“Facts” Mormons Won’t Tell

My cousin sent me a link on Facebook tonight asking me what I thought of it. This web site is pretty much bottom-rung, Ed Decker-quality anti-Mormonism (the site contains numerous advertisements for The God Makers and The Temple of the God Makers), but I believe my cousin was being sincere in asking, so I wanted to offer a brief evaluation of the claims on the site. I’ve numbered these where they previously lacked numbers for ease of discussion.

It’s a bit difficult to summarize how accurate these statements are. Some of them make claims about the LDS church which are false in themselves. Others make claims which are more or less true, but it’s false that Mormons are trying to hide these teachings from the public. As such, where either claim was wrong I’ve labeled the statement false and explained why.

Warning: This blog post contains one reference to material from the pre-1990 temple ceremony. I don’t normally discuss temple content in blog posts, but I wanted to analyze the charge, so heads up.

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1. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe your Church is wrong, your Christian creeds are abomination to God, and you pastor or Priest is a hireling of Satan.

Mostly false. It’s true enough that the LDS church thinks all other churches are wrong to some extent and Christian creeds (at least the ones that had been written by 1820, which is still most of them) are an abomination to God, but to claim that they think all non-LDS pastors and priests are hirelings of Satan is absolutely false. That last claim stems from a scene which used to be played out in their private temple ceremony which involved Satan hiring a sectarian minister to preach falsehoods. This was removed from the temple ceremony in 1990, probably in part because the leadership finally realized how offensive it was to non-LDS Christians.

Mormons generally won’t tell you about the sectarian minister in the pre-1990 temple ceremony, but they will definitely tell you about your church being wrong and creeds being an abomination. They openly teach those things in their first missionary discussion.

2. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there is salvation only in their church – all others are wrong.

False. Mormons have two understandings of salvation, the first one meaning resurrection and entry into the lowest level of heaven, the Telestial Kingdom. All of humanity gets this whether you are Mormon, Buddhist, Catholic, Mother Teresa or Adolf Hitler. That is how Mormons usually understand the term “salvation.” Functionally, there is no hell for the human race as we know it in Mormonism; all of humanity is considered “saved” in that way.

However, salvation in LDS terminology can also mean exaltation—obtaining the highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, and becoming a god. In that sense, salvation can only be found through the LDS church.

In any case, this statement is still false because Mormons are usually more than happy to explain about both types of salvation; they aren’t hiding this.

3. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that those who have been through their temples are wearing secret underwear to protect themselves from “evil”. This “evil” includes non – Mormons like you.

False. Mormon men usually go through the temple at about age 19, women usually sometime after age 21 or whenever they get married. Older converts go through the temple a year after their baptism. After going through the temple, Mormons do wear a special kind of underwear called “garments,” and some Mormons believe that the covenant signified by wearing the garments offers some form of spiritual protection.

Most people don’t talk to random strangers about their underwear, and Mormons are no exception, but when pressed Mormons are quite open about the nature and purpose of garments. For example, here is a pro-Mormon site that talks about garments. So it’s false to say that they’re hiding this.

BTW, I’m one of those evil non-Mormons and my husband is a garment-wearing Mormon, and let me tell you, his garments have never protected him from me. I don’t think he’d want them to.

4. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU about their secret temple rites at all. If they did, you would spot them as non Christians immediately.

False. Mormons will tell you “about” temple rites quite freely. What they probably won’t tell you are the specifics of what goes on inside temples. Some Mormons are more comfortable revealing details than others. My husband has let me ask questions about everything except the tokens, signs and his temple name.

5. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they think “familiar spirits” are good, and that their Book of Mormon has a “familiar spirit”. Leviticus 19:31 says familiar spirits defile one, and are to be avoided at all costs.

False. For starters, Leviticus 19:31 says not to seek out “mediums or necromancers” (ESV), and I’ve never heard a Mormon recommend the services of a medium or necromancer. “Familiar spirits” seems to be a KJV mistranslation or possibly an archaic English expression, but I’ve never heard Mormons recommend those, either.

6. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that women receive salvation only through their Mormon husbands, and must remain pregnant for all eternity.

Distortion and mostly false. Mormons teach that a sealing between husband and wife in an LDS temple is required for exaltation, making the marriage last for eternity, so it’s true that women receive salvation through their Mormon husbands, but at the same time, men receive salvation through their Mormon wives. This statement is misleading.

As for the second part, admittedly Mormonism is vague on the function and responsibilities of exalted women and why a physical body will be so important in the next life, but most Mormons would reject the notion that women will be “pregnant for all eternity.”

Mormons will definitely teach you that an eternal marriage is required for exaltation; whether or not literal, physical pregnancy is part of the next life is not likely to come up.

7. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they intend to be gods themselves some day, and are helping to earn their exaltation to godhood by talking to you.

False. This teaching is true enough, but Mormons are very open about this doctrine.

8. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they intend to have many wives in heaven, carrying on multiple sex relations throughout eternity, until they have enough children to populate their own earth, so they can be “Heavenly Father” over their own planet!

Somewhat true. To break it down:

(1) Mormons do expect to practice polygyny in the Celestial Kingdom. A man who gets sealed to more than one wife on earth can expect to have all his wives in the Celestial Kingdom. Men who are sealed to only one woman can expect to have just one wife; it is not expected that everyone will be in a polygamous union.

(2) Some Mormons do believe physical sex between husbands and wives will be permitted in the Celestial Kingdom. Not all Mormons believe this.

(3) Some Mormons do believe they will be Gods of other universes/worlds and Gods to their own spirit children just as our Heavenly Father is to us now. Not all Mormons believe this.

It’s true enough that most Mormons won’t talk about this immediately and not in such blunt terms.

9. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that you were once a spirit – child of their heavenly father, and one of his numerous wives before you were born on earth.

Mostly false. Mormons will tell you about being a spirit-child in the pre-existence during the second missionary discussion; that isn’t a secret at all. Mormons have no official doctrine on how many wives God has or whether He has a wife at all. Most Mormons today believe there is only one heavenly mother, but they probably won’t discuss this right away.

10. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the Virgin Mary really wasn’t a virgin at all but had sex relations with their heavenly father to produce the Mormon version of Jesus Christ

False. A few LDS leaders taught this in the past. Their statements were never considered doctrinal and very few Mormons believe it today, so of course Mormons won’t tell you about it.

11. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe Jesus had at least three wives and children while he was on this earth.

Not only is this one true, but we here at LDS & Evangelical Conversations have uncovered irrefutable documentary evidence of this historical fact.

j/k

A few LDS leaders in the 1800s did indeed teach that Jesus was a polygamist. This is believed by virtually no Mormons today, so of course they won’t tell you about it. Most Mormons do believe Jesus was married monogamously. Popular folk doctrine holds that He was married to Mary Magdalene.

12. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the “heavenly father” they ask you to pray to with them, is really an exalted man that lives on a planet near the star base Kolob, and is not the Heavenly Father of the Bible at all.

Mostly false. I guess it’s true enough that Mormons usually believe God the Father is an exalted man who lives on a planet near Kolob, but I’ve never heard Kolob called a “star base.” That makes it sound like they think God is building a Death Star out there or something.

Whether or not Mormons discuss this with you kind of depends on the Mormon, and they do believe this is the Heavenly Father of the Bible.

The Force was not strong with this one.

13. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Jesus was really Lucifer’s brother in the spirit world, and it was only due to a “heavenly council” vote that Jesus became our redeemer instead of Satan!!

False. The claim is true enough, but it’s a lie to say Mormons won’t tell you about it. They regularly teach this in the first or second missionary discussion.

14. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there are over one hundred divisions in Mormonism. They conveniently “forget” this while criticizing the many denominations within the body of Christ

Mostly true. There have been over 100 splinter groups which accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet and the Book of Mormon as scripture since 1830, and I have had plenty of experience with Mormons who criticize the number Christian denominations while neglecting to mention these groups. However, calling these groups “divisions in Mormonism” is iffy terminology.

15. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that all their so- called scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and even their official “Mormon Doctrine” statements contradict each other on MAJOR doctrinal points. The King James Bible is likewise contradicted.

Subjective claim. Arguably there are plenty of things in the LDS Canon which could qualify as contradictions, but critics of the Bible would argue just as well that the Bible contradicts itself. I don’t think the LDS church has “official ‘Mormon Doctrine’ statements” outside the Proclamation on the Family and the four Standard Works.

16. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the reason the Book of Mormon has no maps is because there is not one scrap of archaeological evidence to support it!

Mostly true. The Book of Mormon does seem to exhibit some geographical problems such that Mormons are unsure of where in the Americas the alleged events in it took place. I would have to agree that there is no archaeological evidence conclusively verifying BoM-exclusive events, locations or people.

However, I suspect the reason most Mormons don’t talk about this is because they just don’t know much about it—not because they know this is a weakness in the text and they want to hide it.

17. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the state of Utah, which is predominately Mormon, has a higher than the national average of wife-beating, child abuse, and teenage suicide.

This is what’s known as “making crap up.” CBS would be proud.

18. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their prophet Joseph Smith was heavily involved in the occult when he founded Mormonism.

This charge depends on the definition of the word “occult.” If by “occult” we mean devil-worship and human sacrifice, then it’s complete nonsense. If we mean Smith’s involvement in 19th century folk magic, than it’s appropriate, but important to note that the same charge could be leveled at a number of biblical figures as well.

19. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that they encourage visitations from dead relatives from the “spirit world”, a practice forbidden in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12.)

Bullcrap.

20. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there are many accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision besides the one they present to you, and all are different

Mostly true. There are different accounts of the First Vision and most Mormons either won’t know about them or won’t discuss them right away. Mormons who do know about them would contest that the differences are irrelevant or easily explainable.

21. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their secret temple oaths are based on the Scottish Rite Masons.

Somewhat true. There are definite parallels between the LDS temple ceremony and the Freemasonry rituals. The Mormons who know about this will probably be up front in discussing it and the ones who don’t will not.

22. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that before 1978 they considered the Negro race inferior, and even one drop of Negro blood prevented a person from entering their priesthood.

False. Prior to 1978, Mormons did ban men of African descent from holding the priesthood and barred all men and women of African descent from entering their temples, however, they are very open about their past in this regard. There are still many, many Mormons alive who lived through the change firsthand as adults. In the years leading up to 1978, Mormon leaders had something of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on ordaining men of partial African descent, so it’s incorrect to say “one drop of Negro blood” kept men from ordination.

23. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they expect Christ to return to their temple in Missouri, but they haven’t built the temple He’s supposed to return to, because they don’t own the property. (It is owned by the “Temple Lot Mormons” who have plans of their own, and won’t let the Salt Lake City group buy it).

True enough, but I’m having a hard time understanding why Mormons would be expected to regularly share this with outsiders.

24. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they consider the Bible to be untrustworthy and full of errors.

Mostly false. They do believe that the Bible contains errors, but they’re pretty open about that fact; it’s regularly recited as part of the 8th Article of Faith. Mormons actually believe that all of their Standard Works potentially contain errors.

25. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Jesus’ death on the cross only partially saves the believer.

Bullcrap. Mormons credit the atonement of Jesus Christ for making salvation possible, both in the first sense (resurrection, guarantee of Telestial Kingdom) and in the second sense (exaltation). They have a somewhat different application of the atonement in that they believe that performing certain ordinances is necessary to achieve exaltation, but interpreting that as “partial salvation” or any kind of salvation apart from Christ is misleading.

26. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that according to Anton Lavey’s Satanic Bible, the demon god of the living dead is called “Mormo”. Is it just a coincidence that the Mormons are so concerned with the dead?

Even if this were true, Mormonism was founded in 1830. Lavey was born in 1930. If there is any connection, it’s because Lavey copied “Mormo” from his knowledge of Mormonism. Why should Mormons be responsible for what Lavey said or did?

27. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that on their Salt Lake City Temple they prominently display an upside-down star which is a Satanic symbol known as the Goat’s head. Why?

False. There is a pentagram on the Salt Lake Temple, but Mormons interpret it as a symbol of the endowment, and it’s certainly false that they won’t tell you about them. Here’s a temple site which talks about the stars on the Salt Lake Temple.

28. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe the Archangel Michael came down to earth with several of his celestial wives, and became Adam in the garden of Eden.

Somewhat true. It’s true that Mormons believe Adam was Michael the Archangel before and after his existence as Adam. It’s false that he had multiple celestial wives and false that Mormons won’t tell you about it. Here is a pro-LDS Web site which talks about it.

29. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that that they believe the angel Gabriel came down to earth and became Noah in the days of the flood.

Again, true and false. It’s true that Mormons believe this and false that they won’t tell you about it.

30. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied falsely many times. For example, he foretold the second coming of Christ for 1891. The Bible teaches that one false prophecy puts the prophet under death sentence. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Debatable; Joseph Smith almost certainly gave a few prophecies that did not happen, but the second coming of Christ prophecy as one of them is dubious.

31. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that their Prophet Joseph Smith did not die as a martyr as they claim, but was killed during a gun battle in which he himself killed two men and wounded a third.

False. Mormons are more than willing to tell you about the gun battle; if you visit the Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith died, they’ll tell you all about it and you can even put your fingers in the bullet holes that were shot through the door (they’re getting nice and worn smooth like that). I’ve been there. Mormons readily acknowledge that Smith died in a gun battle from which he had little hope of escape, and they still believe he was a martyr.

32. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU about the Mountain Meadows Massacre in which they brutally murdered an innocent wagon train of settlers, of over one hundred men, women, and most of the children, traveling through Utah.

Yes they will. When I was taking the missionary discussions, my missionaries told me all about it and even pinned the blame for it on Brigham Young, though that’s debatable. In any case, it’s one of the most well-known massacres in American history. How could they ever hope to hide it?

33. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that Joseph Smith taught that there were inhabitants on the moon, and Brigham Young taught there were inhabitants on the sun as well!

Somewhat true. The Moon Quaker claim comes from an extremely dubious source and it’s unlikely that Joseph Smith ever taught it. Brigham Young did teach that the sun was inhabited. In any case, if Mormons don’t tell you about this, it’s probably because it’s stupid and has almost nothing to do with the religion they practice today.

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I did my best to be fair and accurate, and I welcome corrections on this from Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

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This entry was posted in anti-Mormonism by Bridget Jack Jeffries. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bridget Jack Jeffries

Bridget Jack Jeffries is a human resources professional living in Chicago. She holds a BA in classics from Brigham Young University with a minor in Hebrew and an MA in American religious history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church and a single mother of two. You can read more of her writings at www.Weighted-Glory.com.

428 thoughts on ““Facts” Mormons Won’t Tell

  1. Obviously this is a post which I intend more for the benefit of newcomers and random Googlers instead of our regular members, but feel free to improve on or challenge what I’ve said.

  2. Re 15: “I don’t think the LDS church has “official ‘Mormon Doctrine’ statements” outside the Proclamation on the Family and the four Standard Works.”

    As I understand it (and any LDS feel free to express your own views), there are a few binding doctrinal statements to the entire Church by the 1P and Q12 that assume the rank of complete authority due to their proclamatory nature.

    A few of them are:
    1890: Statement on plural marriage, which is President Woodruff’s first indication that the Church would be moving away from that practice.
    1909: The Origin of Man, a doctrinal study of the controversial idea of evolution.
    1916: The Father and the Son, which enumerates the ways in which Jesus Christ is related to us as a father by Heavenly Father’s dispensation.
    1978: Revelation on the priesthood, which extended the priesthood blessings to all (see also your #22).
    1995: The Family, which codifies much of the LDS understanding of the family.
    2000: The Living Christ, a simple testimony for the new millennium. (There are quite a few of this devotional, apostolic nature.)

    Robert J. Matthews suggests a few others that are of general interest here.

    Re 20, I’ve put up a quick collection of the three most important First Vision accounts here, but they are available in many places.

  3. Many things I could say, but I have only a few seconds now, so I’ll comment on #2.

    In a sense, of course, we believe that salvation is only “through” the church. But the implication to some might be that we believe only Mormons can be be saved (or, in the context I’m speaking about here, exalted). That is patently false. We believe that there certainly will be the opportunity for many, many non-LDS people to reach the highest level of heaven, and we spend a great deal of resources on temples to make certain that opportunity is provided.

    In that regard, we’re actually more accepting of people of other faiths than the people who wrote that brochure are.

    Oh, and #29. That one’s completely new to me.

    I’m not sure if those statements listed by Neal Davis are “binding” on membership or not. They certainly aren’t canonized, although I expect the final two listed will be eventually.

  4. Jack,
    You’ve done an amazing job at cutting through the crap and exposing the method of half-truth used by anti-Mormons. Thank you for setting an example to both non-Mormons and Mormons.

    One slight improvement I would make would be under point 2. There is a “hell” as traditional Christians would understand it, we just think there are far fewer inhabitants there than others may have. Not “all humanity gets salvation” or entry into the telestial kingdom. It’s just, only the really slime-ball and proud people who refuse to repent after a millenium of suffering will be bad enough to get it.

    But I mean, even such a minor suggestion in the face of so many good refutations…I think you’re going to have an interesting grad school experience…

  5. When you say “no Mormons believe it today” I wouldn’t go that far with the topics you use it under. There are some who do, although that is a far cry from many and even farther cry from official.

    “MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that they believe Jesus had at least three wives and children while he was on this earth.”

    I think this post makes some mistakes in the refutation. Stating that many Mormons believe Jesus was married is debatable and could be just some. It is a rather contested subject even if mostly not out in the open. As for “three wives,” that doesn’t even properly use the sources that the critics are referencing. At most it could be demonstrated by argument two; Mary and Martha. The idea he had earthly children hasn’t, to my recollection, even ever been considered. No Mormon has ever to my knowledge claimed he had children. The funny thing is I can see how the critics came to these erroneous conclusions, even if they are false interpretations. Using “3 wives” is a tie in to the FLDS who believe a man must have that many to get to heaven. Christ having children most probably comes from reading or at least knowing about “The DaVinci Code” and combining that with Mormon speculations.

  6. Point #23. I would like to add a very minor clarification. The way I understand it, the Hedreckites (Temple Lot Mormons) owned part of the property, and the RLDS owned part of the property. In the late 1980’s, the RLDS (now the Community of Christ) went ahead and built a temple on their portion of the land. (My Dad volunteered his skills as an Engineer and assisted in the building, as his grandfather had volunteered to help build the Stone Church before him.) So, there is a temple there. Although the LDS doesn’t own any of the “Temple lot” land, they have a Visitor’s center nearby.

  7. Jettboy ~ I am being a bit minimalistic by saying “no Mormons” believe it; in my experience, very, very few Mormons believe those to the point that it’s almost useless to expect to run into anyone who does. For example, take the “God had sex with Mary” thing. I have known two Mormons who believed in it, one only through the Internet and one in real life. I had a BYU religion teacher confirm that there were “a few” professors in the religion department who believed it; the entire class seemed shocked about this.

    The “three wives” thing may be a tie-in to the FLDS “three wives” requirement, but some LDS leaders did teach that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, Mary & Martha. Orson Hyde for example (list of quotes here), and some also taught He had children. It isn’t just a Da Vinci Code thing.

    I’m going by my own experience on “most Mormons” thinking Jesus was married. Others may disagree. Maybe it was The Da Vinci Code fervor at the time, but I found the Mary Magdalene as Christ’s bride folklore to be incredibly pervasive at BYU.

    Eric ~ Doesn’t post-mortem exaltation only come through work for the dead on this side though? In that sense, isn’t it still correct to say that exaltation only comes through the church?

    Oh, and don’t say #29 is new to you because then that means… MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT IT!!! THEY’RE HIDING IT!!!! DUH DUH DUH!!!!

    Psychochemiker ~ I absolutely loathe trying to explain Mormon teachings on heaven and hell. It seems like no matter how careful I try to be, someone will object and say my explanation isn’t accurate. I’m not chewing you out, just… man. Why must it be so complicated?

    My understanding of outer darkness was that you had to have an “open vision of heaven” and then reject God to go there. It’s virtually impossible for ordinary humans to obtain this. That’s why I said that functionally there isn’t really a traditional hell in Mormonism.

    Thank you for the corrections everyone.

  8. Wow, I feel enlightened. I really do. I hadn’t even heard some of this stuff, and I’ve been a member for 15 years now! Great job, Jack.

  9. Jack,
    I’m sorry it’s so complex. Our heaven, your trinity, yeah they’re complex. But I admire your tenancity at working so hard at understanding a theology that isn’t even your own! I only care about my own theology, and your willingness to correctly describe Mormonism is truly admirable.

    The understanding of outer-darkness goes much further than only extraordinary humans get to go there. Rhetoric talking about how few people will be there are implying, most humans will repent. It may be once the false teachings about the truth are removed (at death), it may be during, or at the end of the milennium (during which the wicked will suffer until they repent), it may be a moment before the final judgement, but if they finally don’t repent, they don’t get into the telestial heaven anyway. We may hope that the suffering they go through is enough to turn all men to Christ’s love and grace, but the scriptures don’t say “every human will enter at least the telestial kingdom” and therefore, scripturally there is a never-ending hell reserved for those who refuse to ever repent.
    Basically the understanding I have, is, after a millenium, the spirit will have given someone an open view of heaven, and they will have rejected that testimony.

  10. Some of the stuff people dig up and twist never ceases to amaze me. Well explained Jack.

    You are pretty much correct in your explanation of heaven and hell. The chances of going to outer darkness are slim to none for the vast, uncountable majority of the human race. As you said, you basically have to have irrefutable proof of God and Jesus and deny it. That isn’t going to happen for many people. Basically you see them, talk with them, etc, something on that level, and then say they are not true, not real, deny what you KNOW. This involves the difference between belief (faith) and knowledge. It would be like Jesus preaching to the apostles that he would rise from the dead. They had faith in it, but no knowledge until he actually did and they saw and heard and felt his hands and feet. At that point they KNEW, there was no more faith… it had become a sure knowledge in the living, resurrected Christ. As Rom 11:1 puts it “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do
    not see.”

    This being said, we do believe that it will be like a hell to be stuck in the Telestial Kingdom (lowest level or degree of glory as some will call it) knowing that you could have done better. The knowledge of your own faults and failure to be the best you could be will be your punishment. And how often are we are own worst critics. We beat ourselves up on a regular basis far more than we probably deserve, so I can see how this would be a hell for people. Especially after judgment day, your entire life laid bare for your to see, being judged by God. Yeah. Not happy.

    So I’d say you got it pretty bang on Jack 🙂 Great analysis of the pamphlet.

  11. Adam, I am so happy to see you here! That’s pretty much how I’ve understood LDS telestial kingdom and outer darkness. This may sound dumb, but when I first began studying the LDS church as a teenager, I heard somewhere that women couldn’t go to outer darkness. Apparently some earlier LDS leaders taught that (1) there were no women among the souls who defected to Satan’s team, and (2) it’s almost impossible for women to do anything in this world which would qualify them for perdition. Ever egalitarian-minded—I very much want women to have the right to screw up just as much as men do—I got into a lengthy and involved discussion on it at the old FAIR discussion boards with some very knowledgeable LDS apologists.

    Their answer was that it would be nigh impossible for a woman to qualify for perdition because of the “open vision of heaven” thing and that it would be unlikely that someone without a priesthood calling would have one of those. Now I think the old FAIR board was fairly traditional in their answers on LDS thought, so I really don’t care now whether it’s true or not that women can’t go to outer darkness. What stayed with me was that it’s nigh impossible for anyone except priesthood leaders in the LDS church to qualify for outer darkness. Even Hitler doesn’t qualify.

    The knowledge of your own faults and failure to be the best you could be will be your punishment. … Especially after judgment day, your entire life laid bare for your to see, being judged by God. Yeah. Not happy.

    This is pretty much how I view hell from an evangelical perspective. I believe it exists mostly in the form of mental anguish involving dishonor and shame, and self-imposed exile from God. I don’t believe in the literal gruesome torture stuff.

    Someday I will have to do a post comparing my version of hell to LDS lesser kingdoms of heaven.

  12. BJM — Just to clarify what I said. Yes, it is correct to say that salvation/exaltation is available only through the church. But I think that one reason that statement is made is that the reader may assume that, according to LDS doctrine, only faithful Mormons have a shot at heaven. That (as you know) isn’t true at all.

    Overall, your refutations are pretty accurate (although I could quibble here and there with the wording, just as you probably would do if I had written the post). A few semi-random comments:

    1. Nothing is hidden, but it does seem to me that the church downplays the use of the word “abomination” and the statement from the First Vision that the professors of other churches are corrupt — usually what is emphasized is that he was told he shouldn’t join any church. I’m not alleging deception here, merely an emphasis on what would less likely offend the listener. (I also think the statements would have sounded somewhat less harsh two centuries ago than they do today.)

