with the Reformers that something must be done, they would see how sola scriptura is completely out of line with the Biblical model, thus they would see the importance of authority to act in God’s name, not the willy-nilly “everyone’s got the authority” notion of Protestantism (i.e. “priesthood of all believers”). Thus a restoration would be needed so that, in line with the Biblical model, prophets would again speak for God (or, better put, God would be allowed to speak again instead of being silenced by dogma) and the authority to act in God’s name would be restored; the Biblical model of God’s dealings with man would be restored after its long absence. This isn’t that far fetched. Oh, in fact, that’s not too far from how it happened.

    “You can’t argue me into not being bothered about it anymore, so why are you trying? Especially if your method of convincing is to show all my argument’s holes and flaws. Not only is that unconvincing because many of these “holes and flaws” are issues of semantics- and I really do know what semantics means, so please stop trying to infer that I am stupid- but doubly so since my “argument” isn’t a formal argument at all. It’s something abstract that bothers me that I’m trying to articulate.”

    After over 9 years of doing apologetics and 5 years of doing philosophy, I’m not under the illusion that I can “convince” anyone. The phenomenology of how one is convinced simply doesn’t give me that much control and I realize that. However, I would think, as someone who wants to give a good argument, that you would be interested in what I see as deep inconsistencies in how you are treating this topic. These are not issues of semantics, let alone “many” of them (you’ve really only pointed to one so far and I’m not sure that is the case there). They are issues of you utilizing inconsistent criteria across two topics that, in the end, are contradictory.

    On the informal nature of your argument: I’m not asking for a formal argument. By and large formal arguments are inadequate for dealing with these kinds of issues: not only are there too many variables, but I personally believe that logical discourse is too one-dimensional to really grasp the questions of meaning that are being raised (i.e. logic assumes meaning, it doesn’t ground it). However, being an informal argument does not mean that you can utilize contradictions and we can reasonably ignore them.

    “All I’m looking for is for people to at least acknowledge that my concern is makes sense, even if they don’t agree with it. But instead you’re doing your best to show that my concern is incoherent, and I don’t really understand your motivation.”

    In order to “make sense” your argument would have to be coherent. Thus, by showing the incoherence of your argument I am simultaneously showing that it doesn’t make sense. But it sounds like all you want in the above is some validation so that my arguing against you isn’t giving you the desired result. I’m not arguing against you because I disagree with you (even though I do); I honestly believe that views other than my own can “make sense.” But since your argument doesn’t make sense, why should I let it stand? Why should I stand by as you seek for validation for your beliefs and your decision to leave the Church when I see the reasoning behind that belief and decision as fundamentally flawed? I’m simply trying to show the inconsistencies, incoherence, and apparent contradiction in your reasoning. If you are ok with utilizing contradictions in your discussions here, then there’s nothing I can do to stop you. If you continue in your “problem” despite the inconsistencies that I’m trying to demonstrate, again, there’s nothing I can do to stop you. But I would hope that you would at least care that your arguments are contradictory or, stronger put, illogical/irrational. But don’t ask me to validate your concern when it simply doesn’t make sense to me.

  43. I still think you’re missing the forest for the trees when you’re looking at what I’m saying, but I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter whether you acknowledge the validity of my concern or not.

    Maybe what I’m really after is to get you to understand what I am trying to say, and I really don’t think you do. I think the fact that I’m criticizing Mormonism has put you on the defensive, and you’re poking holes wherever you can without really listening to the overall idea.

    The larger idea comes first- I’m employing details to explain it, not to support it. If you knock down all my details, the larger idea is unaffected. In all probability, it just means I have not done a good job of explaining, or you are not doing a good job of trying to understand. I’m trying to set it up inductively, and you’re trying to knock it down deductively. Or vice versa; I can never keep the two straight.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t actually care whether or not Mormons are classified as Christians or not. On the other thread, I’m merely trying to express that I think Evangelicals aren’t bonkers for saying Mormons aren’t Christians. But I’m not an Evangelical, and in the end I think that classifications and categories really are a matter of semantics- how you classify something doesn’t really change what it is. So my inconsistency is, to me, at least, completely irrelevant, since it’s not really my inconsistency at all. I don’t really have a dog in that fight.

