A Few Simple Questions

While perusing the Utah Lighthouse Ministry website I found this list of questions to ask my Mormon friends.  I thought they’d be good fodder for the blog as they get at the heart of many of our disagreements and differences.  I’ll of course be adding my own commentary to and about each question.

So with out further ado, here is UTLM Question #1:

Since the Introduction to the Book of Mormon states that it contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel” can you give me verses that teach the doctrines of pre-earth existence, plural gods with wives, temple marriage, chance to repent after you die, temple rituals for the dead, three levels of heaven, etc.?

It’s my understanding that the introduction to the Book of Mormon is not itself canonical or scriptural.  It can be disregarded as purely the “opinion of men”.  But this question gets right at an LDS apologetic that was used by Joseph Smith and continues to be used by LDS missionaries today. Getting to the vast majority of unique LDS teachings is  a big jump and the Book of Mormon doesn’t serve as a very good bridge.

I’ve also heard Mormons say that the “gospel” found in the Book of Mormon relates to placing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.  There are two problems with this. The way Mormons use the word “gospel” is not limited to this but also includes eternal progression, pre-existence, temple rituals, etc. The second is that the Book of Mormon adds no more fullness than the Bible already offers in way of placing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

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61 thoughts on “A Few Simple Questions

  1. Tim’s: “The second is that the Book of Mormon adds no more fullness than the Bible already offers in way of placing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.”

    Introduction to the BofM: “The Book of Mormon…contains, *as does the Bible*, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.”

  2. I mean, you really have to ask yourself – is polygamy even a part of “the Gospel” to begin with? Was it ever supposed to be?

  3. While it is true the introduction is not canonized scripture, I know of no-one who would ignore this statement. A large part of your misunderstanding, Tim, is your inability to allow Mormons to have a different worldview of “how things are” even when you read “our stuff.” President Kimball explained in a general conference explained what a fulness of the Gospel means. It does not mean everything that is true, or even everything that God would have us know, but rather, all the doctrines necessary for us to be able to exercise faith and repentance in Christ. The Book of Mormon doesn’t contain “The Priesthood” and while the priesthood is necessary for administering the Gospel, one can’t gain the priesthood from reading the Book of Mormon (or the Bible). But both contain the fulness of the Gospel, the record of the doctrines necessary to understand Christ and exercise faith in him, and repent.

  4. Further, as a 21st century standard, many Mormons make a differentiation between the gospel and the capital G-Gospel. The former is more like: every religious truth God has given us (every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God). The latter, has a very specific definition, that is the Faith, Repentance, reception of baptism by an authorized servant, and reception of the holy Ghost thru confirmation. This is found in the book of Mormon and the Bible. Only if one accepts the non-canonical addition of Luther can one excise Jesus’ requirements of water and spirit baptism from the Gospel, yet many protestants do so.

  5. Error alert, it was Benson, not Kimball.

    President Ezra Taft Benson explains: “The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation” (Benson, pp. 18-19).

    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/gospel/fullness_eom.htm

  6. I think the question is something of a straw man. Joseph Smith himself taught that Jesus is the core of our belief, and that everything else is an appendage to it. So I don’t see that the Book of Mormon has to have the “extras” if it is so have the fullness of the gospel.

    Next question, please.

  7. The question is a bit silly. . .

    Within mormonism, as within all other christian faiths, “gospel” is used to mean different things. Sometimes its more expansive, sometimes it can refer to John 3:16.

    As a rhetorical device to get Mormons to wonder about the about their faith, the question fails completely.

    Questions like this betray an ignorance of Mormonism that would cause eyes to roll rather than minds to open.

    the argument reduces to: Wait, your church has multiple connotations of the word “gospel”, how can it be true?

  8. I actually don’t think that the question is entirely stupid, if you’re familiar with what a lot of Latter-day Saints claim about the Book of Mormon. When I was taking the missionary discussions (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away) they would tell me that just believing in the Bible is like nailing a board to a tree with one nail; the board wobbles around and isn’t sturdy. Believing in the Bible and the Book of Mormon was like adding a second nail to that board, I was told.

