How Much Can I Get Away With?

I was recently asked by a Mormon: “How much false doctrine can one believe and still be ‘saved’?

The question was asked in the context of whether or not Jesus will have a literal 1,000 year reign on Earth after his Second Coming and if anyone who disagrees with me is going to Hell for believing false doctrine.

I think it’s a troubling question for many reasons but I understand why a Mormon would be asking an Evangelical about the implications of heresy.  Evangelicals for the most part reject Mormonism as a form of Christianity largely because the nature of God described in Mormonism is so radically different than the one defined in classic Christianity. (Specifically if there is more than one god, if Heavenly Father was once a man, if men can become gods and how the three figures of the godhead coexist as “one”).  If Mormons are determined to be outside the fold then why not someone with a different view of the end times or eternal security?

Since the question was originally asked about the salvation of an individual, I will answer concerning individuals but I think it’s also important to discuss the theology of Mormonism as a separate issue.

For The Individual

I think the question of how much false doctrine one can believe without affecting salvation is a bit like asking “how much adultery can a man commit and remain married?”  It’s a terrible way to approach salvation and sanctification. I think believing false doctrines are caused by ignorance or sin. Where they are caused by ignorance they should be illuminated and corrected.  When they are caused by sin they should be rebuked.

First off, salvation is not based on the works or lack of sin of an individual.  It is the free gift of Christ offered BECAUSE we are sinful and hold false beliefs about God. Our inability to live righteously on our own is the very reason Jesus offers us salvation. After salvation is received I think we can expect someone to become a disciple of Jesus and seek to conform their beliefs and actions to those of Jesus.  Leaving behind a life of sin and a pattern of false beliefs is a process that we pursue throughout our lives.  Asking “how many false things can I believe?” is just as fallacious as asking “when have I learned all true things?”  We are always on a journey of learning and living out more truth.

Everyone should seek to cast off every false belief because where truth is, God is known better.  Someone who wants to hold on to false beliefs must be asked “why do you want to maintain a false belief?”  For most I’m sure the answer will be “because I believe it to be a true belief.”  In such cases education and exhortation are required.

If someone says they have accepted the gift of salvation of Jesus but continue to sin and rebel against God we would probably assume that their conversion was not authentic. Who does and does not have an authentic conversion is something no man truly has the power to determine.  That is for God to decide.

For A System of Belief

There is no question that there is a great deal of diversity in Christianity about a great many doctrinal beliefs.  The reason denominations exist is because groups value and emphasize different aspects of scripture over others.  So why do Christians accept some Christian in the community of Christ but reject others (such as LDS and Jehovah’s Witness)?

If I entered an average Elder’s Quorum meeting at an LDS ward house and asked “Is there an eternal progression between the kingdoms in the after life?” or “What sort of creative powers belong to Heavenly Mother?” I would likely get a great many different opinions on the matter with a varying degree of passion and fervency to the answers.  Yet no one would question if any of the men in the room were true members of the LDS church.

BUT, if a woman entered the meeting and announced that she was the new prophet of this dispensation and that polyandry must be immediately be reinstated; I’m certain that almost everyone in the room would declare her to be an outsider. The LDS church would go as far as to say that she was a not a “Mormon.”  So why is it the LDS church wants to declare who is or is not a “Mormon?”   I don’t think it’s just a power play on the Church’s part.  They mostly want to avoid confusion.

A certain amount of diversity of opinion can be tolerated but if the lines are too broadly drawn there is confusion. The terms “Christian” or “Mormon” begin to lose their meaning.  The LDS church wants a loose definition of the term “Christian” for the same reason it wants a strict definition of the term “Mormon”; in order for the terms to serve its own purposes.

When any religion is defined the first and most central question is “how does it define God?” There are a great many parallels between Mormonism and Christianity. In some respects they are indecipherable. The overlaps are obvious.  But when it gets to the core description of the nature of God, they are incredibly different. Christianity says that there is only ONE god, Mormonism says there is a multiplicity of gods.  That contradiction causes too much confusion. This issue was not defined by Christians in the 19th Century in order to keep Mormons out of the club.  It was firmly set in place over 1600 years ago.

If Mormons wish to reject monotheism, they are free to do so.  If they wish to say that the LDS church is the only true Christian church and that only Mormons are Christians, they are also free to do so. Regardless of who is in charge of defining the word “Christian”; Mormons and Christians agree that we believe radically different things about a core doctrine. Over this, there should be no confusion.

Does this mean that Mormons lack salvation?  That is a question for the individual and ultimately for God to answer.  I encourage all individuals to cast off false prophets and hold tight to true prophets in their pursuit of God.

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286 thoughts on “How Much Can I Get Away With?

  1. You write, “If someone says they have accepted the gift of salvation of Jesus but continue to sin and rebel against God we would probably assume that their conversion was not authentic. Who does and does not have an authentic conversion is something no man truly has the power to determine. That is for God to decide.”

    You switch terms in the middle of your paragraph. First you refer to “accepting the gift of salvation”, and then to “conversion”. Assuming those terms refer to the same thing, what exactly are you converting from and to?

    If conversion means only “accepting the gift of salvation”, I don’t see in what sense it is a conversion. But also, I can’t see any reason why one could not accept that gift and yet continue sinning. Why not? Couldn’t I accept a gift from, say, my mom, and yet still continue neglecting or disrespecting her?

    Granted that there is some incompatibility between accepting gifts from my mom and not doing anything for her in return. It seems a little unfair and rather discourteous. But isn’t the whole point of the Evangelical notion of salvation that you do nothing in exchange for it, but merely receive it?

  2. Accepting that Jesus has the power to save is part in parcel of accepting that Jesus is God and worshiping him as such. Christianity teaches that accepting salvation produces a change in the heart (another term for conversion).

    I know that there is a fun word game to play with what “nothing we can do” in terms of negating even the act of receiving or accepting the gift. There’s a certain Lutheran who comments here that will insist that “nothing” means absolutely nothing. I’m not so interested in that discussion and conveying that we trust Jesus for our salvation rather than our righteousness.

  3. Tim:

    I appreciate the explanation. What it boils down to, if I’m understanding you right, is that if you experience a true conversion of the kind resulting in salvation, then your heart is changed such that you no longer “sin and rebel against God” (your words).

    The only thing I’m not clear on, is that I’m sure you don’t believe that Christians don’t sin. Do you mean that they stop committing major sins, or deliberate sins? Or just that they sin less than before?

    I realize this is a little off-topic and I’m sorry about that. I guess I was struck by the way you worded it.

  4. Agellius, I would point you to at least two thoughts. The first is found in 2 Cor 5:17 where Paul writes that we become new creations in Christ. The second is Jesus’s own words in John 3:3 and the subsequent verses.

    God initiates within us a change that we become something different from who we were before we believed and trusted Christ. I believe it is a common misconception that everything will be perfect once we become new creatures and are born again. We will not automatically be perfect. Our old selves work their way into our lives, but what changes is our awareness to our sin.

    Because we have been sanctified, that is set apart and made holy (this is a term of art, if you will), what was once acceptable is no longer acceptable, even if we continue to do those things. Sometimes, it may even be deliberate, though our hearts react very differently than before. Sanctification is a process wherein we learn to live as Christ would live. As you probably imagine, this can be difficult and there will be pitfalls.

    Also, don’t forget Paul’s continued struggle with sin. He writes about it often and in no soft terms.

    I guess to answer your question, I would say all of the above, hopefully, but at the same time, I have to say that the change is not necessarily immediate.

  5. Slowcowboy:

    Thanks for the explanation and as a Catholic, I pretty much agree with everything you said.

    I’m still puzzled by Tim’s statement that “If someone says they have accepted the gift of salvation of Jesus but continue to sin and rebel against God we would probably assume that their conversion was not authentic.”

    This sounds as though sin points to a lack of conversion, implying that those who are converted no longer sin. But possibly what he meant was that flagrant and unrepentant sin indicates lack of conversion, and I would agree with that too.

  6. Tim said, “When it gets to the core description of the nature of God, they [Mormons] are incredibly different.”

    I don’t see an incredible difference when all is considered. What Tim hasn’t brought up is that the LDS sees God as perfectly holy, loving, kind, all-powerful, creator and manager of the universe, judge of all, immortal, forgiver of the repentant, and punisher of the unrepentant. In my view, when all those are taken into consideration, the nature of the God of the LDS is not incredibly different.

    “Christianity says that there is only ONE god, Mormonism says there is a multiplicity of gods.”

    Yes, but the LDS only SERVES one godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—three who act together at all times, that is, act as one God). The Mormon Church serves only those three, who are one God (as stated in the last sentence of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon).

    In the above article, Tim goes to where the tires meet the pavement. Brave man.

  7. Nowhere in the New Testament do the words, “accept Jesus”, or “make a decision for Jesus” appear. They are not in there.

    Accepting Jesus means nothing. Other than maybe a desire to save one’s own skin from hell. How’s that for a motive? Is that love of God? Or love of one’s own skin?

    All those in Christ are fully sinful…and fully righteous. That Reformation principle drove the Catholics nuts…just as it drives many Evangelicals nuts, today.

  8. Agellius said

    if I’m understanding you right, is that if you experience a true conversion of the kind resulting in salvation, then your heart is changed such that you no longer “sin and rebel against God” (your words).

    Thanks for asking for clarification. No. I don’t know anyone who thinks you will no longer sin. I think you will begin a process where you root sin out of your life (by the power of the Holy Spirit). You will begin to sin less and understand God more.

  9. Hi Tim,
    I was beginning to think you were ignoring me. 🙂
    To answer your question, in so many words, yes: “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6 NIV).

  10. I think it means 3 things Cal.

    1. The three witnesses are testifying to the nature of the Book of Mormon not the nature of God, the irrelevance to my question what god do Mormons serve is obvious.

    2. The three witnesses made their statement in 1829 well before any of the unique LDS doctrines of god were taught, so we really don’t have a clear picture if the three witnesses meant their testimony to be understood as tacit agreement with the current LDS nature of god philosophies.

    3. Godhead is a term taken from translation of Colossians, Romans and Acts. Taken in this biblical context to say you believe in many gods but serve only 1 godhead really means you embrace polytheism. Either you are using godhead in a different manner from Colossians, Romans, and Acts; or you embrace polytheism; or I just don’t understand.

  11. Tim,
    I checked the dictionary for “god,” hoping to find a definition that says “a ruler.” Didn’t find one. So I’ll go to Ps. 82:6-7, where God calls governing human rulers “gods”: “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”
    Some people claim the “gods” in those vv. are divine beings, not humans. In any case, my point is that the word “god” can be used in various ways.
    SO, the real question is, “What does the LDS mean they say they have the potential to becomes gods?”
    I think I know, but I’ll let you go first. Please explain in a paragraph or so what they mean. Then we’ll compare that to the biblical view.

  12. Gundek,
    I think your second point is a good one. I’ll have to think about that.

    I don’t agree with your reasoning in your 3rd point. As you know, the LDS recognizes that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one in purpose and spirit. They use John 17 to show that Christians are one as the members of the Trinity are one (though they don’t normally use the term “Trinity”). This shows me that they recognize not just a oneness of purpose but a oneness of spiritual substance between the Father & Son.
    I think that when they deny the oneness of substance between the Father & Son they are thinking of the Father’s body being separated from Jesus’ body.
    If my understanding is lacking, you’re free to fill in the blanks.

    Assuming you agree with what I’ve said so far, I guess we’re back to whether someone has to believe the Father does not have a body to be accepted by him by faith in Christ. We’re back to “How Much Can We Get Away With?”

    Thanks.

  13. Cal, they are separate beings, fully, in Mormonism, as I understand it. A better example, I think, is how the members of the Supreme Court make up one court.

  14. I don’t mean to be fishing for blog hits, but I have given a lot of thought to the question of whether Mormons are Christians, and spent some time discussing it with them [see https://agellius.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/whether-mormons-are-christians/ and https://agellius.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/a-response-to-maximus-nothus-decretum-by-alonzo-gaskill/%5D.

    I don’t think error regarding the nature of God is sufficient to cut them out. For one thing, I doubt whether more than half of traditional Christians have a firm grasp of the Trinity. A lot of them, if asked to explain it, would lapse into either modalism or tritheism. They may not intend to be heterodox, they’re simply not well versed in theology. By the same token, there’s a lot of leeway in terms of what individual Mormons are allowed to believe about the Godhead in practice.

    If we give poorly instructed Protestants and Catholics the benefit of the doubt that they are Christians, despite having mistaken beliefs about God, on what ground to we exclude individual Mormons with mistaken beliefs? The only difference I can see is that Mormons are taught their mistaken beliefs by their church on purpose, whereas traditional Christians lapse into error through ignorance. But does that really matter when the end result is the same?

    For me the only objective way that Mormons can be excluded from the traditional Christian fold is through the invalidity of their baptism. If the Church is thought of as an organic unity, with new members added to the Body of Christ through baptism (1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3), then valid baptism is essential to being a part of that unity. This is the only way I’ve found to prevent it from being reduced to a question of “what can I get away with?”, since it’s a question of black or white: You’re either validly baptized or you’re not.

    Of course this brings up the question of how you determine that a baptism is valid. For a Catholic, that’s not a problem because the Church has already officially determined the invalidity of Mormon baptism. But for those who are interested in the reasonong process, see http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/mormbap1.htm.

    I realize that this line of reasoning may have little appeal for Evangelicals, for whom baptism may not be essential for membership in Christ’s Church, and therefore have no interest in questions of the “intention of the celebrating minister” and the “disposition of the recipient” of baptism. But when you based it on doctrine, I think it must always be a question not only of “what can I get away with?”, but also “to whom will I give the benefit of the doubt?” Since no denomination can claim complete doctrinal purity among its members, I think Mormons understandably resent not being given that benefit.

  15. Cal,

    No, I don’t think I agree with you at all.

    I don’t think Mormons describe the unity in their godhead as “one in purpose and spirit.” I think they describe it as, “one in purpose and doctrine.”

    I have never seen Mormons use John 17 to describe an essential unity in their godhead. I have seen them use John 17 to show the distinction between their father god and their son god.

    I don’t think Mormonism’s metaphysics allows for a distinction between the spiritual and material substance of their father god. Everything, spirit and body, is uncreated material in Mormonism. So the idea that the father god and son god are united in a single spirit just doesn’t fit Mormon philosophy.

    I also don’t think Mormonism’s distinct philosophy about gods can be encapsulated into their father god having a body.

  16. Cal said:

    SO, the real question is, “What does the LDS mean they say they have the potential to becomes gods?”

    “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” – Lorenzo Snow

    “Joseph Smith taught a plurality of gods, and that man by obeying the commandments of God and keeping the whole law will eventually reach the power and exaltation by which he also will become a god.” – Joseph Fielding Smith Jr.

    I’ll ask again. Does Christianity teach these things? Can you reach the power and exaltation of God?

