Rejecting Christ

Is this statement an accurate description of LDS thought? If you’re a Mormon do you agree with it? Why or why not?

“Those who reject that Joseph Smith talked with Jesus Christ, are NOT ONLY REJECTING Joseph Smith, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.”

[Edit: this statement was expressed at an LDS sacrament meeting. I did not hear it directly though]

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54 thoughts on “Rejecting Christ

  1. I googled the phrase, and the only hit I got was your site. So I unfortunately have no idea who said this. To respond to your first question, I don’t think it is an accurate description of LDS thought. This statement would condemn all those non-LDS christians as not truly christian, which goes against what I have been taught. Do we reject the other churches as not Christs true church? Absolutely. But we don’t teach, and for the most part we as a people don’t believe, that those who are not LDS but profess a faith in Jesus are rejecting Christ.

    In rejecting the idea that JS talked the Christ, you are only really rejecting the Mormon church (and it’s offshoots). True faith in Jesus is not dependent on whether or not you subscribe fully to the true doctrines in every minute detail, or that you belong to a particular organization or another. These are true even in the context of the LDS church.

  2. I think it is silly to think that just because someone doesn’t believe Joseph Smith talked with Christ that they are rejecting their Savior. You didn’t attribute the quote to anyone so I have to assume that it comes from your own thoughts. Is that right?

    It is more than reasonable to assume that someone can reject Mormonism and still accept Christ as their Savior.

  3. This proposition contains the same fault in thinking as the “Mormon are not Christians” and the “they have another Jesus” arguments.

  4. This proposition contains the same fault in thinking as the “Mormon are not Christians” and the “they have another Jesus” arguments.

    And that fault in thinking is . . . .?

  5. The fault is in thinking that merely being mistaken about Jesus’ nature makes you unable to believe in him.

    I still think this is a faulty premise – no matter who is saying it.

  6. The fault is in thinking that merely being mistaken about Jesus’ nature makes you unable to believe in him.

    Being mistaken in Jesus’ nature doesn’t make people UNABLE to believe in Him. It just means they would need to understand and acknowledge His TRUE nature, to say that they DO believe in Him. To refuse to do so doesn’t mean they are unable – it means they are unwilling. Big difference.

  7. Brad, you don’t really believe that we mormons willfully ignore/reject the “true” nature of Christ in favor of another, do you. Meaning of course that we know you are right, but choose to believe otherwise with some ulterior motive? Because that does seem to be what you are implying, and I think it is stunningly ridiculous. But it does seem to fit right into the “mormon’s lie” meme that seems to be so popular among evangelicals, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Am I reading too much into your statement? If so, I apologize.

  8. That’s not what I implied at all. I said there’s a big divide between “unwilling” and “unable”. For the record, I do believe that Mormons worship a different God, absolutely.

    As to why, I don’t believe it’s because they know the right one, and are unwilling to change due to some ulterior motive. I believe it’s because they have a misunderstanding of who God is, based upon the teachings of their church. To me, that doesn’t fall into the category of “unwilling” – yet. However, when presented with evidence of who God is, I believe that at that point, it DOES place them in the “unwilling” category, EVEN IF they still believe they are worshiping what THEY think is the correct God.

    We can call it whatever we like – misled, wrong, unwilling, whatever. At the end of the day, there’s 1 God, and if you don’t believe in Him (as He truly is, not just what WE think He is or want Him to be), then you are destined to perish.

  9. Oh no, not this discussion again. I think it was with you brad some months back that we discussed these same things. You presented “evidence”, we presented “evidence”, we asked each other who’s “evidence” was correct, we ran around in circles a few times, and we came away believing exactly as we do. The problem is, from my point of view, your evidence is not convincing, and I choose to believe in a different, reasonable interpretation of scripture. So maybe it is you who is unwilling to believe in the correct nature of God (and therefore worship a different god?), but unlike you, I am still willing to call you a believing christian. You can keep believing that we worship different God’s, but good luck proving which one of our God’s is the right one. I prefer to believe we worship the same God (since there is only one God), just that we understand Him and His nature in different ways.