    3. There’s also some folk doctrine about the garments being a physical protection.

    9. I heard an anti-Mormon on the radio say once that even people who have been in the church for decades haven’t heard of the doctrine that we were spirits in heaven before we came to Earth. LOL! Even my grade-school kid can tell you this.

    14. My guess is that many Mormons have no idea there are that many splinter groups (most of which are very small, by the way). People are aware of the Community of Christ and the polygamous sects, but that’s about it.

    18. Maybe the pamphleteers are referring to the Smith family’s involvement in treasure-hunting and that sort of thing.

  13. Thanks Bridget: I usually don’t have the patience with bullshit that you show and handle better than I would. I just call people who make such claims purveyors of pucky and leave it at that.

  14. Jack,

    I would be interested to hear why you think #18 has no credence whatsoever. Perhaps it seems the use of the word “occult” is polemical. We were discussing this on my blog recently. However, given the fact that Smith’s activities are being evaluated in scholarly Mormon literature using the word “occult,” I don’t think it’s accurate to say this statement has no credence whatsoever. As one example: this article in the Dialogue.

  15. Jack, excellent work! I was going to try to correct you on the hell thing, just to be obnoxious, but I won’t. I think you got it. 🙂

    Though I kind of think Jessica has a point, I’m not sure you can call total “bullcrap” on Joseph Smith’s involvement with the occult. A lot depends on what is meant by “occult.” If you mean that JS was involved in, like, human sacrifices and devil worshiping then no. But if you mean that he was involved in folk magic related to ancient mystery traditions, then I think it’s pretty tough to deny.

    So while I agree the word was chosen to be as incendiary (and misleading) as possible, it appears as though there is some truth to it, perhaps more than we realize.

  16. Jessica & Katie ~ Yeah, I probably should have clarified on the “occult” thing. It was late and I was coming to the end of the list. You both correctly note that it depends on what’s meant by “occult.” I dismissed it because most people today associate it with devil worship, etc., not 19th century folk magic.

    I’ll update the entry later tonight to clarify that it’s misleading if technically correct.

  17. #13 – It’s not what we believe at all, Jack.

    Jesus is our Savior because He was God and was the one foreordained to do it from the very beginning. Lucifer butted in and tried to change things, and those who wanted to follow Lucifer were kicked out of heaven.

    Even if two-thirds, or even 99% had chosen Lucifer, Jesus would still have been the Savior and those who followed Lucifer would still have been cast down.

  18. For the record, I love this post, and my wife and I are laughing about the garments one.

    Mormons don’t like to talk about their underwear any more than anyone else does. LOL

  19. Gun battle? Realy?

    Let’s review – they had been arrested and were being held at Carthage Jail. They hadn’t even been arraigned yet!

    Suddenly a mob storms the dwelling (it was a house) and starts shooting. What would you do? Defend yourself, of course. Even if Joseph did shoot some people in the skirmish (I don’t recall if that’s even true), shooting in self defense has never been considered a crime in this country.

    (not treally directed at you Jack, but the term “gun battle” definitely gives the wrong idea. If I were killed when someone invaded my home and I had killed the intruder, I doubt any reasonable person would say I died in a gun battle. No, I died when someone came into my home and I tried to defend myself)

    Finally, if a jail were assaulted today and prisoners awaiting arraignment were killed, the assailants would be penalized under the law, which never happened to the Carthage assailants!

  20. Tomchik/Jack
    It is defintely true that the first HALF of the statment is true enough, and Tom is right that the second half of the claim is FALSE. I didn’t even read through the second half the first time through. LOL. We’re just trying to be as correct as possible Jack, building off of your start, that is.

    I really hate anti-Mormons who try and use this “Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers” rhetoric. It really doesn’t cast dispersion on Jesus’ character.

  21. If it was “Things you don’t know about Mormonism” much of your “false” judgments would have been reduced. BUT it wouldn’t have been as exciting. That’s just good copy writing.

  22. Meh. I think the “MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU” format was gratuitously sensational on top of being misleading. They could have said “Did you know Mormons teach…” and then a lot of the statements would have been more accurate, especially since some of them are based on oddball Mormon teachings.

  23. Jack: good work here. As usual, you do a terrific job defending the truth about Mormonism even though you ultimately reject it as “True”. It’s rare to find someone confident enough in her own faith (or politics, etc.) that she can honestly portray her opponent’s views in an argument. (Keep this up and you’ll make Salmon Belt by 2010!)

  24. “Their statements were never considered doctrinal and no Mormons believe it today”

    This is somewhat “false” too. The teaching was in a 1990’s manual which by lay standards wasconsidered doctrinal. I personally know long-time committed apologetic Mormons who explicitly believe that God had sex with Mary, and many more who say something like “we don’t know the mechanics but it could have happened that way.” You might want to see what Kevin Barney has written about his too. Just last week a friend came into SLC from out of town and had one of the Temple Square senior missionaries vehemently defend the idea that God had sex with Mary, even to the point of disturbing his companion-wife missionary. After talking with Mormons for ~10 years, I don’t know how I could ever say “no Mormons believe it today”.

    Any “No Mormons believe it today” statement about past Mormon teachings is automatically irresponsible. You can’t stereotype Mormons as believing a thing, and you can’t stereotype Mormons as not believing a thing.

    They have a somewhat different application of the atonement in that they believe that performing certain ordinances is necessary to achieve exaltation

    Uh, “somewhat”? Methinks you are perhaps projecting BYU Mormonism onto mainstream lay Mormonism fostered by institutional manuals.

    Mormons are more than willing to tell you about the gun battle; if you visit the Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith died, they’ll tell you all about it and you can even put your fingers in the bullet holes that were shot through the door (they’re getting nice and worn smooth like that). I’ve been there. Mormons readily acknowledge that Smith died in a gun battle from which he had little hope of escape, and they still believe he was a martyr.

    “Gun battle” implies both parties were shooting. I just visited Nauvoo myself last year, and that information was not offered in the Carthage Jail tour. The bullet holes were described as coming from the mob, not from Smith (I don’t think Smith shoot through the wood of the door anyway). Also, see McKeever’s collective experiences recounted on the Carthage Jail tour that here. In my experience most lay Mormons (you know, the ones that aren’t BYU academics or interenet defenders :-] ) aren’t even aware that Smith shot back, so it’s generally true that they won’t tell you about the “gun battle”. But the Carthage Jail tour guides have historically been pretty deceptive about it. Not to mention the faith-promoting historical accounts put out by the Church for the masses and movies like Prophet of the Restoration.

    The Moon Quaker claim comes from an extremely dubious source and it’s unlikely that Joseph Smith ever taught it.

    While I agree that Huttington’s quote of Phil Dibble is not conclusive, one mitigating fact here is the Philo Dibble was a close confidant of Joseph Smith. Also, there was a Sunstone presentation where Van Hale and James B Allen essentially argued (from what I remember) that although we can’t confidently know whether the quote is accurately attributed to Smith, given the worldview and other evidence, it is likely that Smith and other-higher ups taught something like it in the 1830’s.

    Also Dan Vogel writes,

    “[Oliver B.] Huntington received a blessing from his father, William, on 7 December 1836. As recorded in the Patriarchal Blessing Book, the text reads: ‘I lay my hands on thee & bless thee with a father’s blessing.… Thou shalt be called to preach the gospel to this generation.… Before thou art twenty one thou wilt be called to preach the fullness of the gospel, thou shalt have power with God even to translate thyself to Heaven, & preach to the inhabitants of the moon or planets, if it shall be expedient, if thou art faithful all these blessings will be given thee …’ Other early Mormon blessings expressed similar sentiments. On 15 December 1836 Lorenzo Snow received a blessing under the hand of Joseph Smith, Sr.: ‘Thou shalt have great faith, even like the brother of Jared. Thou shalt have power to translate thyself from one planet to another, power to go to the moon if thou desire it, power to preach to the spirits in prison. Power like Enoch to translate thyself to heaven …’ On 21 February 1836 Joseph Smith, Sr., blessed Jonathan Crosby, saying: ‘Thou shalt … Be caught up to the third heavens, and behold unspeakable things, whether in the body or out.… And when thy [p.210] mission is full here, thou shalt visit other worlds.’ Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal on 3 January 1837 that Zebedee Coltrin ‘Pronounced great blessings upon my head by the Spirit of Prophecy & Revelation.’ Among other things the blessing said that he ‘should visit COLUB & Preach to the spirits in Prision & that I should bring all of my friends or relatives forth from the Terrestrial Kingdom.’ These blessings are congruent with Joseph Smith’s conviction that translated beings were ordained by God ‘to be ministering angels unto many planets.'” (Dan Vogel. The Word of God, p. 209-210)

    Take care,

    Aaron

  25. Like I said, “It’s rare to find someone confident enough in her own faith (or politics, etc.) that she can honestly portray her opponent’s views in an argument.”

  26. Any “No Mormons believe it today” statement about past Mormon teachings is automatically irresponsible. You can’t stereotype Mormons as believing a thing, and you can’t stereotype Mormons as not believing a thing.

    By the way, please don’t take that as a personal attack. I think the call to avoid particularly unsafe generalizations and stereotypes needs to go both ways, both to those who are refuting criticisms of Mormonism and those who are writing criticisms of Mormonism.

  27. Aaron,

    Even if Joseph did teach that there were men on the moon, and even if he did shoot back in Carthage Jail, does it really make a hill of beans difference?

    A prophet can have opinions, and I think he is allowed to attempt to defend himself if dozens of men are shooting at him. Seriously, why does anyone waste time on this stuff?

    I’m just sayin….

  28. True prophets of God speak the truth.

    They call Mohammed a prophet also, and thre is not too much truth there.

    In fact, the things he taught are anti- Christ and pro individual obedience to a gruesome god that denies the cross and resurrection.

  29. tomchik, I believe prophets can have wild and crazy opinions, but the problem especially starts when they are pushed as prophetic counsel. That so many “you’ll preach on the moon!” kind of things were put into Patriarchical blessings by those close to Smith doesn’t automatically discredit Smith, but the ethos doesn’t help me trust Mormonism in general.

    In any case, whether it matters is a separate issue from whether we can get our history right.

    Let me ask you, tomchik: If it doesn’t matter that Smith drank wine to ease his spirit and that he shot back in the gun battle, why not include that basic fact in the tour at Carthage Jail, and why not at least show a split second of Smith using a gun in LDS movies scenes of the last minutes of Joseph’s life?

    It’s like the did-Joseph-practice-polygamy issue. Lay Mormons will tell me that he simply was sealed to the women after he died, and that accusations of Smith practicing polygamy are vicious anti-Mormon lies, but when they are challenged with information showing that Smith’s polygamy was more than just platonic sealing, they argue that it doesn’t matter anyway, because Smith is a true prophet. It’s tragically double-minded.

    Take care,

    Aaron

  30. Just to add another point.

    Even if all these silly caricatures of Mormonism happened to be true, who gives a flying fig?

    It’s kind of like that “Jesus and Satan are brothers” rallying cry I hear occasionally.

    Yeah? So what?

    Makes the person yelling it sound like an idiot more than anything else. So they’re brothers. Move along people, nothing to see here.

    Honestly, I think most of these statements are aimed primarily at a population composed largely of stupid religious bigots.

    There. I’ve had my unfair gross generalization for the day. Glad I got that off my chest.

  31. Aaron, you and I are about the same age (you’re less than a month older than me), and apparently we started talking to Mormons at around the same time in our teens. If you’ve had different experiences with what Mormons have told you on these points, you’re welcome to share them, but that doesn’t really invalidate what my own experience has been. And I hate to break it to you, but I interact regularly with “mainstream lay Mormonism” and not just “BYU academics and internet defenders.”

    I would love to hear what this 1990s church manual said on the subject. I have Is the Mormon My Brother? by James White right in front of me and I re-read his chapter on the “God had sex with Mary” doctrine a few days ago. Not one of the sources he cites as an “official publication” actually teaches it; all of the sources he cites under that heading are explainable by the AI theory with no sex implied. He doesn’t cite anything from a 1990s manual though, just a 1986 manual which IMO doesn’t cut it, so if you’ve got something else I’d love to hear it.

    Your reference to Kevin Barney’s post is interesting, and there’s certainly plenty of anecdotal accounts there which don’t match my own experience, but I thought we just established that Internet defenders don’t constitute “mainstream lay Mormonism”? (I also hereby salute Kaimi for a prophet… ) Kevin and I have been friends for a long time, but I really don’t think he’s “mainstream.” Most Mormon bloggers and a good deal of apologists aren’t, and Kevin is both.

    You’re correct that I’m overgeneralizing by saying “no Mormons” believe some of these things. I’m going to amend my post accordingly.

  32. Aaron: as one the chief purveyors of pucky, I am just wondering why you raise such ridiculous issues. There are paintings in Mormon galleries showing Joseph with a gun, the gun is shown at the museum in SLC, it is discussed at length in Mormon publications. No one is hiding anything. Are you arguing that the fact that he shot back in self-defense makes his murder less of a murder? Does it mean he isn’t a martyr somehow? This is just beyond stupid as far as arguments go.

    No one is going to get excited that Joseph Sr. thought that there were spirits on the moon that could be taught in the after life or that a spirit has power to travel to the moon if it wants.

    As far as occult goes, the very act of eating the body and drinking the blood (symbolically or not) as a means of being empowered by the person eaten is a well established occult practice. Will traditional christians admit that such acts could also be occult? Hardly, because of the religious context in which such rituals exist. It is the same with Joseph’s gifts as a seer as I see it.

  33. I’m not sure if my comment was held up or I just accidentally closed the tab (I do that a lot), so I’ll try writing it again.

    Bridget, I apologize, I was very wrong about the decade. It was the 1972 Family Home Evening Manual. Published by the Church, it fits the general lay understanding of “official”, but not the sola scriptura “only if it’s in canonized scripture” standard. Regardless, the Mormon Church is accountable when its leaders foster oral traditions, especially when they go unrepudiated in an unequivocal manner.

    I quoted Barney not as a sample of the mainstream, but because you said “No Mormons believe it today” and because I know you respect Barney (I do too).

    all of the sources he cites under that heading are explainable by the AI theory with no sex implied

    It seems here that you are uncritically accepting the explanations of Mormon apologists. All of the key quotes on the issue by the big four (Young, Pratt, Talmage, McConkie) were before human artificial insemination was even known about. Also, this doesn’t address the responsibility the leaders had given that their audience was inclined to interpret the statements in more natural way.

    I deal with some of these anachronistic readings in the MRM article on the issue.

    Blake claims,

    No one is hiding anything.

    That some don’t hide something doesn’t mean no one is hiding anything.

    Are you arguing that the fact that he shot back in self-defense makes his murder less of a murder?

    As they say, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

    No, it is not make it any less a murder, but it doesn’t fit the implicit (and sometimes explicit) messianic parallel given of a submissive lamb lead to the slaughter. There is nothing wrong with self-defense with a gun, but there is something wrong with depicting Smith as having died without a violent, bloody fight.

    PS If I could quote from a discussion on the no-so-virgin birth issue where Ostler and Barney participate:

    “I personally do not believe in a virginal conception of Jesus, which is one of my little heresies. I actually like the early LDS speculation that God literally sired Jesus, which you mention at the end of your post. But I would take Joseph as his father before I would accept a miraculous, virginal conception. In my view Jesus had 46 chromosomes; we know Mary contributed 23, and the other 23 had to come from somewhere.” – Kevin Barney

    “I agree with Kevin on the literal conception of Jesus, as opposed to a “artificial insemination”-like process. This was a teaching that was very accepted when I was younger. I often wonder why, as a Church, we have moved from this position. It would seem to be very logical with our anthropological conception of Deity. Are there theological complications to this view, or do you think we have distanced ourselves because of the “Scientology Factor?”” – Bored in Vernal

    “I am open to a virginal birth, but it doesn’t hold up well under historical scrutiny. The account in Matthew seems to be heavily influenced by Jewish tales about Moses and it is unlikely that Luke knew Mary and certainly didn’t know the mortal Jesus. So I think that the virginal birth is open to doubt… I don’t see the virgin birth as theologically necessary. However, it was theologically necessary for Matthew and for Luke. Their explanation of how Christ is both human and divine is in terms of a human mother and a divine father. In the context of the birth narratives, the term “Son of God” took on new meaning. In addition, there were ubiquitous stories in Jesus’s day about the divine son of God, the Emperor Ceasar. In that context, where the Roman emperor was proclaimed to be a son of God and God, such claims had a different meaning. There were also numerous Greek stories of wunderkind who were born directly as sired by God. In that context, the claim that Jesus is God’s son had a particular meaning that we often miss and overlook. Moreover, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the virgin birth story because it makes Jesus superhuman — human, but super at it.” – Blake Ostler

    Grace and peace in Christ for those who savingly know the one born of a virgin,

    Aaron

  34. Jack,

    Good job. I admire your courage to tackle this …..

    I would have to say that I have run into many LDS who beleive Jesus was not only married, but a polygamous at that… that includes my husband.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  35. P.S. I want to aslo add that I have met LDS who do not believe in the virgin birth. I think rank and file LDS who perhaps don’t dwelve much into more than the LDS standard works may not know this teaching.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  36. AARON: good points and posts, I think it’s easily shown that “Mormon’s believe” is trouble…but “Mormons don’t believe” is almost as much trouble. Better to find out what the Mormon standing in front of you believes, IMO.

    I also think it’s a ‘split decision” as to LDS transparency, and what they do, or don’t readily admit. This is hard to establish, because what is “transparent” to me may not be to you, and vica versa. The examples of less than honesty, IMO, still abound. I have a BY biography somewhere in the mess of my library that has a grand total of two wives listed, the first two. This seems to make him look more ‘normal’ , like he had only one wife at a time. Of course, the biographical summary would have been twice as long if they’d listed ALL his wives…. I think there are many examples of this kind of thing within mormonism.

    hmmmm, and evangelicalism, don’t like it much THERE either.

    GERMIT

  37. Jack,

    As I read thru the comments left here… I will say this.. the meatier teachings of Mormonism are really not taught to investigators and those taking the missionary discussions. Some may construe to that be deceptive on the part of the LDS church. So maybe that is why some beleive that the LDS won’t “tell all” because in reality they don’t tell “all” when a person is investigating. I think some of that may stem from the fact that the missionaries of the LDS church are trained to teach a limitted few facts about LDS doctrine. (many may not even know about some of th meatier teachings, I sure didn’t when I was a missionary!)

    Do you think that perhaps some may not view that as deceptive?

    I was discussing this my husband last night — the need for investigators to have access to more teachings and info before being baptized. My husband beleives that it would be too “meaty” for them, and I agree. Most people if you told them that the LDS heaven includes mutliple wives or that Jesus was indeed married and a polygamist — they may very well back away.

    I for one advocate that more info be given and then allow people to make a choice based on facts and not just spiritual feelings.

    Hope that makes sense,
    gloria

  38. Evangelicals certainly don’t “tell all” when they make altar calls, so I don’t know what the big deal is.

    Gloria – why should missionaries be instructed to teach people things that were never canonized? Just because BY said something doesn’t mean we have a responsibility to tell everyone it is Church doctrine.

    When you invite people to join your Church, do you give them a copy of every sermon ever preached in an effort to “tell all?” Somehow I doubt it.

  39. Interesting discovery – I found this children’s primary lesson about the death of Joseph and Hyrum that specifically talks about them having guns and shooting back at the mob.

    If that’s not transparency, I don’t know what is. We’re teaching our kids this stuff!

  40. ” When you invite people to join your church do you give them a copy of every sermon ever preached in an effort to “tell all”?”

    Hi, Tomchick. Thanks for the chance to share.

    My church I attend does not have “church membership” ( praise God!!) . We do have people come visit and yes, the pastor and others will share the “good news of Jesus” and how He died to save us from our sins with them. We hand them a bible and encourage them to read, study, ask questions, etc. Nothing is held back. I can’t speak for other churches.

    As far as the LDS not disclosing teachings that are not cannonized — well the whole teaching of progression, becoming a god and eternal plural marriage is most definately taught in the LDS scriptures: D & C 132 lays it out pretty well.

    While serving an LDS mission I never taugh investigators that God was once a man, and had progressed. Yet that is taught in the LDS church.

    Why not tell the facts and let people decide for themselves?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  41. germit: “Better to find out what the Mormon standing in front of you believes, IMO.”

    Right on. Or, if you want to engage in this kind of general discussion, go and do a proper survey (e.g., like the folks at Pew). Generalization can be useful.

    gloria: what do you mean by “meatier”? Missionaries teach investigators that Jesus and Heavenly Father are two distinct physical bodies—that alone is enough to blow the mind of most Christians who know even a tiny bit about their own doctrine. They also teach that there are more scriptures like the Bible—again, that’s heavy stuff. I could go on…. I’m tempted to read you like tomchik did: when you say, “meatier” what you mean is “non-canonical.”

  42. “Evangelicals don’t tell all when they make an altar call”

    Hi, Tomchick.

    Have you ever been to an Christian church where an altar call is made? I have been to many.. and I will say this, the truth is most definately told. That Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. That thru His blood one can be forgiven and receive eternal life. The truth is laid out very simply. Every single time I have seen the pastor most definately put it all out there. You see that is what we believe, and yes we share it and shout it from the housetops.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  43. BrianJ,

    Hi, thanks for the chance to share.

    When I say “meatier” I am alluding to the LDS doctrines that are not taught during the LDS discussions.

    For example:

    The nature of God – not just that he is distinct person,( as know they teach) but was once a man, who lives with his wives and populates our earth with his spirit children. Yes, the missionaries teach about pre-earth life, and having a heavenly father, but they do not teach about ‘heavenly mother’ and that the LDS god engages in plural marriage to populate earth with his spirit children & that one day a faithful LDS can do the same.

    eternal progression — as taught in D& C 132, where exaltation is explained , ( verse 20 stating the teaching of becoming “gods”)

    the temple ritual — very little is mentioned about the temple ritual during the discussions. Other than that families can be forever thru the temple ordinance, and temples have been built to receive special ordinances. There is no discussion about wearing garments, oaths, tokens, and penalties, etc.

    These are just a few “Meatier” teachings that are off the top of my head….

    I just think why not tell all…. let people decide based on the facts and knowledge and then let them choose. Then when the teachings are presented down the road, it won’t be a shock or suprise to them. I personally believe that this would produce more faithful mormons who know whawt they are getting into from the get go.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  44. Seth said:

    Even if all these silly caricatures of Mormonism happened to be true, who gives a flying fig?

    It’s kind of like that “Jesus and Satan are brothers” rallying cry I hear occasionally.

    Yeah? So what?

    In a religious comparison environment, you are right. It’s just interesting and a contrast.

    The purpose of the website Jack listed was to convince those who may be thinking of converting to steer away from Mormonism. A potential convert might care deeply if the LDS church teaches that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers.

    It deeply challenges their existing views on the nature of Christ and they may not want those views upset.

  45. Kevin Barney said
    In my view Jesus had 46 chromosomes; we know Mary contributed 23, and the other 23 had to come from somewhere.”

    ex-nihilo. God can do that.

    Just as Jesus fed all those people with a couple of fish and a few loaves. You don’t have to pull back the curtain and see where Jesus kept his secret hillside pantry. As creator of all things, he has the power to reverse e=mc2 and create matter out of energy.

  46. Aaron ~ I’ve amended my post to say “very few” Mormons believe it, and I think that statement is accurate.

    It seems here that you are uncritically accepting the explanations of Mormon apologists.

    Accepting their explanations, yes; uncritically, no. I’ve never denied that Young, Pratt, Talmage and McConkie taught it (as some of them would do); in fact, when Roger Keller told our religion class that “a few” teachers in the BYU religion department believed in the idea and taught it, the first name that came to my mind as a potential candidate for being one of the “few” was Joseph McConkie since he’s always struck me as being very in-line with his father’s views, and one of the comments on Kevin Barney’s T&S thread confirms this.

    However, the quotes you and others use in attempts to establish that the LDS church still teaches it in some official capacity or has taught it in very recent years come from sources which long post-date the establishment of successful human artificial insemination, so they’ve either got to explicitly teach it or it’s no donut. Talk of Jesus being begotten by God or God being “literally” Jesus’s father doesn’t cut it. Even the 1972 FHE manual cited by both you and White is explainable by the AI theory. The logic of the Mormons I’ve spoken to on this issue is, if humans can figure out a way to impregnate a woman without sex, why can’t God?