  44. Kullervo,

    “I think the fact that I’m criticizing Mormonism has put you on the defensive, and you’re poking holes wherever you can without really listening to the overall idea.”

    I’m not “poking holes,” I’m just pointing out the ones that are there. In two separate threads you present contrary criteria: in one you say that Mormonism is not Christian; in the other you provide your criteria that Mormonism clearly accepts, stating that they are “sufficient for me to be a Christian” but apparently not sufficient for Mormonism.

    Now, maybe I am misunderstanding your point and maybe I am focusing on the trees. But it is also possible that what you’re trying to say really is incoherent. I know that everyone has a bias for their own views: they are more likely to attribute incoherence to anothers’ views than their own. But I think your so clearly disjointing your examples from your argument is confused: arguments can only be good arguments if they can attached to particulars, demonstrated with examples. Thus, I think it precisely is your inconsistencies I’m dealing with and not some truly coherent argument that, well, can’t be argued. But perhaps we will agree to disagree. I, for one, don’t care to spend much more time trying to discuss inarticulable arguments.

  45. “I, for one, don’t care to spend much more time trying to discuss inarticulable arguments.”

    Wow, Kevin. You’re being an unbelievably arrogant, self-righteous dick. By the way.

    Did you not read what I said? I’m not making an argument. I’m expressing a concern and trying to explain it. And I’m not being inconsistent because i don’t actually espouse the ideas I’ve expressed in the other thread- over there, I’m trying to explain someone else’s point of view. How many times am I going to have to say that before you listen?

    Again, you’re zeroing in on what you think is the weakest link in my comment, and not actually reading the rest. Certainly you’re not trying to understand where I’m coming from or my point of view.

  46. Kullervo,

    No, I am reading the rest. And if I am being a dick (I’m not saying I’m not), it’s because you can’t articulate what you’re trying to say and I’m straining to understand it, only to be told again and again that I’m somehow missing the ‘bigger picture’ without any clarification on exactly what that picture is! At every point you are assuming that it is a failing in me for why I don’t understand you (is that a form of arrogance on your part? I don’t know). I’m doing my best to understand what on earth you are saying, but I guess I’m not seeing it. You’ve provided no clarification in response to any of my comments so I’m left with you simply parroting yourself and continually bewailing my inability to see your point, neither of which clarifies what you’re saying! Your “concern” doesn’t make sense to me: I don’t see why it is so ‘natural’ that one can reasonably infer historical Chrsitianity (or not; you’ve not been clear on exactly what it is we are infering) but we cannot do so with Mormonism. Or is that not your point, because you’ve mentioned it in every post (making me think it is central when, in your last post, you say it is completely unnecessary?). Perhaps if you tried another example. But you must see how frustrating it is when, at every attempt, I’m simply told that I’m not seeing it without any apparent effort on your part to help me understand!

  47. Isn’t the real point here that Mormons do in fact worship Christ as one of the members of the Godhead but pray to the Father? This is supported by both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. My last reading of the New Testament has Jesus telling people to pray to the Father, not himself. “Prayer” and “worship” are not the same, and Biblically, it seems to support that they aren’t the same when it comes to our relationship with Christ.

    What this and some other threads here seem to boil down to is, “How can we bend definitions of words so that we can say that Mormons aren’t Christian?” That’s weird behavior to me.

  48. Kevin,

    I’ve never seen some one spend so much time trying to say “I don’t get it”.

    RC,

    If in fact LDS do worship Jesus as God, then I am happy to hear it. I just have a hard time finding anyone who will tell me straight out one way or the other (without being contradicted by someone else). I’m not making a distinction between prayer and worship, nor am I blending the two concepts.

    If you are saying that LDS worship the Godhead, I’m even happier to hear it because that is basically a statement of belief in the Trinity.