    Given the number of LDS splinter groups out there, almost all of whom accepted some form of the Book of Mormon as scripture, I really never understood how accepting the Book of Mormon nails anything down.

    I suppose the point of the question is that the Book of Mormon itself doesn’t actually teach you very much about what the current LDS church believes, and a lot of evangelicals feel that if people were told up front what the church believes they would never join. What you see as milk before meat we see as a bait and switch, starting with a book that has almost no divergence from the teachings of the Bible and traditional Christianity. Some people (not me) even view the Book of Mormon as teaching the Trinity(!).

  9. Yeah, not sure what this question is supposed to do. I hope they get more interesting (and no, I’m not going to look ahead by clicking the link—I’m a LDS&Ev Conversations purist!)

    “Getting to the vast majority of unique LDS teachings is a big jump…” How so? A vast majority of LDS teachings come right from Joseph Smith. I’m not one of those who says “faith in BoM = believe everything JS said,” but it’s still not a _big_ jump.

  10. When I was taking the missionary discussions (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away)
    Doesn’t that lead credence to Mormonism? Other planets, and all? 🙂

  11. No surprise that some will attack the question rather than answer it. In fact, that will probably be appropriate in some cases.

    I think this and most of the questions have two functions:
    1) What does it mean for a Mormon? Does it mean Mormonism should no longer be followed?
    2) What does it mean for an Evangelical? Does it mean Mormonism should be followed?

    Not every question is intended to lead a Mormon out of the LDS church, but instead to buttress the Evangelical from joining.

    For most Mormons, this question and its answer may mean nothing. But they do have an implication for Evangelicals. If the fullness of the Gospel is found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, then why do I need the Book of Mormon? I’m set. I’ve got it all in the Bible (particularly since the Book of Mormon adds nothing new to the “gospel”).

    I’m guessing that if the Priesthood necessary to administer the Gospel isn’t mentioned in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, but the fullness of the Gospel is found in both, then the Priesthood isn’t so necessary.

    Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation” (Benson, pp. 18-19)

    I wholly reject that anything is plainly and simply taught in the Book of Mormon.

    Brian I appreciate your loyalty 🙂

  12. “I’m guessing that if the Priesthood necessary to administer the Gospel isn’t mentioned in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, but the fullness of the Gospel is found in both, then the Priesthood isn’t so necessary. ”

    Great point Tim. That is exactly what I though when I read Seth’s comment that “Jesus Christ IS the fullness of the Gospel”. If so, why do we need the BOM or anything else that Mormonism teaches for that matter? If Jesus is ALL that is needed (which I AGREE WITH) than really all one needs is a relationship with Him. Guess what Seth… that is the Evangelical position!!

    Darrell

  13. Tim: I see, I misunderstood the point of the questions. You titled them (or LM did), “Questions to ask your Mormon friends,” so I thought this was a missionary effort. It makes sense that some of these questions will just bolster Evangelicals against Mormonism. With that in mind, I can see how this question is very good: it says, “Even if Mormonism is right, it’s not different, special, extra, etc. Don’t even bother investigating.”

    I’m still wondering though, how would Evangelicals respond when the question is turned around? Why do we need Mark when we’ve got Luke and John? Why do we need 2 Corinthians when we’ve got Romans and Galatians?

    Darrell: Why do we need the Bible at all, when we can just go straight to Jesus?

  14. Darrell: Why do we need the Bible at all, when we can just go straight to Jesus?

    The Bible is what tells us to go to Jesus. However, one would be correct in saying that they do not need the Bible to come to a relationship with Jesus. However, without the Bible not many people would know to do that.

    Come on now… let’s be real. You know that the foundational claim of the LDS Church is that it brings with it “the fullness of the Gospel”. To go back on that and now claim that Jesus is the Fullness of the Gospel is basically saying there is no need for the LDS Church. If Jesus is the fullness of the Gospel than we do not need all of the “extra” stuff that the LDS Church claims is so important because it is the fullness of the Gospel. Don’t be facetious.