    You cite Kevin Barney and BiV as believers in it and Blake as someone who’s open to it, but even they agree that it’s dying out in Mormonism today. I’m content to let it die, and no, I don’t call on the LDS church to officially repudiate it. I’m decidedly against forcing Mormonism to repudiate and/or apologize for every false teaching that has ever slipped from the lips of its leaders. It’d be nice, but if the church wants to quietly and gradually move away from those things instead, I’m not going to stop them.

    As far as the nature of Joseph Smith’s death, remember that the tract’s original claim was “MORMONS WONT TELL YOU” that, which is a bad generalization in itself. It’s been amply demonstrated on this thread that many Mormons will tell you about it, and not just apologists and academics, either. I agree that the church tends to obscure the more troublesome details in its history, but I don’t agree that they’ve put much effort into obscuring the nature of Joseph Smith’s death.

  47. More information for those who care – (I’m working on a lesson about the martyrdom, so all the talk of a “gun battle” piqued my interest). On p. 282 of the manual “Church History in the Fullness of Times,” we read that Joseph fired off his six shooter shortly after Hyrum died. According to the manual, only three of the six rounds fired and wounded three men (the manual does not say that 2 later died).

    On p. 281, there is a picture of the six shooter and another gun that had been smuggled in (the smuggling is mentioned on p. 280).

    Also, Willard Richards’ account mentions that Joseph fired the six shooter, which account is included in the Sunday School manual for Doctrine and Covenants and Church History.

    I really hope Bill McKeever is reading this.

    Lack of transparency? I think not.

  48. Gloria ~ To me, it’s a given that Mormons don’t “tell all” to people who are investigating the LDS church. Evangelicals don’t “tell all” to their converts, either. We don’t tell potential converts:

    ~ That the Bible teaches angels can have sex with humans.
    ~ That women are to “remain silent in the churches” and are not permitted “to hold authority or to teach a man.”
    ~ That the Old Testament is arguably henotheistic.
    ~ That the Bible teaches deification.
    ~ That the traditional authorship of a large number of the biblical books is questioned by the vast majority of Bible scholars.

    I can’t speak for other evangelicals, but those were things I had to learn about from skeptics and critics. Most evangelicals are completely unaware of those points. Someone could create a pretty impressive list of “facts” evangelicals won’t tell people.

    So, it’s not problematic to me when a church doesn’t give potential converts “the dirt” before conversion. What’s problematic is when the organization continues to obscure that information long after conversion, and on that note I am critical of the LDS church in several areas.

  49. 18. I agree, that it depends on the definition of ‘occult’, but Joesph Smith was pretty involved in using seer stones and treasure hunting and stuff.

    20. There are different versions of the First Vision. At the same time, in the Bible there are different versions of the Creation, saying that different stuff happened on different days. So, if people believe that the Bible is literally true, which version is the “correct” one?

    31. I am pretty sure that I read about the “gun battle” in the Work and the Glory books, which are true and near and dear to my heart.

    33. Kullervo and I used to laugh about the people-in-the-sun thing. But then, a company (maybe Old Navy?) had a commercial that showed people playing outside and a voiceover that said, “Fun in the sun? No, no, my friend, fun ON the sun!” And while Old Navy clothes never look good on me, I think that we can all agree that the commercial corroborates Brother Brigham’s original statement, thus making the original prophesy (or opinion or whatever) True.

  50. Aaron — Could you please quote the 1972 Family Home Evening Manual in context?

    I’d be curious to know exactly what it said. I can’t imagine any 1972 church FHE manual saying anything about Mary having sex, period (even with Joseph, which she obviously did).

    And to suggest (as I believe) that the male chromosones in Jesus came from our Heavenly Father isn’t the same as saying there was a sexual relationship. IMO, that’s not even incompatible with Protestant theology (if Jesus was fully human and a male, the DNA couldn’t have come from Mary because of the way parthenogenesis works, so it had to come from somewhere). Being raised an evangelical, I was told very early on that God, not Joseph, was Jesus’ father.

    there is something wrong with depicting Smith as having died without a violent, bloody fight.

    I have never heard the martyrdom depicted otherwise, ever.

    I found this children’s primary lesson about the death of Joseph and Hyrum that specifically talks about them having guns and shooting back at the mob.

    To quote it: “Joseph Smith fired a pistol.”

  51. Oops. I said the opposite of what I wanted to say:

    there is something wrong with depicting Smith as having died without a violent, bloody fight.

    I have never heard the martyrdom depicted that way, ever.

  52. Roger Keller told our religion class that “a few” teachers in the BYU religion department believed in the idea and taught it

    Bridget, if you had good reason to believe a few teachers at BYU affirmed it, why did you say “no Mormons believe it today”? How am I not to interpret this as an attempt to give Mormonism a free pass? Should I just assume you forgot about the BYU teachers? (that’s a real question)

    Besides my slip above about the 1990’s/1972 manual, where I have said that the issue was “officially” taught in “very recent years”? As the MRM article outlines, the concern is that key leaders have taught it, it continues in the oral tradition, Mormons are (silently) divided over it, and the Mormon Church has never unequivocally repudiated it.

    Even the 1972 FHE manual cited by both you and White is explainable by the AI theory

    A contextual reading would consider the audience’s given religious worldview over whether the science was practiced and popularly known yet (although the latter is still important). It would be intellectually dishonest to imply that the authors and distributors of the manual thought that those using the manual would assume the text (a quote from 1915!) and picture meant the Father artificially put his semen into Mary’s womb. It’s not a natural reading.

    In any case, the artificial insemination explanation is not usually limited by Mormons to post-1950’s quotes, but also pre-1950’s quotes. It’s used as a sweeping explanation for teachings of former leaders, and it just doesn’t work in explaning either the 1) original intent or 2) the generally understood meaning by Mormon readers of the time or 3) the continued oral tradition in Mormonism.

    even they agree that it’s dying out in Mormonism today

    Straw man. Where did I say it wasn’t dying out? Of course it is dying out. What I’ve said is that leaders have taught it, that it continues in the oral tradition (a far cry from “no Mormons believe it today”), and that the Mormon Church has never unequivocally repudiated it in a manner that would more definitively stamp it out and express repentance over having fostered and tolerated it.

    What I want is spiritual rebirth, and an evidence of that would be repentance from the Mormon Church over having fostered and acquiesced to this, and repentance from Mormon individuals over having acquiesced to their organization’s tolerance of a denial of the Biblical virgin birth.

    Eric, when I can, I’d be happy to scan the entire pages and post them online.

    I must get back to work… I’ll try to resist replying until later 🙂

    Grace and peace in the Christ born of a virgin,

    Aaron

  53. By the way, by “violent, bloody fight” I meant a fight where both parties used violence and shed blood.

  54. In regard to one of your points on Lucifer and Jesus. I had heard and read that at one point Jesus and Lucifer both went to God with a plan. God chose Jesus’ plan. Lucifer and his followers were sent to earth. Thats a twist from Christian doctrine.

    But I also heard from my PHD pastor that at one time the LDS Church also believed that Lucifer and his followers became the black people of the world. I have heard they have backed off this belief now.

    True/ False?

  55. Aaron, see all the sources I cite above. I think you all are kidding yourselves if you think we’re being secretive about Joseph Smith firing the pistol.

  56. Katyjane,

    You mentioned that in the Bible there are different versions of creation? Would you kindly explain. In my 3 diferent bible translations I have there is only one creation story…. so I am not sure what you are thinking here.
    Thanks,
    gloria

  57. Katyjane – ROFL! Thanks for keeping things on the lighter side (something I’m not good at when defending my faith!)

    Agreed – Work and the Glory were awesome (if sappy and cheesy at times). Lund is a fantastic historian (or at least became one to write these books).

  58. We had two of the young LDS kids/missionaries come to our LCMS CHurch to discuss their beliefs a long time ago. I found them to NOT be open about their doctrine differences. They wanted to point out all the similaritees but none of the differences and they seem trained to do this — not open like you said.

    I understand they were young but they also had one of their elders and we asked them specific questions and all they wanted to say is we read the same bible as you do! My impression was bait and switch!

  59. You know…

    Why exactly DO Evangelicals have a hang up over the “virgin birth” (aside from a few Bible verses)?

    Is this still one of your theological holdovers from the “sex is filthy” period?

  60. I agree that the “Joseph died in a gun battle” line is beyond stupid.

    Who freaking cares?

    He’s still a martyr.

    Weaponry was involved in Jesus martyrdom too.

    So what?

  61. centralityofthegospel

    False on all accounts. I am 99.99% positive that our doctrine has always stated that Lucifer and his followers were never allowed to gain physical bodies.

    I addressed the other part here.

    A careful reading of the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price will back me up. However, some have butchered the story and say that God the Father “chose” Jesus’s plan.

  62. Jesus was born of a virgin, that is true, it is Biblical.

    So that Jesus was fully man, and fully God.

    So that His sacraifice would be acceptable (tempted in every wat that we are) and that His forgiveness for our sakes (only God can forgive sins for righteousness sake) would be valid and efficacious.

    No hang up, just truth.

    Jesus was and is God incarnate. That is sound Christian doctrine.

  63. How fortunate we are to have Aaron point out the difference between what “no Mormons” and “very few Mormons” believe. Surely when you have Kevin Barney starting off by describing a doctrine as “heresy,” Bored in Vernal wondering why it’s not taught anymore, Blake Ostler not believing in it, and a 35 year-old manual very strenuously implying it, you have stumbled onto the core issues indeed. If not for Aaron, we would not realize the gravity of the situation when “very few” Evangelicals paint a picture of Jesus partying with the dinosaurs. In fact, I think I’ll bust out my video camera and do some interviews for godneverwrangledabrontosaurus.com!

  64. Re: centralityofthegospel 2nd post

    So many missionaries try different tactics it’s probably unfair to say they were “trained” to only talk about similarities. We were once trained to focus on similarities but not at the expense of presenting the differences.

    In the old discussions, we started out with God the Father, then Jesus Christ, then prophets, then Joseph Smith, then Book of Mormon. We cut to the chase pretty quickly.

    Now it’s even quicker – they talk about the apostasy and restoration in the 1st Lesson if I remember correctly.

    If a missionary was avoiding differences, it’s unlikely he was doing so out of training. More likely it was his own personal decision on how to address your congregation. He may have been out to prove that Mormons are Christians, that we worship the same Christ, etc.

  65. tomchick: I’m not that keen on altar calls, for a variety of reasons, including the one you mentioned. Primarily, the life of discipleship is typically not on the table for many of these “calls”. I’m NOT defending that methodology any more than the “alleged” LDS lack of transparency. See “heart issues for lds” and the Charles Finney thread.

    I’ve read dozens of accounts of the Carthage gun battle, many from the LDS sources. Sometimes JS shooting back is in there, sometimes it’s not, at least thats’s my recollection. Rarely would you hear of him having a little wine (or was it whiskey ?) to comfort his soul. That might be seen, today, as even more scandalous. Not to me, if I’m in his shoes, I’d have two or three….

    GERMIT

  66. Hi, seth. Nice to see ya’ here. Looks like you are in a chipper mood. 🙂

    Jesus went down without a fight…. he didn’t go down shooting.

    Joseph went down shooting , and I don’t blame him…. I probably would have done the same. Some would consider that not really being a “martyr”. I know the LDS would, but many may differ on that.

    Other than peter using a sword to cut off the ear of the soldier, what weaponry was used in the death of Jesus?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  67. Aaron ~ Bridget, if you had good reason to believe a few teachers at BYU affirmed it, why did you say “no Mormons believe it today”? How am I not to interpret this as an attempt to give Mormonism a free pass? Should I just assume you forgot about the BYU teachers? (that’s a real question)

    It was hyperbole. I had 33 points to analyze and was aiming to give a short, simple take on them. If you insist on reading more sinister motives into it, I don’t think I care. Have fun with that.

    As the MRM article outlines, the concern is that key leaders have taught it, it continues in the oral tradition, Mormons are (silently) divided over it, and the Mormon Church has never unequivocally repudiated it.

    If that’s your position, Aaron, then I agree with you on key leaders having taught it, we differ on how well it continues as an oral tradition and just how many Mormons continue to believe it (and neither of us can prove our position without a sweeping sociological survey of what Mormons believe on the issue), and I don’t care whether the Mormon church ever unequivocally repudiates it. I only care that Mormons stop believing it, which we agree is in process.

    A contextual reading would consider the audience’s given religious worldview over whether the science was practiced and popularly known yet (although the latter is still important). It would be intellectually dishonest to imply that the authors and distributors of the manual thought that those using the manual would assume the text (a quote from 1915!) and picture meant the Father artificially put his semen into Mary’s womb. It’s not a natural reading.

    Artificial insemination was first discussed in medical literature in 1790. Human artificial insemination began development in 1899 and was being discussed (and condemned by the Catholic Church) in 1909. Besides, I see serious holes in the logic that human artificial insemination had to be widely discussed and scientifically possible before LDS leaders could conceptualize a miraculous insemination.

    In any case, the artificial insemination explanation is not usually limited by Mormons to post-1950’s quotes, but also pre-1950’s quotes.

    I don’t have a problem with Mormons applying the AI logic to pre-1950s statements for the reasons I listed above. The only thing I object to is when they try to wriggle out of statements where sex was clearly intended; for example, statements about God the Father “coming down” from heaven to make it happen. I don’t see why God the Father’s presence would be required for a miraculous AI.

    What I want is spiritual rebirth, and an evidence of that would be repentance from the Mormon Church over having fostered and acquiesced to this, and repentance from Mormon individuals over having acquiesced to their organization’s tolerance of a denial of the Biblical virgin birth.

    Craig Blomberg stated in The New Mormon Challenge:

    … I disagree with Francis Beckwith that changes in Mormonism must “go through” Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; that is, they must account for how those two church leaders said things that are seemingly contradicted by subsequent developments in LDS circles. This was not the approach taken by Vatican II (or numerous other Catholic councils over the centuries) with respect to prior papal pronouncements. A church that believes in ongoing revelation or authoritative church tradition by definition looks to the most current form of that revelation or tradition to define its beliefs. It could actually prove counterproductive to try to stress to Catholics or Mormons (or anyone else!) that current beliefs seem to contradict former ones, if one approves of the current beliefs. Those groups might then be tempted to revert back to the older, less desirable beliefs! (p. 326-327)

    I agree with Blomberg. We let the Catholic church quietly slide away from their troublesome history without recanting it; I’m content to let Mormons do the same.

  68. Gloria, there is the “P” story and the “J” story. They are Gen. 1:1-2:3 and Gen. 2:4-3:24. Wikipedia has an overview of the two: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_according_to_Genesis#The_narrative.

    In the minimalist study I’ve done on the subject, it’s my understanding that while the two stories can be complimentary, they are in fact two different oral traditions that were then compiled together during the formation of the Hebrew Bible.

  69. Gloria

    Have you ever been to an Christian church where an altar call is made? I have been to many.. and I will say this, the truth is most definately told. That Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. That thru His blood one can be forgiven and receive eternal life. The truth is laid out very simply. Every single time I have seen the pastor most definately put it all out there. You see that is what we believe, and yes we share it and shout it from the housetops.

    I’ve only been present for one altar call that I can remember, and yes, they did preach the truths you identified. But the point is, we both teach what we perceive as truth without worrying about issues that might complicate the issue. Truth is the bottom line, so we teach truth as we understand it. Jack did a great job of stating a few things that EV’s don’t tell up front, and there are numerous things already mentioned that Mormons don’t tell up front.

    We teach that Joseph is a prophet of God who did God’s will in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. That’s what we believe and while we don’t typically shout from housetops, we’re pretty open about professing our belief. People are free to disagree, but we are 100% convinced it is true, and we believe we are commissioned to teach that truth. The rest are just inconsequential details. If you want to dwell on them, be my guest, but I’m convinced that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the one true God. When I witness to others about Mormonism, I don’t feel the need to get side-tracked by inconsequential details. (I am always happy to answer any question, but my initial approach focuses on what I know to be true)

  70. Mephi: “godneverwrangledabrontosaurus.com!”

    FTW! Almost made me spit my rotini and puttanesca all over my monitor.

  71. The Muslims believe in Jesus too. They believe they know the truth. But their prophet Mohammed is a false one.

    Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”

    Lots of people claim Jesus, sing His name in hymns. Preach Him in sermons. But is it the Jesus who died for sins, to make us right with God, by His grace and mercy alone?

    Or is it a false Jesus, who is our helper, who enables us to do what WE need to do?

    They asked Him “what is it to do the works of the Father?”

    And He said, “believe in the one whom He has sent.”

    Any belief that enables YOU TO DO what you need to do…is a false belief. Because we are not up to it.
    The sermon on the mount ought to make that quite clear.

    But we just will not give up our man made religious projects towards righteousness.

    He knew we wouldn’t give it up, so He died for us, and forgives us.

    That’s the gospel.

  72. Aaron & others,

    In the last hour I’ve just been alerted to a pretty serious situation in my immediate family. I don’t think I’m going to be able to participate in this discussion or on other blogs for a few days.

    You can reply if you want and I will try to get around to your replies when I get back.

  73. Jack ~
    I am sorry to hear about this.. I hope it’s not too serious. Please know you will be in my prayers.
    God bless you & yours,
    gloria

  74. Jack, that sucks. I will remember you in my prayers as well.

    Grace and peace in Christ,

    Aaron

  75. Katie asked yours truly:

    Eric, now I’m all confused. You have or haven’t heard the martyrdom described as a violent, bloody fight?

    Sorry about the confusion. Whenever I have heard the story (in church or elsewhere), a violent, two-sided gunfight has been involved.

  76. Jack,

    I hope that all goes well. Take care and good luck to you.

    btw, for after you get back:

    The “familiar spirit” criticism is based on a line from A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. LeGrand Richards writes that the Book of Mormon is a fulfilment of a prophecy in Isaiah 29. In one particularly (in retrospect) boneheaded line, Elder Richards cites Isaiah 29, and then writes about the Book of Mormon,

    “Truly, it has a familiar spirit, for it contains the words of the prophets of the God of Israel.”

    Yeah, I don’t think he got (or maybe chose to ignore) the general meaning of the term.

    So yeah, that’s the source of the claim there. It does exist, but it’s a one-off line, it appears to be Elder Richards improvising, and yes it’s a dud. I’m not aware of the idea being substantively taught at any level, or showing up anywhere except that line in AMW&AW.

  77. So, in the first Creation story:
    Day 1: Day and Night
    Day 2: Water and Land
    Day 3: Vegetation
    Day 4: Sun, moon, stars
    Day 5: Animals
    Day 6: People
    Day 7: Rest

    In the second one, Man was created, and then planted a garden, then formed animals, and then Eve.

    It’s a slightly different order, but when it comes to believing the Bible is literally true, I would assume it would matter. I don’t, so it’s not an issue for me.

  78. The martyrdom of Joseph Smith is one subject I hate to discuss with anyone. The way I view it in my mind, if you call it a “gun battle” that makes it sound like Joseph Smith and his group were armed, and the mob was armed, and they both went looking for trouble. For one thing, this “gun battle” was completely forced on Joseph Smith. If the mob hadn’t stormed the jail, Joseph Smith would not have been forced to defend himself. Also, the Carthage grays were 100+ men. I just checked Bushman, over 100 men stormed that jail! How the Hell (excuse me LDS) was that a “two sided fight?” Also, I remember reading somewhere that Joseph Smith was planning to flee to the west, but Emma got word to him that there might be violence against the Saints in Nauvoo if he didn’t surrender. Does anyone else remember reading something like that? He knew he would die, but he went anyway. And, at the last, I like to think he was fighting to defend the others who were with him in that room as much as he was trying to save himself.
    This is one of the things that is so galling to me about certain of the anti-Mormons. Even people like me who convert out, we aren’t allowed to think anything positive about Joseph Smith. Maybe I don’t believe he was a prophet of God, but I feel at least that I should be able to keep some respect for the man. In my eyes, he wanted to build a layman’s church, where the God given gifts and talents of all could be used. Just because I believe that, it doesn’t take away from how I feel about Jesus.

  79. So, Lisa, your problem is really with the semantics of calling it a gun battle?

    Personally, I think that it is totally appropriate to say that Joseph Smith was martyred. And that it is totally appropriate to also say it was a gun battle. Also, calling it a gun battle makes it awesome, and means that if Joseph Smith died and converted to Vikingism, he could go to Valhalla for dying in battle. 😀 And what guy wouldn’t rather be remembered for going down fighting? (I mean, except for Jesus, who we probably wouldn’t call a ‘guy’ anyway, because He was so much more, and maybe if He didn’t have another point to make, He would have thought that dying in battle would have been cool… and now I’m rambling as I try to talk myself out of a corner.)

  80. “So, Lisa, your problem is really with the semantics of calling it a gun battle?”

    That’s about 60% of the problem with most anti-Mormon literature.

  81. Lisa,

    Joseph did cross the river with Hyrum and Willard Richards with the intent to pack and go west to the Rockies. But Emma sent a letter with Orrin Porter Rockwell and Reynolds Cahoon, who urged the prophet to return. From History of the Church, volume 6:

    At 1 P.M. Emma sent over Orrin P. Rockwell, requesting him to entreat of Joseph to come back. Reynolds Cahoon accompanied him with a letter which Emma had written to the same effect, and she insisted that Cahoon should persuade Joseph to come back and give himself up. When they went over they found Joseph, Hyrum and Willard in a room by themselves, having flour and other provisions on the floor ready for packing.

    Reynolds Cahoon informed Joseph what the troops intended to do, and urged upon him to give himself up, inasmuch as the Governor had pledged his faith and the faith of the state to protect him while he underwent a legal and fair trial. Reynolds Cahoon, Lorenzo D. Wasson and Hiram Kimball accused Joseph of cowardice for wishing to leave the people, adding that their property would be destroyed, and they left without house or home. Like the fable, when the wolves came the shepherd ran from the flock, and left the sheep to be devoured. To which Joseph replied, “If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself.”

    Consultation with Rockwell.

    Joseph said to Rockwell, “What shall I do?” Rockwell replied, “You are the oldest and ought to know best; and as you make your bed, I will lie with you.” Joseph then turned to Hyrum, who was talking with Cahoon, and said, “Brother Hyrum, you are the oldest, what shall we do?” Hyrum said, “Let us go back and give ourselves up, and see the thing out.” After studying a few moments, Joseph said, “If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.” Hyrum said, “No, no; let us go back and put our trust in God, and we shall not be harmed. The Lord is in it. If we live or have to die, we will be reconciled to our fate.”

    [Page 550]

    After a short pause, Joseph told Cahoon to request Captain Daniel C. Davis to have his boat ready at half-past five to cross them over the river.

  82. Keep on rambling. I like your ramblings. 🙂 Technically, yes, it was a gun battle, but the same people who criticize the LDS for somehow “covering up” the fact that Joseph Smith shot back, they need to acknowledge that at 100+ men against five, it was not exactly a two sided battle. I really like your idea about Joseph Smith converting to Vikingism and going to Valhalla. It reminded me of one of my very favorite movies of all time, “The 13th Warrior.” I dearly LOVE that movie. At one time in my life, I was one Ev Christian in an Embassy full of Muslims, and I can really, really, relate to the main character and his experiences with the Norsemen, and how he changed and grew because of his time with them.

  83. Katyjane – you’re hilarious. 🙂

    However, I hold to my previous point:

    If 100 men invade my house shooting at me, and I go get my gun and shoot back and subsequently die, people damn well better not call it a gun battle.

    It’s called self-defense.

  84. Jack, I will also be in prayer for you and your family. I hope everything is okay.

    Tom, You said, “Jack did a great job of stating a few things that EV’s don’t tell up front, and there are numerous things already mentioned that Mormons don’t tell up front.”

    I’m honestly not sure what was a problem about some of the things Jack cited in her list so maybe when she gets back to the blogosphere I can ask her more about this some time, but I don’t think her list is a comparison of “stuff LDS aren’t up front about” vs. “stuff EV’s aren’t up front about.” All of the points she cited pertain to the Bible so if anyone views these as potential problems they apply to LDS as well as anyone else who believes in the Bible.

    I don’t think these kinds of things compare with what we are talking about when it comes to LDS withholding information from investigators about their history. When I toured the Salt Lake Temple I saw a statue of Joseph and Emma. I couldn’t find statues of Joseph’s other wives. When I visited the museum at Temple Square I couldn’t find any mention of Joseph Smith’s other wives – only Emma was on display. When I inquired about it I was told that polygamy has been dead for over a hundred years and wasn’t important to their history so why would they want that in their museum.