  17. Mormons simply believe that to be made in the image of God means that as beings we are like Jesus Christ. He just happens to be perfect, and we needed a path to overcome our flaws to be perfect like him. The idea that we can sit in God’s throne is a literal reading of certain verses that pretty much say just that. The plurality of Gods doctrine may be talked about a lot, but in many ways it is deeply speculative. There is not enough “solid” revelation to flesh out what it actually means other than we should strive to be good people, which, in my view, is why you saw Gordon Hinckley publicly step away from it.

  18. Orthodox Christianity simply believes there is a distinction between being made in the image of God and being the image of God.

  19. Cal: I appreciate your depth of understanding the LDS position and beautifully explained.

    The Group:
    Yet, after reading these posts. I see others putting a twist to what we believe. If some one simply doesn’t agree with LDS theology, then it’s okay to say so, but to alter it to mean something else is a different area entirely.

    In John 17, is where I learned the nature of the God head. Jesus and The Father are absolutely seperate identities, yet so fused in unity, love and thought that they are considered one. And the prayer was that his disciples who are individual identies be one on the level that Jesus and his Father are one. This so obvious explanation of the Godhead, so clear doctrine indicates there is a unity of Godhead that are so united they are one God. I don’t consider it true montheism or true polytheism because all gain their power, knowledge, purpose and abilities originate from one source, God the Father, who has shared this power with two other entities, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.
    (And I must add, once I read John 17, I knew the LDS were teaching the correct concept of the Godhead and was a tipping point in bringing me to the LDS view of the Bible. I believed the words of Jesus over the theologians).

    The problem with theology is we get stuck with poor translations of the Old Testament. Elohim is plural and means “Gods”, the supreme God of Gods. All verses in the Old testament which say God is one and only should be translated “Gods”.
    Again, check Strong’s. I know Gundek hates Strong’s now.

    Over time the Hebrews did not understand this type of unity, they didn’t understand there was a Godhead, so they simply started believing such things didn’t exist and there was just one God and “gods” was a metaphoric representation of power. This is absurd but the way history unfolded.

    Jesus came for many reasons and those reasons were to teach the truth about God. Jesus called him “Father”and he revealed his father’s existence to those who lost the information. This very declaration is what caused the Pharisee’s to get Jesus killed.

  20. I don’t hate Strong’s Concordance . I use Strong’s as a concordance. It is unfortunate when people misuse Strong’s as a dictionary.

    A concordance helps you find a word.

    A lexicon helps define a word.

    A grammar helps you understand how a word is being used in context.

  21. Tim said:

    “Does Christianity teach these things? Can you reach the power and exaltation of God?”

    We have to define what a god is. And I say “god” with a little “g” verses “God” with a big “G”. I mean we will be in service of the Godhead.

    In Genesis, after Adam and Eve took of the fruit, it was said, “they are as gods knowing good and evil”. Apparently, knowing good from evil is a trait of God.

    God is immortal. We are promised immortality. That’s another trait of God.

    Jesus was once a mortal man, who became a God. Snow was correct.

    I cited Rev 3: 21 which clearly indicates as Jesus ‘over came’ and sits with the Father on his throne, the rest of us who ‘overcome’ will sit with Christ on the throne. This is a symbolic representation that we will be gods under the direction of Jesus. And what will we do with this power? What ever the God the Father and Christ tell us to do. We will not act independently of them.

    And there is more, but no need to go there.

    To answer the question: No, Christianity as defined at this web site, does not teach these things but the Bible and New testament, in particular, clearly does.

  22. Ray, there is no question we interpret these passages differently. Did my post help you understand your original question about my views on “how much heresy a person can believe?”

  23. As a point of interest, I’m interested to hear where you think I’m distorting Mormonism.

    Also, I’m curious about a hypothetical scenario; If a Mormon is teaching Mormonism the way I’ve come to understand it, what do you think that means for their eternal salvation? If these heresies are taught by a LDS prophet or General Authority does that make them a false prophet?

  24. Ray,

    Calling Strong’s a lexicon is like insisting the glossary in the back of a grammar school spelling book is as good as the Oxford English Dictionary.

    Let me help you. I’m not trying to be rude. Strong’s is a concordance. Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament is a lexicon.

    Even if you are using the Strong’s Extended Lexicon the definitions you are getting are condensed from Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon and Thayer’s Greek Dictionary.

    If your using an online resource such as “Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon” you are only getting the “gloss” (a brief definition) not the extended definitions, certainly not the complete lexical description of a word.

    I don’t have as many links to free Hebrew sites but the Louw-Nida Lexicon is available.

    http://www.laparola.net/greco/louwnida.php

  25. Hi!
    There are a lot of topics getting cross referenced here and so we move into other areas of discussion.

    Tim, I felt your lizard chart picture of our view of the Trinity was a very bad distortion. It fuses together elements of LDS theology into a mess and doesn’t represent our view of the Godhead.

    Let’s take a starting point. “In the beginning…” Genesis 1: 1. That is a reference point for the creation, primarily, of the earth. Did your Trinity exist at that time or was there just one divine spirit being? Or did the Trinity exist as three in one after Jesus came to earth?

    Frankly speaking the Trinity (and I don’t mean disrespect to your beliefs) is messy. I explained my experience on the other thread with the Baptist Church, and I am not mistaken about what I learned. And that version made some sense to me.
    However, you said it was wrong and you suggested that most Christians don’t really understand the Trinity and I ask, how could they? It seems very illogical and disorderly to me.

    At our common starting point, the beginning or creation of the earth, there was a Godhead: three supreme beings, one which is the head.
    To bring in a mother and spirit children who existed prior to that time and jamming them in a place totally alters the context of our three in one concept. The destiny of men is not part of the Godhead.

    Cal was correct in his description of the LDS God.

    “What Tim hasn’t brought up is that the LDS sees God as perfectly holy, loving, kind, all-powerful, creator and manager of the universe, judge of all, immortal, forgiver of the repentant, and punisher of the unrepentant. In my view, when all those are taken into consideration, the nature of the God of the LDS is not incredibly different.”

    The main difference we have is the physical make up of God the Father. And since Jesus set the pattern for the future then we are all to have a physical make up in the shape of men. It is not unreasonable to think God has a physical body too. That should not exclude us from being considered believers in Christ.

    I think you are well read but just in case you don’t know of the pagan influence in the creation of the Catholic Trinity, you should read this:

    http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

    Even I don’t agree with everything here because she is not aware of the ancient Hebrew Council of Gods, but over all she makes her point.

  26. Hi Tim, you asked:
    “If a Mormon is teaching Mormonism the way I’ve come to understand it, what do you think that means for their eternal salvation?

    You have a very good understanding of much of LDS doctrine. I don’t fault you there, but emphasizing our differences on a level that excludes relevant information creates a distortion. In your lizard picture, I would get the impression that Mormons think about a female deity all the time and pray to her. We seldom think about God the Father’s relationship with anyone other than ourselves and Jesus. In your picture Jesus is set off to the bottom, when he should be on the side and so closely related in thought will, character and powers your representation demeans our view of Christ.
    So, if some one is teaching what your picture represents then that’s false doctrine. It’s not whether there is a mother up there or that men will be exalted, it’s the order and structure that is important. That is why I have concerns when some one prays to saints, or to statues or when people pray directly to Jesus, thus bypassing the Father. Now, when people are new in the gospel and do this, God knows the intent of their heart, but when people become educated on the nature of God, then it can become a problem for their salvation (if they continue praying incorrectly). The more we know, the more accountable we become.

    I posed the question: How much false doctrine can one believe and still be saved?

    I never answered my own question because I wanted to hear from the group first, which I still haven’t heard a definitive answer.

    Your answer, Tim, is good; I don’t disparage it. But the answer to the question is obviously “a lot”.

    Yet, it is important to continue to learn and grow in knowledge as well as spirituality.

    And you said:

    “If these heresies are taught by a LDS prophet or General Authority does that make them a false prophet?”

    There is only one way to identify a false prophet. Christ said, “…by their fruits ye shall know them.”
    If the fruit is bad and encourages sin, then it’s not of Christ.

    This doesn’t mean mistakes or an incorrect view or assumptions should permeate the church but it can happen. I think you read my response to Solange about a false concept of “being perfect” spread through the Church. And what Apostles are for, is to stop such things and they did.

    LDS leaders are often pounced on after having made a mistake. This is usually done by other Christians, but when the Apostle Paul made a doctrinal blunder in the Book of Hebrews, no Christians call him a false prophet.

  27. The Trinity existed before the creation of the world.

    I didn’t say you were mistaken about what you were taught. I said you were taught something mistaken.

  28. Gundek,

    Strong’s is widely recognized as a credible source to understand the word meanings in the Bible.
    I’m sorry that troubles you and you have decided to attack a credible source.

    Tell me Gundek, are you a Young Earth Creationist?

  29. So, if some one is teaching what your picture represents then that’s false doctrine. It’s not whether there is a mother up there or that men will be exalted, it’s the order and structure that is important.

    I think this highlights how significant our differences are. To orthodox Christians the relevant question is “Who is a deity?”. The answer for us is “ONLY the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

    You want to divert the question and ask “Who is worthy of worship (what’s the order and structure like)?” It’s not an irrelevant question, but it is a DIFFERENT question. Yes we agree, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the only persons who are worthy of worship. But when the LDS church teaches that there are many more deities that the godhood, they show they have a significantly different understanding of the nature of God than we do. If they want to teach something different, that’s fine.

    If you think that the only persons who can be called deity in all possible universes are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit I’m very glad to hear it. I hope your opinion spreads. But it is not what has been traditionally taught by the LDS Church. The Community of Christ has rejected those past teachings and I accept them as a Christian church. There is some reason to believe the same will happen with the “Mountain Saints”, but it hasn’t happened yet. I know from personal experience that Mormons will over emphasize the similarities with Protestants, but as soon as they think they are alone, they will trumpet how magnificent they’re divergent views are.

    FWIW, I know Mormons who worship and pray to Heavenly Mother.

    Do you think they highest level of salvation can be found in a Protestant church? I think Joseph Smith was a liar and a charlatan. I absolutely reject him and the gospel he preached. I hope to prevent it where ever I can. Am I saved?

  30. “The Trinity existed before the creation of the world.”

    I agree, meaning the Godhead.

    Is your view of the Trinity in the creed? I don’t remember reading it.

    Is there Bible support for this?

    What do you say when Jews say there was no such thing in there Old Testament?

  31. Here is the text of the Nicene Creed if that is what you are asking about:

    I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

    Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

    And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  32. Ray,

    “are you a Young Earth Creationist?” Asks the guy using Strong’s as his principal biblical resource…

    I think you basically misunderstand what I am trying to explain. Strong’s is only giving you a gloss. If you want to reference the original languages you may want to consult the Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon or the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament or any resource that gives you an expanded definition.

    I’m not trying to tell you what to think I’m only trying to give you better tools in your study,

  33. Is there Bible support for this?

    Of course, we wouldn’t believe it without Biblical support. Try John 1 for starters. Jesus is the Word by which all things were created, nothing existed that exists without Jesus.

  34. Okay Gundek, I’ll take you at your word; then thank you for the reference.

    Tim,
    I liked the Jewish link.

    So, if you will clarify something, that would be nice.

    You say Jesus is his own spirit in his own body right now.
    So, before that was Jesus his own independantly thinking individual, physically as a spirit? And if so, then why isn’t this two seperate Gods who are one in purpose, unity and so on?

  35. You say Jesus is his own spirit in his own body right now.

    Jesus is his own person with his own body.

    So, before that was Jesus his own independantly thinking individual, physically as a spirit?

    Jesus was a unique person.

    Spirits are not physical. So it’s a category error to ask if he was physically unique as a spirit. It’s like asking how much does the color red weigh?

    Jesus shares the same spiritual essence with the Father and the Spirit. They are one in essence, unique in personality. They know and love one another as individuals. They stand known by the universe as one essence.

    And if so, then why isn’t this two seperate Gods who are one in purpose, unity and so on?

    It’s not so, there is only one spiritual essence known as God. The Bible is clear on this, there is only one deity. The members of the Trinity are not only unified in purpose, unity and love. They are also uniquely unified as the thing we call God.

    How many deities exist in Mormonism?

  36. What is “essence”?

    Are you saying spirit is essence?

    Then are we, too, essence?

    If so, then are we also a part of God as individuals like Christ was before he obtained a body?

  37. “How many deities exist in Mormonism?”

    As a whole – one. As individuals – three.

    If man is exalted and becomes a ‘god’, there is still one God as a whole and three individuals. We will still worship the Godhead.

    Here, I think the problem is defining a ‘god’.

  38. “Have you ever heard of the two natures of Christ?”

    In the sense that he was a mortal man and an eternal God, yes. In the sense that you are referring to, maybe not.

  39. The two natures of Christ as In the sense that the Son is fully man and is fully God without a confusion or mixing of the divine (God) and the created (man).

    The essence of God is what God is, he being. As it is used in trinitarian theology it is basically the same as the the substance of God except that essence also implies not only what God is but also God’s activity of being. I AM THAT I AM.

  40. What is “essence”?

    another way to say essence is “nature”.

    Are you saying spirit is essence?

    Yes, you could say “spirit nature.”

    Then are we, too, essence?

    Like angels, we have a spiritual essence. But it is unique from both God’s and an angel’s spirit. Like angels, we are created beings. Unlike angels, we also have bodies. God’s spiritual nature is different than ours because his is uncreated and divine.

    If so, then are we also a part of God as individuals like Christ was before he obtained a body?

    No because Christ has always existed as deity. We are created beings. We have not always existed. We have a unique spiritual nature that is different than God’s.

    “How many deities exist in Mormonism?”

    As a whole – one. As individuals – three.

    If this is what you believe, then you are a Trinitarian and I’m glad to know that you exist within the LDS church. I hope your influence grows.

    If man is exalted and becomes a ‘god’, there is still one God as a whole and three individuals. We will still worship the Godhead.

    Please answer this — If a man is exalted is he a deity? I’m not asking if he is worshiped as God, I’m asking if he is a deity. What happens to the exalted man if there is still only one God as a whole and three individuals? The classic Christian view is that he is glorified but still not divine, only God is a deity.

  41. Hi Tim,
    Just wanted to thank you for your very clear and truth-enlightening explanations of these fundamental aspects of the Gospel. You have a gift from the Holy Spirit for that.
    In my own experience as a former LDS and now as an Evangelical Christian, I also see the biggest reason for the need of a correct view of the nature of God being that, without it, we will consequently also misunderstand the nature of man and the truth of Christ’s work of redemption.

    The belief that God was just a mortal sinner as any of us, who attained his immortality through his savior and exaltation as god by his own efforts, makes God to be real small/limited compared to the one described by biblical prophets. (And, incidentally, a Father who seemingly, has not supremacy over Jesus, who has never sinned.)

    As where Adam and Eve and the Fall are concerned, if “they fell up and not down”, sin is really not that bad since they needed to experience it in order to learn to choose good and to be tested for their future role as god themselves. By definition, the sacrifice of Jesus becomes somewhat shallower than what the Bible describes He came to saves us from.