    Darrell

  15. I think that the word “gospel,” like many important words (including “God”!) is equivocal in discourse even within a single faith tradition. Thus there may be several definitions of the same word depending on the context and/or the purposes of an author. I think this basic fact (already mentioned above, I believe) eliminates the tension that supposedly exists here.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  16. I’m still wondering though, how would Evangelicals respond when the question is turned around? Why do we need Mark when we’ve got Luke and John? Why do we need 2 Corinthians when we’ve got Romans and Galatians?

    I would say we don’t need any of them in particular, but they’re all we got. So we’re going to take every reliable source we can find about the life of Jesus. If the Book of Mormon is reliable, we’ll take that as well.

    . . . it still doesn’t tell us much (or anything) unique to Mormonism. Which is the point the question is trying to illustrate.

    The Introduction to the BoM fails to be a great apologetic for Mormonism (as recently demonstrated by the removal of the word “principle”).

  17. Was it ever meant to be apologetic in function?

    That’s news to me. I thought it was just what its title said it was – an introduction.

  18. Darrell: I’m sure you see how clearly you’ve presented my counter-argument. No one’s being facetious. If you can say, “without the Bible not many people would know [how to come to Jesus],” why can’t I say, “without the LDS Church not many would know how to fully come to Jesus”? The two claims are essentially the same: both focus on Jesus as the ultimate goal; both recognize a non-essential, man-made (or better, ‘man-administered’) entity that aids/guides the approach.

    We differ in that I believe you are missing some important doctrines that would bring you closer to Jesus; whereas you believe that I am focusing on some false doctrines that only distract me from Jesus.

  19. Brian,

    The problem with you argument is this. If the fullness of the Gospel is contained in Jesus Christ than the whole foundational claim for the LDS Church falls apart. There was no need for it and thus it is false.

    Darrell

  20. Tim, “So we’re going to take every reliable source we can find about the life of Jesus.” Of course I must agree. (And to be clear, I’m not chalking this statement of yours up as some kind of win for me—I understand quite clearly where you’re coming from.)

    And as I alluded previously, I agree that the BoM doesn’t “seal the deal” when it comes to LDS faith. The D&C is another big step, etc.

  21. Darrell: your statement makes no sense, and does nothing to illustrate any problem with my argument. I don’t think you have any idea what the “foundational claim of the LDS Church” is. And thus you are false. Therefore you don’t exist. ??

  22. “Darrell: your statement makes no sense, and does nothing to illustrate any problem with my argument. I don’t think you have any idea what the “foundational claim of the LDS Church” is. And thus you are false. Therefore you don’t exist. ??”

    What?

    Let me see if I can explain myself a little clearer. The foundational claim of the LDS Church is that it is the restoration of the true church on the face of the earth…. and that it is the only church that contains the fullness of the gospel. The problem with this claim is that if the fullness of the gospel is JESUS CHRIST alone, than the LDS Church is NOT the only church to contain the fullness of the Gospel Then, guess what, THERE WAS NO NEED FOR A RESTORATION.

    Darrell

  23. I think that the word “gospel,” like many important words (including “God”!) is equivocal in discourse even within a single faith tradition.

    I think the gospel is only clearly defined in one NT scripture that I am aware of (I Cor. 15:1-8). Paul says “I declare unto you the gospel…” and proceeds to state the simple truths that Christ died for our sins and rose again. He uses the evidence that Christ was buried as proof of His death and the evidence of those who had seen Him (eye-witnesses) as proof of his resurrection. Paul appeals to OT prophecies (“according to the scriptures”) as proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah who was prophesied to come and die for our transgressions and rise again (Ps 22:1-31; Isa 53:1-12; Da 9:26; Zec 12:10; Lu 24:26,46; Ps. 16:10).

    He says this is the gospel by which we are saved if we believe it and receive it (v.2).

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Seth, except the “maybe” part. 🙂

    Jesus Christ IS the “fullness of the Gospel.”

  24. Darrell: you’re being perfectly clear, and it is clear to me that you refuse to listen to what others say. I get that you think the LDS Church is false; I’m not trying to convince you otherwise. But I’d love to leave you with a correct understanding of why you think it’s false.