    If I were investigating Mormonism it would be important to me to know that the founder and other early leaders were polygamists. Further, since eternal polygamy is part of the LDS “future hope,” I think this is a lot more serious information to withhold than someone’s interpretation of Genesis 6.

  85. Tomchik–thanks. Katie is my inspiration and I hope every day that I can make my sister wife laugh as hard as she makes me laugh. 🙂 (Maybe I’m trying to earn party-wife status.)

    If 100 men invade my house shooting at me, and I go find the imaginary gun that will never exist in my house, shoot back and subsequently die, I hope people DO call it a gun battle.

    I give as good as I get. And I want it to be known that not only did I take out 50 of those 100 men (because I totally would, because I don’t really have to aim well since my gun is imaginary and totally run by mind control), but I did it backwards, in heels, and while cooking a perfect casserole. Except maybe not the heels thing. Because who cooks in heels, really? Ooh, I know! I want it known that I did it barefoot and pregnant.

  86. KateyJane: come on, yer not really trying…what about while giving birth to twins, both breach….hey, give the new kids guns too……this is starting to look like a sci-fi movie short.

    GERMIT

  87. When I visited the museum at Temple Square I couldn’t find any mention of Joseph Smith’s other wives – only Emma was on display.

    I think that’s somewhat understandable considering how little we know about Joseph Smith’s other wives. As far as we know, he didn’t maintain a household with any of them other than Emma. We don’t know the exact number (maybe somewhere around 33), we don’t know how many of them were sealings only, we don’t know for certain of any children that came from them, etc.

    I’m not saying that his polygamy shouldn’t be ignored entirely, though; it certainly was a factor in his martyrdom, something that’s not inconsistent with a gun battle. 🙂 It’s just that we don’t have much of the details. As a general rule, I’m in favor of openness rather than the opposite.

    In contrast, I went on a tour a few years ago at the Brigham Young home at St. George, Utah. The tour guides (senior missionary couples) seemed to be quite upfront about Young’s multiple wives.

  88. I just can’t figure out why the LDS are always talking about the wife that decided to become an apostate. Out of the 33 of them there isn’t a better example than the one who went on to meet every criteria as an anti-Mormon. It wasn’t Brigham Young or any of her other contemporaries who built those statues.

    Seth said:
    “So, Lisa, your problem is really with the semantics of calling it a gun battle?”

    That’s about 60% of the problem with most anti-Mormon literature.

    Semantics is also 60% of the problem in defining Mormon doctrine in any meaningful and consistent way. /end snark

  89. Bridget, no rush on replying to this:

    It was hyperbole. I had 33 points to analyze and was aiming to give a short, simple take on them

    Are you allowing macgregorministries.org the same kind of literary license that you allowed for yourself?

    I don’t see why God the Father’s presence would be required for a miraculous AI.

    Hopefully we agree more here than I thought. My problem is when Mormons retrofit their apologetic reworkings onto past statements without compelling reason, and also that their apologetic reworkings are used to turn a blind eye to extant oral traditions.

    The most natural reading of a text should be the default one. When McConkie wrote that we were begotten in the same way other children are begotten, one does not think of the masses as having been born through artificial insemination. When Young speaks of God the Father personally coming down (as you reference) from heaven to beget Jesus “in person” in “natural action”, one does not think of artificial insemination. When the grandfather of M. Russell Ballard wrote that the power by which Christ was conceived was a power that is otherwise “abused” and a “harp of pleasure to the wicked”, one does not think of the masses of adulterers generally getting their wicked pleasure out of artificial insemination.

    The artificial insemination explanation for past statements was to my knowledge first discussed in the context of modern LDS apologetics. To my knowledge, there is never even an allusion to the method of artificial insemination in earlier Mormon literature concerning the issue of the virgin birth.

    I would have a lot more respect for a Mormon who said, “Earlier Mormon leaders either explicated or at least strongly implied that God had sex with Mary, and it became a part of the oral tradition. But the Church has no recent explicitly institutional position on the issue, and I disagree with past leaders and instead opt for a method like artificial insemination.” At least in that case, they aren’t trying to deny it was strongly taught, and that the tradition was impacted by it. Such a person would still need to repent for deciding to remain with an religious organization that isn’t practicing institutional repentance. The heart of a Christian does not and placidly and politely reject the notion that God had sex with Mary. It vehemently rejects it.

    It’d be like a hierarchical religion (let’s say the Acme religion) that allowed its members to believe that Jesus was a sinner, and an adherent saying, “I know they once taught that and still acquiesce to it, but I personally believe that Jesus never sinned. But it’s not that important, so I remain a committed adherent of the Acme religion and church.” And then a bunch of evangelicals saying, “Aww, isn’t that great? Instead of continuing to teach that Jesus was a sinner, they are quietly letting the belief die out.”

    The Mormon religion’s way of letting undesired doctrines die lacks integrity, accountability, and responsibility. Most importantly, it lacks repentance.

    Grace and peace in those who vehemently reject denials of the virgin birth,

    Aaron

  90. And hellfire and cheap pyrotechnics for all the rest, eh?

    “The heart of a Christian does not and placidly and politely reject the notion that God had sex with Mary. It vehemently rejects it.”

    Why would that be? Puritan leftovers Aaron?

  91. Katie is my inspiration and I hope every day that I can make my sister wife laugh as hard as she makes me laugh. 🙂 (Maybe I’m trying to earn party-wife status.)

    By the power vested in me as chief party wife and through the authority of Pink Belt, I now grant you, KatyJane, Honorary Party Wife Status, with all the rights, privileges, and freakin’-awesome-party-planning ideas pertaining thereto.

  92. Jessica,

    Actually most missionaries are pretty forthcoming with the polygamy issue. I think I talked with every one of my serious investigators about it. And even many of the casual ones.

    Honestly, 99% of Americans know that Mormons practiced it at one point. Some are still confused that we may still practice it. Heck I have a Chinese friend here in grad school who knows Mormons practiced it and he knows we don’t today.

    So, my response is – no one joins the Church without knowing about polygamy, especially with people like you out their trying to “expose us.”

    And why would we talk about it when it is pretty irrelevant today? Just because we don’t offer it up freely at the door of every Church visitor’s center doesn’t mean we’re trying to do a mass cover up job.

    Gimme a break.

  93. The Mormon religion’s way of letting undesired doctrines die lacks integrity, accountability, and responsibility. Most importantly, it lacks repentance.

    Also lacking integrity, accountability, responsibility, and repentance: the entire Calvinist worldview.

  94. And why would we talk about it when it is pretty irrelevant today?

    that’s the point: what’s not relevant to Tomachick and Seth might be very relevant, or mildly relevant , to someone else. If, after examining the facts as we know them, someone wants to play the Seth card and say “I know, but I don’t care…” then OK….but that apparantly is not everyone’s reaction. Get the facts out. Keep the facts out. And let each one attach the importance THEY want to what was said and done.

    And there is a difference between knowing that JS had some kind of polygamy thing going , and knowing the particulars of his 30 plus extra-first wife relationships. Again, transparency.

    GERMIT

  95. I just can’t figure out why the LDS are always talking about the wife that decided to become an apostate.

    Do we want to get started on the 11 witnesses ?? Probably not….but it crossed my mind when I read this; excellent point, Tim.

  96. There’s plenty of unaccountability going on in American religion.

    And the Evangelical faith is no exception. The reason it’s easy to hold the LDS Church accountable for every little flaw is because we have a Church Office Building.

    Unlike the faith of SOME Evangelicals which uses its own organizational disfunctionality as a shield against accountability.

  97. I agree with Seth.

    Nitpicking over the sins of church leaders can be a never ending excercise for all of us.

    The point ought be the majors.

    That being how does a church look at the Trinity. Is Jesus God, or not? Did that cross accomplish everything for us, or not?

    If the answers to those 2 questions is ‘no’, then there are much bigger problems than polygamy or shoot outs.

    Much bigger.

  98. Whether God had sex with Mary is far more important than whether there was a shootout at the end of Smith’s life or whether Smith practiced polygamy.

    But Mormonism wants to make all the big claims about itself without any increased accountability. It wants the standard of accountability for Mormon prophets and apostles and the One True Church to be the exact same as apostate decentralized independent local churches run by hirelings of Satan.

    It’s all about giving Mormonism a free pass, lest it have to be called to any sort of institutional repentance. When a religion has made the sorts of claims that Mormonism has, adherents feel like they are walking on dangerous ground when it comes to the topic of institutional repentance.

    But the way Protestantism is set up, we can be more explicitly self-critical about our movements and history and leaders and institutions and even the current state of affairs. Heck, my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday was entirely on the errors of historic evangelical fundamentalism (especially legalism). But we are evangelicals, and in many ways we are fundamentalistic, so it was a sermon of cleaning house.

    When is the last time you heard a leader set aside an entire talk for self-criticism of the Mormon institution in General Conference? Methinks such a talk would be edited and re-taped for Ensign.

  99. There’s plenty of unaccountability going on in American religion.

    And the Evangelical faith is no exception. The reason it’s easy to hold the LDS Church accountable for every little flaw is because we have a Church Office Building.

    Amen. Just because we have a relatively short, well-kept history people dig through it for “the dirt.”

    If we want to start mud-slinging, let’s dig through the long, sordid history of “traditional Christianity,” which includes the Catholic Church for a good 1200 years or so, no matter how much y’all deny it.

    But you know what? We don’t care about “the dirt” of traditional Christianity. We just want to proclaim what we understand as truth. So I’ll let y’all keep playing in your sandbox.

  100. We don’t care about “the dirt” of traditional Christianity

    Last time I checked, the dirt of traditional Christianity was part of the traditional Mormon arguments made for the Great Apostasy. See Talmage’s The Great Apostasy and some of Jeffrey Holland’s recent General Conference attacks on the Trinity and the evangelical view of the Bible.

  101. Aaron,

    Thanks for ignoring everything I’ve directly addressed to you.

    My question:

    Why should I (or the Church as a whole) be accountable for opinions of some past Church leaders, which have never been canonized, or even given much traction in the mainstream?

    I doubt you care one iota about opinions of past pastors of your Church and every Church you will attend in the future. So why do you care about opinions of past Church leaders of a Church you presumably will NEVER attend?

    Just because an apostle states an opinion doesn’t give you the right to project it on to the entire Church.

    So BY said it. Lah-dee-frickin’ dah. It has only been repeated by very few important figures, the most recent being BRM, who had MANY opinions that were outside mainstream.

    Maybe a few agree with the opinion. But that still doesn’t make it more than an opinion. You have cited a whopping three important Church figures who have stated the opinion about God having sex with Mary in an unofficial forum.

    The question remains – why should the Church as a whole be accountable for opinions of 3 leaders which were never canonized or included in any official document?

    (by the way you have yet to prove the 1927 FHE Manual claim)

  102. I don’t consider doctrinal differences “dirt.”

    And JRH had a great point – you’re holding us to a standard which didn’t exist in the 1st Century Church.

  103. Moreover, we don’t teach traditional Christian “dirt” to investigators. We just say that the apostleship was lost, false doctrines arose, and Joseph restored the true Church of Christ.

    We don’t walk around talking about the Crusades or papal corruption to convince people to become Mormons.

  104. tomchik, if Thomas S Monson got up in the October Conference and proclaimed, “Jesus Christ was a raunch sinner who slept with filthy whores”, do you think you would only begin to be responsible for renouncing him after such a statement was canonized in a most strict official fashion?

  105. That people place God on the same level as His creation (having sex with people) is just ridiculous.

    It’s no wonder people just will not let go of their reason when it comes to the things of God.

    There are some awfully low views of God floating around.

  106. Aaron – if TSM said that, I’d leave the Church. Plain and simple. And I would probably get up in my next testimony meeting and invite the whole congregation to join me.

    you see, contrary to popular belief, we have “unalienable” doctrines. The perfection and Godhood of Jesus Christ are unalienable, even for us.

  107. Whether God had sex with Mary is far more important than whether there was a shootout at the end of Smith’s life or whether Smith practiced polygamy.

    Keep saying it over and over again, without offering any reasons why. I think it helps.

  108. Maybe the absurd notion that God would have sex with people stems from the even more wacky view that God was actually a person to begin with with…and then became a God.

    For the life of me, I cannot think of anything more ridiculous.

  109. Mephibosheth –

    The God/Mary thing is a huge red herring. It doesn’t make a difference in the world if BY, MJB, and BRM had the opinion that God slept with Mary. It wasn’t stated in official forum, and no others have repeated it or perpetuated it.

    IT WAS A &*%$%&$ OPINION!

    No Church is accountable to the opinions of every leader they’ve ever had.

    Why should the LDS Church be?

  110. He keeps saying it over and over because he thinks it’s obvious that no one could worship a God who had sex with someone.

    Like I said. Puritan leftovers.

    Aaron, your hypothetical is a little silly because no Mormon leader has ever come close to giving a statement like your imaginary Monson quote. No one in our church does, or has used the word “raunch” with respect to God.

    That’s you making our conclusions for us.

  111. For the life of me, I cannot think of anything more ridiculous.

    I read this book once about a guy from Nazareth, Israel who was born, grew in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man, ultimately declaring himself God and when he was executed by the state, proved it by rising on the third day.

    Yeah, it was pretty ridiculous.

  112. Maybe I’m a little different here. But I’ve always felt that Mormonism ought to be ready to defend all its teachings – whether currently held or not.

    For me, the idea of God sleeping with Mary is not particularly upsetting. Why should it be?

    The reason Aaron and others bring it up as a sword against Mormonism is because they are capitalizing on centuries of sexual disfunctionality that modern American culture has inherited.

    Evangelicals are making progress, but they still – in large quantities – view sex as filthy and ugly.

  113. It’s not ridiculous for us to believe the Bible.

    But it is to make up notions that God is somehow like us.

    He is not.

    It is a reflection of our high-mindedness of self that we try and put God on the same plane as we are.

    He speaks things into creation. We have ‘sex’.

    He always was, is, and always will be.

    We will never become God, or even gods (the nature of the original sin – self ascendency).

    But sickly man-made religion would put us on the ‘god track’.

    Sorry…it is a lie, and it is from the devil.

  114. Aaron,

    If it doesn’t matter that Smith drank wine to ease his spirit and that he shot back in the gun battle, why not include that basic fact in the tour at Carthage Jail, and why not at least show a split second of Smith using a gun in LDS movies scenes of the last minutes of Joseph’s life?

    Because the purpose of Church history tours and LDS movies is to proclaim that Joseph Smith is a prophet. Details – both positive and negative – are left out so that the overall presentation makes that point and that point alone.

    If he’s a prophet of God, none of the rest of that stuff matters. And if people reject him as a prophet anyway, it certainly shouldn’t matter to them.

  115. tomchik: germit beat me to it: you can’t decide what is relevant and irrelevant to someone else.

    germit: ditto for you (even though you made the point). If you’re willing to let individuals decide for themselves what is and is not important, then you have to let all individuals decide. Thus, you should leave an investigator free to focus on whatever he finds important, whether that be shootouts, plural wives, Masonic rites, etc.; Likewise, you must allow the missionary the same freedom to focus on what he finds important: the nature of God, additional scripture, priesthood power, etc.

    Tim: “I just can’t figure out why the LDS are always talking about the wife that decided to become an apostate.”

    I’d like to bear my testimony: I know that Emma is true. No seriously, would you rather we tossed he under the bus? My faith is not based in or around Emma Smith, but the lady deserves some credit for all she endured. (Actually, you probably would prefer that we maligned Emma, because then you could criticize us for being uncharitable and judgmental.)

  116. I guess I wasn’t clear enough with my tongue-in-cheek response to your comment, theoldadam. The Bible very clearly teaches that Jesus was not born all-knowing and all-powerful, but that He certainly ended His mortal ministry that way. It’s not ridiculous to think that God was once a man, since, erm, that seems to be the whole point of God sending His son to earth.

  117. “So, when’s the last time you stoned a prostitute to death theoldadam?”

    Huh??

    What in the world does that have to do with the price of eggs in Alaska?

    Yes, they did stone prostitutes. No, we do not.

    They owned slaves, also. We do not.

    What in the world are you trying to say?

  118. Seth, of course it’s a hypothetical. But it’s still a question. Would you consider yourself responsible for renouncing such a leader only after his statement was canonized?

  119. “It’s not ridiculous to think that God was once a man, since, erm, that seems to be the whole point of God sending His son to earth.”

    Creation (being born) has to come from a Creator.

    The one (man) who became a god, had to come from someone.

    This is why God always was. He did not start out a man.

    Now, we are getting somewhere!

    These ideas of God (theology) are far greater than the sins of church leaders.

    Thanks!

  120. Do I believe in the Bible?

    I believe the Bible contains God’s Word.

    Do I believe that we ought live the law the Jews did?

    Of course not!

    I live by faith in Christ Jesus, not by the Hebrew law!

    Galatians 5:1 “For freedom, Christ has set us free.”

    I am a Christian…not a Jew.

  121. theoldadam,

    My remark about stoning prostitutes was because in response to my remarks about sex and Protestant hang-ups on sexuality, you simply stated “I believe in the Bible.”

    But if you are going to take your cues on sex from the Bible, you also have to face the commandment (from God) to stone prostitutes. And if not, you have to account for why.

    Perhaps you had something else in mind when you made your statement?

  122. Saying that you are a Christian and not a Jew doesn’t really clarify matters much. Mainly because Christ didn’t leave us with much of a guide in the New Testament as to which parts of the Mosaic Law to reject and which to retain. Sure, the dietary restrictions, circumcision, and animal sacrifice were lifted.

    But outside of that, you’re really just operating in the dark here.

  123. After all, couldn’t I also say that since Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses, homosexuality is no longer a problem? Several Christian scholars have concluded exactly that.

  124. theoldman: “But it is to make up notions that God is somehow like us.

    He is not.

    It is a reflection of our high-mindedness of self that we try and put God on the same plane as we are.”

    Just so you know: I think it is a reflection of your high-mindedness of self that you try to redesign God into something he is not, rejecting that which he is as not awesome enough.

    I also think you should chill out on using words like “ridiculous,” “absurd,” and “sickly.” You throw them around like yours is the only conclusion an intelligent or even semi-intelligent person could reach. Instead, try reasoning out why you’re right and Mormons are wrong. On the other hand, if you’re so certain that Mormons are ridiculous, absurd, and sickly, why bother even trying to argue with us? We’re just a bunch of dumb asses and you’re the ridiculous fool trying to reason with us.

  125. Seth,

    Maybe you are right.

    I didn’t eplain myself very well.

    We are not legalists. That is for the Jews. That is how they stay in good graces with God…not us.

    We walk by faith, not by sight.

    The sex thing, lowers God to our level. He is anything but on our level.

    God (in my opinion) is looking for people who know that they can never attian the needed righteousness on their own, but know they need a Savior.

    The law shows us our need of a Savior and helps us to get along with each other down here. But no one will be made righteous before the law…no one. (St. Paul)

  126. I think we have made good progress here.

    I much prefer clarity to agreement any day.

    I think you feel that God is more like us than different from us (sex and stuff) and I feel that He is more different from us than like us.

    Gotta run and do the chores of the day…but I enjoyed the discussion!

    Thanks! Talk to you down the road apiece.

  127. Theoldadam said:

    Nitpicking over the sins of church leaders can be a never ending exercise for all of us.

    The point ought be the majors.

    That being how does a church look at the Trinity. Is Jesus God, or not? Did that cross accomplish everything for us, or not?

    And beyond that, what are we doing with our lives that Jesus Christ paid for?

    It’s getting a bit tiresome to see so much time and effort (including mine) spent on things that aren’t all that important in the scheme of things. I’ve long reconciled myself to the fact that past church leaders said some things that were flat-out wrong, and there’s no guarantee that present-day church leaders won’t do the same. So I live with it.

    What’s more important is, what am I doing to become like Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me, to prepare for eternity and to follow the example that Jesus set for me? All the rest is sideshow.

  128. Seth: before you get around to answering Aaron’s oh-so-poignant question, could you answer one of my hypotheticals? Suppose that President Monson and Elder Oaks were cruising around in a stolen hummer, with Bishop Burton in the back swinging baseball bats at mailboxes. Oh, and they’re listening to Eminem really loud, it’s a Sunday, and Elder Oaks throws his Taco Bell wrappers out the window. What do you do? I mean, seriously, wouldn’t that try your faith? I anxiously await your thoughtful response.

    (And just in case this changes your answer: the hummer is yellow.)

  129. Theoldadam said:

    http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/becoming-more-jesus-like-2/

    I agree with most of what you wrote. (I do have problems with the doctrine of total depravity, which is suggested by some of your words, so I’m not in total agreement.)

    There certainly is a paradox involved here. I do think it is very easy (especially in the LDS system) to reduce the gospel to a checklist, and that leads to legalism. On the other hand, it is possible to go in the opposite direction (as happens in some flavors of evangelicalism), and then we end up with what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” Paul warned about both approaches.

  130. Because the purpose of Church history tours and LDS movies is to proclaim that Joseph Smith is a prophet. Details – both positive and negative – are left out so that the overall presentation makes that point and that point alone.

    and that is just irresponsible, in my book; NOT having that ‘detail’ changes the story …. charge me with a bias carried into the situation, fair enough, but this is the kind of editing that large parts of this thread are about.

    first you say “we aren’t hiding anything”
    then it’s “it’s not there to be seen, but it’s not really HIDING..” yeah,….whatever…..

    as some have said, maybe not as big a deal as docrinal differences, but it’s not hard to see why the transparency charge has some traction

    GERMIT

  131. The only reason this has any traction is because our society has become a nation of exhibitionists and voyeurs. The “tell-all” culture, if you will.

  132. Seth, we’re not being random in which parts of the Old Testament we obey and which parts we disobey. By doing away with dietary, Sabbath and circumcision laws the Holy Spirit was showing exactly how Gentiles should convert. Those laws were part of the lifestyle laws meant for the nation of Israel. The debate of the first couple of decades was whether or not Gentiles had to become Jews and it was decided that they did not.

    Instead we are called to live a higher law of love. We do exactly as Jesus did when some one ask us to stone a prostitute.

    I heard an excellent sermon on this that explained it well. If I can find it, I’ll let you know.

    When Oldadam said he believes in the Bible, he was likely referencing that the Bible claims Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. Thus no sex with God. That teaching precludes Victorianism by centuries.

    While you’re pointing out how prudish we are, can I ask what the LDS hang up is with Song of Songs? What about the folk teaching about garments during sex?

  133. Brian said:
    (Actually, you probably would prefer that we maligned Emma, because then you could criticize us for being uncharitable and judgmental.)

    Yeah, that’d be sweet. Can we do that? 😉

    I was simply pointing it out as a form of LDS revisionism. A very bright shiny package as been put around Joseph and Emma. All the warts and rough spots rubbed off.
    http://runtu.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/suspending-relief-society/

    Certainly Mormons feel their contributions out weigh their failures and I wouldn’t expect you not to esteem both of them. But the picture being painted is not quite as rosy as the real thing. Contrast that with how the early church told us all about Peter’s personal failings. They made sure everyone knew what a loser he was.

  134. Contrast that with how the early church told us all about Peter’s personal failings. They made sure everyone knew what a loser he was.

    ABSOLUTELY….and Saul, Solomon, David, Abraham….we could make a list….this was not muckraking, it was letting us know what we ALL are like, in desparate need of a savior….this is why any kind of revisionism sucks, the bible kind, or the lds “alleged” history kind..

    GERMIT

  135. The only thing I know about the Song of Songs, is on the manuscript for the Joseph Smith Translation, at Song of Solomon, the manuscript simply says, “The Songs of Solomon are not isnpired writings.”

    I’ve read it. I don’t find it particularly inspiring (in the spiritual sense, that is….). And it just seems out of place in the Bible, IMO.

    Re: the biblical use of the word “virgin,” I tend to agree with Tim on this one. That being said, what evidence do we have that the Hebrew “almah” (Isaiah 7) or the Greek “parthenos” (Matt. 1) mean “no sexual intercourse?” It seems that in their most general form it could mean simply, “a marriageable young woman.”

  136. Germit –

    I doubt you find it irresponsible that they left out some of the positive details of Joseph’s life. Let’s call a spade a spade. You guys are mad because we leave out some of the juicy details when we testify that Joseph is a prophet.

  137. The only reason this has any traction is because our society has become a nation of exhibitionists and voyeurs. The “tell-all” culture, if you will.

    Seth: the wierd part is, in THIS case, the detail is not that incriminating, most of us would probably have shot back, if given a chance , as well; so why not tell the tale as it really happened ?? the “JS as prophet” thing comes across as a dodge….why cant’ he be the prophet that fired back ??