    It was as a new Evangelical Christian that I comprehended this as if a light had been turned on in my mind: in my previous belief of a finite God and a personal work-based system for salvation, I was diminishing Him and the work He had done fully and completely, on my behalf. By attempting to earn it by my works, I was telling Him His sacrifice had not been enough and I “had to do my part.”
    As Paul says, “stripping His Cross of its power.”

  42. Tim, I am honestly trying to understand your concept.

    You are saying God is made out of nothing but is a state of mind basically just a thought of will?
    There is absolutely nothing physical about God. He is not made of matter or energy or anything we understand or similar to anything we understand.

    And you get this out of the Bible?

    You asked:
    “If a man is exalted is he a deity?”

    I think our terms means such different things, you need to explain to me what a deity means to you. And you need to explain what a “glorified man” means. Other wise, we are speaking different languages.
    __________________________________________________________

    I said:
    “As a whole – one. As individuals – three.”

    You said:
    “If this is what you believe, then you are a Trinitarian and I’m glad to know that you exist within the LDS church.”

    What I said is LDS doctrine. There are sharp differences between us. Jesus said his ‘Father was greater than he’, which implies a structure system in the God head as the Catholic Trinity says the three are co-equal.

    I hope you take the time to read the link I gave you concerning the coming forth of the Trinity.

  43. Solange:
    “in my previous belief of a finite God and a personal work-based system for salvation, I was diminishing Him and the work He had done fully and completely, on my behalf. By attempting to earn it by my works, I was telling Him His sacrifice had not been enough and I “had to do my part.”

    I don’t know what church you went to but it wasn’t the same one I attend now or even the one 30 years ago which is still the same. What you are saying is a skewed version of the LDS Gospel.

  44. You have got to be kidding.

    I have known scores of Mormons in my life…many have been quite close friends. And if there is anything that is rock solid in Mormonism, it is the belief that you get a better deal in the next life by what you do in this one.
    And that just isn’t a Christian belief. Not that many Christians believe the same way.

  45. The idea that Latter Day Saints ‘work their way to heaven’ is what I am referring to.

    We are saved by grace. Nothing we can do can cause us to be raised from the dead, remit us of our sins or be exalted.
    We are rewarded according to our works. This is one of the plainest of New Testament doctrines.

    This idea that we don’t need to lift a finger after we believe in Jesus is wrong. We should try and repent of our sins while calling upon God to help us. We should try and love our neighbor. These types of works don’t come automatically, especially depending on how self centered a person was before they accepted the Gospel. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man takes some effort on our part.
    Christ coming into our lives is not like demonic possession where some spirit is going to enter our body and dictate what we say and do from here on out. If this were true then adultery would not be rampant in the Christian community. We must choose whom we will serve and what we will do.

    Pauls reference to being saved by grace was to discourage those ancient saints who thought because they did this and that they were saved. Apparently, there was boasting about all the good things they did which was leading to a warped idea of how one is saved. Paul was letting them know, this wasn’t the case.

    Again, LDS culture, not doctrine, led many LDS to focus too much on works as the source of our salvation and once again the living Apostles have brought it back to where it’s supposed to be. Changing how the members think at large is like steering a big ship. To turn a big ship is a slow process. It can take decades to bring members back from something that got put in their heads by local leaders who misunderstood general leaders. (How Mormon culture develops away from Church doctrine is another topic).

    Had the LDS church not have living Apostles, then there would have been serious fracturing into denominations over this doctrine or that doctrine. That’s not the Lord’s way. In fact, I consider it bad fruit.
    The reason the Lord said we were to have Apostles and Prophets until we are all at the unity of the faith and until we achieved the perfection of Christ (Eph 4: 11-13) is for the very examples I have cited concerning being perfect and the topic of grace and works.

  46. According to both non-Mormon Christians and true Mormons, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is so full of truth and (eternal) life that he IS truth and life. Truth and life are two words that describe the essence of God. In that sense, Jesus and the Father and the Spirit are one in essence according to the LDS Church and non-LDS Christians.

  47. Ray,

    When you look at the number of Mormon denominations in such a short history you may want to reconsider using that to bolster your position.

  48. “I don’t know what church you went to but it wasn’t the same one I attend now or even the one 30 years ago which is still the same. What you are saying is a skewed version of the LDS Gospel.”

    Please, Ray. Let’s not deny the obvious just to attempt to have a comeback answer. If you do that, you will lead me to think that you are not clear on what LDS doctrine on salvation is.
    You know that what I am saying is exactly what the LDS version on salvation is. Which is a skewed version of the Gospel.

    Yesterday, I posted this in my reply to you, from LDS scripture. Do you mean to tell me that there’s been another change in doctrine?
    2 Nephi 25:23 “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
    This verse uses very similar words from Ephesians 2:8 as it states “it is by grace we are saved”, but after that, it just goes into another direction. Comparing, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no can boast.”
    3rd Article of Faith, “we believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

  49. “We are saved by grace. Nothing we can do can cause us to be raised from the dead, remit us of our sins or be exalted.
    We are rewarded according to our works.”

    Please, just pay close attention to what you wrote here. Do you see the dichotomy?

  50. “This idea that we don’t need to lift a finger after we believe in Jesus is wrong.”
    That is right. And that is also not biblical but only exists in Mormon culture in their description of what orthodox Christians believe.
    As the next verse in Ephesians 2:8-9 specifies, “for we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” After we receive forgiveness of sins through faith in His complete work for us, then through His Spirit, we begin producing good works.”

  51. We NEVER begin producing “good works”.

    “All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”

    He produces the good works in us. And we can’t even tell what they are most the time…probably.

    “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…”

  52. “Putting off the old man and putting on the new man takes some effort on our part.”

    It would require all of our effort and it would still not get the job done. This is done through the power of Christ’s blood in His work for us. Still in Ephesians (2:12-16) “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

    You said, “Christ coming into our lives is not like demonic possession where some spirit is going to enter our body and dictate what we say and do from here on out.”

    With all due respect Ray, this sentence of yours displays complete ignorance of the most basic biblical understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And it disturbs me that you would liken the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to a demonic possession.
    We don’t find the term “indwelling” in the N.T. John 14:17 is where in the text Jesus explains what happens when we place our faith in Him. The Holy Spirit comes to remain with us and takes residency in us.
    In verse 23 Jesus says He and the Father will come to the saved and make their home with him/her. That is only possible because the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one.
    In John, whenever Jesus talks and explains about the coming of the Holy Spirit, He describes Him as a guide, teacher, comforter, God in us, the one who convicts us of sin, but never did He say He would dictate and or force us to follow Him, that being contrary to the God-given freedom of choice we have. In my own life, His guidance, correction and His work of sanctification in me is made clear and because of His love for me and mine for Him, I am compelled to obey and follow.

  53. “All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”
    Yep. Without the Holy Spirit in us to bring them about, that is pretty much what they are.

  54. Ray,
    “Again, LDS culture, not doctrine, led many LDS to focus too much on works as the source of our salvation and once again the living Apostles have brought it back to where it’s supposed to be. Changing how the members think at large is like steering a big ship. To turn a big ship is a slow process. It can take decades to bring members back from something that got put in their heads by local leaders who misunderstood general leaders.”

    Again, it is Mormon culture because it is Mormon doctrine.
    2 Nephi 25:23 “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” AFTER ALL we can do, Ray. That is right there. And yes, I am aware of the recent attempt by the General Authorities to explain salvation in a more similar resemblance to the orthodox Christian one but it is really the same as before: it begins with grace but still finishes with human work. And we already pointed to the 3rd Article of Faith.
    We can easily find several talks from General Authorities emphasizing works for salvation/exaltation.
    To blame the local leaders for this is plain silly.

  55. Cal is the smartest person here with great insight.

    Solange,

    We are saying the same thing about grace and works only it’s worded differently.
    If the Spirit “indwells” but we don’t follow that “still small voice” then it is the same as we choosing what we will do.
    As a former LDS, Solange you should know that the LDS believe the Spirit is with us: that it is a gift as a constant companion.

    And thank you for quoting the B of M on the subject:

    “We are saved after all we can do…”

    And that is the same thing as when Jesus said that we must “endure to the end” (Matt. 24: 13). In other words, after we accept the Gospel and start living it, we are to continue living it for the rest of our lives no matter how difficult.

    If we fall astray and turn back to worldly ways Jesus has special words for that:

    “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God”
    -see Luke 9:62

    People who aren’t “fit” for the kingdom of God don’t go to the kingdom of God.
    -see 1 Cor. 6: 9-10

    In other words, once saved is not always saved. We can choose to be not saved by going back to worldly ways.

    While alive, there is always repentance, so if a believer commits adultery or some other evil, there is still time to change and repent. If that person who is “saved” does not repent before the end, then I’m afraid, they are not saved though they accepted Christ and lived their life that way for a while.

  56. “We can easily find several talks from General Authorities emphasizing works for salvation/exaltation.
    To blame the local leaders for this is plain silly.”

    Works is a necessary component to being saved because faith is a necessary component.
    -see James 2: 26

    So, yes there are talks by general authorities on works because works are important. Repenting is important. Praying is important. Read the scriptures is important. Loving our neighbor is important. Being baptized is important. It’s ALL important. Focusing on one aspect of Christ such as “Grace” while overshadowing the rest is the big problem. It’s what causes fracturing and denominations which is bad fruit.

    I can tell you as a witness of church leadership having served in those rolls bringing me to the inside of the minds of local leaders and their decisions that yes, local leaders are the ones who take something, like those who cause fractures in other religions and focus in narrow areas which creates these types of problems. The difference between us and other Christians is we have Apostles to clear these things up but it takes time.

    You, apparently, live in Utah where LDS culture has been and may still be a major impact on how members think. Fortunately for me, I don’t live in Utah and here we don’t have the impact of LDS culture on the Gospel as much.
    A friend of mine moved to Utah about 15 years ago and as I mentioned in another post had a serious exhchange of words with the Bishop, in a public class room over grace and works. This was about 5 years ago. So, the ‘saved by works’ idea has deep tentacles in Utah, maybe still. Fortunately, my friend had an ally in the Stake President’s wife who then gave a talk on the subject at Stake Conference validated my friend’s position.

  57. OldAdam quotes:

    Isaiah 64:6
    But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

    “our righteousness” is what we think the Lord wants us to do verses what the Lord wants us to do.

    Contrast Matt 7: 21-24

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    (And this is another scripture which unends the idea of “once saved always saved”).

  58. Solange:
    “As where Adam and Eve and the Fall are concerned, if “they fell up and not down”, sin is really not that bad since they needed to experience it in order to learn to choose good and to be tested for their future role as god themselves. By definition, the sacrifice of Jesus becomes somewhat shallower than what the Bible describes He came to saves us from.”

    Are you suggesting that when God created Adam and Eve that he didn’t know they were going to Fall?
    And that Jesus came along as an after thought to fix it?

    And, you criticize LDS theology because the Fall helps us to learn right from wrong? (Gen 3:22)
    And this wasn’t planned by God himself?

    I realize that you feel you wasted all those years being LDS but can you think of one thing that is good about the LDS Church or Doctrine?

  59. Ray,

    Not quite.

    Our righteousness is a gift from God. It is NOT at all dependent upon what ‘we do’…or wheat ‘we do not do’.

    That…is Christian.

  60. Thanks, Ray, for doing an excellent job of responding to Tim for me!
    Tim, it comes down to this: Are the Mormons planning to serve Jesus forever or are they planning on rebelling against him?
    Ray gave the answer.
    Have a good evening. Thanks again for your website.

  61. Cal, I’m ready to come around to your side of thinking. Just clear this up for me; does Christianity teach that a man can become a deity?

  62. Ray, answer me this simple question:

    Can you be fully saved, ie, get all you can in heaven (whatever that means), without doing specific, listed ‘things’ in Mormonism?

    To those Christians who claim Mormons are also Christians, ask yourself if the God you serve was once a man, or even if it is conceivable that God was once a man. When asking yourself this question, consider whether a god who may have been once a man can be the same god, even described differently, than one, eternal God.

  63. Ray said:

    I am honestly trying to understand your concept.

    You are saying God is made out of nothing but is a state of mind basically just a thought of will?
    There is absolutely nothing physical about God. He is not made of matter or energy or anything we understand or similar to anything we understand.

    And you get this out of the Bible?

    Awesome, I love a sincere attempt to understand someone else’s point of view. We don’t need to agree but coming to clarity is a worthwhile endeavor and I think these questions are getting us there.

    God is not physical. He is not part of nature. You can’t look at the periodic table of elements and figure out what sorts of elements compose his being. He made all physical matter and energy. He stands outside of them. That is why we say he is “SUPERnatural” because he isn’t part of nature or even time.

    A thought is certainly a non-physical thing but God isn’t merely a thought. He is spirit. He is something outside the physical world that can not be measured or quantified by anything within the physical world.

    Imagine two triangles talking to one another on a piece of paper. They are two dimensional and have no concept of anything outside their two dimensions. Suddenly a sphere begins to interact with them by intersecting the paper. He shows them that he can be a small circle or a large circle and that he can quite quickly change his location on the paper. No matter what size of a circle they see in front of them the triangles can never see all of the sphere, he’s something totally different than them. It would be a mistake for the triangles to insist that he is just a circle because they can’t see a sphere.

    In the same way we might wish to say that God is part of our physical world and limit what we know about him to the way he has revealed himself within our physical universe. But he’s so much more than that because he stands outside of it as its creator.

    He’s the car mechanic and we’re the parts of the engine insisting that God is a wrench because that’s how we see him interacting with us.

    And YES I get this out of the Bible! I’m happy to supply some references here, but remember if you want to gain understanding of the classic understanding you may have to lay down the Mormon interpretation for a moment to understand how we view these passages.

    John 4:24 – “For God is Spirit. . . . ”
    Colossians 1:15 – ” He is the image of the invisible God . . .”
    I Timothy 1:17 – “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”
    I Timothy 6:16 – “. . who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. . . ”
    Romans 1:20 – “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
    I King 8:27 – “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”
    Duet – 33:27 – “The eternal God is your dwelling place. . .”

    The only thing physical about God is the human body Jesus took on upon his birth.

    Colossians 2:9 – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, . . .” (which means the fullness of Deity also dwells outside this bodily form)
    Philippians 2:6-8 – “. . .although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man . . .” (Christ had to be MADE in the likeness of men this wasn’t his natural state)

    Now I KNOW that Mormons interpret these verses differently that orthodox Christians do. I didn’t present them so that you could tick-for-tact refute them as meaning what we think they mean. But I hope in seeing them you can understand why we think God is not part of our physical world made of matter or energy.

  64. Ray said:

    You asked:
    “If a man is exalted is he a deity?”

    I think our terms means such different things, you need to explain to me what a deity means to you. And you need to explain what a “glorified man” means. Other wise, we are speaking different languages.

    Here is the Google definition. It should serve our purposes:
    de·i·ty
    noun
    1. a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion).
    2. divine status, quality, or nature.
    3. the creator and supreme being (in a monotheistic religion such as Christianity).

    divine
    of, from, or like God or a god.