  10. Back to the original question, I suppose that at some point in the afterlife (when presumably more truth has been revealed to us) the statement could be a true one. Or, I suppose that if the Holy Spirit were to clearly reveal to someone that the true Jesus Christ is the one who talked to Joseph Smith, then rejecting that belief might be the same as rejecting Christ.

    But in general, no, the statement runs contrary both to my beliefs and the LDS faith as it has been taught to me. Certainly, there are many people who are true followers of Christ who don’t accept the LDS narrative of the Restoration.

    Just because something is said in a sacrament meeting (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was) doesn’t make it true.

  11. “Just because something is said in a sacrament meeting (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was) doesn’t make it true.”

    I would add that it doesn’t mean it is all that common a belief, either

  12. The fault in thinking I referred to is manipulating the language game to assume the point you are contending.

    If you are playing the game that you have to have a correct view of all of the attributes of Jesus in order to believe in him then you are not using language in the way everybody else uses it.

    The flawed argument is this.

    Jesus is actually X. You believe Jesus is Y. Therefore you don’t really believe in Jesus, you believe in somebody else. In fact, if you believe that, you are not even a Christian. (This is especially true if I can prove this to you with the bible)

    The problem is that practically nobody uses language this way and you are manipulating the language for polemical reasons. Essentially you are trying to assume the point you are trying to argue, that Jesus is X, since those who believe Jesus is Y are not talking about a different Jesus, they are talking about the same Jesus you are, you just disagree about a particular attribute.

    Repeating the example without using Jesus makes the mistake clearer.

    Barack Obama is of Kenyan descent. You think that Obama’s parents were born in Cleveland. You must not be voting for the same Barack Obama I am voting for. If fact if you believe that, your vote won’t even count! (This is especially true if I prove to you that his dad was born in Kenya)

  13. Fro, I never said I would convince you, nor am I trying. That’s impossible for me to do. I just stated my beliefs. You stated yours. No problem.

    We do believe differently, however. Very differently. And since we believe so differently, about the same things, we can’t both be right. You believe you are, and I believe I am.

    We will both know for sure eventually, right?

  14. Jared, although I understand your attempt to try to simplify the situation, it just isn’t that simple. Sorry.

    No point in arguing with you further, you have no intention on wavering in your position, nor do I. I’m just stating what I believe, as you have.

  15. Brad,

    I am not arguing with you regarding what you think about Jesus, I am pointing out the problems with the sort of arguments that people use once they have made up their minds.

    I am trying to simplify a very complex logic/language knot that these types of arguments are founded on. This isn’t really about theology at all.

    I am open to “wavering” on my position regarding these sorts of arguments, I just don’t see how they are at all compelling. Sure people believe all kinds of things about Jesus but I don’t see that it is biblical, fair or correct to claim that since you are right about Jesus, everyone else is not only wrong, but essentially idolatrous and completely confused.

  16. Also, to answer the original question, I have never heard such a position stated in a Mormon church and I don’t believe it.

    to state that if you reject the First Vision then you are rejecting Christ only makes sense on this sort of logic.

    “Joseph Smith actually saw Jesus and gave him a message. If you don’t believe that Jesus spoke with Joseph then you don’t believe in the “real” Jesus because the real Jesus actually did speak with Joseph. You are rejecting the message of Jesus because Jesus actually gave that message to Joseph. Therefore if you reject Joseph you are rejecting Jesus”

    Like the “mormons believe in a different Jesus” argument, the argument is not technically fallacious, but the conclusion reached implies much more in common usage than the argument demonstrates. Essentially the net effect of the argument is simply repeating over again what you believe in a way that attempts to malign those who believe differently or scare those listening to reject opposing views. It is a ham-fisted grab for the religious higher ground that is essentially self-serving and alienating.

  17. Brad, if you knew be better you would understand that I am not simply unwaveringly set in the opinion that I must be right, especially about things pertaining to God.

    I am open to hearing and being convinced of something new or different, just like an awful lot of thinking people (including Mormons, Evangelicals, agnostics. The problem I see is that often some Mormons and Evangelicals simply ignore the challenge of really explaining their opinions in a compelling manner.