  138. Historians are ALWAYS selective in the details they report, by the way. In fact, you could probably go beat up on Bushman for leaving some stuff out.

    But you know what? It wasn’t relevant to the main point of his work.

    Same goes for Church history tours. I don’t think they should lie and say Joseph only had one wife, but c’mon, you’re asking for a level of detail / transparency that history rarely requires.

  139. Tomchick: I think you are constrained by the “lamb led to slaughter” analogy….created by yourselves…firing back doesn’t seem to sit well with that picture, erego…. not saying that I know that’s the case (who can know what’s in the editor’s mind) but that’s the picture I get. How hard would it have been to have JS shooting back, and why ignore that detail ??

  140. Bushman would be , from what I’ve read, a very good example of KEEPING the pertinent details. If all your historical stuff had his level of transparency, we would not be having this conversation. If Bushman can do it, why not others ??

  141. “Why can’t he be the prophet that fired back?”

    Because then stupid evangelicals would spend all their time talking about how he can’t be a prophet because he was in a gun battle.

    Oh, wait, they do that anyway….damn

  142. Germit – go to Carthage jail and ask them. Heck, when I go next time, I’ll ask them. It does seem weird.

    I will be there in August.

  143. Back to the bible contrast: GOD HIMSELF was not so concerned when HE told us at least some of the warts and flat out bone headedness of HIS main guys…why not take a page from HIM , tell the truth, and let the chips fall ?? what people make of the truth is THEIR business, and we all answer for that eventually.

  144. History of the Church does record that Joseph said the “Lamb to the slaughter” bit, by the way.

    I’d wager lambs fight back a bit, too, especially at the point when they know they’re getting slaughtered.

  145. TOMCHIK : if I’m telling someone about the life of Peter who is not all that familiar with his story, you can better believe that it will include the ‘denying Jesus three times” part…. if it’s DAVID, there’s a very good chance it will include the Bathsheba and Uriah part…not to drag down a good name, but to underscore that GOD can, and has, used major screw ups for HIS honor and glory….that’s a message that has hope to it. I have NO reason to skip the bad stuff (other than TIME, perhaps…but their failings will figure into my story quickly, so they don’t get the wrong idea about prophets and leaders).

    Hero worship of any variety, LDS or evangelical, does not mix well with following Jesus, IMO…

    GERMIT

  146. Tim: if your complaint is that LDS propaganda movies are filmed with a gauze filter, then I’m with you. I’ve had that complaint for years. There’s a limit, of course, to how much grit we need in history—for example, I don’t think I missed out on much about George Washington just because my history teachers never told me he owned slaves. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s views on race were glossed over, and that was a more pertinent issue for understanding what really happened during the Civil War.

    You bring up Peter, and that got me wondering. (This is a little off topic—which I point out so you know I’m not bringing this up as some kind of defense.) The NT goes to great lengths to point out Peter’s suckiness, but what about Paul’s? He comes off as a saint (his pre-conversion activities don’t count). Why tear down Peter and exalt Paul?

  147. Aaron – you’re ridiculous. Our point is not, and never was, that Joseph was just like Jesus in his death. Just that Joseph was a prophet, killed for his beliefs.

    Why are you putting out this ludicrous standard?

    Joseph didn’t say “I go like THE LAMB OF GOD to the slaughter.”

  148. “Just like when Jesus killed a few Roman guards on the way to the cross, right?”

    No, more like when he drowned 99% of the world with a flood. Gotta love that pacifist Jesus!

  149. The logic seems to go like this –

    1. Jesus didn’t kill anyone when he was being tried and crucified.

    2. Joseph did.

    3. Therefore Joseph is bad.

    It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

  150. EDIT – Joseph did kill people when he was being killed.

    Didn’t mean to imply that Joseph was crucified.

  151. Well we do have Peter saying how hard it is to read his letters. We also have the personal conflict that separated Paul and Barnabas over Mark traveling with them. (Barnabas gets all the credit for redeeming Mark into a Gospel writer). Not to mention all the parts about Paul the murderer of Christians.

    Keep in context that Peter was the de facto head of the church rather than Paul. It was only 100 years later that Paul’s influence started to overshadow Peter’s for the entire church.

  152. tomchik

    I think if you go back to the top of the discussion, Aaron doesn’t blame Joseph for defending himself. In fact I think he would say it was the right thing to do.

    I think what Aaron is objecting to is the the way JS is sometimes described as a lamb to the slaughter and his fighting back is covered up like it would matter.

    It doesn’t matter. So Carthage Jail tour guides should be more than prepared to discuss it. The drawback is that it may damper the spiritual experience the guides are trying to provide for the visitors. If they are intentionally glossing over facts so that people can “feel the Spirit”, that’s a problem.

  153. We also have the personal conflict that separated Paul and Barnabas over Mark traveling with them. (Barnabas gets all the credit for redeeming Mark ….

    TOUCHE….and I’ve heard some EXCELLENT sermons on this, I think the ‘warts’ of Paul ARE there in the NT, but have been glossed over; again, the NT becomes that much more of a HOPEFUL account if it’s preached the way it was written, and then PAUL does not get thrown up on a pedestal either (where he does not belong, and probably doesn’t want to go , anyways). Tim’s point here is that much more sweet when we see LATER Paul reconciled to MARK…so Paul needed some help also..

  154. BrianJ: EXCELLENT post on ‘filtering”….which can happen in any group, towards any leader….in the wrong amounts (because ‘filter-free’ probably doesn’t exist) it does no one any favors. Well said.

  155. theoldadam,

    The one (man) who became a god, had to come from someone.

    Nah. Jesus was born, and he didn’t come from someone.

  156. “Jesus was born, and he didn’t come from someone.”

    Perfect!

    More clarity!

    That view is a reasonable one for those that do not believe in the Trinity.

    I do (believe in the Trinity). The orthodox Christian view does also.

  157. Thanks for the fair reading, Tim.

    Killing people in self-defense doesn’t make one bad (nor does killing millions of people in a flood make God bad). But it does preclude the parallel made to Jesus, a parallel that has often been made by the “like a lamb led to the slaughter” Isaiah 53:7 allusion—language that is historically and scripturally used of Jesus Christ.

    Joseph knew his Bible. He knew quite well of what allusion he was making when he said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter” (D&C 135:4).

  158. Huh? Trinity? Wha…

    As a wise man once said, what does that have to do with the price of eggs in Alaska?

  159. So now we’re condemning Joseph for saying he was going like lamb to the slaughter, and then fighting back a bit when his brother was killed?

    Wow. just…..wow.

    I am so done with this conversation.

  160. Yes, I agree. Allow myself to quote, uh, myself “[Jesus] didn’t come from someone.”

    And?

  161. One more historical detail – Joseph made the “lamb to the slaughter” statement on June 24. He was killed on June 27.

    God have mercy on his soul for being grossly inconsistent with his statement made 3 days earlier when he fired the revolver.

    I am so damn tired of this bullcrap.

  162. See tomchik, even though Joseph had the chance to escape to the Rocky Mountains and came back, and even though he could have taken the Nauvoo Legion with him to provide his own security and was forbidden and turned himself in anyways, none of that counts as lamb-like behavior, because he packed heat.

  163. “[Jesus] didn’t come from someone.”

    And?

    And He was born (inacarnate as a man) of a virgin, and yet, He always existed..as God Himself.

    Tricky, yes. But i believe it to be true.

  164. Mephibosheth and tomchik, what your Church portrays in public depictions of Smith’s death directed to Gentiles is so loud that I cannot hear what you’re saying. Like another said, if the degree of admissions in Rough Stone Rolling permeated other streams of publications, then we wouldn’t be having this kind of conversation.

    Even Mormon historians are agreeing that Bushman represents a new era of history-telling. I hope that comes to fruition.

  165. And so do I. I believe you were about explain to me why this view is untenable for non-Trinitarians. I’m all ears.

  166. Tomchick: before the thread closes down, a request.

    After you go to Carthage this summer, tell us what, if any of this applies to the way the story is currently presented. i’d be curious to get your take on that.

    thanks
    GERmIT

  167. M.,

    Take over! I’m just heading out the door!

    I’ll be back about 6pm (PST).

    Looking forward to what you do with this one 😀

    Thanks!

    – Steve

  168. Aaron, you changed the subject so fast I just about got whiplash. I think you were about to explain why Joseph shooting back precludes lamb-to-the-slaughter imagery given he turned himself in.

    I appreciate you taking the time to point out the historical inaccuracies in the Nauvoo pageant. I was wondering if you could make a similar youtube video for Jesus Christ: Superstar.

  169. Meph: anyone who is leaning on “JC Superstar” for their cues is

    1) probably still in some kind of drug induced stupor (I’ve been there , done that BTW)

    2)deserves exactly what they get reg. surprises……right up there with “The Life of Brian”…..VERY funny, but ‘buyer beware….”

  170. Mephibosheth, as McKeever wrote,

    While this may be true to a point, it was only true until Smith accepted the offer of Wheelock’s pistol. From that moment on everything changed, making any comparison to an innocent lamb or a willing martyr a perversion of the facts.

    Smith forfeited any “lamb led to the slaughter” parallel the second he accepted the pistol.

    The important decisions were made when he decided to have the Expositor copies and its printing press destroyed (the latter Oaks admits was illegal), and when he decided to head to Carthage with others.

  171. “Smith forfeited any “lamb led to the slaughter” parallel the second he accepted the pistol.”

    Nope. He forfeited the parallel when he spoke English, ’cause sheep only baah and bleat. (His use of clothing did not disqualify him because it was made of wool.)

  172. GERMIT,

    I think the same can be said for people who are leaning on the Nauvoo pageant for their “cues.”

    Aaron,

    was only true until Smith accepted the offer of Wheelock’s pistol. From that moment on everything changed

    Saying it over and over again, helps me a lot. I feel myself starting to believe Joseph accepting the gun actually causes holes in the time-space continuum thus erasing the parts of history where Joseph did go like a lamb to the slaughter.

  173. Gah, BrianJ. I should’ve hit refresh before posting. Yours is way better.

  174. Tim,
    Historical Collapse BS on your last comment.
    Joseph didn’t have the gun when he left the mississippi. He went unarmed, under the promised protection of the illinois governor that wasn’t provided. At the time, he did go as a lamb without any protection.
    Later he got some protection.

    There’s a slight difference, but at least it isn’t a historical collapse “Joseph went out looking for a gun battle and was killed fair and square”.

  175. “Joseph went out looking for a gun battle and was killed fair and square”

    Straw man.

  176. Meph: the “drug induced stupor” part ??
    or the “they shoudn’t be surprised part” ??

    GERMIT

  177. Even Mormon historians are agreeing that Bushman represents a new era of history-telling.

    Off topic, but I’m wondering how long Bushman quality history will be accepted. I’d like to think that there will be others following in his steps. I hope so, guess we’ll see.

    GERMIT

  178. Germit –

    I’d be happy to give a full report of my upcoming Carthage Jail tour. I expect it will be the same as what it has been – they’ll tell the story and leave out the “Joseph shot back” part.

    Let’s be honest, though – where does it end? If the Church includes in the presentation that Joseph shot back, then “antis” will complain that it wasn’t included that a few other guns had been smuggled in. Or they’ll demand the lamb to the slaughter part be taken out (despite the historical collapse mentioned by PC).

    If we say that Joseph probably had a child or two by other wives besides Emma, then our critics will howl that we leave out some (albeit shaky) evidence for more children than just those, and that he likely had relations with many of his 33 wives.

    If they change the cinematography of Joseph’s death in the film at the JSMB (which McKeever complains about), then people will demand that we explain that his dying words are also part of a Masonic distress signal.

    The list goes on….

    The problem is, the Church becomes slave to whatever the critics demand in the name of “transparency.” And yet no one is upset that we leave out the part where the guards vowed that no one in the jail would live through the night and Dan Jones went to the governor to appeal for more protection, and the governor replied, “The people aren’t that cruel.”

    Because that would make the governor look bad, and critics are only interested in making Joseph look bad.

    No one cares that we leave out the DNA studies that have been done proving that many of Brodie’s accusations of Joseph’s paternity were false.

    No one cares that we leave those types of details out. Which leads me to one conclusion – people who are so vocal about demanding transparency only want to make Joseph Smith look bad. They don’t care about transparency at all.

  179. Tomchick: that’s a very good response, and the only answer I can think of is “it ends where our Shepherd says it ends”…..at the end of the day, you don’t owe me, or AARON, or TIM an explanation about anything. But that doesn’t mean you (or me) are exempt. No hidden agenda here: am I suggesting that GOD would have us raise the bar as regarding transparency ? Yes, I’d say so, and I’d say so in many other contexts OTHER than just this one. But mine is a suggestion: no one died and made me the Holy Spirit, so WHERE the line gets drawn is each man and woman’s decision.

    the likelihood of satisfying your critics is admittedly small, but the real question is what is the right thing (amount of transparency) to do, and what prevents us from doing it ?

    GERMIT

  180. Hey Tim.

    Never said that LDS don’t have their own Victorian hang-ups. Frankly, I wish we’d get over a few of them.

  181. It’s not really a straw man Aaron. It’s exactly what I think a lot of your buddies would like their “flock” to think when they think of Joseph – that he packed heat and went looking for a fight, and got killed fair and square.

    Nice that you are willing to acknowledge context here – I doubt your fellow ministers are so generous.

    It’s not a straw man. It’s the banner you’re waving.

  182. Germit: “the likelihood of satisfying your critics is admittedly small, but the real question is what is the right thing (amount of transparency) to do, and what prevents us from doing it ?”

    Well said.

    tomchik: “I expect it will be the same as what it has been – they’ll tell the story and leave out the “Joseph shot back” part.” Fwiw, they told about the guns when I toured. But since all such comments on this thread are anecdotal, we don’t really know what constitutes “the same as what it has been.”

  183. Tim:
    If you were only trying to help us understand Aaron’s point, then yes.

    I think what Aaron is objecting to is the the way JS is sometimes described as a lamb to the slaughter and his fighting back is covered up like it would matter.

    I guess I didn’t catch that you weren’t necessarily agreeing with Aaron, but only trying to lead to greater understanding.

    My bad,
    So yeah, my comment is intended for Aaron, and I’m glad Seth agreed with me, It’s no straw-man, it’s exactly what ya’ll are implying.

  184. So, I think I’m missing something.

    Why is it relevant to my obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ if:
    1. God had physical sex with Mary (I don’t believe He did, but if He did, I don’t think that that would make Jesus any less divine, right?)
    2. God has sex, ever.
    3. Joseph Smith shot back.

    1. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that God did have physical relations with Mary, in such a way that impregnated her. It’s still God’s creation, right? It’s a gross thought, especially with the whole ‘Father’ analogy we so often use with relation to God. I realize it affects the virgin status of Mary, but isn’t that only relevant because her being a pregnant virgin meant that something out of the ordinary had happened to get her pregnant–it wasn’t just some dude’s kid. And even if God had sex with Mary, Jesus still wasn’t just some dude’s kid–He was still God’s kid.

    2. There were some comments about how God doesn’t have sex. How do you know? What makes you so sure? Does the Bible say it? I don’t know why it matters. Especially since, and this may be just me, but since I think that God is most concerned with relationships between people, and sex is the most intimate form of expression of relationship, and of the deepest and most personal form of relationship, that God is probably a fan. I don’t know if God has sex, and I don’t think it matters.

    3. So, Joseph Smith shot back. So people don’t always talk about it when presenting it. You know what? A lot of people doing those tours probably aren’t history buffs. Or don’t think it matters. Or, maybe, are skewing it because they think it sounds better. Since it’s just regular people doing these things, sometimes they have their own agendas, or their own testimony issues, or their own whatever. Or they think it’s irrelevant. Did Joseph Smith go willingly to his death the way that Jesus did? No, but he never claimed to be another Jesus. In fact, there are sections of the D&C where he’s getting chastised for not being Christlike enough, for doubting, etc. He was just a guy. Even if he was a prophet, he was still just a guy. Peter denied Christ three times–does that take away his standing at the head of the church? Does it invalidate anything that he said?

    I feel like there are plenty of problems with the LDS church, but these just aren’t it. If I’m missing something, please let me know. Because I just don’t get it.

  185. Jack:

    Thoughtful, intelligent, and informed, as usual. Here are a few additions:

    — Billions will be exalted (not just “saved”) without ever needing so much as a vicarious baptism. The LDS Church doesn’t do vicarious (temple) baptisms for those who died before reaching the ‘age of accountability’ (8 years old), because we believe Christ saves (and exalts) them unconditionally. Given the high infant-and-young-child mortality rate throughout most of humanity’s existence on this earth, and the fact that roughly 60-100 billion people have been born through history, simple math indicates that such inheritors of the Celestial Kingdom will outnumber whatever fraction of latter-day Mormons make it in there by a factor on the order of several thousand to one. Modern Mormons will be a tiny, tiny fraction of those who make it into the Celestial Kingdom.

    — I would argue there are actually three “hells” in LDS doctrine, and that the various passages in the Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C and PofGP refer to different ones in different ways. The first is the ‘spirit prison’ area of the spirit world (cf. Alma 40:14); the second is the suffering of those who would not accept Christ’s suffering for them (cf. D&C 19:16-17); and the third is outer darkness (cf. D&C 76:31-38). At least some of those in the first still have a chance of repentance and redemption; those in the second will see an end to their suffering and will inherit the Telestial Kingdom (a kingdom of glory); those in the third, well, we get to the Brigham Young “recycling” argument. But don’t misunderstand: LDS doctrine says that vast numbers of us will suffer the pangs of hell, it just won’t be forever. ..bruce..

  186. Hey, Germit,

    Thanks for the response. I was getting pretty flustered there for a bit. I take these discussions a bit too seriously sometimes!

    I do think there can be better transparency in the Church. I’m corresponding with Jack privately about this and I hope she’ll give me some good ideas.

    God bless,

    Tom

  187. Thanks Tomchick…my hope is to have a consistent standard for all, and LOTS of grace ready to extend to those of us who fall short…. now if I could just apply that to myself, then the wife…

    God’s best and rest to you and yours
    GERMIT

  188. Katyjane said:

    So, I think I’m missing something.

    On this matter, you’re not.

  189. I agree. There are much bigger fish to fry. As illustrated in this discussion, if Evangelicals focus on nit-picky things it makes Mormons say “that is what your so upset about?”

  190. The LDS Church doesn’t do vicarious (temple) baptisms for those who died before reaching the ‘age of accountability’ (8 years old), because we believe Christ saves (and exalts) them unconditionally.

    For the record, I think age eight is such a weirdly stupid and arbitrary moment for your salvation to suddenly be on the line.

  191. What bfwebster didn’t mention is that everyone under the age of eighty is also saved and exalted unconditionally. So there’s some redundancy for everyone between 8 and 80—they effectively get ‘saved’ twice—but you have to draw the line somewhere, ya’ know?

  192. Pingback: Notes From All Over - through June 20 | Times & Seasons, An Onymous Mormon Blog

  193. Re: the Temple Lot in Independence.

    It’s true that the Church of Christ Temple Lot owns the land on the northwest corner of S. River and W. Walnut in Independence, Missouri, which is the location indicated for the laying of the cornerstones of a temple.

    The Community of Christ (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) owns the land to the east, across S. River, where their temple is located, and to the south, across W. Walnut, where their previous assembly building stands.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also owns land, “nearby,” as in kitty-corner to the Temple Lot, and that is where the visitors center is.

    When you consider the boundaries for the land that was set apart for the building of the temple, all three groups own a portion of the land that was set apart for a temple. One group, the Temple Lot, has tried to build the temple and was stopped by the Great Depression. Another has built there temple, but has not heralded the Second Coming. The final group is waiting.

    Although I have watched with interest as midwest temples are built closer and closer to Independence (St. Louis, Winter Quarters, now Kansas City, Missouri). It’s highly speculative, but fascinating to think that the temple work in the area is directly tied to early revelation.

  194. Wow, my comment almost seems like a non-sequitur now that I’ve read the rest of the comments after the first 10 …

    Ahem, umm, nothing.

  195. Many syncretistic religions formed gnosticism. Gnosticism was rivaling against Christianity and gnosticism held itself better religion as Christianity was. Word gnosticism comes from Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge. Gnosticism was various effects, for instance, some Gnostics taught that divinity can be achieved through unity of the man and woman. This thought led some Gnostics to reach for divinity through sexual intercourse between the man and woman. There existed also some Gnostics, who abstained from sexual intercourse. When we know the fact that Gnostics held Christians as their enemies and that Gnostics held themselves better as Christians and that Gnostics wanted to show in every way that Gnosticism was better as Christianity, so Gnostics made so called gnostic gospels were they twisted, slandered and misrepresented the real gospels. Gnostics went so far in this misrepresent that they wrote “new gospels” by faking the real gospels. In these faked gospels Gnostics wrote that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man who has a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene.

    http://koti.phnet.fi/elohim/marymagdalene.html

  196. Quote: 2. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that there is salvation only in their church – all others are wrong.

    “False. Mormons have two understandings of salvation, the first one meaning resurrection and entry into the lowest level of heaven, the Telestial Kingdom. All of humanity gets this whether you are Mormon, Buddhist, Catholic, Mother Teresa or Adolf Hitler. That is how Mormons usually understand the term “salvation.” Functionally, there is no hell for the human race as we know it in Mormonism; all of humanity is considered “saved” in that way.

    However, salvation in LDS terminology can also mean exaltation—obtaining the highest level of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom, and becoming a god. In that sense, salvation can only be found through the LDS church.

    In any case, this statement is still false because Mormons are usually more than happy to explain about both types of salvation; they aren’t hiding this.”

    I do agree that most LDS don’t hide their doctrine on heaven. However, I have noticed they will use this doctrine to make other Christians look uncharitable in their view of hell, by claiming that in Mormon heaven all are saved.
    Here is where the truth does not get exposed and I can see where the author is coming from.
    For most people, being cut off from your children/spouse/family/loved ones and JESUS CHRIST for eternity would be hell. Mormons know this and try to sugar coat it. So in that sense, is it really salvation to be saved in the Telestial or Terrestrial Kingdom? It beats a literal interpretation of hell, but for me there is nothing worse than to think I would never see my loved ones again.
    Those people in the lower kingdoms will not dwell with God and can’t enter his presence. Isn’t that kind of like hell?

    Mormons are being a little disingenuous to claim that all are given the gift of salvation in the LDS heaven. Those who are not exalted are cut off from Progression and eternal family. Those who are not saved in the Celestial Kingdom do not come home to Christ.

    I know many Mormons who believe it would be hell to never progress, be with their Savior or Heavenly Father, and never be with their children again.

  197. Quote:

    “10. MORMONS WON’T TELL YOU that the Virgin Mary really wasn’t a virgin at all but had sex relations with their heavenly father to produce the Mormon version of Jesus Christ

    False. A few LDS leaders taught this in the past. Their statements were never considered doctrinal and very few Mormons believe it today, so of course Mormons won’t tell you about it.”

    I wouldn’t say their statements were never considered doctrinal. This could very well be current doctrine that the leaders have chosen to keep at milk level for now. These were LDS Prophets that not only explicitly taught this to the early church, but implicitly taught it in modern day publications.

    I was raised Mormon, and I would bet many of the old timers do believe in it but it’s not something you will get them to say out loud in a church setting. It’s one of those wink wink doctrines I discovered when I asked some questions about why LDS focus on Christ as the only BEGOTTEN Son. A group of adults and College Mormons all told me this doctrine during a discussion I had about it. I’ve seen many LDS on the internet who were also implicitly taught this doctrine when they asked questions about it.

    When I spoke with my Institute Director about it many years ago, he also explained the belief that Mary conceived Jesus the same way we conceive babies. “It was the law.” He was very careful to not use the words “God had sex with Mary” but there was no doubt what he implied and believed. Mormons that understand the doctrine view it as a sacred subject that is kind of off limits to discuss.

  198. I fail to see why the idea of God having sex with Mary is somehow less “creepy” than the idea of him magically artificially inseminating her.

  199. You don’t see why a person would find it far more repugnant and creepy to imagine God having sexual intercourse with His daughter over a more “artificial” alternative?

    If mere mortals can create test tube babies, I think God can be a little more creative than having incestuous relations with Mary to send His Son. 🙂

  200. I actually think the God-and-Mary sex concept is pretty creative, all things considered.

    Who would expect that?

    Of course, then again, incest was His MO in the beginning. I mean it was a pretty creative move just to put 2 people on earth, requiring a whole lot of incest in order to populate the world.

  201. Not that creative, really. Mythology is chock full of human-divine sexual relations and demigod children resulting therefrom.