    My understanding of Mormonism is that humans are the same species as God. Our difference is one of degree not class (He’s not a different thing than us, just more advanced). If I’m wrong about this please feel free to correct me.

    So my question that needed to be answered was If a man is exalted is he a deity? Another way to ask “does he become the kind of thing Heavenly Father is?” (I am NOT asking if he receives worship, I am asking about his nature).

    Glorification in classic Christianity is when we are transformed in the final resurrection and we transform from mortal into immortal, from perishable into imperishable. Our corrupted forms are shed and we take a form without fear, pain or blemish.

  65. Ray said

    We are saved by grace. Nothing we can do can cause us to be raised from the dead, remit us of our sins or be exalted. We are rewarded according to our works. This is one of the plainest of New Testament doctrines.

    This idea that we don’t need to lift a finger after we believe in Jesus is wrong. We should try and repent of our sins while calling upon God to help us. We should try and love our neighbor. These types of works don’t come automatically, especially depending on how self centered a person was before they accepted the Gospel. Putting off the old man and putting on the new man takes some effort on our part. Christ coming into our lives is not like demonic possession where some spirit is going to enter our body and dictate what we say and do from here on out. If this were true then adultery would not be rampant in the Christian community. We must choose whom we will serve and what we will do.

    LOVE IT. Keep preaching.

    As Dallas Willard says, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”

  66. Had the LDS church not have living Apostles, then there would have been serious fracturing into denominations over this doctrine or that doctrine.

    Ummmm. . . are you really not aware of all the different Mormons sects and denominations? It’s actually fractured more than the average religion in its short history
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sects_in_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

    . . . and continues to fracture. You’ll likely hear much more about the Snufferites soon
    http://www.withoutend.org/denver-snuffer-emerging-mormon-mysticism/

  67. Seems we have a constructive conversation here! As Tim said, “Awesome, I love a sincere attempt to understand someone else’s point of view. We don’t need to agree but coming to clarity is a worthwhile endeavor and I think these questions are getting us there.”

    Tim said, “Cal, I’m ready to come around to your side of thinking.”

    Humility! “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

    Tim also said, “Just clear this up for me; does Christianity teach that a man can become a deity?”

    Normally I’d say no without hesitation but since we’re discussing Mormonism, which, as you know, redefines words, I hesitate. Ray’s description of exaltation isn’t totally foreign to me since I’ve been heavily influenced by the Word of Faith movement. That movement stresses the authority we’ve been given in Christ. They often quote the verse Ray mentioned in Ephesians: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (2:6 NIV).
    However, unlike Mormonism, the faith movement stresses what we have now by faith in Christ, whereas Mormonism stresses what we can have in the future if we remain faithful now. (Of course, I don’t agree with the various man-made regulations the LDS adds to the gospel for obtaining future blessings.)

  68. I don’t understand. Please keep it simple. I speak American English so there’s no need to redefine words or prequalify anything. Does Christianity teach that a man can become a deity?

  69. slowcowboy said, “To those Christians who claim Mormons are also Christians, ask yourself if the God you serve was once a man, or even if it is conceivable that God was once a man. When asking yourself this question, consider whether a god who may have been once a man can be the same god, even described differently, than one, eternal God.”

    I look at that issue from a different angle. I don’t see the LDS serving a different god; I see them with gross misconceptions of the one true God. All of us, Mormon or not, have dark spots in our brains where the light of Christ hasn’t shined.

    Have a bright day, cowboy!

  70. Tim, one definition you found for deity was “divine status, quality, or nature.” Scripture says, as you know, that we’ve been given Christ’s divine nature. According to that definition then, I’d say yes.

  71. Cal, Matthew 7:21.

    Further, is Jesus a literal brother to Satan? What is Christ’s relationship as God? Was Christ conceived through a literal copulation of God and Mary? Etc.

    My point is this: its much more than a mere gross misconception of the one True God. The Mormon Jesus, on just about every single identifier, lines up significantly different than our Jesus. So much so that you end up with a different Jesus. The ending picture is of a different being.

    I can accept small and few differences in a conception of Jesus and God. However, I think that there is a point where the differences become so great that it is impossible to conclude they are the same.

  72. Tim, not his divine status but his divine nature.

    By the way, I failed to answer your earlier question fully. You gave these definitions:
    de·i·ty
    noun
    1. a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion).
    2. divine status, quality, or nature.
    3. the creator and supreme being (in a monotheistic religion such as Christianity).

    divine
    of, from, or like God or a god.

    Concerning the first def. of deity, I’d say Christianity does not teach that man will be able to become a polytheistic-style god. Definition 3: Certainly not!

    On “divine”: Christianity does teach that man can become like God through faith in Christ. “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

  73. “…that we might become children of God.” (Gospel of John)… not gods ourselves.

    The essence of the 1st sin in the Garden was to become like God…to know what He knows.

  74. slowcowboy, I agree with Matthew 7:21.

    Jesus is not a literal brother to Satan. However, my observance has been that the LDS doesn’t dwell on that; they dwell on following Jesus and resisting the devil’s temptations. That literal brother to Satan thing has to do with the past.

    What is Christ’s relationship as God?

    If you’re asking me, according to John 1:1 he is God, meaning he is one with the Father in essence.

    Was Christ conceived through a literal copulation of God and Mary?

    I’ve been able to determine that that is not an official teaching of the LDS.

    You said, “My point is this: its much more than a mere gross misconception of the one True God. The Mormon Jesus, on just about every single identifier, lines up significantly different than our Jesus. So much so that you end up with a different Jesus. The ending picture is of a different being.”

    Let me borrow from something recorded on my computer (please excuse the numbers for footnotes):

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Jesus:

    Is the Lord Omnipotent11 (meaning “all-powerful”)
    Is Creator of all things12
    Was the Word made flesh13
    Is the light of the world14
    Is Divine15
    Is the way, the truth, and the life16
    Was born of the Virgin Mary17
    Is the only sinless person who has ever lived18
    Was crucified on the cross to pay for our sins19
    Is our passover, the Lamb of God20
    Is resurrected from the dead and now stands at the Father’s right hand21
    Is Savior and Mediator22
    Is High Priest23
    Is Jehovah, the Eternal One24
    Is the I Am, the beginning and the end25
    Is called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace26
    Is above all things27
    Is a person of the Godhead: God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, constitute the Holy Trinity28
    Will judge the nations at his return29

  75. Cal, thanks for that list. Its all nice and good, but it does not address the issue I brought forth. If you look side by side, the Mormon Jesus cannot, by definition, be the same as our God, even though the different version follow the list you just gave. In truth, many in the list deserve some parsing in and of themselves, like Jesus being Jehovah and high priest. What also did he beginning to? What did he create?

    And personally, I find the line that it is not official doctrine extremely weak. I also find the excuse they don’t dwell on something to be even weaker when it relates to core aspects of their faith. The identity of Christ is a core aspect, don’t you think?

  76. Cal said

    Tim, not his divine status but his divine nature.

    Cal, in the definition you prefer “divine status, quality, or nature.” ‘status’ is another word for ‘nature’.

    No one is denying the many ways orthodox Christians and Mormons agree. But I need you to make it clear for me. The question is posed very specifically. Does Christianity teach that a man can become a deity?

  77. If there is only one God, and “God” is defined as infinite and eternal and the origin of all things, then clearly it’s impossible for there to be more than one. You can only arrive at the possibility of more than one god, by defining “god” as other than traditional Christians define “God”.

  78. Tim,
    I see your definition of a deity and the answer is yes, man can become a god. That being “2. divine status, quality, or nature”.
    Except for the important part is that a God is worshipped. This ultimately defines a God. If he is not worshipped, then this fits in with your glorified man description. We call it being a god or godhood. However, I stress again, receiving “all that the Father hath” – godhood, is not filling up the universe with polytheistic gods because we won’t be worshipped, that I am aware of, and we will do the will of the Father then, just like we are supposed to now.

    There are many places in the New Testament which imply godhood. Being a “joint-heir” with Christ means exaltation since Christ was exalted. Having us reign with Christ a thousand years means we are given power like a god. Being brought up, by Christ to the “throne”, a symbol of ultimate power and godhood, as Christ was brought to the throne by the Father means godhood.

    Man’s planned destiny is to acquire a divine nature and be just like Christ. This is godhood.

    This doctrine was, apparently, taught in the early church, since the Church Fathers only had a version of the true Gospel before even more doctrines were lost, that man’s ultimate destiny is to become a god.
    Joseph, of course, did not have access to the writings of the Church Fathers but it’s clear they thought like modern day Latter Day Saints.
    This is another indication, or one of the fruits of knowledge of the Restoration of New Testament Christianity.

    Clement (100 AD):
    “For his beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes god, since God wills it.”

    Irenaeus (180 AD), a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the Revelator said, “…we were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.”

    Augustine (400 AD):
    “He himself that justifies also deifies…If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.”

    Notice Augustine’s description is more watered down that the earlier two Church Fathers. The doctrine was being lost over time. Then, 1600 years later, the doctrine was restored as part of the Restoration of the Gospel.

  79. Okay, I am sorry I left the impression there was zero fracturing in the LDS church. I knew there was some early on which created the RLDS and I knew there were several groups comprising less than a thousand souls. These are just small groups starting up churches as opposed to taking large groups of members away over doctrinal points.
    The difference between these fractures and those of Evangelicals is we consider them apostates. We do not recognize them as Latter Day Saints, just rouge groups. Evangelicals consider their break aways as valid Christians.

  80. Hi Tim,
    Thank you for your detailed response.

    “Now I KNOW that Mormons interpret these verses differently that orthodox Christians do. I didn’t present them so that you could tick-for-tact refute them as meaning what we think they mean. But I hope in seeing them you can understand why we think God is not part of our physical world made of matter or energy.”

    I’m not going to tick for tact on the verses. And you are right, I see those completely differently, but I am slowly understanding your thinking. To aid in this, I spoke with my sister today who is a Church of Christer and formally a Southern Baptist. We discussed the Godhead, the physical body of Jesus and the Millennium. Later, when I get time, I want to bring this up and have you tell us what you think.

  81. Cowboy
    “Further, is Jesus a literal brother to Satan? What is Christ’s relationship as God?”

    There are reference points of things. “The beginning” in Genesis is about this earth and our place in it. Prior to that time much happened in God’s Heaven. These are recently revealed things, some of which can be found in recently discovered ancient history.

    “Was Christ conceived through a literal copulation of God and Mary?”

    In the past, some LDS people have thought so. Those who thought this were very shallow thinking. It never was Church doctrine.
    I never believed this because it’s illogical. The scripture teaches us Mary concieved as a virgin.

  82. Hi Ray,

    I’m very familiar with the quotes you reference. They are very popular “pull quotes” for Mormons and they rarely appear in context and don’t at all take into account that the sources maintain a unique distinction between Creator and created being. They all agree with the classic Christian understanding that a man and Heavenly Father are different kinds of beings and not merely separated by advancement.

    The difference between these fractures and those of Evangelicals is we consider them apostates. We do not recognize them as Latter Day Saints, just rouge groups.

    Can you tell me the fundamental difference between how you view apostate Mormon sects and how orthodox Christians view the LDS church? Who are you to define the term “Latter Day Saint” in a way that excludes anyone who uses the Book of Mormon and recognizes Joseph Smith as a prophet at the same time you complain that orthodox Christians don’t recognize LDS as Christians?

    Would you be satisfied if I said “We view all LDS as apostates. We do not recognize them as Christians, just rogue groups.”

    There are 2 BILLION people who follow some form of orthodox Christianity. Surely the 15 million LDS are no where in comparison to those 2 billion that the million “apostate Mormons” are to the Mountain Saint church. (CofC, and all other Mormon denomination combined). Do you see the double standard you’re applying? If YOU want to be recognized as a Christian, you can’t say those other Mormon sects shouldn’t be recognized as LDS.

  83. Except for the important part is that a God is worshipped. This ultimately defines a God. If he is not worshipped, then this fits in with your glorified man description.

    So, if I’m understanding you correctly, the key difference between Heavenly Father and an exalted man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped. But they are both deity, Heavenly Father is just more advanced.

    This is SIGNIFICANTLY different than the orthodox understanding of glorification. It’s important that you not confuse this point in order to say we believe similar things. To do so is to twist our doctrine. A glorified man is still a created being he can not be an uncreated creator, nor does he bear the characteristics of omnipotence, omnipresence or omniscience.

    What’s your take, was Heavenly Father once a man?

  84. BTW I read your link:
    http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

    If you’re going to get after Solange for posting links to UTLM you really shouldn’t go around giving out that link. If you want to criticize the development of the Trinity, please take it seriously. There was so much distortion mixed in with truth it’s hard to know where to start. Nice to see parrallelimania reaches beyond Mormonism into the Jehovah’s Witnesses as well I suppose.

    Here’s a neutral source on the origin of the doctrine.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/trinity-history.html

    You don’t have to believe the doctrine but don’t overreach into conspiracy theories and historical distortions.

  85. Tim asked once again, “Does Christianity teach that a man can become a deity?”

    I can’t answer that question until you tell me which definition of “deity” you are using.
    In the normal sense of the word, no.

  86. Tim said, “There are 2 BILLION people who follow some form of orthodox Christianity.”

    I’m just curious—do you count charismatics as orthodox?

  87. Tim said to Ray, “If you want to criticize the development of the Trinity, please take it seriously. There was so much distortion mixed in with truth it’s hard to know where to start.”

    I can’t help but make a wisecrack—how about starting with the Bible? . . . Sorry.

    I think Tim makes some good points when he compares splits within Mormonism with splits within non-Mormon Christianity.

  88. slow cowboy:
    “You will not be worshipped upon exaltation? Celestial wives won’t populate your own world?
    That’s a new one..”

    For you and me both. Unless, there has been another change in doctrine that I am unaware of.

  89. slowcowboy, where did you get information that Mormons plan on being worshiped? I’d like to see your source. (I’m not being sarcastic; I’m really interested.) From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

    “Joseph Smith also wrote, “Every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions” (TPJS, p. 374). This does not mean that any person ever would or could supplant God as the Supreme Being in the universe; but it does mean that through God’s plan and with his help, all men and women have the capacity to participate in God’s eternal work. People participate in this work by righteous living, by giving birth to children in mortality and helping them live righteous lives, and by bringing others to Christ.” [ http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Godhood ]

    You said, “What also did he [Jesus] beginning to? What did he create? . . . And personally, I find the line that it is not official doctrine extremely weak [concerning the supposed literal copulation of God and Mary]. I also find the excuse they don’t dwell on something to be even weaker when it relates to core aspects of their faith. The identity of Christ is a core aspect, don’t you think?”