    From what I see, most people are holding on to their religious positions for emotional reasons rather than basing them on true personal inspection and experiment. I really am interested in those believing evangelicals who have solid experiences with God that support their particular faith.

    However I am not much interested in self serving formulations of tired arguments. Doesn’t the Truth deserve better?

  18. “We do believe differently, however. Very differently. And since we believe so differently, about the same things, we can’t both be right. You believe you are, and I believe I am.

    We will both know for sure eventually, right?”

    On this we couldn’t agree more.

  19. Brad, I remember a scene in C.S. Lewis’ “A Horse and His Boy.”

    The boy questions the lion Aslan as to why he clawed Aravis. Aslan replies simply:

    “I tell no one any story but his own.”

    It seems quite likely Brad that you will never find out if I am wrong or not. Neither will I necessarily ever find out if you were.

    What a shame.

  20. Seth, I already know you’re wrong. And you will find out that what I’ve told you, and what others have told you, is correct.

    Of that I’m sure.

    And THAT, truly is sad.

  21. I think the tone of this discussion is indicative of the problem with interfaith discussion put in terms like: “you have a different God” and “if you reject Joseph you are rejecting Jesus”.

    +Such statements are not backed by “authoritative” text.
    +They add nothing to understanding or explanation.
    +They are designed to alienate rather than convince.

    Underlining what you say and putting an exclamation point on it and putting it in all caps doesn’t go very far in revealing the truth of what you say. Generally its puts people off more than anything.

    For those that disagree with this cogent analysis:

    YOU WILL FIND OUT I AM RIGHT IN HELL!!!!!

  22. As was discussed in a class last night at my church. all you can do is say what the Bible says, and let it speak for itself. It is up to each individual to make absolutely certain that they have the proper understanding of God’s Word, and what it says and means, for it is they who will answer to Him one day, and the excuse of “but so-and-so told me this was true” won’t suffice at that point.

    I let the Bible speak for itself.

  23. Where does the bible say that the individual must make absolutely certain that they have the proper understanding of God’s word?

  24. Who is saying “but so-and-so told me this was true”? I realize that is probably the way you view mormon thought, but is a grossly oversimplified mischaracterization. Unless you are willing to accept revelation through man (i.e. scripture) as being from God as just a glorified example of the rationale implied in your phrase. If that’s the case, then yes, much of what I believe, if not all, is because someone (whether a man (prophet) or God (Holy Ghost), or as the case usually is, both) told me it is true. But then, by this definition, you’d have to say the same thing.

    Kullervo,

    “Who says you’ll both know eventually? Maybe you’ll never find out.”

    I’m leaving myself open to this possibility.

  25. Brad, if all you are going to do is say “you’re going to hell” and “I’m right” and “I feel sorry for you” and “the Bible supports my view,” then I would suggest that you are really contributing nothing constructive to the conversation.

    Emotionally “bearing your testimony” frankly, doesn’t really work online. All it really does is annoy people to no purpose.

  26. No, I don’t believe this is an accurate statement and no I do not agree with it. It’s an interesting question though. It seems to me that the question really ought to be, “Do you believe Jesus Christ condescended to talk to Joseph Smith?”

    We believe that all men and women of faith speak to Jesus Christ, that he lives and answers their prayers. I think this statement can be clarified by something Joseph Smith said shortly before his death, “You dont know me—you never will I dont blame you for not believing my history had I not experienced it could not believe it myself” (The Words of Joseph Smith. 343.) He had great empathy for all people.

    As I’ve studied Joseph Smith, the thought occurs to me that he spent his life encouraging all to come unto Christ and experience those things that he had personally witnessed.

  27. Seth, Mormons don’t say that I’m going, b/c of the inherent differences in belief we have about hell. Mormons do think they’re right, even if they don’t say it. They don’t feel sorry for me, b/c again of inherent differences in belief we have about death ending our chance to come to know Christ. And Mormons do believe that the Bible supports THEIR view, as I believe it supports mine.

    As such, you could also make the argument that Mormons contribute nothing constructive to the conversation as well. We all have opinions.