  202. Honestly I think the god-Mary sex doctrine is mostly a result of a trend toward frontier-minded plain thinkin’ in early Mormonism. It was definitely brigham young’s doctrinal m.o. In that regard, I actually think it I’d typically unimaginative.

  203. Yeah, myths about sex acts involving deities were a dime a dozen in antiquity. Israel’s lack of a procreation myth involving YHWH was one of the things that set them apart—though, there was that thing about sex with the “sons of God”.

    As far as creepy goes, I think having sex with your father and being artificially inseminated by your father would both be creepy, but actually having sex with him would be worse. The real affability of the AI position is that it rescues Mormonism from denying the virgin birth. Sorry, but those apologetics from early LDS leaders saying that a woman was still a virgin so long as she didn’t have sex with a mortal man were outright laughable.

    Sex with angels, on the other hand… now that sounds kind of hot.

  204. Kullervo,

    You are probably right, now if he had impregnated Mary in the form of a swan, that might have been creative.

    (but maybe it was a dove. . . )

    Either way, I guess the divine fowl impregnation method still would have been a bit played out by the first century.

    Jack,

    I think you are still a virgin if it was only a swan, or a dove, . . . any sort of bird doesn’t really count.

    BTW- I am lodging the “dove impregnation theory” as an official speculation regarding the virgin conception, Dialogue and Dunstone articles forthcoming.

  205. Here’s a thought–why does it matter how Mary got pregnant? Whatever His means–if He’s God, and you believe that He is Good and wouldn’t do anything sketchy, who cares about the details? The whole point is that Jesus was more than a mere mortal, right?

  206. Why is sex with dad creepy?

    What are the modern societal factors today that make it creepy to us?

    Would they apply in the instance of Mary and God the Father?

    I don’t think they would.

    Either way, I’ve never been one to be much impressed with arguments that essentially boil down to “eew gross” without anything more.

    I don’t take things for granted that way.

  207. I would submit that the inherent power structure between a parental figure and a child figure makes it unacceptable. I honestly don’t know how those social norms operated 2,000 years ago…however, the fact that sex was viewed as something more than simple animal instinct suggests that there was a recognition that sex carried broader consequences on both an emotional and societal level. Man-made constructs, you say? Whatever, those constructs appear to run pretty constantly throughout Biblical (and non-Biblical) societies, so I think they’re relevant as a matter of context.

    I think we can find an example in cult leaders like David Koresh who manipulated his female followers into having sexual relationships with him. There is an emotional vulnerability being exploited there, and it’s wrong. Why? Because no one should be taking advantage of a weaker person, and the dependence that a follower or child has on the leader or parent means that a sexual relationship and all of its consequences is exactly the type of relationship that the Bible warns against exploiting.

    So as far as basic human sexual relations go, I think there are very, very good reasons that go way beyond the “ick factor” to enforce taboos on parent-child incest. And while one could argue that these things don’t really apply to God because He’s God, I think that a literal, human expression of that kind of exploitation has some problematic implications, and I am curious as to how you get around those.

  208. Interesting questions raised Whitney.

    Was Mary, a young girl really, actually able to give consent to be impregnated, especially when faced with angelic messengers and being overpowered by Spiritual forces?

    Was Mary exploited for her womb?

    Are we exploited, put through pain and strife, simply to get God more glory/pleasure?

    I think how you view the purpose of life makes a lot of difference in how you answer these questions.

  209. Seth asks “Why is sex with dad creepy?” and “What are the modern societal factors today that make it creepy to us?”

    I would argue that incest is forbidden in the moral law Lev 18:6-18 and probably would have been creepy 2000 years ago.

    More importantly the accounts in both Matt and Luke leave little room except to view the incarnation as a spiritual act of all three persons of the Trinity. As BJM points out the God of the Bible transcends sexual mythology even when He is most imminent in the miracle of the incarnation.

  210. You know, I was actually going to write something about the trauma she was already facing with unexpected unwed pregnancy as it was, but I was starting to ramble.

    Anyway, yeah. Obviously God threw a lot at her, and I have my own questions about how free will and God’s power played into the basic scenario she faced. I guess I just see it as adding insult to injury when you add in a literal, physical relationship with a father figure. Again, it comes back to how literally you take that understanding of “father.” And this is one of the big questions that I struggle with myself–how to reconcile the idea of God the Magnificent versus God the Father.

    Obviously God doesn’t just have rainbows and roses planned for us, and it looks pretty arbitrary a lot of times. Job would agree. But when I try to reconcile God’s actions with respect to Mary, I pretty much have to view Him as acting in the same vein as he did with Job. There was some kind of purpose behind His actions–say for instance, to demonstrate His glory, but in doing so He is acting in a role very different from that of a father. (That said, the basic act of sending a Savior could be seen as father-like, so obviously there’s difficulty in totally separating the two ideas.) So I guess to me, if God is going to act in His Magnificent role, there’s no reason to physically have sex with Mary, because He’s magnificent and he can just make it happen as surely as the wind blows. And if we’re going to continue to emphasize a literal father role for a God who ostensibly performs miracles, then I would need serious help figuring out what having sex with His daughter means in terms of how He wants us to relate to Him. Because it’s one thing for God to give us freedom to make terrible choices, and it’s one thing for Him to work good through the terrible choices of others; its another thing for God to break a pretty clear taboo when it didn’t appear necessary in the first place.

    Anyway, that’s about as far as my brain can stretch on this, so if people want to debate why the Nixon Doctrine* changes the basic debate, have at it. But I did want to make a clear statement as to why parent-child sex is not ever acceptable as an actual or philosophical matter when you’re dealing with two mere humans.

    *You know, when the president does it, it’s not illegal, and whenever God does it, it’s not a sin.

  211. I don’t think it’s just modern sensibilities on this. In addition to Lev. 18:6-18, all of the examples of parent-child incest in the Bible are bad. The incest between Lot and his two daughters (Gen. 19:31-38) led to the rise of the Moabites and Ammonites, who both became enemies to Israel (Jdg 3:28-29, 11:4). There’s also step-mom incest: Jacob was pretty steamed about Reuben sleeping with Bilhah (Gen. 35:22, 49:3-4), and there’s that thing with Absalom and all of David’s concubines on the roof of the palace (2 Sam. 16:20-22). This wasn’t like brother-sister incest or polygamy which occasionally cropped up as acceptable. I’m going with malum in se on daddy incest—check out my lawyurin’ ways!

    Jared, the text seems to indicate that Mary did consent to giving birth to Jesus (Luke 1:38). We can speculate that she might have felt intimidated/coerced, but it’s all really just argument from silence.

    Hey, do you think a woman is still a virgin if she gets pregnant by a spider crawling into her mouth?

  212. These are the other problems I see with the “God had sex with Mary” thing:

    1) Did God and Mary get married first? (I remember reading at least one quote from an early LDS leader who taught that they did). If not, is out-of-wedlock sex also okay when God does it?
    2) If yes, was Mary the incarnation of Heavenly Mother? That seems highly problematic since most Christians don’t think Mary was perfect (Catholics being the exception). Or is it acceptable that Heavenly Mother was a sinner in mortality? Or did God not have to get married to Mary first because she was the incarnation of Heavenly Mother and they were already married?
    3) If Mary isn’t the incarnation of Heavenly Mother, doesn’t that mean the Mormon God is definitely a polygamist? An incestuous one at that?
    4) Was Mary a polyandrist, or just polyamorous? If Mary was the incarnation of Heavenly Mother, doesn’t that make Mary the incestuous one for marrying her son, Joseph?

    Seems like a lot of good reasons for avoiding the “God had sex with Mary” thing.

  213. Incest taboos have been around as long as there is recorded evidence of human culture. So it’s not just our modern sensibilities that make us grossed out by it. Just about EVERY known culture is and has been grossed out by it. (Granted, some definitions of “incest” are much more liberal than others.) So yeah. Yuck.

    Last night I was sleeping, and I awoke to a spider on my arm. I screamed.

  214. I just don’t buy the idea that sex is merely no more than a simple biological function, and all of our issues with is are purely socially created.

  215. I’ll just state that I think the whole “God had sex with Mary” line of reasoning is completely preposterous if for no other reason than this: are not the scriptures crystal clear that Christ was born of a virgin?

    So I say we take a pass on Brigham Young’s frankly crazy-ass declarations and go with the Bible and the Book of Mormon on this one, both of which clearly affirm the virgin birth.

  216. If not, is out-of-wedlock sex also okay when God does it?

    Murder and genocide apparently are. Come on, you’re an Evangelical. Whatever God does is good ebcause God defines good.

    And for Mormons who believe God is held to an external standard somehow, they can wiggle out of it, too, since the scriptures basically make it clear that God is in a position to be able to justify acts that would otherwise be wrong.

    Conveniently, this also means that sex with his daughter is not taboo, because God did it.

    Also, we are treading on sjaky ground when we assume that the same rules and sensibilities that apply to physical parenthood necessarily are a perfect match for the rules and sensibilities of spiritual fatherhood/creatorship. The parent metaphor is used in the scriptures, sure, but the metaphor can’t be a perfect one, since our ideas about what parenthood means are largely social. And they change.

    If Mary isn’t the incarnation of Heavenly Mother, doesn’t that mean the Mormon God is definitely a polygamist? An incestuous one at that?

    This is not at all inconsistent with the teachings of Mormon prophets who have advocated the “God had sex with Mary” explanation.

    Was Mary a polyandrist, or just polyamorous?

    Again, this would not be a problem for the early Mormon teachers of God-had-sex-with-Mary, since the evidence for Mormon polyandry is kind of historically inescapable.

  217. So I say we take a pass on Brigham Young’s frankly crazy-ass declarations and go with the Bible and the Book of Mormon on this one, both of which clearly affirm the virgin birth.

    How would you feel about someone saying we should take a pass on Gordon B. Hinckley’s crazy-ass declarations?

  218. Kullervo ~ It is nowhere near as simple for me as “This is okay because God did it.” Not even in the alleged biblical examples of murder and genocide. I always try to find explanations for why something was considered acceptable. I’m not 100% successful, but the effort is there.

    If Mormons want to say father-daughter incest is okay when God does it, great, but I’d encourage them to find a better explanation for the issue than “because God says so”—and I’d encourage evangelicals to do the same for the “wrong” things God does in the Bible.

    we are treading on sjaky ground when we assume that the same rules and sensibilities that apply to physical parenthood necessarily are a perfect match for the rules and sensibilities of spiritual fatherhood/creatorship. The parent metaphor is used in the scriptures, sure, but the metaphor can’t be a perfect one, since our ideas about what parenthood means are largely social.

    For traditional Christianity this is true. For a religion like Mormonism which trades on blurring the distinction between created and creator and throws so much emphasis on teaching that God is the Father of our spirits in the same way our earthly parents are our fathers and mothers to suddenly tell me that my human understanding of parent-child relationships has no application here… well, it’s pretty damned inconsistent.

    Besides, Seth himself has often argued that if God can’t be rationally comprehended, then we have no basis for talking about Him. Seems to apply here.

    I agree that the early LDS leaders who taught that God had sex with Mary wouldn’t at all be bothered by a polygamist God or a polyandrist Mary (and neither would Seth), but it’s undeniable that the LDS church has been trying to move away from all three of those teachings. It’s also undeniable that to go back to teaching those three things as valid possibilities would be a PR nightmare for the church.

    So I’m just asking for consistency here. If we’re going to resurrect the God/Mary thing as an acceptable modern LDS belief, let’s bring back divinely sanctioned polyandry and polygamy God as well, because they all go together.

  219. Jack,
    Um, maybe I missed out on this, but we’re did any current-believing (if maybe inactive) Mormons have said they are trying to “resurrect the God/Mary thing as an acceptable modern LDS belief.”

    I sure as heck ain’t. I don’t think Seth is either.

    I thought it was just the Evangelicals who were trying to resurrect this “belief.”

  220. I got the impression that Seth was just asking us to explore why the idea may or may not be problematic if we take out the usual “yuck” reaction (similar to what we’ve done with other topics involving sex).

  221. Jared C asks if Mary was exploited for her womb? Not according to he as she tells us in the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55).

  222. PC ~ Seth may not be saying that he’d like to see the idea resurrected today, but like Whitney said, I’m just exploring what’s wrong with it apart from saying “gross.” That it endorses divinely-sanctioned polyandry and God as a polygamist are part of its weaknesses, and all things which the church has been trying to move away from.

    Even Kullervo’s proposed “it’s okay because God did it” apologetic is a weakness. Any Christian versed in apologetics could tell you that to use the “God’s ways are not our ways” line is to lose the argument.

    All in all, I just don’t see much theological sway for this idea. It requires that you find ways of twisting around the incest problem, the God-as-polygamist problem, the polyandry problem, (or the polyamory problem, take your pick) and the virgin birth problem.

    With divine AI, the only problem is a loose form of the incest problem—and since we’re well into the realm of wild speculation, the thought occurs to me that even that could be circumvented by arguing that God implanted a fertilized embryo from both Himself and HM, so Mary was just a surrogate mother. In any case, divine AI > sex with Mary.

  223. Kullervo-

    “How would you feel about someone saying we should take a pass on Gordon B. Hinckley’s crazy-ass declarations?”

    I am for giving everyonepasses on crazy-ass declarations. ( I, for one, desperately, depend on those passes. )

    Gundek~ I know what it says in Luke, I am sure Mary was totally for it, but if we are going to invoke the father-daughter analogy we should recognize that Mary was in a very disparate position compared to the God of the Universe on this point. If some angel showed up I think I am going to say yes to (almost) whatever he says. I am not making an argument that Mary didn’t consent or had any reservations, I am just following Whitney’s interesting inquiry on how God relates to us poor mortals in working out his greater plan.

    Jack~ No question that the spider impregnation method maintains virginity. Which is why I am still holding onto the dove method. But lets make it a spirit-dove that is able to fly at the speed of light. . . . And I am sure that God had a marriage licensed drawn up in courts on high and spiritually stamped by the Judean clerk, just prior to sending the dove, just to cover all of his bases.

    On the Mary-sex question overall:
    Also, lets be realistic, most all Mormons that ever lived do not believe actual sex happened. So a some previous church leaders theorized that it did happen, that only shows that Mormon prophets speculate on a whole lot of stuff that many in the church don’t believe. . . not much of a discovery there!

    (nor much of an indictment coming from those that believe in the Bible)

  224. Even Kullervo’s proposed “it’s okay because God did it” apologetic is a weakness. Any Christian versed in apologetics could tell you that to use the “God’s ways are not our ways” line is to lose the argument.

    But it can’t be a weakness, because it is the center of the argument. It’s the whole argument. Are you really willing to say that God is subject to rules of behavior and definitions of good and evil that he did not himself create?

    If God is the source of morality, than God has the luxury of constantly revising morality to suit his whims.

  225. For traditional Christianity this is true. For a religion like Mormonism which trades on blurring the distinction between created and creator and throws so much emphasis on teaching that God is the Father of our spirits in the same way our earthly parents are our fathers and mothers to suddenly tell me that my human understanding of parent-child relationships has no application here… well, it’s pretty damned inconsistent.

    Fair enough.

    Besides, Seth himself has often argued that if God can’t be rationally comprehended, then we have no basis for talking about Him. Seems to apply here.

    For the record, I think that assertion is total garbage, and based on an all-or-nothing fallacy and wishful thinking about whether anything really can be rationally comprehended at all.

    We can talk about something we can not fully rationally comprehend, but we have to do so with the provision that it is always possible that we could be horribly wrong.

    Asserting that God can be fully comprehended is reducing him to a construct that fits neatly into our own arbitrary rules of reasoning. Essentially it means claiming that God is subject to human will. As such, it is the ultimate hubris.

  226. “Besides, Seth himself has often argued that if God can’t be rationally comprehended, then we have no basis for talking about Him.”

    I think that might have been me you are referring to. . . but Kullervo is right regarding the vain hope that we can “rationally comprehend” things. . its difficult to get your mind around even the simplest things. Philosophers have filled libraries trying to nail down the most mundane things, like our ability to communicate.

    We have to admit that nobody has really ever gotten a good handle on fully describing the human experience, how can we expect any degree of precision for the super-human.

  227. Jack,

    all of the examples of parent-child incest in the Bible are bad. The incest between Lot and his two daughters (Gen. 19:31-38) led to the rise of the Moabites and Ammonites, who both became enemies to Israel

    I never understand this logic. Does that mean that if I had a kid who grew up to be a serial killer that we can logically say that my relationship with my wife was somehow evil in God’s eyes?

    I’m not trying to justify incest in the Bible, it just doesn’t make sense to me to say, “Well, the kids from the relationship did bad things, so obviously the act that produced them was evil.”

  228. About #16 There is evidence for where some of the Book of Mormon happened. We know from the BOM itself that there was a great battle at the Hill Cumorah in Manchester NY. And the Hill was where Joseph got the plates that were buried by the last writer of the BOM Moroni. There is a legend in New York State about a father and son native american that were the last of their people and they resided in NY. This is very similar to the account in the text of the BOM about Mormon and Moroni, a father and son, the last survivors of their people. Also in the BOM there is an account of a people who bury their weapons of war, this too is in Native American folklore only found in New York State and commeorated every year on November 11. Good website I enjoyed it and I am a member of the LDS church Salt Lake division.

  229. Mary, the hill in New York is popularly called “Cumorah.”

    However there is no convincing evidence that the hill in New York, and the hill mentioned by Mormon and Moroni in the Book of Mormon are the same hill.

    And I’m confused by your last sentence.

    The LDS Church doesn’t have a “division.”

    We have stakes and wards. Unless you are trying to imply that you are an employee of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints based in Salt Lake. Are you?

  230. I appreciate you taking the time to explain this. I was raised Mormon and believe in the truth of the church without a doubt. I am married to a non Mormon and he asks questions that I cannot answer. You know about the church and the way you have explained all of these points is great. You mentioned some things that I never knew non members might have problems with. Thank you.

  231. False. Lol. To me it isn’t what Mormons want or do not want you to know… It is simply the information that they believe and teach. As a non biased agnostic.. I have to say that Mormonism holds too many ridiculous claims, often changed documents, a documented con man as their savior lol. In my studies I have found this Cult maybe the most incredible in terms of believing. Scientology probably wins that race. As an agnostic I feel the orthodox Christian faith to be the closest to convincing me. This was the very first organized religion structured only just a few hundred years after the crucifixion of Christ. If you are Christian I certainly recommend you read about orthodox christians.
    I wish Mormons could be more enlightened. They are morally decent people with good hearts. This just makes it more sad to me

  232. So Phil, where did you get this enlightened opinion?

    Browsing the Huffington Post’s comments section?

    Certainly you didn’t get it by bothering to read any of this thread.

  233. Agnostic = Not sure of the existence of God. I simply am unsure and have been searching for a quality religion that I can follow. If that happens. Not sure why it is difficult to attach “Un biased” to that. Fairly simple to understand. I just realized this is a mormon site.

  234. You absolutely can be unbiased prior to knowledge of a specific topic. A very narrow minded statement.. which after excessive reading about the LDS I do not find this comment surprising.
    In general it is my conclusion the LDS lacks significant substance from their ridiculous early writings to the racist beliefs post civil rights movement amongst many other things, moon people, sun people, etc. Too many ridiculous things to list. Unique and true writings and words from a prophet should never waiver or change from its beginning.. at all.. ever. LDS hast shown consistent changes in the thousands of their holy writings, books, scriptures. Beware the false con – man prophet Joseph Smith (Truly laughable After Studying Facts About THIS man) Words from the original scriptures of the New Testaments.

  235. In general it is my conclusion the LDS lacks significant substance

    Indeed, as opposed to unbiased agnosticism very unsubstantial indeed.

  236. Sarcasm.. Really?
    I never proclaimed my current status to have substance, however In my search for substance in a faith I find the history of the LDS extremely lacking in this regard.
    Forgive me if this offends you or other mormons. This is not my intent. I have spent many days and hours on studying various religions. The LDS is simply and literally “unbelievable”. I challenge you to do as I did. Study various religions or branches of Christianity and there you will find your answer.
    Again I recommend for Christians.. The Orthodox Christian Church which in my studies and experience has been the most precise and accurate from a as early the 1st century A.D.

  237. I recognize what you are saying, the problem is that you are casting yourself as an unbiased judge of Mormonism or anything else. It’s hard not to make light of that.

    Certainly it is believable to some. I know many brilliant people that do believe it and enjoy its substance.

    I wish you well on your search.

  238. I could wish Phil well I guess.

    But what I really wish is that when he dies, his identity vanishes and he decomposes back into the elements and through those elements becomes a majestic pine tree, swaying in the breeze.

    And then a lumberjack hacks him down, strips off his branches, and hauls him off to the paper mill where he’s processed in a smelly vat into paper. And once the paper is all done….

    They print the Bible on him.

    Best wishes Phil.

  239. Wow. Reformed elements into a tree. I guess at this point I would certainly appreciate being printed on the Bible rather than the Comic Book of Mormon.
    I guess thanks for that wish… Moron(i).

    Romans 16:18
    “For such persons (ie: Joseph Smith Jr.) do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but by their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
    – scripture written, solidified, in many languages translated sometime between 30 and 90 A.D. (Shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.)

    Joseph Smith Jr.
    History of the church vol. 6 p. 408-409
    “I boast that no man did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from him; but the (Church of JESUS CHRIST) Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet..”
    *Hypocracy? I think so.. at least. ^

    -out of 13.8 million members of the LDS only 50-60% practice their faith and in recent years the numbers are rapidly increasing in terms of leaving the church (Cult).

    – There are approx. 2.2 Billion Christians in our world today. This does not include the LDS. It simply is not christianity. Any normal, half-educated person can testify to this.

    History of the church vol 1. p. 54-55
    “I told the brethren that the (Comic) book of mormon was the most correct of any book on the earth..”
    -written in a book where the scripture has been Significantly Changed approx. 4,000 TIMES since it’s 1st publishing around
    1830 A.D. (1800+ years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.)

    Man… The more I read..

  240. The Orthodox Christian Church which in my studies and experience has been the most precise and accurate from a as early the 1st century A.D.

    That’s their claim of course. For me, the fact that in my Orthodox Study Bible, basically every other note in the Epistles is something to the effect of “this does not mean what it sounds like it means” raises serious doctrinal flags. Having an unbroken line of tradition going back to the apostles is laudable but it doesn’t mean they have the most true doctrine.

    While I think that the Great Schism is lamentable and really Rome’s fault, the eastern Church since then appears to be frozen in time, essentially denying the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through the church through time to lead the church to deeper understandings of the things of God. If the doctrine of the trinity had to be developed over time (and it did–even thought the pieces are all there in the Bible, it was a long time before the church had to put them together), why not original sin and justification by faith?

    And for a church that’s so big on catholicity, they’re awfully quick to discount pre-schism voices from the western Church (coughcoughAugustinecoughcough).

    In an ideal world, the Great Schism would never have happened and the protestant reformation would have happened in a world with a unified orthodox catholic church and led to genuine reformation, not schism. But this is not an ideal world, it’s a fallen and deeply sinful one.

  241. Gee, thanks for sharing your personal shopping list with us Phil.

    I’m astounded and dumbfounded!

    I never heard ANY of those accusations before! You’ve completely blown my mind. Guess I’d better turn in my resignation today now that I’ve had my mind opened and enlightened by Huffington Post comments sections cliff notes.

    Thanks Phil for saving me from all this “obvious” error.

    I guess this is the part where you heroically ride off into the sunset?

  242. You are welcome Seth!

    – May the planet given to you in space be wonderful! (* I suggest trade talks with moon people. I hear moon rocks are very valuable.)

    – May your many wives be beautiful and clean.. from a single drop of African blood.

    – May The book of Abraham make sense in your brain.. never mind it already does. Lol.

    – Last but certainly not least Seth.. may the true Jesus Christ forgive you and remember you in his Kingdom. Which he will.. He forgives the ignorant and misguided. Especially the branched out Freemasons.

    God bless!

  243. Last but certainly not least Seth.. may the true Jesus Christ forgive you and remember you in his Kingdom. Which he will.. He forgives the ignorant and misguided. Especially the branched out Freemasons.

    I thought you said you were agnostic.

  244. Wait, I get a planet?

    And I get to hang with Freemasons?

    OK, never mind. I think I’ll stay. That stuff sounds too cool to miss out on.

    Although pointless skepticism did sound tempting for a while Phil. But I’m afraid a superior intellectual smirk just isn’t enough of an incentive to trade in for all the goodies you just clued me into.