    My understanding of Mormonism is that Jesus has always existed but there is a question about how completely formed he was prior to his supposed birth through heavenly parents. Ray can answer that better than me. In any case, this stuff is in Mormonism’s back alley.
    It’s also my understanding that according to Mormonism Jesus created the world under the direction of the Father (“Gospel Principles,” 23).
    Concerning a supposed copulation of God and Mary, Ray confirmed above that it’s not official doctrine.
    I agree with you completely that the identity of Christ is one thing we must look at when deciding whether the LDS can be classified as Christian.
    First John is helpful. Among indispensable signs of a Christian are belief that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ (Messiah), that he came in the flesh, and some fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person, or the persons who adhere to the system of beliefs. The LDS scores positively on all four counts.

    It’s important that we remember that an intellectual discussion of Mormonism, by itself, can never arrive at a definite conclusion, although it has its place. Just as an unbeliever cannot understand the Bible without the Spirit, we cannot gauge whether the LDS meets God’s criteria for a Christian organization through the intellect alone. When I read the Book of Mormon or when I read a typical article in an Ensign magazine, I get some anointing. What I mean is I feel the presence of God rising within me, confirming that I am receiving some truth. Their teaching almost always falls short of Grade A, but the Spirit is unmistakably there. The normal Christian life, as I think you know, is one of being led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8; Galatians 5). This doesn’t mean we throw away our minds; rather, our minds are illuminated by the Spirit. (If Mormons listened to the Spirit more intimately and followed Joseph Smith less intimately, God could open there eyes to a more accurate view of the gospel. I think the best we can do is be an example for them while we humbly recognize that we don’t have all the answers, either.)

    I appreciate your spirituality.

  90. Cal, “As God once was…” is a good place to start with the idea that Mormons think they will be worshiped. Its also strongly, very, inferred in the Smith quote used within your quote in that if they have their own dominions, they will be worshiped. I don’t really need to go far, as evidence is right in your own post.

    In Mormonism, you and I have also always existed. So, Jesus is equated more to us than he is separated from us, at least on that level. He was able to overcome his condition by following the rules in a way that Mormons strive for. Being like Christ includes that effort to Mormons. Don’t forget their rituals in that equation. As Tim keeps pressing you, too, do you think you can overcome your nature and become a god, too? (Oh, and let me know if it was Jesus, or Adam, or some combination that created the world we live in.)

    Official doctrine on God copulating with Mary… Weak stating that it is not official, when past presidents of the church have said this: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in THE MOST LITERAL SENSE. The
    body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was SIRED by that same Holy
    Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.” (Teachings of ET Benson, p. 6).” That whole “official” thing is so easily abused to disavow that which may not look the best for the church. I hope you realize at least that. It is near impossible to argue something that can be changed to ‘not official’. The words are clear, and spoken by an authority in Mormonism. Best case for Mormons on this issue is that it is an unclear teaching.

    I disagree with your assessment on the requirements of a Christian as they pertain to Mormons for a single reason: the Jesus Mormons worship is not the same as the Christian Jesus. Each of the four items you listed can be parsed demonstrating these differences, and far more. I’ve said this before, too, so I won’t go into it again here.

    As to intellect and spirit, of course faith comes down to spirit. Faith is the hope that what you believe is true. I know I can reason and offer evidence all day long but not change a thing due to a person’s spirit and faith. However, as God tells us through Isaiah, let us reason together. Reason is not absent in discussions of faith. It has to make sense, and it has to be consistent with what we find in God’s word. If it is not, then it is faulty and should be rejected. As Luke records in Acts, the Bereans were considered more noble because they looked at the scripture to find out what whether what Paul was teaching was true. Again, it is clear reason plays a role, at least it should according to God.

    Its not all about warm fuzzies. We can get warm fuzzies from very non-Biblical sources, too, even t hose antithetical to the Bible and God.

    There are different ways of discussing the truth, and I take one that straightforwardly presents the evidence. A person is free to accept or reject my thoughts and what I present. In fact, often I don’t even present it to convince, but rather simply to express the argument. The receiver of that argument is free to do what he or she wants with it, but all I really expect is acknowledgement that the argument or point exists.

  91. Cowboy:

    The current Mormon teaching is that a teaching is not official unless it’s contained in the books which they consider scripture. The God/Mary copulation thing isn’t, and so despite the statements of past authorities on the subject, modern Mormons are free to believe or disbelieve it.

  92. Agellius, again, I hope you see the problem with that. I won’t pretend to state what Mormons believe now, but I will state that this is a point that they once were clear about.

    Don’t forget the very system the Mormon’s developed, and how it even came to be: a restored church with revelation through a restored prophet, in the person of Joseph Smith. We could list quotes upon quotes on the reliability of this prophet, but surely you know the idea. Given that the prophet is to be trustworthy and that he holds all authority over the restored church, we cannot, and should not, toss aside their statements on beliefs. If we toss them aside, what else can we trust about LDS leadership?

  93. Cowboy:

    I’m not arguing the truth of the LDS religion, just saying what they ground their doctrines in currently. Has that changed from what their doctrines used to be grounded in? Maybe. But my point is that I don’t think you’ll get very far in arguing with them, using standards that they don’t accept. The non-scriptural statements of past prophets simply do not rise to the level that proof-texts hold for an Evangelical.

  94. I’m not arguing the truth of the LDS religion, just saying what they ground their doctrines in currently. Has that changed from what their doctrines used to be grounded in? Maybe. But my point is that I don’t think you’ll get very far in arguing with them, using standards that they don’t accept. The non-scriptural statements of past prophets simply do not rise to the level that proof-texts hold for an Evangelical.

    I testify that this is true. Evangelicals sometimes don’t understand that Mormonism has changed and is changing. It does no good to argue against 1960’s Mormonism.

  95. Cal said.

    In the normal sense of the word, no.

    I’m glad that we agree.

    I’m just curious—do you count charismatics as orthodox?

    Yes, of course. Except for Oneness Pentacostalism.

  96. I testify that this is true. Evangelicals sometimes don’t understand that Mormonism has changed and is changing. It does no good to argue against 1960’s Mormonism.

    Well, except to the extent that it reveals the general incoherence of Mormonism. But the distinction is important–if your intent is to contend for Christ against the beliefs of your interlocutor, it does no good to claim that he believes something other than what he does. It’s a strawman, even if his grandparents did believe it.

  97. “Well, except to the extent that it reveals the general incoherence of Mormonism.”

    Yup. That’s it.

    Trying to keep up with what they believe is also a difficult task. Things change quite often, even within the context of different discussions.

    Personally, I don’t know if present day Mormons believe God had sex with Mary. I do know they have not disavowed that position, which, being honest, raises questions as to what they believe now. Its part of that incoherence. We now get the argument that it is not official, which leaves open that it may still be believed. And it does not answer the question of what is the official belief…

  98. Does pointing to the wrong-headed notions of former believers reveal the general incoherence of Christianity? I am not so sure. Most religious beliefs are subject to the criticism that they are incoherent by some standard of coherence. if you argue incoherence with Mormons, you will find with Mormons is that they don’t accept traditional Christianity as coherent, and they have good reasons.

    But I think we might find that Mormons generally accept new beliefs if the beliefs provide a more coherent way of interpreting the world that takes into account the things that they can testify to. Most Mormons don’t have a testimony of any particular general authorities point of view, and are generally free to form their own theology if it is consistent with the Scriptures, even if it is inconsistent with what former prophets or leaders have said.

  99. And it does not answer the question of what is the official belief…

    There is precious little official belief. I would suggest that trying to identify and then attack official belief is a fruitless approach to Evangelical/Mormon dialogue.

  100. jared, then is the dialogue possible?

    We’ve been trying to figure this out for some time, as far as I can tell. But the problem I bring forth is the inconsistency and the free-flowing nature your bring out in your prior post. Its as if the Mormon is free to believe almost what it wants.

    The question brought forth in this thread is how much can a believer get a away with. I think a Mormon has more leeway than does a traditional Christian. The vast majority of traditional Christians will allow disagreement on many areas, to a point, but dig in once certain issues are brought forth, like the who is Jesus question. Most, I would think, are uncompromising on that point. We are free to disagree on the mode of baptism, for instance, but not the divinity of Christ.

  101. Does pointing to the wrong-headed notions of former believers reveal the general incoherence of Christianity?

    I am in no way suggesting that “wrong-headed notions of former believers,” by itself, renders a belief system incoherent.

  102. I fully recognize Mormonism has and is changing. In fact, that’s one of my biggest criticisms.

    This is a phenomena that those who would like to englighten Mormons should embrace. not criticize. Basically set free from dogma, the Church has the ability to adapt itself to whatever truth it is shown. The church could easily marginalize wrong-headed beliefs by simply pointing to new, more sound beliefs, without any contradiction in their basic doctrine.

    The changing nature of Mormonism is an advantage and an opportunity for Evangelicals who want to point Mormonism in the direction that Evangelicals are headed. Calvinism or Lutheranism was meant for Catholics, not Mormons. It seems that there may be a clearer way of saying the same sorts of things that would be more convincing to Mormons, and then allow them to adopt that reasoning as part of their missionary program. Early-generation Mormons far outnumber later-generation Mormons.

  103. @kullervo,

    I guess my point is that arguing incoherence while defending one’s one coherence is a difficult philosophical route, there may be a better path to the destination Evangelicals seek.

  104. @slowcowboy,

    I think dialogue is possible, just as I think it is possible for two monolingual people speaking different languages to communicate with sign language.

  105. “There is precious little official belief. I would suggest that trying to identify and then attack official belief is a fruitless approach to Evangelical/Mormon dialogue.”

    I testify that this is true! : )

  106. Cowboy:

    I would say that dialogue is possible in the sense of trying to understand one another. But in the sense of trying to argue from common premises to prove the falsehood of Mormonism to a Mormon, I really don’t think it’s feasible. I’m not saying that Mormons can’t be convinced of the truth of traditional Christianity — obviously, it happens — just that I don’t think that doctrinal, proof-texting argumentation is the way to do it. Our underlying premises are just too different.

  107. Honestly Jared, there is nothing that is convincing to Mormons until they question their own authorities, at which time they generally aren’t Mormons.

    The system was designed that way.

    Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists have so much in common theologically that the actual roots of disagreement can be addressed n at an institutional level. No so much with Mormonism.

    Mormonism isn’t about message it’s about authority.

  108. I don’t see why this is the case, and I think you may be underestimating the power of Church authority vs. the grassroots nature of the faith. Personal salvation and redemption within the LDS religion is really a personal matter, the individual believer can adopt almost any scripture-based approach and teach that approach in church. On any given Sunday you will find all kinds of divergent theologies put forth. The authority of the Church determines to some degree what is taught in church, but even that is not dogmatic. Mormonism is also very susceptible to popular movements within the Church. The Church leadership could easily adopt a more Evangelical approach to redemption if it became more popular among the tithe-paying membership.

    The United States could become a socialist welfare state without any need to directly question or undermine the constitution or government. I believe the same is true for the LDS Church and whatever form of Christianity it chooses to adopt on its mission to “perfect the saints” and “spread the gospel”.

  109. Right, the accepted diversity is exactly what is expected in any mainline denomination where the established order has been deemed more important than doctrinal conformity. I don’t think this changes the relationship to authority. But the left and the right of acceptable in Mormonism is outside the boundaries of orthodoxy.

    Why would there be a grass roots movement in Salt Lake Mormonism? If the institution doesn’t have authority why stay?

  110. Jared:
    “Personal salvation and redemption within the LDS religion is really a personal matter, the individual believer can adopt almost any scripture-based approach and teach that approach in church. On any given Sunday you will find all kinds of divergent theologies put forth. The authority of the Church determines to some degree what is taught in church, but even that is not dogmatic.”

    Ok, so I have not been a Mormon in 15 years now but unless things have changed a lot, Jared, I cannot agree with you here. ( I still have siblings in the church, so I don’t think I am that out of touch with everything Mormon..) This freedom you describe is not familiar to me at all: both in personal choice to believe core doctrines (and still be viewed as a strong member), as well as Sunday lessons, Seminary/Institute, etc which all have to follow the church approved manuals from which such lessons need to be taught. Did things change that much?

  111. Jared, why would i want to be part of a religious organization that changes doctrine/approach to redemption based on popular sentiments of its members?

    I would rather be a part of a church more concerned with truth.

    And there you have my objection to your argument about the ability of the LDS church’s ability to shift belief.

  112. Its not an argument to convince you to join. Jared is explaining how evangelicals can take advantage of Mormonism’s flexibility to introduce orthodoxy.

  113. Tim, i know and never took his argument to be to get me to join. I also understand he is suggesting it could be a wauy to address them. My point, poorly worded perhaps, is that it is a weakness of the Mormon church in that its leadership shapes doctrine and belief to reflect popular sentiments within the church. Truth seems a secondary concern, and its as if the church is blowing with the wind or shifting with the waves, similar to what wad written in the Epistles as warnings to believers that will happen to those who are deceived.

  114. All of that is really a discussion of the question ‘what is the foundation of the Mormon church?’ Continued revelation? Authority? A combination of those two? Or is it Jesus? The Bible? The Book of Mormon?

    Its not entirely clear, and it would be interesting to see what others think the foundation of the Church of Latter Day Saints is. What is the one thing that Mormons, if lost, would make their church crumble?

  115. Cowboy says:
    “…is that it is a weakness of the Mormon church in that its leadership shapes doctrine and belief to reflect popular sentiments within the church. Truth seems a secondary concern, and its as if the church is blowing with the wind or shifting with the waves, similar to what wad written in the Epistles as warnings to believers that will happen to those who are deceived.”

    The LDS does not have shape shifting doctrine when it concerns the salvation and exaltation of mankind.
    Did God have a physical relation with Mary or was she artifically impregnanted? Who cares? This is not a saving point of doctrine. The point of Mary being a virgin is Christ’s coming into the world was a miracle. Every thing about Christ was miraculous starting with his physical birth.

    Dealing with these types of things and calling it LDS doctrine is what I consider “straining at gnats”.
    We can discuss these things, throw around speculation with our own ideas about certain things is not being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine”. General LDS leaders have done too much of that and it causes us problems with critics. They’ve learned their lesson and are very cautious about what they say now.

    Truth is primary and the LDS church has not wavered on the saving areas of the Gospel: not one bit. The only noticable changes are those which deal with implementing Church programs based on our changing society.
    Speculations about the distant past before the beginning of this earth, what we and God were doing back then, what we will do in the future after this earth has been Celestialized are areas of discussion that God even through Joseph has said little about. So, if some Mormon leaders says ‘we will be God of our own worlds’, maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not: it’s just what he thinks.
    Freedom of thought in these areas was encouraged by Joseph Smith when the High Council of his day attempted to Excommunicate a member for preaching a wrong interpertation from the Book of Revelations. Joseph put a stop to it and said, ‘doing this sort of thing makes us look like the Methodists and not Latter Day Saint’. “A man can free to believe what he wants.

    It’s part of our growth. At one time I believed God was this immense invisible Spirit and now I believe he is a tangible being with infinite power. Switching beliefs didn’t change my relationship with God. I still feel His presense when truth is taught. (And I use His interchangably with the members of the Godhead).