    As I mentioned, I’ve said what I believe the Bible says, but it’s up to others to make sure they’re right, as only they will be held responsible for it.

  28. Brad, Mormons in general aren’t contributing anything to this discussion. Its just us readers of this blog.

    If you think my points are not constructive, let me know how they aren’t and I will try to make them more so.

  29. Brad, we actually talk about the issues, discuss scriptures and get into details.

    Lately, you’ve just been moping around repeating how sorry you are for us poor wretches.

    I got that message the first ten times you said it. Saying it again doesn’t contribute anything.

  30. Brad,
    The point is not whether or not we believe what we believe, whether we think we are right, or what the sources of our belief are and whether or not they are superior to yours. The point is that at least those mormons on this blog are not interested in telling you so and trying to convince you or condemn you. I for one would much rather discuss the theological issues between us and get a better handle on my beliefs and tweak them where necessary, based on perspectives shared by others. Your goals seem to be incompatible with dialogue, and this is what seth meant, I believe, when he said that you weren’t “really contributing [anything] constructive to the conversation.”

  31. “Those who reject that Joseph Smith talked with Jesus Christ, are NOT ONLY REJECTING Joseph Smith, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.”

    We are not given the context for this statement, but if the intent of acknowledging that Joseph Smith “talked” with Jesus Christ is to receive him as a prophet of God as sent out by Jesus Christ, then there is a biblical basis for this teaching. When Jesus appointed the seventy and sent them out two by two, he told them:

    “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. “ (Luke 10:16)

    Jesus also said something similar to his apostles when he sent them out:

    “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” (Mat 10:40)

    So it would seem that the principle being taught in the quote is that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God who was sent forth to teach the revelations given him by Jesus Christ. Therefore if we “despise” him or reject him, it would be the same as rejecting the one who sent him (Jesus Christ). The same principle would hold true for any of the prophets or apostles of God sent out by Jesus Christ, in Bible times or now. Could a person reject Paul as an apostle, for example, and reject all of his epistles as scripture and still legitimately claim to be one who accepts Jesus Christ? I think not.

  32. “Could a person reject Paul as an apostle, for example, and reject all of his epistles as scripture and still legitimately claim to be one who accepts Jesus Christ? I think not.”

    I disagree. I think it is not critical to accept Paul in order to accept Jesus. You may have any number of reasons to disagree with Paul, but still accept Jesus.

  33. Jared,

    I want to understand your point of view, so I have a few questions. What is your understanding of Matthew 10:40 and Luke 10:16? Do you accept those verses as scripture? And do you believe that Jesus sent Paul out as an apostle of Christ?

  34. InCognitus,

    Suppose it’s the year 10 AD and you are a humble Jewish potter standing outside your shop in Jerusalem.

    Suppose St. Peter walks up to you, looks you up and down, and says “that is a very ugly hat you are wearing.”

    Suppose you disagree with him.

    Are you disagreeing with Jesus?

  35. Seth,

    No, and that was never my point, but that’s an important distinction that needs to be made. In “receiving” an apostle or prophet I really don’t think we are expected to like all of their personality flaws or agree with all of their opinions (even Paul expressed opinions in his epistles). But do we accept them when they are acting in their calling as an apostle or prophet from Jesus Christ, and do we receive the teachings they bring when they give the message that Christ sent them to give? That’s the question. I hope I made that clear when I asked the question this way:

    “Could a person reject Paul as an apostle, for example, and reject all of his epistles as scripture and still legitimately claim to be one who accepts Jesus Christ?” (Emphasis added).

  36. Wait, I missed the 10 AD part. Is that a trick question Seth? (If so, I flunked). Peter was probably around 10 years old or so at the time. That would be a long time before his calling as an apostle of course, so anything goes!

  37. Now, the main question becomes – how do we determine what is Paul’s opinion and what rises to the level of “rejecting the Lord’s annointed?”