    I know the barrier to entry you were offering wasn’t high Phil. Just a few seconds on Wikipdeia, in exchange for which you get to swoop into online debates and declare superiority to everyone else in the room. I mean, even a monkey could do it, so surely it couldn’t be that hard for me to do it too. I should have jumped at the chance right?

    But Freemasons? Wow… Sorry Phil, vacuous semi-informed online supremacy just isn’t worth missing out on the Freemasons.

  245. Elder Seth..
    -In 27 years of my religious studies I have never encountered such a ridiculous claim to faith as the LDS. Truly 1 of the most “unbelievable” Cult creations in recent history.
    I have spent the last 3 years reading about the LDS after my encounter with a Polynesian convert after my trip to BYU in the early summer in 2011. This man had a smile on his face from ear to ear. I at 1st held the Church with respect… that is until I thoroughly began to study it.
    1). You are correct! I have thoroughly studied about the LDS and I certainly can very well sum it up in less than 10 minutes, and I absolutely also agree that I can convince a monkey that this faith is absurd.
    2). The LDS Church makes up 0.001% of the world’s religious congregations and rapidly DECLINING! Christians 35%, Muslims 21%, Hindus 13%, Buddhists 6% etc. respectively.
    3). The mormon missions struggle the most in Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine… The Christian Holy grounds of the middle east! Most if not all mormon missions in this area have been abandoned in recent past because of how many missionaries were finding the real Jesus Christ on these trips and ultimately leaving the cult of the LDS. I challenge you to visit these places. Was this what Josephs (con-man) Smiths “heavenly father” would have depicted? I think not.. But then again he depicted many things that were and are simply false.. and yet you and your 0.001% somehow believe this clown (false prophet) actually had been anointed from God. SIMPLY INCREDIBLE.
    I do not blame you Seth.. you just do not know better. You probably were raised mormon and know very little about other religious beliefs and most importantly you sadly know very little about Jesus Christ.. Do not be narrow minded. Do not be afraid to open your eyes and see!
    4). It is an absolute FACT that Joseph Smith was a Freemason prior to the Beginnings of the LDS Where He Basically Ripped Off All The Cult Hand SIGNALS as well as Specific architectural designs to your temple. How original for a prophet.. (sarcasm seth).
    5). I truly am sorry for you and I hope that you may someday find the true “Trisagion” (Greek word meaning Holy trinity) before you die. May Jesus Christ have mercy on you and others like you. You have been blinded and misguided by a drunk, money digging magician (a very poor one at that).

  246. Oh, I think you should blame me Phil. Because I do know better.

    But you forgot polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Joseph Smith’s alleged failed prophecies, how DNA “disproves” the Book of Mormon, the Kinderhook Plates, the Salamander Letters, polyandry, Helen Mar Kimball, Joseph destroying the printing press in Nauvoo, blacks and the Priesthood, how the Book of Revelation says anyone who adds to God’s word shall be accursed, how the Bible claims God is a spirit (no body), how Mormon Jesus and Satan are brothers, and gay marriage.

    Just trying to make sure you didn’t miss any criticisms you could have added to your wondrously thoughtful and compelling list of gripes.

  247. And let’s not forget coins, horses, sheep, pigs, elephants, chariots and steel in the Book of Mormon.

    Shame on you for leaving out such compelling criticisms Phil. You need to do better next time.

  248. Oh, and Phil, guess what – the stars on the Salt Lake Temple are…

    UPSIDE DOWN!

    Did you know that’s because we actually worship Satan in there?

  249. Thank you for the sentiment Phil, but I assure you, it’s been a load of fun.

    The truth is Phil, nothing you’ve said here was new to anyone who has participated on this blog regularly. We’ve all discussed all these issues dozens of times.

  250. -In 27 years of my religious studies I have never encountered such a ridiculous claim to faith as the LDS. Truly 1 of the most “unbelievable” Cult creations in recent history.

    Wow, Mormonism is the most ridiculous? You must not get out much.

  251. Jared..
    -On the contrary.. I do get out.. very much. I have studied and continue to study various forms of religion over the past 27 years through many days, months, and hours spent traveling, reading, meeting, and teaching at the University level.

    -I just recently have begun reading about scientology and I admit it is on the fast track to becoming the most ridiculous however; if being the better of 2 awfuls is a win than congrats.

    -I do not include and acknowledge certain faiths to be religions. IE: Satan worship, 3rd world tribe sun Gods, Voodoo, etc. So if by this you mean I don’t get out much than so be it. I have a feeling Scientology will soon join them.

    -Mormonism is a clear example of what Christians believe to be an evil, false prophet lead sect of scriptures written and taught post Crucifixion of Christ. Many of these false prophet sects exist. Mormonism so far is absolutely 100% no doubt the most absurd.

    -Scientology is certainly whacky however; so far in my studies I have not encountered Jesus Christ in their teachings. I know he is there somewhere.. I think. After now 2 months I have yet to encounter his name in their worshiped scripture. When you name your faith according to Jesus Christ you must understand this puts you under the microscope with certain religious Philosophers and Theologists.

    -My experience with Mormon missionaries in Brazil made me understand how much they truly do not understand Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. They are gentle people that unknowingly mislead. This is warned in scripture many times by Jesus Christ. Never astray from the original word of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy spirit. Which is the 1 and only Holy entity.
    *Matthew 24:11. “Many false prophets will rise and lead many astray.”

    All the best!

  252. Phil your enthusiasm is interesting but I think you’re somewhat missing the point of this blog. You’re welcome to offer your critiques but you should strive to do so with respect. I think you’ll find that it not only elevates the discussion it will also improve your argument.

  253. Tim,
    -I apologize if my information and findings over many years of study reflect an “attack”. I certainly did not intend to do that. I have re read my posts and certainly agree that it is harsh in some areas as responses to me have been equally as harsh if not worse.
    -I will also state that in no way will my arguments or thoughts “improve.” They are as solid as they come with a very open mind.

    -Please do not confuse me with an evangelical biggot that is trying to lure faithful Mormons from your Cult. Mormon people in my experience are good people, that generally seem to sustain good moral and family values however; this DOES NOT mean that their religion carries enough factual substance to be taken seriously. I know many Atheists that live beautiful, morally correct lives. This DOES NOT make them correct in the teachings of Christ and his sacrifice by definition. In my opinion they are in the same boat as you. Lost or mislead.

    -My mission has been to study and uncover truths, as well as encounter proclaimed prophets of Christianity, Islam, amongst any recognized faith. I am 1000% certain that the LDS was prophesied falsely and it’s beliefs are misleading in many many many many ways.

  254. I am 1000% certain that the LDS was prophesied falsely and it’s beliefs are misleading in many many many many ways.

    I think that is just your agnosticism talking. Maybe you just need a visit from some LDS missionaries.

  255. Haha. Touché Jared.

    -I have been down the road of meeting with LDS missionaries.

    -I will go ahead and pass on that.

    Thanks,
    All the best!

  256. Phil, you came picking a fight – if you’re looking for pity, you’re going to have a bit of a wait.

  257. Nobody is picking a fight Seth.

    I am a fan of reason and facts, which the LDS simply lacks.

    The popular response from Mormons I have interviewed and spoken too in my studies is basically.. “we know many things in our faith are wrong, but we don’t care.”
    So be it. I move on to the next religioun of study.

    My educated conclusion of the LDS is official. It is false. It is a misguided and mislead Christian sect guided and created by a false prophet. I have gathered plenty more evidence than I need to support my opinion and have been given permission to now include it in my syllabus teachings of religious history course next fall. I will include it with others like (Jehovahs witnesses, The children of God, David Koresh Branch dividian, and a few others I’m still deciding on).

    I teach with more sensitivity than I’ve shown here. Forgive me. I too can get carried away like you and others.

    Despite this.. I always welcome a friendly debate that carries theological explanations with consistencies and fact.

    My current semester teachings^

    All the best!

  258. To clarify, I am not a Mormon. I’m an “evangelical bigot.”

    You don’t take Mormonism seriously. Great! I probably agree with you more often than not. The plain fact is that many Mormons wish to the take Mormonism seriously even if do not. If you hope to be at all persuasive you’d be best to engage them on their level of attachment to their faith. If you simply want to be dismissive and condescending to those who disagree with you, I think we got the point.

  259. Again.. my intent is not to convert.

    Certainly I don’t believe all evangelicals are bigots. I am sorry if you and the author of this post fall into that category.

    I sometimes use journalistic tactics to gain information. I am aggressive sometimes for a reason. I have used all sorts of ways to uncover personal beliefs and knowledge about particular religions.

    Saying this I absolutely agree with you! The best way to touch or to convince a Mormon of something varying from their beliefs is to try and speak at their level. This is one of the topics I will cover! I have experienced this, and learned this not only from ex-mormons, or non practicing mormons, but also current mormons involved in the church. Very well put, much respect to your knowledge of approach. Again I am not here to convert.

    Forgive me if I have offended (seriously). I am on the tail end of looking for theological substance and fact based information that can support the Mormon faith. I have failed to find it after 2 years, 8 months, 11 days and many hours, trips, interviews, and research.

  260. Well, that’s your experience.

    My experience has been – after looking into each of the issues that you mentioned (and the ones I mentioned) that they are non-issues. Either because critics have presented flawed or even factually inaccurate arguments, or because they basically require me to be a fundamentalist for them to have any teeth.

    Since I’ve never been a fundamentalist, half the criticisms out there mean little or nothing to me.

    For one thing – it kind of neuters about 70% of the “Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect” arguments that float around out there.

    To which I respond – yeah, I already knew that – so what?

    I’ve given both sides a fair hearing. I’ve been in just about every hostile anti-Mormon venue on the Internet. I’ve heard out the arguments. My experience is that the critical arguments of the LDS Church rely on fundamentalist thinking, shoddy scholarship, logical failures, and a high degree of irrational emotional manipulation.

    I didn’t see anything in your laundry list that I found remotely threatening. And a lot of your bullet points were simply inaccurate to start with.

    I don’t have a lot of interest in going into each bullet point because frankly, you don’t seem like a highly rational person, and you very much do strike me as wanting to pick a fight with someone (protests to the contrary notwithstanding).

    So, I’ll let you have the last word and “bear your testimony” to us again if you like.

    Just don’t expect it to be quite the bomb you thought it would be.

  261. For instance, the Fairmormon website has a treatment of just about every bullet point you mentioned either putting it into better context, or refuting it outright.

    Check out their Wiki – it’s organized by topic and searchable.

  262. Seth,

    As an educated person which I believe you to be.. if you truly believe that you have not encountered some serious proof of the lack of substance and fact in the falseness of the prophet Joseph Smith.. I will remain simply at a loss for words. Hear me out. I am not trying to be mean.

    As an educated person myself.. I can testify to you now and forever that I found massive faults in this mormon based prophecy within minutes of a simple Google search of the word “Mormon.”(Maybe I should have tried Bing) I definitely did my research thoroughly for a very lengthy period of time. I refused to believe that proof can be found so easily.. I spent many evenings reading through the LDS website and found only the restructurring of words to make things sound less unbalievable. I was surprised to find nothing of real factual substance to support a prophecy of Joseph Smith. Just a story. A story that can easily be presented as false by directing vision to it’s core. Factual information printed about polygamy, the many changes in the scriptures of what is a “conveniently” evolving religioun of mormonism.

    I know Seth.. you have heard it all.
    I too have met many like you and I too have heard it all.

    I ask you now brother have you really listened?

    Are you truly 100% convinced in the teachings and beliefs and visions of Joseph Smith?

    If you are.. which it seams that you are. It is clear to me that you were either raised in a fairly devout Mormon family and you have come to know nothing else. A very fair assessment. It is difficult to challenge fact or a story of a person if that person was raised to believe whole heartedly something else. It makes debating the topic almost impossible.

    Belief is a very powerful thing… even when it is wrong.

    If you are faithful in your beliefs. Don’t even debate it. Stop watching Shawn the Evangalist. Stop trying to justify your faith. You don’t need too. You truly don’t.

    I say to you brother if you have even a shadow of doubt. If you can admit to yourself (not to me, forget me) there is some factual inconsistencies in your faith.. does this not trigger you to understand that this whole idea may be false?

    I sincerely wish you the best brother,

    Phil

  263. My experience with Mormon missionaries in Brazil made me understand how much they truly do not understand Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. They are gentle people that unknowingly mislead. This is warned in scripture many times by Jesus Christ. Never astray from the original word of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy spirit. Which is the 1 and only Holy entity.
    *Matthew 24:11. “Many false prophets will rise and lead many astray.”

    I thought you said you were agnostic.

  264. If you read my posts you will maybe understand. Agnostic is the simplest way I can explain myself. There are certain religiouns I consider to be beautiful. I respect them and sometimes I feel apart of them. I cannot say I’m whole heartedly involved in them. God, the Holy Trinity and/or Reancarnation is mostly a mystery to me and I continue to search, study, and teach.
    I realized in this blog and my studies with Mormonism relates most with Christianity. This does not mean I believe to be Christian. Mormonism is very simply not Christian.

    Speaking from a Christian perspective helps me understand further the beliefs of Mormons.

    Hopefully that better explains

  265. If you affirm the doctrine of the Trinity, then you are not an agnostic.

    If you don’t affirm the doctrine of the Trinity, then criticizing Mormons for rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity is incoherent.

  266. Ok brother.

    I simply am aware of the teachings of the “Trisagion” as well as many other things.

    Not real sure what your getting at.

  267. Not real sure what your getting at.

    Really? It’s not complicated.

    Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity. They believe it is false and apostate. They believe that within a few years of the death of the apostles, all authority and revelation from God was gone from the earth, and human beings made up a lot of false doctrines, including the Trinity. That’s the “Great Apostasy” and it’s a fundamental, central, essential Mormon belief.

    Now, I do criticize Mormons for this, because I passionately affirm the truth of the Trinity. While the word “Trinity” obviously does not appear in the Bible, but it necessarily follows from the Bible, and I affirm the Bible as the (maybe even inerrant!) word of God.

    But if you’re an agnostic, then by definition, you don’t affirm the truth of the Trinity. So if you won’t or can’t say that the Trinity is true, on what basis do you criticize Mormons for rejecting it? Mormons also say that Mohammad is not God’s final prophet, but you don’t criticize them for that.

  268. Ok I see what your saying.

    Our definitions of agnostic might be different.
    Difficult word to throw a precise definition on.

    I am agnostic because I am uncertain of God or religion. I am convinced there Is a higher power. Just not sure what that is.

    I relate to the trinity with the early teachings of Christianity and it’s purest beginning.

    I have noticed your distaste for me and many others on this blog; however you never brought forth decent info. about anything. Shism, defending Seth, instantly putting people down.

    Not interested brother.

    Take care.

  269. I guess I can admit to you now that I do believe in the Holy Trinity.

    Maybe I’m not agnostic. Really not sure. I am a bit lost as a person. I guess that is why I’m hungry for knowledge and evidence.

    I was born in Lefkas, Greece. Raised as a Greek Orthodox Christian. Immigrated to USA in 1980’s. Although I do not practice religion much anymore I guess a part of me misses the beauty of the faith.
    The idea of the Trisagion was a feeling that rocked me to the core as a kid. Not easily explained to many Christians. Not just Mormons.

    Nice post. Very accurate.

  270. I guess I can admit to you now that I do believe in the Holy Trinity.

    You don’t say.

    Seriously though, that pretty much means you are not agnostic. You’re Greek Orthodox but you don’t go to church and you struggle with faith. That’s not agnostic.

  271. The “agnostic” part threw me too.

    Phil, it’s not like I have 100 percent conviction that the LDS Church is true either. I’ve got room for doubt myself.

    I don’t 100 percent KNOW that the LDS Church is true or that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It’s possible he was inspired, but not a prophet. He could have been a prophet at the start, but later become a fallen prophet. Or perhaps, even if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, his successor Brigham Young was not. Or perhaps the modern LDS Church isn’t the true successor.

    But the same holds true for my belief in Christianity. I don’t know for certain that Jesus Christ was as he is portrayed in the four Gospels. I don’t KNOW that he walked on water or was the son of God. Who knows, maybe the Muslims are right about the nature of Jesus Christ, it’s possible.

    Or maybe the atheists are correct, and all of us are completely wrong. That’s possible too.

    But there’s a difference between holding a bit of doubt about your faith, and renouncing it completely. I feel extremely confident in my religion. I feel like it provides a useful and profound lens for viewing the universe. And I have not encountered a criticism that was ever strong enough for me to reject the light and knowledge my faith has brought me. None of the ones you listed were strong enough to do that or compelling enough.

    Of course I have doubt – everyone does (although some people try to deny they do). But doubt applies to every religion on the planet – including yours. Religious matters cannot be proven by scientific or historical inquiry. They can be supported by such study, and they can be undermined by such study. But they cannot be proven that way.

    Faith is never solely a matter of “hard secular evidence.”

  272. And Kullervo, Mormons THINK they reject the Trinity – because most Mormons don’t know what the Trinity is.

    But I’ve held for a long time that Mormonism is actually Trinitarian. It’s just a different KIND of Trinitarian than everyone is used to.

  273. Seth,
    Very good information there. Ironically enough we may have a lot in common on our personal beliefs.

  274. But I’ve held for a long time that Mormonism is actually Trinitarian. It’s just a different KIND of Trinitarian than everyone is used to.

    Right. A kind that is not Trinitarian. Redefining the word “trinitatian” so that you can claim that Mormons are trinitarian is just a classic Mormon smokescreen tactic. But no matter how many words you redefine to obscure your doctrine, it won’t change the fact that the Mormon conception of God is fundamentally and irreconcilably different from orthodox Christianity’s.

  275. Although I do not practice religion much anymore I guess a part of me misses the beauty of the faith.

    Phil, “the beauty of the faith” is that the creator himself came into his own creation to save fallen sinners from death and hell by his shocking, scandalous, and undeserved grace.

    Of course you miss that. How could you not?

  276. I agree. It certainly does touch me the most. The true beauty of it.

    I’m actually amazed that even as old as the Orthodox church is.. It has evolved with time to better suit a younger crowd in America. Bible studies. Discussions. Etc.

    I just remember being a kid growing up in Greece being afraid of our mean local priest. Later in my life I remember visiting him and realizing how wrong I was. He was serious about his faith and very gentle to all people. I just felt like it was too structured. For some reason I accompanied that with strictness. It has pulled me away emotionally over time.. and most likely for no good reason.

    The visual beauty, the icons of Saints and Apostles of Christ, the beautiful odor of insence, the amazing incantations and chanting. I felt like Jesus was there with us all.. always. EASTER WAS THE GREATEST!

    WOW.. Thank you for that.
    I seriously got the chills.

  277. Phil, the pull you are feeling is not just aesthetic. It’s God calling you to repent and put your trust in Jesus alone for your salvation. What is stopping you from doing that?

  278. I get this feeling from time to time and often it draws me to a few tears.

    I have been turning pages for quite sometime looking for facts to help me understand what is true and what is not.

    Moments like this make me feel Christ will enter my life again someday. A big part of me feels unworthy of his forgiveness.. even though in my heart I know he would forgive me no matter what.

    *A big part of me also feels he has never left me all along despite my doubts.

    Strange thoughts.. I know.

    This is truly a wonderful example of the beauty of Jesus Christ and his salvation for us all.

  279. Phil, we’re all unworthy of forgiveness.

    You and I both were born dead in sin, and nothing we have done in our lives has changed that. We have absolutely no power to make ourselves worthy of forgiveness and salvation. No good deed or righteous living or spiritual discipline can free you from the slavery of sin and death.

    So if you’re waiting for Jesus Christ to come into your life, stop waiting. He already came, and his sacrifice for undeserving, unworthy, hell-bound sinners is done. Complete. Finished on the cross.

    So there’s not anything to wait for–you can trust in Him and Him alone for your salvation, today.

  280. Thank you Kullervo for that insight.

    I have already set up a meeting with the local orthodox priest.
    He happens to be a good friend of mine and we have spoken on this topic before, but only briefly in passing. I certainly owe it a full conversation.

    This is a very large, and a bit unexpected step for me. I do feel Christ in and around me. I cannot deny that. It’s exciting brother!

    I thank you for your guidance!

  281. #1 – It’s not particularly Mormon in nature.

    #2 – It’s not a smokescreen

    #3 – Most Mormons don’t even do it – I’m one of the few Mormons I know who actually advocates for Trinitarian thought in our religion.

    #5 – I think you’re aware of this Kullervo.

  282. Finally, I think you already know how impressed I am with the attempt to limit and restrict the concept of the Trinity.

  283. I’m not sure what the point is of insisting that the Mormon concept of God is “trinitarian,” other than to obscure the real, colossal and fundamental differences between Mormonism’s god and the Triune God of orthodox Christianity.

    No matter what word or words you use to name the two ideas, they are still irreconcilably different.

  284. The point is Kullervo, that the concept of Trinity is far too good a concept to allow it to leave it to classical Christian theology.

    There’s been a lot of unnecessary baggage attached to the concept over the centuries.

    I’m simply standing for the proposition that ideas don’t belong to sole individuals or sole churches.

    The Trinity doesn’t belong to classical Christianity. It’s a bigger idea. And if Mormonism as a movement awakens to this birthright – you won’t stop it.

  285. Bah, stuck between two ideas: “to leave it in the hands of…” and “to leave it to…”

    Oh well.

  286. You can call your burgundy 2001 Ford Focus “trinity” and I certainly can’t stop you, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as one God in three coequal and coeternal persons. And since for 1,500 years Christians have been using the word “trinity” as a technical term to describe one God in three coequal and coeternal persons, I’m not sure what the purpose of “claiming” the word for your burgundy 2001 Ford Focus is other than duplicity and smokescreen.

    You’re not claiming the “idea” of trinity. The “idea” of trinity is one God in three coequal and coeternal persons. You’re just claiming the word.

    The point is, you are advocating the use of a technical theological term used by Christians to mean something other than what Christians use when they mean it. And that is a recurring Mormon misbehavior.

  287. Sadly Seth, I’m in 100% agreement with Kullervo. You’re just hijacking a word and attaching you’re own definition.

  288. Not a good analogy – because the Mormon view of the Godhead has vastly more in common with traditional Trinitarianism than a used automobile.

    Trinity – three divine beings who are profoundly and absolutely united in some way.

    The end.

    And Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics, and whoever else don’t have standing to say otherwise.

  289. Not a good analogy – because the Mormon view of the Godhead has vastly more in common with traditional Trinitarianism than a used automobile.

    Trinity – three divine beings who are profoundly and absolutely united in some way.

    The end.

    Well now you are making a historical claim that you have to back up.

    So what’s your source for that definition of “traditional Trinitarianism?” Because I’m pretty sure that none of the apostles or Church fathers ever said “three divine beings who are profoundly and absolutely united in some way.”

  290. You use the terms “connected in some way.” This is not the Trisagion “Trinity” definition or theological belief.
    God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit are 1 co existent spiritual being and absolutely connected in EVERY WAY. This can not be confused with any other explanation.

    I certainly don’t want to gang up on you Seth as you do make some valid points; however this is one thing I half disagree with you on.

  291. oh Seth. . . .

    I hear that Tom Brady went to the Super Bowl this year because a “Denver Bronco” is a football player who has played football in Denver. (ergo Brady is a Bronco). If anyone has hijacked the term it’s Peyton Manning and John Elway.

  292. Well, hang on a second, Phil–God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit have one nature (homoousios), but they are three persons (hypostases). If you say they are one in every way you start leaning towards modalism, which is a heresy that was perpetuated by the Sabellians in antiquity and by Oneness Pentecostals today.

  293. Ok. I agree my wording is a bit shaky.

    The doctrine of the Holy Trinity to me is the explanation of God being 3 persons in TOTAL unity. He is 1 in essence; however has shown himself as 3 persons ( The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Separate persons with individual attributes, yet 1 complete essence of being.

    By saying EVERY WAY I misguided my thoughts.
    God is 1 Complete being that has shown in 3 different forms. Maybe that is a little better.

    Thanks!

  294. You’re right Kullervo – the early apostles didn’t say that. In fact they didn’t say much about the Trinity at all – Paul included. And the early church fathers in the first 200 years of Christianity’s existence didn’t say much about it either. Most of the real Trinitarian theology which you claim to be the only Trinitarian theology that counts came after Nicea, after theologians decided to rescue Christianity from a state of philosophical confusion by infusing it with Greek philosophical concepts on “being.”

    Which was daring, innovative, and highly useful for the history of Christian theology at the time. But is no longer necessary.

    If you chuck the Nicene Greek fan club out of the picture, you are left with what the BIBLE says about Trinity.

    Which is my definition.