    Recently, I attended an Orthodox Christmas Eve service. I felt the spirit there, just like I did at the Baptist Church just like I do at the LDS Church. However, as LDS, I have exercised much more faith than before and I have had at least a dozen miraculous experiences in my life and when I felt the Spirit on such a higher level than I ever did at the Baptist or Orthodox churches.

  116. Cowboy:
    “All of that is really a discussion of the question ‘what is the foundation of the Mormon church?’ Continued revelation? Authority? A combination of those two? Or is it Jesus? The Bible? The Book of Mormon?”

    “Its not entirely clear, and it would be interesting to see what others think the foundation of the Church of Latter Day Saints is. What is the one thing that Mormons, if lost, would make their church crumble?”

    It’s Jesus. If the members lose their testimony of Jesus and the Gospel, then the LDS Church would crumble. The Church is built primarily upon our testimonies. Yes, we have authority, but if no one recognizes that authority then it’s useless.

  117. OK, Ray, its not entirely true what you write concerning that the message of salvation has not changed within the Mormon church. I can think of a number of examples just off the top of my head that once were considered essential but are not any more. Adam/God, polygamy, blacks, the Word of Wisdom, etc. Each of these and more may or may not have been ‘official’ doctrine, but acceptance was clearly a prerequisite for salvation.

    And here we find what I have described as a fundamental weakness of the Mormon church: its ability to change significant beliefs and write them off as not official by stating they were merely the opinions of the speaker or they were recorded wrong or whatever reason may be most convenient.

    As to the foundation, is it Jesus, or is it the testimony? You gave both as the foundation. First it was Jesus, then the testimony of Jesus. And if it is the testimony, if I reject that Jesus was even just maybe once a man like me, does that testimony count? What about a testimony that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and restorer of the original church? Would that count? I’ll repeat: its unclear what the foundation of the Mormon church is.

    Ray, again, I am not trying to be overly critical. I am only trying to present what I see as weaknesses of the church.

    Is that fair?

  118. Tim I think I touched on a few things in my reply to Cowboy. Now this:

    “So, if I’m understanding you correctly, the key difference between Heavenly Father and an exalted man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped. But they are both deity, Heavenly Father is just more advanced.”

    No, the key difference is we will always worship Heavenly Father. In my view, a true God does not worship any one else. We will be ‘gods’ because Heavenly Father will make us that. Any power we hold as a god is because God is giving it to us.

    “This is SIGNIFICANTLY different than the orthodox understanding of glorification. It’s important that you not confuse this point in order to say we believe similar things. To do so is to twist our doctrine. A glorified man is still a created being he can not be an uncreated creator, nor does he bear the characteristics of omnipotence, omnipresence or omniscience.”

    Frankly speaking Tim, and with all due respect, neither you or I have seen a “glorified man” or ‘an exalted man which is a god’. And we don’t really know what we will be capable of then. So, we really don’t know what the difference is. If you think they are different, then that’s okay. I said what I said based on what I read from you.
    And while I am trying, very much so, to understand your view of the Godhead, I certainly no longer believe the immense Spirit concept of God and I don’t think the Bible supports it.

    The best comparison of the Godhead I can give you is my magnet analogy. Take a strong magnet. A magnet produces a three dimensional magnetic field. Any ferrous metal in that field is affected. The field itself is not the magnet, but the magnet controls the field.

    The Godhead is like the magnet and the magnetic field is like the Spirit. We are like the ferrous metal. When we exercise faith this allows the effect of the spirit to be with us. We recognize the presence of God in this ‘field’ when we feel the Spirit. The more faith we have the bigger the effect of the spiritual ‘field’. That’s why some people can move mountains with faith and others can’t. In this type of way God ‘somewhat’ omnipresent. But he is not literally so. Look what happened to Paul. He got his retina’s burned out. Mortal man, unless quickened by the Holy Ghost, can not endure the physical presense of the Lord. That’s another reason why he is not ‘everywhere’.

    “What’s your take, was Heavenly Father once a man?”

    I think I answered this with Cowboy. Things that happened long before this earth was created is mostly a mystery. It’s not been revealed for certain. I think even Joseph speculated that He might have been based on something Jesus said in the Bible. Joseph, clearly, did not have a revelation on the subject and as such is not considered doctrine.
    Now, Jesus, who was a God and who created this earth was once a man. That is doctrine. If, specutively speaking, on some distant earth 20 billion years ago Heavenly Father, as Jesus did, became a mortal man, then I don’t know anything about it.

    I think we can only be talking about this subject because you are NOT a young earth creationist. Which incidentally is a major change within Traditional Christianity. Talk about vacillation of fundamentally important doctrine. How do you reconcile this?

    This is another first for Joseph among religionists. The reason the Book of Moses, when first revealed, was to be kept secret was because of the doctrine relating to the age of the universe and the other earths that have come and gone. Most Christians would explode over this type of doctrine in 1830. Now, you have to admit the discovery of earth like planets makes old style, Traditional views of the Bible look pretty unreliable. And because of such unreliable views on the Bible, I take the position that the “Trinity” is one of those views that were never correct in the first place.
    The link I gave you was from what I consider a very weak scholar but does not alter the fact of the influence of paganism in the formation of the Trinity. I could have delivered a document from accredited LDS scholars but I thought you would just brush it aside too.

  119. No, the key difference is we will always worship Heavenly Father. In my view, a true God does not worship any one else.

    I’m happy to rephrase. tell me if this reflects your view:
    If I’m understanding you correctly, the key difference between Heavenly Father and an exalted man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped and will always be worshiped. But they are both deity, Heavenly Father is just more advanced and will continue to be worshiped by the deity he created.

    I think we can only be talking about this subject because you are NOT a young earth creationist.

    I don’t see how this could be the case. Particularly since every Mormon scholar I know or know of does not believe in Young Earth Creationism either. I’m glad to see that you take your scripture seriously which explicitly states the earth is young, but your viewpoint is a tiny minority in LDS scholarship. It certainly isn’t being taught at BYU.

    Which incidentally is a major change within Traditional Christianity. Talk about vacillation of fundamentally important doctrine. How do you reconcile this?

    Young earth creationism really only became a widely popular viewpoint since around the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Even Augustine was writing about an “old earth” over 1700 years ago (as one example). A change in opinion on creation isn’t anywhere as significant as a change of opinion on the nature of God.

    There are many different opinions on the age of the earth and I’m glad there is room for them in Christianity but it isn’t by any means a “core doctrine”. The only thing fundamental to it is that God created all that exists.

    Now, you have to admit the discovery of earth like planets makes old style, Traditional views of the Bible look pretty unreliable.

    I really don’t know what you’re talking about. You seem to have some underlining assumptions about Christian theology that I’m not familiar with, nor do I see how Mormonism escapes them.

  120. Tim,

    I’m pretty sure the Catholics, while publicly have walked back on their position that Protestants are not true believers, probably still think of Protestants as Apostates. Considering what happened to the Serbian Orthodox Christians in WWII by the Catholics with the justification of a 6th century Catholic document, I would think they still consider the Protestants Apostates. This is due to a line of priesthood authority.

    The apostate LDS groups are not considered LDS because they do not recognize our Priesthood line of Authority or have altered it and definately don’t follow LDS leaders. They may be Christians, they may be believers of Joseph Smith but they are not LDS.

    What us, you and LDS Apostates have in common is the Christian story. Despite our differences we have that in common. This story is contained in the Bible which we all recognize as an authority on different levels. This is why we are all Christians, even LDS apostates (assuming they believe in Christ – I don’t know what they all believe).

    Christians outside of LDS are not Apostates in that the don’t believe in the authority of Joseph Smith as a Prophet while the LDS apostates do.
    However, many of the LDS apostates were raised that way as they themselves were never members of the Church and apostacized. We would gladly teach them the Gospel and invite these people to the waters of Baptism.

  121. “I’m happy to rephrase. tell me if this reflects your view:
    If I’m understanding you correctly, the key difference between Heavenly Father and an exalted man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped and will always be worshiped. But they are both deity, Heavenly Father is just more advanced and will continue to be worshiped by the deity he created.”

    That’s a simplist way of putting it. Jesus still ‘worships’ Heavenly Father. Any ‘power’ that we might have will come from Him.

    “I’m glad to see that you take your scripture seriously which explicitly states the earth is young”

    I don’t know if you are being sarcastic or not.

    We don’t know the age of the earth, it could be numbered in thousands of millions of years. The term “day” can mean a lot of things including an ‘age’ or ‘era’ and was clearly symbolic. We know the universe is very old. I would venture to say far older than the ‘Big Bang’ accounts for.

    Man on this planet is a different thing altogether. The Fall of Adam happened around 6,000 years ago. There were no men before Adam. There was no evolution of man from a lower life form over millions of years. The Global Flood and other Bible stories was just as real events as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

    “Even Augustine was writing about an “old earth” over 1700 years ago (as one example).”

    If so, then that knowledge was lost shortly there after, like the doctrine on the deification on man. The idea that YEC began in the 1920’s is absurd. It was around for many hundreds of years, then when Darwin and others promoted evolution and it was getting acceptance on the academic level, from the 1860’s to 1900, YEC collapsed quickly as nearly all of Christian Churches didn’t want to look like the Catholic church with Galileo. Lyle and others explicity and gleefully went out of there way to point out the earth was older than the Biblical beliefs of the churches of the time of 6,000 years.

    There were philosophers and scientists who thought the universe was much older than what the churches were teaching (during the 1500’s-1800’s) but to suggest the Christian Churches never believed in a 6,000 year old universe or earth and this belief was not based on the Bible or this was a minority view is simply not accurate in the least.

    I said:
    Now, you have to admit the discovery of earth like planets makes old style, Traditional views of the Bible look pretty unreliable.

    You said:
    I really don’t know what you’re talking about. You seem to have some underlining assumptions about Christian theology that I’m not familiar with, nor do I see how Mormonism escapes them.

    Really? You don’t know about the Earth geocentric model and that the universe was all about this earth and there was life no place else but here and God set this up 6,000 years ago and Galileo was nearly killed when he determined the earth revolved around the sun, that life outside this earth was impossible because it’s not in the Bible and on and on?

    These old fallacies are what is killing Christianity today. Many churches have changed their tune which shows religious inconsistency and that change which shows that religion had to catch up the science is a glaring problem for people with college degrees. It’s the main reason religion is dying on the vine in Europe. The people are more educated there and they see all this so the end up turning to secularism.

    LDS theology escapes these old notions because the scope of the universe was revealed in the Book of Moses, which then forces an interpertation of Genesis which is consistent with astronomical and LDS truth.

  122. I’m pretty sure the Catholics, while publicly have walked back on their position that Protestants are not true believers, probably still think of Protestants as Apostates.

    I’ve done a lot of reading on this and Catholics believe that Protestants are Christian. They even accept our baptism as a valid one. If you want to hedge on what they believe based on the difference between what they “probably think” and what they “publicly have walked back on” you’re doing to the Catholics EXACTLY what you don’t want Evangelicals doing with old Mormon doctrines on “Blood Atonement, Mary’s sex life, etc.” You should strive to practice what you preach, unless you think Evangelicals can stick with whatever Bruce McConkie said as what Mormons really believe.

    Speaking of consistency . . .

    The apostate LDS groups are not considered LDS because they do not recognize our Priesthood line of Authority or have altered it and definately don’t follow LDS leaders. They may be Christians, they may be believers of Joseph Smith but they are not LDS.

    You’re waffling between definitions here. They are certainly not members of the LDS Church based in Salt Lake City, but they most certainly are Latter-Day Saints. They believe these are the latter days and they call themselves saints. You want a open definition of “Christian” that is an inclusive as possible yet you want a tight definition of “LDS” to only include people who sustain Thomas Monson. Many of those apostate groups carry the term “LDS” in their name. If the words “Church of Jesus Christ” in the name are enough to qualify your church as “Christian” then CERTAINLY the words “Latter” “Day” and “Saints” should qualify someone else as “LDS.” You’re doing to the FLDS EXACTLY what you don’t want Evangelicals doing to Mormons.

  123. As far as the age of the earth. . .

    I wasn’t being sarcastic. LDS scripture very clearly and explicitly says that the human race is 6,000 years old. I’m glad to hear you take those words on face value. No such expression is found in the Bible that puts it that clearly.

    I didn’t say that YEC as a theory of creation was only around 140 years old. I merely said it gained widespread popularity 140 years ago.

    I’m very aware of the geocentric model and the Galileo controversies. And I’m very aware of the debates between science and faith. I still don’t see how Mormonism escapes any of these problems untouched in your mind unless you are truly unaware of the great many ways that science has contradicted Mormonism and have not seen people abandon their faith over these issues.

  124. If I’m understanding you correctly, the key difference between Heavenly Father and an exalted man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped and will always be worshiped. But they are both deity, Heavenly Father is just more advanced and will continue to be worshiped by the deity he created.”

    That’s a simplist way of putting it. Jesus still ‘worships’ Heavenly Father. Any ‘power’ that we might have will come from Him.

    Okay. Good! I’m glad we finally came to an agreement on what the LDS church teaches on the nature of deity. I’ll rewrite the phrase for orthodoxy so that we can see where the key difference is.

    The key difference between Heavenly Father and a glorified man is that Heavenly Father is worshiped and will always be worshiped. Heavenly Father is a deity and men never will be, Heavenly Father is an entirely different kind of being that created beings can not become. Heavenly Father and will continue to be worshiped as deity by those he created.

    It is this difference that makes us members of different religions. The kind of deity that exist in the universes we imagine are completely different.

  125. If so, then that knowledge was lost shortly there after, like the doctrine on the deification on man.

    Do you realize that you are suggesting that Augustine’s Confessions was lost shortly after it was written?

  126. Tim said, “I’m glad that we agree.”

    Me, too!

    I light of your effective technique of asking pointed questions and demanding equally pointed answers, I have two questions for you and slowcowboy, if he’s still around:

    Question #1: Does the Bible teach that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14)?

    Question #2: Has the Holy Spirit ever impressed on your heart or spoken to you, telling you the Mormon Church is totally unchristian?

    (An answer that the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and the Bible says such and such will be considered dodging the question.)

    Thanks.

  127. Cal, stop dancing around reality: the reason you want to somehow bend the meanings of words to show how Mormons and Evangelicals really agree about humanity’s potential to become like God is because the Word of Faith Movement is absolutely riddled with heresy about the nature of God and the nature of man, and you’re not only doing your best to try to obscure the deep heresy of what Mormons believe, but in doing so you are achieving your real goal, which is to obscure the deep heresy of what you believe.

    You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  128. “You’re doing to the FLDS EXACTLY what you don’t want Evangelicals doing to Mormons.”

    WHOA! Good point! : )

  129. Cal, I’ll play:

    1) Yes, that is in Romans. But we also see qualifiers on who and what this Spirit is. For example, vs. 11 suggests that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us. Is this the same Spirit Mormons recognize?

    2) Yes, I have a testimony that the Mormon church is untrue and incompatible with Christianity.

  130. Question #1: Does the Bible teach that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14)?

    Yes

    Question #2: Has the Holy Spirit ever impressed on your heart or spoken to you, telling you the Mormon Church is totally unchristian?