  38. My purpose in asking the question about Paul was to try to bring the point home by re-asking the original question about a man who most Christians would already accept as an apostle of Jesus Christ, one who was also responsible for a significant portion of the New Testament scripture. Let me reprhase the opening statement this way:

    “Those who reject that Paul talked with Jesus Christ, are NOT ONLY REJECTING Paul, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.”

    And for those who have a problem accepting Paul as an apostle, just fill in your favorite apostle or prophet in place of Paul.

    This is not about how close we can get to the line without crossing it. It’s about whether or not this is a valid Biblical principle (given Matthew 10:40 and Luke 10:16) and whether or not it applies to people like Paul or Joseph Smith. Is this valid or not?

  39. Interesting discussion. I don’t know that I have much to add to this topic. I had hoped to spark the idea that the gospel as it was restored to Joseph Smith is participatory and experiential. And I think that point is sometimes ignored. When I read the New Testament, I see the same thing. Christ seemed to encourage his followers to put into practice his teachings. And by doing so, they would know for themselves if they were true or not.

    While I understand the logic of the original premise and the various responses to it as listed here in the comments section, I really think the whole question comes down to our own experience.

    Just my two cents…

  40. InCognitus,

    I think you have a good point, I think that scripture may imply that a rejection of the messenger is a rejection of God. However, I think that the background of all of these messages is important, and perhaps the most significant part of my understanding of the scripture and the scriptures in general.

    The background I am referring to is the healthy degree of uncertainty that surrounds all of the claims of the scriptural authors (and Joseph Smith) and the available reasons for disbelief. I think that we would all agree that the bible and Joseph Smith are not obviously true. So, when a messenger of Jesus

    The scriptures you quote I think should be interpreted something like the following:

    He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you [because you represent me] despises me; and he that despises me despises him that sent me.

    I think the reason most people reject Joseph Smith is not because he claimed to represent Jesus but because there are doubtful things about his claims to revelation.

    I could just as easily reject Paul on the same grounds. If I was Stephen’s brother, who saw Paul oversee the stoning of a devoted and inspired follower of Jesus I may think that Paul is an opportunist who had a false vision on the road to Damascus and that his writings should not be scripture. I could still be completely devoted to Jesus and the cause my brother died for. In this case I was not rejecting Paul because he spoke of Jesus, but I am am rejecting him because I don’t think he is inspired. Because there is room to doubt Paul’s call to the apostleship and his inspiration on all matters he discusses in the epistles I can plausibly reject them.

    I think you can apply this same analysis to almost anybody who claims to speak for Jesus, including all of the presidents of the Church. Ultimately if you do not have some stronger personal evidence than simply the speaker’s word there is plenty of room to reject the messenger.

  41. Of course InCongitus point brings up another level of uncertainty, the tremendous uncertainty in interpretation of scripture. It is very difficult to discern the precise meaning of certain scriptures and the intent of the author.

    For example, in this case it is ambiguous whether or not Jesus is referring to these specific apostles or all apostles in general and its is ambiguous whether the author of the Gospels are

    Uncertainty should compel us to be as charitable as possible with those that accept divergent interpretations.

    I think the background uncertainty involved in evaluating claims to religious authority and inspiration should make everyone think twice about assuming we are absolutely right on any point and assuming others are condemned.

    I think we are fooling ourselves if we think everything is perfectly clear in supporting one position. Until we stop doing this it is very difficult to look at people of different faith with the charity and empathy that Jesus seems to demand.

  42. I just don’t seeing the two examples being the same. I mean, the atmosphere during the time of the New Testament was much different than during the time of JS. The apostles were representing a new vision of God and the Messiah, one that was foreign to the Hebrews of the day. In a way, they were the sole representatives of Christ. So rejecting them was quite literally rejecting Christ and his message, since that is what they, and only they, taught.

    During the time of JS, Christianity was thriving, especially in the U.S.. Multiple versions of many beliefs about Christ had already found a place under the tent of christianity. When JS came along, one didn’t have to ask “do I accept this Jesus he speaks of as being the true Messiah and God?” They only had to ask “do I believe this man to be sent by Jesus and to be preaching the truth?” To which the answer, as we would all agree, could have been “no”, and he could still retain his status of “believing christian”.