    More than anything, I want to see Jesus being worshiped. We can call it whatever we want.

  49. Dando,

    I do want to understand Kullervo. That’s all I’m saying. I’m just apparently missing something very basic that he’s trying to say…

  50. Dando – I think some LDS members think of praying to someone when they think of worshipping them and some don’t. And so perhaps that could be the source of the different answers you get when you ask, since LDS members don’t pray to Christ – they pray to the father, as they have been taught in the Bible.

    As for the word “Godhead” – again LDS have a different meaning behind that word than the majority of people and so it is the LDS responsibility to use that word responsibly and be very clear about it to avoid misunderstanding.

    As LDS use the word, it refers to three distinct beings, as described in the bible, with a oneness of purpose and unity, also as described in the bible.

  51. Kevin:

    I have NEVER EVER said that in order to be a Christian one has to believe in Creeds, blah blah blah, whatever. Hell–I don’t know them myself, so I’d be hard pressed to force someone else into that box.

    I acknowledge that some people in some denominations believe that this is necessary to be called a Christian. Whatever. I believe that to be called a Christian one needs to have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (as such, I have always believed that Mormons are Christians, while I also understand the reasoning behind people who say they aren’t).

    As far as I’m concerned, I’ve decided to follow Christ. Plain and simple. I believe that it is possible to do that within the framework of Mormonism or not.

    HOWEVER, and this is what Kullervo was also trying to say, I can’t believe in Mormonism if I ONLY believe in Christ. I also have to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet/Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet, etc. Without believing those, I have no place in Mormonism–I cannot be a member in good standing.

    That’s all I’m trying to say.

    Also, please don’t infer what I believe or what I think others should believe based on what other Christians or other groups believe. It’s rude. Also, you get upset when people tell you what you believe based on what prophets and General Authorities have said–and rightly so.

  52. Kevin, in the end, it turns out I don’t care if you understand what I’m trying to say. who are you anyway? A random internet person from a Church I’ve honestly turned my back on. And if trying to get you to understand me despite your dogged resistance means having constantly my intelligence and ability to communicate impugned, it’s not really worth it. I know I’m intelligent and articulate.

    Honestly, I think the problem is yours. I have not yet had a conversation with a Mormon where they would even acknowledge the validity of a concern or criticism of the Church. I say “the things that bother me are x, y, and z,” and the response is “but x, y and z aren’t even the case!” As if I’m insane or smoking crack.

    I do think the problem is yours, and I think it’s because you’re a devout adherent to a false religion where every inch of ground has to be vigorously defended because it doesn’t actually have a leg to stand on or a shred of proof to back its claims. It is the ultimate house of sand.

    That’s my parting shot, though. I’m done with this conversation, because in the end I’ve got nothing to prove. You may feel free to respond with whatever vitriol you choose.

  53. I would like to see an Evangelical response/rebuttal to this address by Elder Holland that has been circulating around Facebook since the cult comment by Jeffries.
    Specifically the scripture John 14:28 that he cites.
    http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/the-only-true-god-and-jesus-christ-whom-he-hath-sent?lang=eng

    To answer the question on worship-
    LDS pray only to the Father, but in Christ’s name. Jesus was our spirit brother from the pre existence who volunteered to be our Savior. We worship Christ by trying to follow his teachings and example, but the glory goes to the Father. Our personal relationship is with our Heavenly Father, not Jesus Christ.

  54. Talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ isn’t totally foreign to Mormonism. I’d point out this article from Ensign magazine as an example:

    The most important thing we can do—young or old—is develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    I suspect that an evangelical response to Holland’s talk might say that at least in part of his talk he is confusing the doctrine of the Trinity with modalism, which is considered a heresy in traditional Christianity. According to the doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus wasn’t talking with himself when he prayed to the Father, for example.

    As I’ve said elsewhere (and I think Tim more or less agreed), I don’t think that the LDS view of how the persons of the Godhead relate to each other are all that much different than the Trinitarian view — our differences have more to do with what God and humans are.

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