    It frankly makes no sense to say “the fullness of the Gospel is Jesus Christ” if you’re going to leave it at that. In order to be a gospel (i.e., good news) you’d better add some detail to that message instead of just running around shouting “JESUS CHRIST.”

    The LDS Church claims to have much more of that news than any other church, and moreover claims to hold access to ordinances that are essential to accessing even more good news. You can disagree all you want about whether ordinances, priesthood, temples, prophets, etc. are rightfully part of the true good news—that’s a logical place to disagree with Mormons—but you’re looking for a logical fallacy in the “foundational claim” of the LDS Church that just isn’t there.

    Look at Tim’s excellent example: he says, If the Book of Mormon is reliable…”, showing that he’s able to consider claims individually for what they are without insisting that every aspect of Mormonism be a complete logical fallacy.

    Likewise, you should be able to see that if priesthood, temples, etc. are truly integral parts of the gospel—essential components to fully accessing Christ—then the LDS restoration claim is not the fallacy you demand.

    I’ll restate what I said earlier:

    We differ in that I believe you are missing some important doctrines that would bring you closer to Jesus; whereas you believe that I am focusing on some false doctrines that only distract me from Jesus.

    To put it another way, I often hear that “Mormons worship a different Jesus.” In some ways that’s true and in some it’s not. But for sake of argument, let’s say there was a church that taught, oh, I don’t know…that believed in the Bible, taught that Jesus was God incarnate, and that Jesus was reincarnated in the form of an African emperor in the early 1900’s. You got any problems with that gospel? I mean, it’s all Jesus-focused, right?

  25. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate either Brian. I find Darrell is usually willing to engage what you are saying (allowing for normal human weaknesses we all have).

  26. Tim,

    I attacked the question because its unhelpful and its answer is pretty simple.

    In this context “fullness of the everlasting gospel” means the atonement of Jesus, not all of the truth about God and his Kingdom that has been revealed to the world.

    Sometimes Mormons use the word “gospel” to refer to all of their religion and all elements of Christianity, but this is clearly a different, but related connotation.

    This case is similar to the use the word “sea” It can refer to a specific sea as well as all of the seas and oceans in the world depending on the desired connotation.

    So, the answer is, you don’t find all of the elements of the restored Gospel in the book of mormon even though it contains a perfect description of the “core” gospel of Jesus i.e. that he is the son of God, repent and be baptized and you will be saved.

    Joseph Smith taught:

    “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

    So the answer is, things not in the Book of Mormon are appendages to the gospel.

    Darrell Said:
    “If the fullness of the Gospel is contained in Jesus Christ than the whole foundational claim for the LDS Church falls apart. There was no need for it and thus it is false.”

    This simply doesn’t follow.

    Tim said:

    “I’m guessing that if the Priesthood necessary to administer the Gospel isn’t mentioned in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon, but the fullness of the Gospel is found in both, then the Priesthood isn’t so necessary.”

    The priesthood in mentioned in both the NT and the Book of Mormon. . . critical to the gospel in both is baptism by authority.

  27. Jared,

    Given what you said above… do churches outside the LDS Faith which teach Jesus Christ as the Savior then have “the fullness of the everlasting gospel”?

    Baptists?
    Presbyterian?
    Catholic?
    Methodists?
    Etc, etc, etc.

    Darrell

  28. Brian,

    I understand where you are coming from but, obviously, politely disagree. I believe that knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior is all that is required to go to the celestial kingdom.

    Mormonism, however, teaches that the knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s Savior is only PART OF the formula for getting to heaven… one must also…

    1) Be Baptized by one holding the Melchezidek Priesthood
    2) Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by one in authority
    3) Go to the Temple to receive their endowments
    4) Be married for time and all eternity

    etc, etc, etc.

    So, the question is this, which one of these is the “Fullness of the Gospel”? Is it knowledge of and acceptance of Jesus Christ and Him alone? Or, is it Jesus Christ PLUS all of the other stuff that is required by the LDS Church? If it is Jesus Christ PLUS all of the other stuff required by the LDS Church than the BOM DOES NOT CONTAIN the fullness of the Gospel.