    All you and Tim are doing is declaring victory by mere fiat.

  295. I take it back, I’m actually all for it Seth. Please continue convincing Mormons that they are Trinitarian. I think in the long run it will be more beneficial for my hope and dreams for the LDS church than Joseph Smith’s.

  296. If you chuck the Nicene Greek fan club out of the picture, you are left with what the BIBLE says about Trinity.

    Which is my definition.

    Sigh.

    No.

    The Bible says, unambiguously, that there is only one God. But the Bible shows us Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Explicit oneness, apparent threeness. The Trinity is the only doctrine that takes both at face value. The notion that the Trinity is an unnecessary and unbiblical complex construct built out of Greek philosophy is a lie told by antitrinitarian heretics like you.

    The Trinity is the only doctrine that looks at God’s explicit oneness and apparent threeness and says “both are true.” Modalists say that God’s apparent threeness is illusory. Tritheists like you say that God’s explicit oneness is a lie (the fact that you invent a new definition is irrelevant–like I said above, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s what you mean when you say it).

    The exent to which the Trinitarian Church Fathers used concepts and ideas from Greek philosophy to try to explain how God’s oneness and threeness can both be true is secondary at best. And it doesn’t make it not true (the atom is also a concept from Greek philosophy).

  297. All you and Tim are doing is declaring victory by mere fiat.

    Or how about, victory by the evident working of the Holy Spirit throughout the history of the church in a way that is consistent with God’s infallible word?

  298. Just an observation about the three of us:

    All three of us seem to have become an awful lot more dogmatic over the years.

  299. Hearing Kullervo bearing testimony like an Evangelical fundamentalist is, I must say, a bit of a surreal experience.

  300. Kullervo – how do you define “being” and “self?”

    That is the crux here – not the biblical declaration of oneness and threeness.

    How do you define and restrict what being is and what self is?

    For THOSE issues – classical trinitarian theology has borrowed Greek philosophical constructs that are unnecessary and unbiblical.

  301. And incidentally Tim, any Mormon who wants to argue for Trinitarianism is going to end up going more back to Joseph Smith’s viewpoint than that of later Church voices on the subject.

  302. Hearing Kullervo bearing testimony like an Evangelical fundamentalist is, I must say, a bit of a surreal experience.

    I know, right? Soli Deo Gloria.

  303. It seems the debate, “Are Mormons Christians?” comes down to “Are Mormons Trinitarian?” What Seth seems to be saying is that even Mormons can be Trinitarian, if you filter out a lot of out-moded Greek philosophy and take the Bible at its word alone.

    What is baffling to me is why any Trinitarian Christian would feel the need to point out why this Greek philosophy is so intricately important with the Christian religion that all others must be vilified. This seems like the position of a philosophical Luddite.

    Intuition tells me that this is a purely political move. I have seen this sort of religious purificationism in other contexts and it always seems part of a political agenda to create ir maintain unity and loyalty. The creeds are the loyalty oath of orthodox Christianity. Why else were people tortured and killed for slipping the wrong word—for some reason I don’t think this was evidence of the triumph of the Holy Spirit in protecting the Church from the evils of straying from Thomistic certainty.

    I think loyalty oaths have their place, no question, but I think the loyal generally equate the content of the oath with “truth” about something that is mysterious. This is equally present in Mormonism. If there is ever to be a intellectually honest discussion rather than a mere game between two competing teams, the dialogue has to rise above—“We are like you vs. you can’t say that you are like us”

  304. Well said.
    I didn’t even want to go down this road.

    3 beings of 1 essence.

    The Trinity is the most beautiful mysteries of the Christian faith.

  305. As long as Mormons keep saying that their faith is the same as Christianity, it is the duty of Christians to point out that it is not.

  306. Problem with that point Kullervo. I did not at any point, and in any fashion say we were the same as you.

    I said that you’ve added unecessarily to what it means to be Trinitarian – what I did was challenge that and say that classical historical Christianity (as defined by the winners) does not have exclusive rights on the definition of the word “Trinity” any more than it has exclusive rights on the word “Christian.”

    Really the argument over “are Mormons trinitarian?” is absolutely identical to the argument over “are Mormons Christian?” The same points apply.

  307. What is baffling to me is why any Trinitarian Christian would feel the need to point out why this Greek philosophy is so intricately important with the Christian religion . . .

    because like it or not Greek philosophy is the language we currently speak when it comes to technical philosophy. Whether we should be villifiy or killing people over their imprecision is another matter (and frankly something you know is a huge overstatement).

  308. I am a Mormon

    I firmly believe that by Grace alone, Faith alone, and by trust and confession alone I am saved.

    ***I need not do work towards my salvation ANY FURTHER.

    I profess that I am a Mormon.

  309. Clearly I can’t be Mormon.. right?

    This is why calling yourself Christian, or believers in the Trinity is sensitive to Christians.

    Christians do not “own” words; however the definition of those words defines criticle variables in the faith.

  310. No Tim.

    Greek WAS the philosophical language we all spoke.

    It isn’t anymore. And it hasn’t been for quite a while actually.

    And I would certainly hope the Bible is able to reach beyond the confines of Greek philosophy. Both Aristotle and Plato made a lot of assumptions about cataloging and describing things that have since been thoroughly disputed.

    And anyway, you aren’t really saying that the next Evangelical catechism ought to be “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as understood and interpreted by Greek nomenclature” are you?

  311. Phil, obviously the term Christian is a LOT broader than the term Mormon is.

    I don’t claim to be Eastern Orthodox because I have not met the requirements of belief and ritual needed to become Eastern Orthodox – because the Eastern Orthodox Church has the right to self define that organization. But I do claim to be Christian.

    Because the Eastern Orthodox do not have the right to define what Christianity is.

  312. That said Phil, I’m perfectly fine with defining differences between Catholics and Mormons, or Eastern Orthodox and Muslims.

    But I want it to be absolutely clear what differences we are basing the distinctions upon.

    If you want to say I’m not Eastern Orthodox because I do not believe in the co-substantial unity of the Father and the Son as laid down in Nicea, fine. That’s accurate.

    But it’s not accurate to say I’m not Christian because I reject that formulation.

    Saying I’m not Christian makes it sound like I don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, or his status as God. Which is not true.

    What you really should be saying is that I don’t accept the co-substantial unity of Father and Son and Spirit, not that I’m “not Christian.”

  313. Seth,
    The Eastern Orthodox Church welcomes ALL Christians into their Church.

    They would not allow a Mormon into their Church because of: (few examples)
    (1) It’s Origin (how, and by whom it was created).
    (2) The idea of Jesus Christ and what you need for salvation.
    (3) The belief in the existence of many Gods, and the possibility of working towards being a God yourself in the afterlife.
    (4) The belief that God had physical intercourse with the Virgin Mary to create his Son. (This is a big blow to the Trinity aspect)

    These are just a few reasons that it bothers Christians that you would call yourselves Christians.

    Christian faiths share the same fundamental ideas that Mormonism lacks in many areas.
    (This should make sense)

    Saying this.. you would be welcomed with open arms to visit the Orthodox Church as often as you would like.

    Unfortunately I am not allowed to set foot in your Temple as a visitor. I would have very much liked that in my visit to Provo.

  314. Phil I don’t believe that God had physical intercourse with Mary. If you walked into most LDS chapels in the United States and asked a random sampling of members if they believed God had sex with Mary, you’d find very few who actually believe that.

  315. As for becoming Gods – do you mean to imply that we believe we become independent equal competing powers with God?

    My belief is that we are facilitated in becoming like God and inheriting everything he has as joint-heirs in Christ (as it states in the New Testament). Beyond that, it’s all speculative as far as I’m concerned.

    And let’s be clear – I believe we become unified with God the Father the same way Jesus Christ is unified with God the Father. Which still leaves Mormonism very much a monotheistic religion.

    And I agree that Eastern Orthodox should not allow Mormonism into their own fold (we have competing claims with the E. Orthodox and would not expect such invitation). I would just point out that the boundaries of “Christianity” are larger than the boundaries of what the E. Orthodox would allow in.

  316. That being said..
    To be a full time member of the Orthodox Church you would go through the process of being baptized in the Church.

    The Church would never deny a fellow Christian the thought of salvation if it followed the same fundamental beliefs.
    It also does not deny salvation to those who are unaware, lost, or misguided for God is merciful.

  317. It sounds like Mormons don’t know what to believe. Those explanations are typical smokescreen tactics. So much has “conveniently” changed over its short existence that I can’t get a grasp on it.

    If you want the title of “Christian” than by all means use it. It does not mean that you meet the fundamental criterias of being Christian.

    The addition and worship of the Book of Mormon alone as being the truest book negates this.
    You can’t smokescreen that.

    Christians follow the Bible alone and only the bible as its cornerstone to the faith.
    Mormons would become the only “Christian” Church in the world with their own book and rules.
    Do you see why this is a bit blasphemous to all Christians (No matter their denomination)?

  318. Phil, the moment you call “smokescreen tactics” you immediately accuse the other party of either:

    A. dishonesty or
    B. incompetence

    Either way, you are telling the person that they are unqualified to explain their beliefs to you, and that their opinion does not matter.

    Is this your intention?

  319. No. I do not believe you to be either of those.

    I do see this often with Mormon responses. Dilluting or even changing what is written in their doctorines to better represent themselves. Examples of this are everywhere.
    -LDS propaganda posters picturing the Bible on top of the BOM.
    -Claiming Joseph Smith was inspired instead of a prophet that spoke to God.

    I don’t have the energy to go down the long list here.

    I hope you just see where the Christians are coming from when they say Mormons are not Christian. Topical differences exist among Christian sects but they do come from the same fundamental background.
    -No extra book (BOM)they believe to be better.
    -No prophet founder that spoke to God.
    *another long list I don’t have the energy for.

    The core foundation of the Mormon Church and the way it was created alone is viewed as blasphemy by Christians. This is discluding all the garbage in its history.. Polygamy, Blacks, Book of Abraham, etc. etc. etc.

  320. I don’t believe many Christian sects “worship” the bible. They read from it and study it to a certain degree.
    I love and appreciate the New Testament and the Gospels written in them.
    Not sure what your getting at.

    I hope your not trying to justify the BOM in the eyes of a Christian..

  321. Phil, Are Roman Catholics Christian?

    What do you personally do with garbage that you find in traditional Christian history?

  322. Phil, I objected to your statement that we “worship” the Book of Mormon.

    Because we don’t. We never have, and we never will.

    We worship God the Father – not a book.

  323. Phil, are we allowed to learn about our own doctrine, refine it, and find new and better explanations for it without being accused of dishonesty?

    In the case of God having sex with Mary – that was something said by an LDS leader back in the 1800s. It never became widely popular within the LDS Church, was never accepted as doctrine, certainly isn’t something believed today, and is not something I believe.

    So why do you – an outsider with only passing knowledge of Mormonism and interest in it – get to say what Mormon belief is, while I – someone who has lived the religion his whole life – do not?

    What makes your version the “real” version, and my version a “mere smokescreen?”

  324. I mean, it sounds more to me that you formed an awful lot of prejudices about what Mormonism is, and when Mormons disagreed with you, you got angry and decided to accuse them of dishonesty so you could keep your prejudices intact.

  325. Which still leaves Mormonism very much a monotheistic religion.

    Indeed, by re-defining montheism!

    the moment you call “smokescreen tactics” you immediately accuse the other party of either:

    A. dishonesty or
    B. incompetence

    In any case that is precisely what I meant above when I said “smokescreen.” Not you personally, but Mormonism as a religion, most definitely.

  326. Tim – worshiping the Book of Mormon? This is where people like yourself could do some good by stepping in.

  327. “Indeed, by re-defining montheism!”

    I’d like to introduce you to a Jewish friend of mine.

  328. Either way Kullervo, if that’s your attitude, why engage at all?

    Obviously, you’ve given up Mormonism as a bad job and don’t believe it capable of explaining itself in the first place. So aren’t you basically fundamentally opposed to what this blog claims to be about from the word “go?”

    Why bother commenting here at all if your just going to declare the other side incompetent to explain itself?

    It’s a very cynical stance to take.

  329. And I’ll repeat:

    “Smokescreen” is usually a code word for:

    “This argument isn’t going the way I wanted it to – they’re using arguments I didn’t expect or can’t deal with effectively – so I’m going to pout, suck my thumb, and call them all liars and stupid-heads.”

  330. I can write ten pages here but I won’t.
    Believe me when I say this. I hold no predjudice. I’m just simply giving you the other side.

    I don’t speak for Catholics, but I know they share the same fundamental beliefs as all Christians.

    We are so far apart that this is a mute conversation.

    And brother the 1800s, 1900s weren’t that long ago.

  331. What does the 1800s not being that long ago have to do with anything?

    Our church today doesn’t preach it, teach it, or believe it – so what exactly is your problem?

  332. Jared,

    Is it an outmoded philosophical system? Or is it the historic and current language used to articulate an understanding of Revelation. Watching Mr. McCraney, like you, he is so worked up about the idea of Greek philosophy that he cannot even begin to see what the questions that Athanasius and his peers were trying to answer. Is it proper to worship Jesus Christ? Why did God become man? What does it mean for Christ to the representation of his essence of God? What does it mean for Christ to have equality with God? etc.

    Never mind for the moment that Mormons and Mr. McCraney have come up with a new set of answers to these questions, the idea that the Church would or should abandon its historic language because some people have a problem with the Africans, Asians and Europeans and all the other peoples (that don’t look like them) that took part in answering these questions seems the height of presentist intolerance.

  333. Gundeck, you’re assuming that Mormon scholars haven’t seriously engaged the old debates or bothered to understand them.

    I know several Mormons scholars who understand these debates and the questions they sought to answer better than you do.

  334. “I don’t speak for Catholics, but I know they share the same fundamental beliefs as all Christians.”

    You’re moving the goal posts. This happens a lot to me when I talk with Protestants. They point out characteristics that make Mormons not Christians without realizing that they’re excluding Catholics in the process. When called on it, they move to a different criteria.

    Stick with the traditional view of the Trinity. That’s all you got.

  335. Revise that point to – there is plenty of Mormon engagement with the old dilemmas and arguments.

  336. I am inclined to say that any religion that teaches the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is part of the world religion known as “Christianity,” for what that’s worth. Not orthodox Christianity by any means, but Christianity.

    I think you can meaningfully distinguish between the world religion called “Christianity” on the one hand, and the Church universal and Bride of Christ on the other. But I still do understand why Evangelicals have concerns about saying Mormons are “Christian.”

  337. Seth,

    I’m not assuming anything of the kind. I remember you telling me that Mormon scholars think the Asherah pole in the Old Testament was a form of worship of Heavenly Mother. I am sure Mormon Scholars can come up with many good answers.

  338. Either way Kullervo, if that’s your attitude, why engage at all?

    Why did Athanasius engage with Arius? Why did Augustine engage with Pelagius?

    I engage because I believe that Mormonism leads people–including many people who I love and care about and am close to–away from truth and away from a saving faith in Jesus, and as such it should be passionately and publicly refuted.

  339. Then be more specific Gundeck. You said “Mormons.”

    i.e. – pretty much most or all of them.

  340. Right Kullervo, but in that case, your aim is not the aim of this blog anyway.

    It’s also a stance that is unlikely to give you any great understanding of the other side. Not that I mind I guess. I can have a theological fistfight as much as the next guy. But it is a dismissive stance that poisons the well before the other side even has a chance to make their case.

    I know at least a couple people who left this blog because they got tired of this kind of game-fixing and posturing.

    I guess it doesn’t bug me as much as it bugged them.

    But I’m also more aggressive than they are. For me, “smokescreen” is a word that puts a smile on my face, because it’s usually a flag that the other side is feeling the heat and can’t come up with a rebuttal. Which means I’m winning, whether they’ll admit to it or not.

    “Smokescreen” is, at the end of the day, a pretty wussy comeback.

    Yeah… I probably don’t belong on a dialogue blog either.

  341. Yes I said “Mormons have come up with a new set of answers to these questions.” I would assume that Mormon scholars would be part of the formulation of these answers and that pretty much most or all of them would have answers to these questions.

    If in some way this was insulting or derogatory it was not meant that way and I apologize.

  342. Nah, I just read it as you saying that “Mormons” are presentist and haven’t seriously engaged in the historical questions. You say that wasn’t the intent – good enough for me.

  343. Tim’s been crystal clear–even in this thread–that his ultimate intent is to bring Mormons to a saving faith in Jesus and away from the things about Mormonism that are false.

  344. No, I think the screed about those nasty Greeks is historically and theologically uninformed no matter who makes it.

    I mean just the fact that so few of the councils of the early Church have withstood the test of time should inform people that there must be something in the eccumincal councils that needs to be understood.

    Or if you are going to argue that the Greeks invented the Trinity isn’t the elephant in the room that it was the Greeks who opposed the Trinity by using the same philosophical language?

    For Mormons this really doesn’t matter, theologically you wrote off all of the creeds but for Mr. McCraney it is a different story.

  345. Who said anything about “nasty Greeks?”

    I happen to think Greek thought supplied a crucial and needed ingredient for Christianity to thrive as a theology for over a thousand years. I don’t actually blame the Nicene fathers for making the decisions they did either.

    But that is that and this is this.

  346. worshiping the Book of Mormon? This is where people like yourself could do some good by stepping in.

    Yes, claiming that Mormons worship the Book of Mormon is about a ridiculous a claim as anyone might happen to make. Phil, please stand corrected.

  347. I don’t think Greek philosophy is an invalid or unimportant language to explain things. But nobody seriously claims it to be inerrant. Other philosophical positions make the formulation of the Trinity essentially irrelevant. In the end, my point is that have to choose your philosophy before you choose your theology. And the philosophy often determines what questions are important and answerable and the types of conclusions that are trustworthy.

  348. The Mormon equivalent to Bibliodolatry is Prophetidolatry or Smithidolatry. The Mormon version is about as common as the Evangelical version in my experience.

  349. Regarding this blog and dialogue:

    “FIRST COMMANDMENT: The primary purpose of dialogue is to change and grow in the perception and understanding of reality and then to act accordingly.”

    90% of the arguments against Evangelicalism or Mormonism don’t do this. Contrary to popular ideas about the adversarial system, it doesn’t generally lead to understanding, only an uneasy result imposed by authority.

    Among the intellectually bent, understanding itself should lead to acceptance or rejection of falsehood. Flippant attacks against either religion, repeating re-hashed tropes and arguments don’t help either, whether mouthed by the “unbiased” or those with axes to grind.

    In my experience interfaith religious dialogue, is dramatically less creative and enlightening than philosophical dialogue because of the inability of participants to stifle contempt or at least mask it with clever argument.

  350. Why do I have no memory of Germit? I just looked him up in the comments section and he was clearly a force of nature. But I couldn’t figure out where he stood. Can some one recap the life of Germit for me?

  351. Jared,

    I understand that you believe you choose your philosophy before you choose your theology. I don’t think it needs to work that way as we see with thinkers in different philosophical schools who have similar theologies. I agree that your philosophy can drive your theology but doesn’t mean a philosophical position makes the formulation of the Trinity essentially irrelevant? There isn’t a single philosophy in orthodox Christianity but there is one doctrine of the Trinity.

  352. There isn’t a single philosophy in orthodox Christianity but there is one doctrine of the Trinity.

    That is that power of orthodoxy, I tend to think that philosophical theology is the deepest sort of apology. Philosophy itself has proven itself an extremely lousy method of reaching consensus. I will have to explain my view better to really answer your question completely.

  353. The Mormon equivalent to Bibliodolatry is Prophetidolatry or Smithidolatry. The Mormon version is about as common as the Evangelical version in my experience.

    My plea to Tim was more about sticking to reality-based critiques of Mormonism. It actually hurts reasonable dialogue or inquiry when imaginary accusations are left unchecked. I’m glad he agrees with me. Still, I won’t deny that Prophetidolatry is the Mormon equivalent to Bibliodolatry.

  354. It actually hurts reasonable dialogue or inquiry when imaginary accusations are left unchecked.

    That’s an important point that can’t be overemphasized. Not only do imaginary accusations hurt reasonable dialogue or inquiry, but they undermine any legitimate criticism that the person might also be making.

    It happens in politics as much as it does in religion.

  355. You can’t write an article denoting another article while simultaneously supporting everything it said. By the way, you missed the entire point. No one gives a damn if Mormons tell people about this stuff. The point of the article was to explain all of the crazy crap Mormon doctrine teaches, so whether they’re open about it or not is irrelevant. Basically you just proved to me that Mormanism is a cult created by a lunatic, and somehow there are people out there stupid enough to believe they get their own planet and all of the other crazy nonsense Joseph Smith invented.

  356. I enjoyed reading the initial article and as a sixth generation Mormon, I appreciate the thoughtful responses and fairly educated and balanced denouncement of bullet statements purposefully written in misleading ‘headline language’.

    In reading the history of posts written over the last 5 years, I notice that the earlier comments were leading to a greater understanding. The more recent posts…not so much. This leads me to my general comment on point #2 in the original post;

    I find it rather odd that with all the different denominations and sects of Christianity in the world today that this point #2 is even listed as something “Mormons won’t tell you about”…as if for some reason all the other Christian religions out there all believed that collectively that all other forms of Christianity, except the restored Gospel taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were somehow all correct and that everyone (again, except Mormons) were going to all end up together in one happy place.

    It’s a fact that even within sects of Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and even Mormon religions (RLDS, etc) that the teachings and beliefs are so vastly different from one another regarding what’s required and what’s not in order to return to our Heavenly Father and His good grace, that we can’t all be right. This is not a belief-system that is unique to Mormons. Unfortunately, it is a reality that we can’t all be right with such varied teachings. This is universal to all of Christianity. Fortunately, there is one God, one Son and one Holy Ghost. Fortunately, He has provided ways for us to learn, grow, make mistakes, repent and grow some more. Fortunately, we have the unique gift of prayer and the Testator / the Holy Ghost who can testify to us of all truths if we but ask. Fundamentally, this is at the core of Mormon theology.

    I just wanted to put a little perspective out there as a Mormon, it strikes me as very odd for another Christ-believing person to approach me (a Christ-believing person) and tell me that they could never believe how or what I do because my religion teaches that it is the only church on the face of the earth teaching the true and restored Gospel…that by inference, what is being said is that ‘My religion is the true form of Christianity and that the Christianity taught within the Mormon religion is all false. It’s just very hypocritical and thinly constructed viewpoint. After nearly 50 year on this wonderful earth, having lived nearly half my life in California and the rest in various places throughout the world, there isn’t much I haven’t heard or studied about my own and others religions. My only advice to all of us is to strive to do a better job of adhering to the teachings and counsel of our Savior found in the first few verses of Mathew chapter 7.

  357. Of course, we ought never judge another’s salvation (or not). Jesus warns us that that is not our business…but His alone.

    That said, we are certainly free, as Christians, to critique others who claim to know what it is that God is after.

    We Lutherans default to what the Bible tells us about it. And that is that there is nothing that ‘we can do’ to affect how God views us. But that in Christ, through faith alone, for “the forgiveness of the ungodly”, that we are made right by God. Not even for our own sakes…but for Jesus’ sake.

    Thanks.

  358. Hello. Very good post. One point. When talking about magic, saying something is “just folk magic” doesn’t make it any less evil. Occultism, in all its shapes and forms is definitely despised by God. Not to mention, the sacrifice, etc. Just anted to throw that in. Glad to read this post, thank you for it.
    Gary

  359. What Mormon teach about the birth of a handicapped Child band minorities especially in third world countries

    “This privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valient, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations….” (Decisions for Successful Living pp 164-65) TLDP:497

    “There is no truth more plainly taught in the Gospel than that our condition in the next world will depend upon the kind of lives we live here. …Is it not just as reasonable to suppose that the conditions in which we now live have been determined by the kind of lives we lived in the pre-existent world of spirits? That the apostles understood this principle is indicated by their question to the Master when the man who was blind from his birth was healed of his blindness, ‘Master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2.) Now perhaps you will have a partial answer to some of your questions as to why, if God is a just Father, that some of his children are born of an enlightened race and in a time when the Gospel is upon the earth, while others are born of a heathen parentage in a benighted, backward country; and still others are born to parents who have the mark of a black skin with which the seed of Cain were cursed and whose descendants were to be denied the rights of the priesthood of God” (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 164-165).
    Mormons are famous for taking things out of context , Harold quotes the Apostles but doesn’t give Jesus’s response

    http://thetruthaboutmormonism-creeksalmon.blogspot.com/2014/08/what-mormon-teach-about-birth-of.html

  360. Thanks, I have just been searching for information approximately this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon so far. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

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