    Yes

  131. Ray,

    Roman Catholicism regards Protestants as schismatic not apostate.

    Do you worship Jesus Christ in the same manner you worship the Father?

  132. “Do you realize that you are suggesting that Augustine’s Confessions was lost shortly after it was written?”

    Information can be lost simply by not reading it. We didn’t understand much about the Aztecs until three hundred years after the fact when the books were pulled off the shelves.

    None of you consider Augustine a prophet. If there is something in his writings you don’t believe you simply dismiss it: such as the deification of man. But I think the truth is everything Augstine wrote in your view is ‘just opinion’.

    Do any of you the the Church Fathers were inspired such as a prophet or did they take the papers and books they had and construct a theology based on their best reasoning power?

  133. What’s wrong with reasoning?

    But the real disconnect you could explain is how Mormonism understands their prophets any differently than Christianity understands their theologians. Rather than opinion I think the word you used was speculation?

  134. I feel like it would make sense to actually know about a subject before making absurd statements about it, but hey that’s just me.

  135. “You’re doing to the FLDS EXACTLY what you don’t want Evangelicals doing to Mormons.”

    I don’t think so. “Christianity” is one of the Great Religions of the World. “Christian” is a broad definition but LDS is a specific definition. It’s the same as Methodist and Catholic. Methodists and Catholic have specific doctrine which make them that denomination. A Catholic is not a Methodist, but both are Christian.

    A religion is defined by who it worships not by its theology. A denomination is defined by its theology. LDS don’t worship Joseph Smith we worship Jesus. I assume the FLDS worship Jesus too.

    FLSD are probably Christian. I don’t know their doctrine. They would fall under the Christian banner, like Evangelicals. I have never thought the LDS should be recognized as Evangelicals, just Christians. A little Baptist church which broke off from a larger Baptist Church, I would also consider Christian and a rogue group from the Baptists.

    It’s bad fruit when denominations form. This means they are not even close to being “one” with the other Christians in their group let alone Jesus. If these break aways are still considered part of the same denomination, then it’s bad fruit on the part of the larger church from which they broke away. If they are considered ‘rogue’ by the larger church, it means the smaller group was the bad fruit, breaking away for invalid reasons. If the group which broke away had valid reasons for breaking away, it means the main Church was corrupt. The Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church – why?

    If the differences between the Catholics and the Protestants are resolved, then why don’t the Protestants go back to the main church and recognize the authority of the Pope?

    As far as Catholics having ulterior motives, I think you should ask one of the descendants of the up to 750,000 Serbs who were murdered in WWII because the Catholic Church had a 6th century extermination decree and used that to justify their actions under the authority of a Cardinal. This, despite the fact the Catholics Church also had public recognition of Orthodox Christians at the time. What we do defines who we are. It’s possible the Pope didn’t know a Cardinal authorized the slaughter, nor do I think your basic Catholic today is even aware of this attempted genocide. Nor do I think the typical Catholic would approve such a thing. But the deaths occurred and this was not 500 or 1500 years ago. This was recent.

    What I want is for religions to stop promoting hate and killing each other in the name of theology. This is why I have a bone to pick with anti-LDS and anti-Christian groups. The promotion of hate is of the devil.

  136. It really wasn’t a “fall” into sin…but more of an up-rising into sin. A desire to elevate the self beyond it’s created state, to a higher state (closer to God – to know what God knows).

    And now, because of what happened in the Garden, we are ALL self-obsessed little idolators.

    To realize that fact is key. Trying to, or believing that we can somehow perfect ourselves (even with God’s help) to become gods ourselves…well…that is ultimate of hubris and sin.

    My advice is to get away from that stuff as soon as possible before it’s too late and a heavy eternal price is paid.

    I don’t say this out of judgement, or that I am somehow better (I am not)…I say it out of love for my Mormon friends who have been sold a bill of goods.

    “The devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.” That…is Moroni.

  137. Tim said:
    “It is this difference that makes us members of different religions.”

    Again, this makes us different variations of the same religion. Religion is defined by who we worship. You have taken the liberty to define who is and isn’t a “Christian” based on what you think is best; based on very specific theology. You have the right to do that but I think reasonable people at large would not agree with you.

    So, now that I have shown the early Church Fathers believed in the deification of man, does that make them a different religion than you too? Why do you accept the Trinity but not the deification of man as taught by the early Church Fathers?

  138. Tim:
    “unless you are truly unaware of the great many ways that science has contradicted Mormonism and have not seen people abandon their faith over these issues”

    Science has continued to validate the claims of Jospeh Smith though they don’t recognize it. As far as the supposed “DNA” problem, that was resolved in late 2013. Now, the anti-LDS are flush red with embarrassment.

  139. The ECF did not teach that we can become the same type of deity as Heavenly Father.

    “Who we worship” is as much a theological statement as “what kind of being is God?”

  140. Tim:
    “Ray, do the FLDS call themselves Latter Day Saints?”

    They are entitled to call themselves whatever they like. LDS would be a point of doctrine, not who they worship.
    I’m not denying that some one who is an ex-LDS started their group, I just don’t believe God authorized them to do so. Therefore, I classify them as a rogue group, though they may still be Christian.

  141. Tim:
    “The ECF did not teach that we can become the same type of deity as Heavenly Father.”

    “Who we worship” is as much a theological statement as “what kind of being is God?”

    The fact they even mentioned it at all should be a concern to you. They, apparently, understood something that Christians today know nothing about and would not even be talking about it except the LDS have brought up the doctrine.

    On the second statement, I think that’s hair splitting.
    Our only true difference about the “nature” of God is the physical one. We think everything else about the same.
    And frankly speaking, you can’t really know if God doesn’t have a body. You trust the ancient theologians to be correct. These men were not prophets and were ordered by the state to come up with a unified version of God. How can you trust that?

  142. Ray, if you think the only difference we have concerning the nature of God is whether or not he has a physical body I don’t think you’ve really been doing your best to listen as I try to clarify orthodox Christianity. At this point I feel disrespected.

  143. Ray,

    Have you read the Church Fathers?

    Honestly pre 1990 I can understand exactly where you are coming from. An accredited Mormon scholar quotes the the early Church showing agreement and bam, the church is true.

    It just doesn’t work that way any more. Now when the apologist quotes the early Church everybody can look it up. Context dictates meaning and it is my experience that trying to force correlated LDS beliefs into the ancient Church can only be accomplished out of context.

    http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

  144. Ray writes, “Clement (100 AD): ‘For his beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes god, since God wills it.'”

    The problem with using this quote as you do, is that Clement is describing men in this life. Specifically, “that man with whom the Word dwells”. This kind of man “does not alter himself, does not get himself up: he has the form which is of the Word; he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself: his is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills.” [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02093.htm]

    Thus, this is not talking about what we may become after we die and enter into exaltation. It’s talking about what we become when the Word dwells with us in this life.

  145. Ray writes, ” Irenaeus (180 AD), a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the Revelator said, ‘…we were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods.'”

    Here is the context of this statement:

    “With God there are simultaneously exhibited power, wisdom, and goodness. His power and goodness [appear] in this, that of His own will He called into being and fashioned things having no previous existence; His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly. For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God. And thus in all things God has the pre-eminence, who alone is uncreated, the first of all things, and the primary cause of the existence of all, while all other things remain under God’s subjection. But being in subjection to God is continuance in immortality, and immortality is the glory of the uncreated One. By this arrangement, therefore, and these harmonies, and a sequence of this nature, man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God—the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God. Now it was necessary that man should in the first instance be created; and having been created, should receive growth; and having received growth, should be strengthened; and having been strengthened, should abound; and having abounded, should recover [from the disease of sin]; and having recovered, should be glorified; and being glorified, should see his Lord. For God is He who is yet to be seen, and the beholding of God is productive of immortality, but immortality renders one near unto God.” [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103438.htm]

    This explains what Irenaeus means by men becoming “gods”: It means receiving “a faculty of the Uncreated [immortality], through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God ” … “; and “approximating to the uncreated One”; “while all other things remain under God’s subjection”.

    Again, to Irenaeus it doesn’t mean becoming the same kind of being God is, namely an uncreated being. It means attaining certain faculties which are like God’s faculties.

    The point of all this was that some men had complained that they do not receive these god-like faculties from the start, but instead have to start out as corrupt and corruptible men: “[A]nd before that they become men, they wish to be even now like God their Creator, and they who are more destitute of reason than dumb animals [insist] that there is no distinction between the uncreated God and man, a creature of today. For these, [the dumb animals], bring no charge against God for not having made them men; but each one, just as he has been created, gives thanks that he has been created. For we cast blame upon Him, because we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods.”

    It should be noted that the only objection traditional Christians have with the doctrine of “As man is, God once was”, etc., is the idea that we will be the SAME as God. If all Mormons are saying is that we will have certain attributes of God, then it’s not a problem; after all that’s what “being made in God’s image and likeness” means.

  146. Ray writes, ” Augustine (400 AD): ‘He himself that justifies also deifies…If then we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods.'”

    Here is the context:

    “For He does justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He does deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifies does Himself deify, in that by justifying He does make sons of God. For He has given them power to become the sons of God. John 1:12 If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For the only Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. For so great is the love in Him the Heir, that He has willed to have fellow-heirs.” [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801050.htm]

    So “deify” for Augustine means being justified, which makes us sons of God and heirs with Christ. Like Clement, he is saying that this is something that happens when we are justified in this life, not something we only attain to after death.

    Notice also that he says we do not become gods by *nature*, but only by God’s grace in *adopting* us: “not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ.”

    Again, the objection is to teaching that we will be of the same *nature* as God. There is no objection to saying that we will be *like* God in certain ways.

  147. Ray:

    In summary, contrary to your statement that your ECF quotes contain “something that Christians today know nothing about”, nothing in the quotes contains anything that is unknown to Christians today, but are entirely consistent with traditional Christian doctrine.

  148. Information can be lost simply by not reading it. We didn’t understand much about the Aztecs until three hundred years after the fact when the books were pulled off the shelves.

    Do you realize that you are suggesting that the most well-known work by arguably the single most influential person in western Christianity since the end of the apostolic era just went unread for 1,500 years?

    You’re just making things up.

  149. Ray, in the spirit of reconciliation, I hope that you better understand the Christian perspective. While I would love to see and pray for you to return to a Christian church, I at least hope that your beliefs about Christianity have been challenged and that you come away with a better understanding of it.

  150. slowcowboy said, “Cal, I’ll play:

    2) Yes, I have a testimony that the Mormon church is untrue and incompatible with Christianity.”

    Thanks for answering my questions.
    I’m not totally satisfied with your second answer. Has the Spirit told you that their teaching is TOTALLY unchristian? Perhaps I should word it this way: Has the Holy Spirit told you that if you believe everything the LDS teaches you will land in hell, not heaven?

    How do you know it was the Spirit speaking?

  151. Tim, thanks also for answering. Now we’re getting somewhere.
    How do you know it was the Spirit speaking to you?

    You asked, “Does Christianity teach that a man can become the same kind of deity that Heavenly Father is?”

    No. As Ray said above, God will always be worshiped; we will not be worshiped.

  152. Ray, you said, “What I want is for religions to stop promoting hate and killing each other in the name of theology. This is why I have a bone to pick with anti-LDS and anti-Christian groups. The promotion of hate is of the devil.”

    Amen! You’re a smart and good man. And I admire you for being able—by the grace of God, no doubt—to take the brunt of the hate expressed here without responding in the same spirit.

    Unfortunately, when we come to Christ, we usually also quickly pick up some of the religious (false) traditions in the church as well. Thanks to God for his great mercy and for his willingness to give up his own Son to suffer for our sins so we can walk in his forgiveness by walking in his grace/power.

    (These guys here mean well and God knows their hearts.)

  153. slowcowboy, you misunderstood my question. How and under what circumstances did the Spirit speak to you? How did you recognize his voice?

  154. Calling a spade a spade…critiquing horrible theology is not “hate”.

    Those defending the gospel (the finished work of Christ on the Cross for the ungodly) have every right to call out those who would add something (anything at all) to Christ.

  155. Cal,

    Saint Anselm opened his Proslogion with this exhortation:

    “Exhortation of the mind to the contemplation of God.—It casts aside cares, and excludes all thoughts save that of God, that it may seek Him. Man was created to see God. Man by sin lost the blessedness for which he was made, and found the misery for which he was not made. He did not keep this good when he could keep it easily. Without God it is ill with us. Our labors and attempts are in vain without God. Man cannot seek God, unless God himself teaches him; nor find him, unless he reveals himself. God created man in his image, that he might be mindful of him, think of him, and love him. The believer does not seek to understand, that he may believe, but he believes that he may understand: for unless he believed he would not understand.”

    Anselm prayed…

    “Lord, I acknowledge and I thank thee that thou hast created me in this thine image, in order that I may be mindful of thee, may conceive of thee, and love thee; but that image has been so consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrong-doing, that it cannot achieve that for which it was made, except thou renew it, and create it anew. I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe,—that unless I believed, I should not understand.”

    In all honesty I think you encourage confusion rather than seek understanding.

  156. theoldadam, I know your intentions are good. As I may have said before, I believe we followers of Jesus have two accounts with God. Our first account says, “Forgiven, Justified by faith, Accepted, Belongs to God, Chosen by God.” Our second account, which registers our maturity in Christ, is usually a mess!

  157. Cal, you are looking for a specific answer. I could explain it to you, but you will never know what I experienced even through my description of it. That’s the problem with basing something on a feeling or experience alone: it is impossible to confirm that another person experienced the same. I will simply say that God has confirmed to me in no unclear manner, and that revelation has been confirmed through scripture and history, that the Mormon church will not lead one to salvation.

    I will also add, however, that I sincerely have asked the question: can Mormonism be true. The answer given to me is that it cannot.

    You may not like my answer, or the answer I repeat was given to me, but it is the truth of my experience.

  158. Cal:

    You write, “Agellius, are you admitting that Clement called men in whom the Word dwells gods?”

    He wrote (as quoted before), “he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself: his is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills.”

    Does that answer your question?

  159. Cal said

    Perhaps I should word it this way: Has the Holy Spirit told you that if you believe everything the LDS teaches you will land in hell, not heaven?

    You appear to still be asking the same question I decried in the original post, “how much can I get away with without going to hell?” I think this a truly sad way to go about your life with Christ. There’s so much more available to you. Why would anyone want the “least” of a knowledge of Jesus? Why would you encourage anyone to the bare minimum? I wish you knew what your persistence on this line of questioning reveals about your faith.

    How do you know it was the Spirit speaking to you?

    The same way you do. I know His voice and I compare his teachings to what I see confirmed in Scripture.

    You asked, “Does Christianity teach that a man can become the same kind of deity that Heavenly Father is?”

    No. As Ray said above, God will always be worshiped; we will not be worshiped.