    Darrell

  29. Darrell,

    “Mormonism, however, teaches that the knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s Savior is only PART OF the formula for getting to heaven… one must also…

    1) Be Baptized by one holding the Melchezidek Priesthood
    2) Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by one in authority
    3) Go to the Temple to receive their endowments
    4) Be married for time and all eternity

    etc, etc, etc.”

    D&C 76 states that persons who do not necessarily do any of these steps may still go in their “saved condition” to the Terrestial or Telestial Kingdoms, which are considered a part of “heaven” in Mormon thought since they are both Kingdoms of Glory.

    TYD

  30. “D&C 76 states that persons who do not necessarily do any of these steps may still go in their “saved condition” to the Terrestial or Telestial Kingdoms, which are considered a part of “heaven” in Mormon thought since they are both Kingdoms of Glory.”

    I guess it all depends on how you define Heaven. While I was a Mormon my friends and I always defined “Heaven” as only the celestial kingdom residing with God the Father.

    IMO, life separated from Heavenly Father is NOT heaven. Therefore, Telestial and Terrestial would not be considered Heaven to me or any other Christian that I know.

    Darrell

  31. Darrell, I’m glad that my rude comment didn’t break down our conversation. Again, I apologize.

    Mormonism, however, teaches that the knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s Savior is only PART OF the formula for getting to heaven… one must also…

    1) Be Baptized by one holding the Melchezidek Priesthood
    2) Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by one in authority
    3) Go to the Temple to receive their endowments
    4) Be married for time and all eternity

    My argument is that Mormonism teaches that one cannot come to a full knowledge of the Savior without 1-3. Mormonism also (implicitly, if not explicitly) teaches that one’s degree of salvation is proportional to the degree of one’s knowledge—where “knowledge” is clearly not ‘book smarts.’

    Even you believe that baptism is necessary, right? I really don’t know what you believe, so this is a sincere question. But my understanding is that many many Christians view baptism as essential. True, Mormons take this a step further by insisting that baptism be performed under proper authority, but the essence of the problem is the same: if you believe that baptism is required, then you too believe that salvation comes by “Jesus Christ PLUS [some] other stuff.” I’m just not seeing a ‘foundational’ difference between Evs and Mormons on this point.

    Also, if you could respond to another of my questions above I think that would help me understand your point:

    let’s say there was a church that believed in the Bible, taught that Jesus was God incarnate, and that Jesus was reincarnated in the form of an African emperor in the early 1900’s. Do you see any problems with that?

    Again, thanks for not taking offense earlier (or at least not returning it!).

  32. Darrell,

    I would also note that numbers three and four from your list are also not prerequisite for entering the Celestial Kingdom according to D&C 76.

    And although I appreciate when you share own personal definitions of certain terms so that I can understand your viewpoint and situation more clearly, it is still crucial, in my judgment, to be accurate with what Mormon texts actually state and imply when one asserts that “Mormonism teaches” so-and-so.

    Also, I recently commented on one of your posts. However, even though I have commented on your blog several times, my posts are always delayed. Is this necessary? The post is here:

    http://toughquestionsanswered.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/yhwh-and-mormonism/

    I was just curious as to why my comment hasn’t appeared since I posted it before your most recent reply here.

    Anyway, best wishes!

    TYD

  33. Darrell, in typical Mormon fashion, you fail to understand the distinctions between denominations in Protestantism, and the distinctions’ significance for Protestants. You’re basically assuming that other denominations are roughly analogous to Mormonism, and you are wrong.

    Mormonism isn’t just one of many Christian denominations. I think it iss just one of many New Religious Movements, and has more in common with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Hare Krishnas, Soka Gakkai, Scientology, and the Church of Christ, Scientist than it does with Protestant or Catholic denominations of Christianity. Mormonism as a religion stands relationally to Methodism not the same way that Presbyteriansim stands to Methodism, but much more like the way that SGI stands to Methodism.

  34. K, I think you may be misreading Darrell’s comments. He is an ex-Mormon Christian.

    He’s pressing the point, that the introduction to the BOM may suggest that all of those Protestant denominations have the fullness of the gospel. (knowing that Mormons can’t/won’t agree)

  35. Darrell,

    Methodists, etc. have the “fullness of the Gospel,”. . . they have the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Its all there for anyone to read it.