    It is a complex issue, but I think the difference in cultural and theological context explains why the scriptures in the NT do not set a precident that is relavent to those of JS time that rejected him as a prophet. Or those who continue to do so today ;). It does, I think, apply to those who have learned about Christ and continue to reject him outright, but that is a separate issue.

  43. What about this question:

    Those who reject that Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (The Man Christ Jesus) is the reincarnated Jesus Christ, are NOT ONLY REJECTING Jose Luis Jesus Miranda, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.

    How about this one:

    Those who reject Sun Myung Moon’s message are NOT ONLY REJECTING Sun Myung Moon, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.

    Or this one:

    Those who reject Ellen G. White’s vision are NOT ONLY REJECTING Ellen G. White, they are ALSO REJECTING Jesus Christ.

    Would any Mormon out there agree with any of these statements? Why not?

    To the average Mormon out there, do any of these three individuals impact their proported relationship with Jesus Christ? Why not?

    If said Mormon expects Joseph Smith’s proported vision to impact the average Christians relationship with Jesus Christ to point of rejection, they must then reject their relationship with Jesus since they reject Miranda, Moon or Ellen White. Right?

  44. Simeon,

    Short answer, Wrong.

    Mormons believe that Jesus actually spoke with Joseph so he would naturally want those who love and worship him to accept Joseph’s teachings.

    Mormons’ don’t generally believe that Jesus gave the others you mentioned the same sort of calling, and therefore He would not be as concerned whether the message had an impact.

    However, I think Mormonism’s goals are not to convert the entire world to Christ, but to gather the elect in preparation for the second coming, so those who are elect should be impacted by the message of Jesus through Joseph to a much stronger degree than the other’s you mention.

  45. Jared, again, you’re approaching this from a Mormon perspective. Approach it from Miranda’s, or Moon’s perspective. They would say the statements are true, but would say that the statement about rejecting Smith is rejecting Christ is false. Why? B/c Smith has no impact on them.

    Your answer would only be true for a Mormon. It wouldn’t be true for those who don’t espouse Mormonism.

  46. Simeon,

    First off, look back over the thread. Most of us mormons here are rejecting the idea that “if you reject JS you reject Christ”. So your argument is wasted on us. Do some mormons believe that to reject the one is to reject the other? I am almost sure of it, though I haven’t met them personally (or spoken specifically about this with one of them). But it is by no means the norm in mormon thought.

    So we agree. I wouldn’t agree with the statements you proposed, nor would I, however, agree with the statement in the original post. I said as much explicitely in my first response (see #1). So it is moot.

    Brad,

    Would you agree with the statement “rejecting Paul or his teaching is rejecting Christ”? Why or why not? And if so, this answer would only be true for you, not even all chrsitians. And simeons dilemma would apply to you as well. That is, “If said Mormon expects Joseph Smith’s proported vision to impact the average Christians relationship with Jesus Christ to point of rejection, they must then reject their relationship with Jesus since they reject Miranda, Moon or Ellen White. Right?”

    Afterall, do we have any more “proof” that paul was a true spokesman for God that JS? Or Rev. SMM? Or JLdJM? I mean historical proof, documented proof. Not tradition, or “burnings in the bosom” for that matter. No, we have his word for it, and possibly many subjective evidences, but nothing objective on which to judge the validity of their claims. Maybe their writings, but those must be interpreted subjectively (hence I accept the BoM and you don’t)

    To be clear, I’m not saying Paul was not a true representative of Christ. Only that if you claim that rejecting him is rejecting Christ, you’re left with the same dilemma proposed by simeon.

  47. Brad,

    I agree with you completely. The point being that you should approach your own claims of knowledge of the “true” Jesus with the understanding that you are seeing things from your perspective and reality allows for multiple perspectives on things. A Mormon could believe that they are describing the real Jesus when they say that he spoke to Joseph, but they should recognize that there is very little “hard” proof of this. Likewise the Evangelical may believe that his is the “real” jesus, i.e. a separate person who is co-substantial with God and the Holy Spirit, but I think he should also take his own perspective with a grain of salt.

    JC

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