    Darrell, you should know that Mormons believe that the Bible contains the Gospel, but also that other churches don’t have authority to baptize. The gospel, in this sense, does not equal the church, the theology, and all of the revelations of the prophets, both old and new. . .

    ——————

    A relevant quote by Joseph Smith:

    “‘The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it’ ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, at 121).

    Obviously Joseph Smith believed both that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel as well as a lot more that wasn’t in the BOM about the administration of the ordinances that lead to eternal live and exhaltation. He considered the core “good news” told by the Gospels to be the center of our religion, but he also taught about appendages. So, to understand what the “fullness of the Gospel” means you should keep in mind what the writer meant by it, not what you think it should mean. Its almost as if you are intentionally trying NOT to understand what is meant here to further an argument. . .

    Tim and Darrell:

    Mark 16:16 says that if you are not baptized you will be condemned. . . is that part of what you consider to be the gospel?

    I think most Christians in the world, Mormons included, take this scripture very seriously, which is why the method and authority of the person doing the baptism is very important. Evangelicals are really the fringe minorities on this issue.

  36. The authenticity of the ending of Mark is hotly contested, with most scholars regarding it as a later addition to the gospel. At least most of the evangelicals I know try not to put too much weight on those passages.

    Mormons are kind of stuck with it though since it’s repeated in the Book of Mormon.

    Oh, hai irony.

  37. Jared,

    I’m not seeing the same thing you are in Mark 16:16. I read “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” It doesn’t say he that is not baptized shall be condemned.

    Also, there are different types of baptism. Jesus said John came baptizing with water but He would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Acts 11:16).

    It’s clear from the narratives in Acts that Gentile believers were baptized immediately with the Holy Spirit upon putting their faith in Christ. They were baptized in water after being baptized with the Spirit (Acts 10:43-48).

  38. Also, the baptism with the Holy Spirit upon conversion is an “earnest of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14), a guarantee that we will inherit eternal life. According to the narratives in Acts, this gift of the Holy Spirit was given prior to water baptism.

  39. Jessica, from all indications I can see, Church practice at the time of the Acts narrative was far from settled or standardized.

    I wouldn’t set too much stock in the order things happened in that book.

  40. “My argument is that Mormonism teaches that one cannot come to a full knowledge of the Savior without 1-3. Mormonism also (implicitly, if not explicitly) teaches that one’s degree of salvation is proportional to the degree of one’s knowledge—where “knowledge” is clearly not ‘book smarts.’”

    Brian,

    Well given this, since not all 3 of these items are taught in the BOM, then would you be willing to concede that the BOM does not give anyone a “full knowledge of the savior”?

    If so, how does the BOM, by Mormon definitions, provide the fullness of the gospel?

    Just curious how you get around this little problem.

    Darrell

  41. “FWIW, I don’t think baptism is essential.”

    I agree. Also, FWIW, I always hear Mormons claim that they know all of these Christians who claim that Baptism is necessary to get into heaven. While I can concede that there are probably some out there who do, I have personally never run into more than a handful. I know people from ALL different Christian Denominations and we all agree that Baptism is an outward expression of what happens internally and IT IS NOT required for salvation.

    Darrell

  42. Darrell,

    “I can concede that there are probably some out there who do”

    So are you saying that you believe that someone who asserts that baptism is essential or necessary for “salvation” can still be a genuine Christian? Thanks.

    TYD

  43. Jessica, from all indications I can see, Church practice at the time of the Acts narrative was far from settled or standardized. I wouldn’t set too much stock in the order things happened in that book.

    Okay, good. That takes care of the two “proof texts” used by the water baptism camp. If we’re just going with the NT epistles then it’s clear baptism is not required for salvation. Unless, of course, the BoM is true… 🙂

  44. “So are you saying that you believe that someone who asserts that baptism is essential or necessary for “salvation” can still be a genuine Christian?”

    Yes, I believe someone can believe that Baptism is necessary and still be a Christian. They will simply be a Christian who is mistaken on this point.

    I know what you’re trying to get at… the reason I don’t think Mormons are Christians has nothing to do with their belief on baptism. IMO, it is their belief on the nature of Jesus Christ that makes them non-Christian.

    Darrell

  45. “FWIW, I don’t think baptism is essential.”

    Well there you go. I learned something new. Makes sense to me now, in hind sight, that you believe that.

  46. “IMO, it is their belief on the nature of Jesus Christ that makes them non-Christian.”

    That answers, I think, my question above. Thanks. I think this is a valid disagreement between Ev and Mormon, btw.

    “willing to concede that the BOM does not give anyone a “full knowledge of the savior”?”

    Well, since I don’t have a full knowledge of either the Book of Mormon or the Savior, it’s probably premature for me to say. {smile} But no, I’ve never claimed that any scripture—or even all scripture—could give anyone a full knowledge of the Savior. Only the Holy Ghost can do that. But I do think the BoM is a helpful tool on that journey. (Note: “helpful,” not “essential.”)

    As for the BoM and the Bible containing a “fullness of the Gospel,” I think there is a difference between “Gospel” and “knowledge of the Savior.” What is the Gospel? “Repent and be saved; Jesus lives” (makes for a short book!). I think both books do a pretty good job sending out that message; thus, they contain a “fullness” of that message.

    “I always hear Mormons claim that they know all of these Christians who claim that Baptism is necessary to get into heaven.”

    Oh, I never said I knew any who did. I just assumed they did.

  47. Darrell,

    Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, (combined more than 2/3 of Christians) believe that baptism is essential…..that is why they baptize infants.

    Most Christians, at least in doctrine and dogma, believe that priesthood authority is necessary.

    Jessica Ashley,

    I think you have a good point. Many scholars would question a lot of what is said in the Bible. Much of what we consider the Gospel of John was almost certainly cobbled together by a subsequent author. I suppose things that aren’t appealing can be whittled away by scholarship if need be. Are scholars are all that Evangelicals have to go on in order to determine what is authentic or not?

  48. here is a nice, educational (for me) table of different views of baptismal requirement of various Christian denominations. Is it required? Some say yes, some say no, some it wasn’t so clear.

  49. Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, (combined more than 2/3 of Christians) believe that baptism is essential…..that is why they baptize infants.

    Understanding other religions fail.

  50. Well, you are probably right Kullervo, this statement is overly reductive and shows a very rudimentary understanding of the complexities of the doctrine of infant baptism as practiced by these religions.

    But what can you expect from a Mormon?

  51. It looks to me what the LDS church has done is resurrect the Old Testament what with temples and priesthoods. These are offices long since dead since the coming of Jesus Christ.

    The Aaronic priesthood belonged to Aaron and his descendants. That excludes all non Jews. The Melchizedek priesthood belonged to Christ alone since He lives forever.

    The Temple belonged to Jews and was for the purpose of the priests performing animal sacrifices for the sins of the people. That Temple was destroyed in 70 AD.

    The LDS temple is very different. It is used for Marriages, sealing one’s family for time and eternity, etc. None of the things the Jewish people ever performed in their Temple.

    So how can the LDS say they are the “restoration” of the 1st century (or New testament) Church when they resemble nothing like it .

  52. All this talk about baptism reminded me of an old post on my blog. You can see how poor my memory is that I didn’t remember posting on this same topic!

    Anyway, NathanG mentioned how the BoM clearly teaches that baptism is an essential requirement for “inherit[ing] the kingdom of God” (3 Nephi 11:33-34). Importantly, this was taught by Christ after his resurrection. I’ve since read a bit into the argument some Christians make for why baptism is not a requirement—Christ’s atonement did away with approaching God through obedience to laws—and I can see how thoughtful, Bible-believing Christians could come down on either side of the issue. A Bible-and-Book-of-Mormon-believing Christian, on the other hand, would be hard-pressed* to view baptism as optional. So that’s one example of the Book of Mormon acting as a “second nail**” to securely fix an important doctrine.

    _________
    * Yes, I know: “Being ‘hard-pressed’ never stopped Mormons from stretching their doctrine before.”

    ** I dislike the metaphor as much as anyone, but since BJM brought it up….

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