    This is still answering a different question. I didn’t ask if man would be worshiped like Heavenly Father, I asked if he would be the same kind of deity. But I think you know what the question is and I think you know that your attempts to cleverly spin it a different direction are transparent. Your desire to continue mucking about in the mud is something that is clear can’t be helped. There’s a vacation at the beach waiting for you though.

  160. Cal writes, “You asked, ‘Does Christianity teach that a man can become the same kind of deity that Heavenly Father is?’ No. As Ray said above, God will always be worshiped; we will not be worshiped.”

    Is this official doctrine, or are Mormons free to believe or speculate that they may be worshiped some day? If it is official, what authoritative writing makes it official?

  161. You appear to still be asking the same question I decried in the original post, “how much can I get away with without going to hell?” I think this a truly sad way to go about your life with Christ.

    More than that, “how much can I get away with without going to hell?” is simply not a question that someone who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit would ask.

  162. HI Gang!
    This is the first time I’ve been back to this thread in two days, so I’m not ignoring your thoughtful statements.

    Cowboy:
    “Ray, why is that you can ignore what we tell you about differences but we have to accept what you tell us?”

    I’m not trying to ignore you about differences, but there are several of you directing statements at me, while there is only one of me to speak for myself.

    I’ve asked very pointed questions of which I’m not getting answers such as:
    Don’t Protestants think there was an Apostacy?
    And if the differences between Catholics and Protestants has been resolved then why don’t the Protestants go back to the Original Church?

    And a few others.

  163. Tim:
    “Ray, if you think the only difference we have concerning the nature of God is whether or not he has a physical body I don’t think you’ve really been doing your best to listen as I try to clarify orthodox Christianity. At this point I feel disrespected.”

    I am sorry I am making you feel disrespected. I don’t disrespect you. I think you are smart and can answer my questions. You are doing a good job so far. I’m learning a lot from every one here. I hope this group is learning something from me as well.

    My becoming LDS never changed by view on the character of God. The loving God, the just God, the Almighty God, the compassionate God, the spiritual God and so on. Most importantly, the personal God: the one who answers my prayers.
    From your description of God and his personal attributes, I don’t believe we think differently about the make up of God.

    You are trying to clarify two main points on Orthodoxy. The Trinity and man’s final condition when things end on this earth. I believe I understand what you are saying.

    You have a bad feeling about the term “god” for man’s final condition. You prefer “glorified man”. You may feel, that there is some hidden agenda that the LDS view of an “exalted man” or a “god” is some how making man practically equal with God, which we are attempting to replace God with ourselves thus blasphemy.

    The truth is very little has is known by LDS leaders what ‘godhood’ will be about. There is a lot of conjecture on the subject, the idea we’ll have our “own” world and such, but that’s where people get in trouble with opinions.

    Let us see exactly how powerful we will be as a god. I assume you can get to D&C 130: 9, 10

    Here when you read it, you will see that those who inherit the Celestial Kingdom, and thus become gods will need to rely upon the earth and a white stone given them for information concerning other places and things.

    Now, if an LDS ‘god’ needs an entire planet and a stone to access information, then I would say that those ‘gods’ aren’t so “all knowing” and “all powerful” like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Even in our “exalted state” we will be but a small little light bulb compared to the power of a blazing star.

    However, an exalted man compared to a man from this existence is indeed a god.

    The Church has worked diligently to separate recorded opinions and factual Gospel doctrine. So far, I think they are getting it ‘right’.

  164. No Protestants don’t believe there was a universal Apostacy. We think the Catholic church was corrupt but by no means had the gates of Hell prevailed against Jesus or his true believers. We celebrate a reformation not a restoration.

    The fundamental doctrines between us and the Catholics have never been in dispute. But there still exists many significant differences.

  165. Agellius:
    “In summary, contrary to your statement that your ECF quotes contain “something that Christians today know nothing about”, nothing in the quotes contains anything that is unknown to Christians today, but are entirely consistent with traditional Christian doctrine.”

    As I have read the full texts, it’s almost like Bruce R. McConkie wrote it himself.

    The New Testament never uses the word ‘god’ in describing exaltation, but always refers to terms such as the “full stature of Christ” or “perfect” and words of that nature.

    Using the terminology, and repeatedly so, of “god” in place of “unto the perfect man” or “stature of the fullness of Christ” is a tell if there ever was one. The doctrine came down through the Christians in a common language and that term was ‘god’, not “glorified man”, not “perfected man” but ‘god’. And that’s the term these Church Fathers used.

    Once some one is “justified”, then they are worthy and deemed “deified”. Not the other way around.

    Yes, the basic principle of becoming “like Christ” has been doctrine in the Christian Church but the early Fathers knew what it meant to be “like Christ” and said it plainly. What has been taught since then is a major dumb down of what the Fathers clearly knew. I don’t know how you can read the text and not see it.

    This basic doctrine of being a ‘god’ and set in that terminology is not something that any Christian Church has taught. The term is too big. Obtaining “some” attributes of God is not what the texts are discussing. They are discussing all the attributes when some one is a joint heir with a God, namely Christ. And, of course, it will be given to us by grace, as anything we ever have or will become is given by grace.

    If you read my most recent post to TIm on the subject, you might get a better understanding of the LDS view.

  166. Tim:
    “No Protestants don’t believe there was a universal Apostacy. We think the Catholic church was corrupt but by no means had the gates of Hell prevailed against Jesus or his true believers. We celebrate a reformation not a restoration.

    The fundamental doctrines between us and the Catholics have never been in dispute. But there still exists many significant differences.”
    ____________________________________________________

    Tim, this is the clearest statement I’ve seen on the subject. Thanks for explaining.

  167. Tim,
    Our wires are missing each other! If I lived in California I might suggest we get together sometime. I was not trying to duck your question. Let me try again. You asked, “Does Christianity teach that a man can become the same kind of deity that Heavenly Father is?”

    I checked again the definition of “deity.” My computer’s definition is apparently a little different or more elaborate than the one you quoted earlier. According to my computer’s definition, no human will ever become any kind of deity.
    I do believe Christians have the divine nature of God in them, as Scripture makes clear. I don’t think Jesus can separate himself from his own nature. Therefore, when he comes into us when we are born again, his divine nature comes with him, a nature described in the Word as love, truth, righteousness, light, etc.
    Have I answered your question?

    Then you said, “Why would anyone want the “least” of a knowledge of Jesus?”

    I never suggested anyone should want the least of Jesus; I want people to want all the Jesus there is. I am only trying to help people like yourself realize that the core of the Mormon faith is in line with those basic essentials in God’s Word that the Word itself says are indispensable for someone to know Christ. When evangelicals realize the LDS is foundationally Christian, they can begin bridge-building (which very well may be what your calling is). They can begin to please God instead of grieving him by stirring up, or at least encouraging the continuance of, the division between them and the Mormons. We can’t find all of Jesus if we’re grieving him.

    ———–
    You say you know God’s voice and God told you Mormonism is not founded on the real Christ. Mormons say they hear God’s voice tell them their church is the real one and others are lagging way behind. I’m claiming God’s voice impresses on me that the truth is sort of half way in between. Somebody thinks they’re hearing God’s voice when they aren’t! This is a major problem that needs solving. Don’t you think you should do some articles on how to recognize God’s voice?

    Have a good evening.

  168. Cal says:
    “You say you know God’s voice and God told you Mormonism is not founded on the real Christ. Mormons say they hear God’s voice tell them their church is the real one and others are lagging way behind. I’m claiming God’s voice impresses on me that the truth is sort of half way in between. Somebody thinks they’re hearing God’s voice when they aren’t! This is a major problem that needs solving. Don’t you think you should do some articles on how to recognize God’s voice?”

    This would be a very good topic. I mentioned I felt the Spirit at the Orthodox Church at their New Year’s eve service and it was the same spirit as at the Baptist Church and LDS church. But it was the spirit in general when certain things were being said which were true. At the Orthodox Church, they were essentially singing the Bible verses on the birth of Christ. So, it was very reverent and spiritual, (though I personally don’t like almost all church music, my church or anyone else’s. Some songs are good: a couple of dozen, but if I never heard the others, ever again, they would not be missed).

    I think a better question to ask is have we felt or seen the power of God. If the LDS were “so” evil like most Christians believe, then why, in their most dire time, did the Lord blow a massive flock of California Sea Gulls 900 miles inland, which consequently saved the LDS from starvation as the Gulls consumed the millions of crickets which were leveling their crops?

    If those Gulls weren’t an answer to serious prayers, then there is no God at all. Without those Sea Gulls, this would have been the end of the LDS and “God” would have rid the world of this terrible evil. So, why did he save them?

    Claims that Moroni was an “angel of light” from Satan, can’t be sustained by the power of the facts since the power of God saved them.

    I wasn’t there to witness the Sea Gulls descend from the sky. Yet, in my time, I have experienced and witnessed things way far and above an “emotional” experience that I have often when watching TV shows. And so have many of my LDS friends. But with all of my Christian friends, they don’t believe those types of things are possible. And if they do not have faith, then it most certainly won’t happen. Just as Jesus, God, could do not miracles when he was with people which had no faith.

  169. I spoke with my sister about her church’s view of the God head. She is a Church of Christ, conservative variety and before that she was a Southern Baptist. She said some interesting things. The first thing she said was, Christ no longer had his physical body. That, like my experience at the American Baptist church, is he simply merged back into the mysterious description of “spirit” called God. Since God was every where, you could consider Him the universe.

    Further, she told me that Southern Baptists used to think just like her church on this but changed in the first half of the 20th century. Now, they think more like the Evangelicals here at this site. Back then, the So. Baptists, were a-millennial but changed over to pre-millenial.

    And I find it interesting that a woman we baptized a couple of months ago was formally Baptist (though she didn’t say which variety) who’s description of that denomination’s Godhead was like the one I described when I attended the Baptist Church. That God was just one individual appearing in three different forms. She said the LDS view of the Godhead is what convinced her because now she could read her Bible and it makes sense.

    So, I am beginning to wonder if the Evangelicals here are actually Evangelicals or rather just Protestants.

  170. Ray,

    Denial of the physical resurrection of Christ is a grave error at best. Any denomination that knowingly denies the physical resurrection of Christ isn’t evangelical, protestant or Christian.

  171. Brother Ray,

    In reaction to your 5:54 comments: It sounds like you know how to recognize the presence of the Lord. To me, that’s the most basic and safest way to be led by the Spirit. Sadly, many Christians can’t recognize the presence of the Spirit. I think the keys are pray, obey, and meditate on God’s words. Psalms 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

    Your suggestion of asking about miracles is also very good. John 14:11: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

  172. Ray:

    This seems to have become an argument over semantics. I’m saying that in the ECF passages that you quoted, and which I quoted in larger part, nothing is said which is repugnant to traditional Christian orthodoxy. Whereas you seem to think that the mere use of the word “god” disposes of the issue in your favor.

    I’ve said over and over that whether the LDS view is repugnant to traditional Christian orthodoxy, depends on whether you’re saying that we have the very same nature as God, — infinite, eternal, all-powerful, and worthy of adoration — or that we merely attain to some similarity or likeness to God in certain respects. The ECF passages are clearly saying the latter.

    If the traditional Christian churches no longer use the word “god” to refer to what we become, again that’s semantics. We still affirm what the ECFs were conveying in using that term.

    If all you’re saying is what these ECFs are saying, then we have no quarrel.

  173. Agellius,
    I think we need to realize that the Church Fathers were not stupid men and were careful with their words. Then understood what “god” and deification meant.

    I look at what you wrote:

    “…- or that we merely attain to some similarity or likeness to God in certain respects.”

    Then I have to ask is that what “god” means? We are similar in some respects to God already.

    Yet, we simply do not have enough information on the subject. Not a lot has been revealed. Going back to the Bible, when Jesus quoted that ‘people are gods’ by saying “ye are gods” yet the Pharisees were still angry at him because he said he was the son of God, is an indication of something much greater than being an angel or other creations. Christ was clearly saying that people as gods must be near the level of the son of God in some real way. What that way was is: I don’t know. I can think of several important attributes.

    If we compose in a list all the things we think a God is and then compose on another list what we think man’s final state which is based on the Bible, it stands to reason that we will be ‘gods’ and I think the Church Fathers understood this and used the proper terminology.

  174. Ray:

    You write, “If we compose in a list all the things we think a God is and then compose on another list what we think man’s final state which is based on the Bible, it stands to reason that we will be ‘gods’ and I think the Church Fathers understood this and used the proper terminology.”

    Again I don’t know where you’re disagreeing with me. I agree with everything the ECFs wrote in the quotes cited in this thread. They are entirely consistent and harmonious with traditional Christian orthodoxy. If you agree with them too, then what are we arguing about?

  175. Tim,
    Specifically how, and under what circumstances, does the Holy Spirit tell you the LDS is totally unchristian [underlined]?

  176. slowcowboy,
    Specifically how, and under what circumstances, does the Holy Spirit tell you the LDS is totally unchristian [underlined]?

  177. Agellius,

    I don’t know that we completely disagree or at all. The main reason for this is I don’t have a good understanding of the Protestant view of man’s final state or reason to exist in God’s eternal plan.

    Different subject:
    Tim mentioned Augustine was an “old earther”. Are you familiar where in his writing this is mentioned or can post a link on the subject?

    Or, Tim, if you have easy access to a link, I would really like to read about this.

    Ray

  178. Cal, you have my answer. You ask for something you can neither confirm or deny. You seek an answer that you will not receive. I am not even entirely sure what it is, specifically, you are looking for, to be honest. I can go into details about my prayers and my searches, but that means little to the answer. The answer is that I am sure the Holy Spirit has told me Mormons are not Christian and follow a false God. I am sure of that.

    If you do not like the answer, I cannot help you. All I can tell you is the truth.

  179. slowcowboy,

    Thanks for returning my “call.” Tim is SLOWER ( 😉 ) than you getting back to me but he may have a good reason.
    Anyway, the reason I’m asking is that I’m trying to demonstrate that you and Tim are not actually hearing the Spirit when it comes to Mormonism. I feel kinda mean doing it, but I know you’ll agree that the status of the LDS is a very important issue. Also, when Gundek said he felt I was encouraging confusion it made me want to finish what I started. He didn’t say he was confused but if he is, I don’t blame him—lots of people are—there are various viewpoints and people from all camps say the Spirit is guiding them. Jesus said the Spirit will lead us into all truth, not confusion.

    I think going into details about your prayers and your searches may be enlightening—in more ways than one. I’m not trying to show you up. That’s not my purpose. Getting to the truth should benefit all, especially those who are wrong. (We’re all wrong about something.)

    The type of answer I’m looking for is what Ray said. He sort of answered my question without my asking him. He said above, “I mentioned I felt the Spirit at the Orthodox Church at their New Year’s eve service and it was the same spirit as at the Baptist Church and LDS church. But it was the spirit in general when certain things were being said which were true. At the Orthodox Church, they were essentially singing the Bible verses on the birth of Christ. So, it was very reverent and spiritual. . . .”

    To give an example from my life: Reading the Book of Mormon (which I don’t often do), I feel uplifted in the same manner as I do when reading the Bible. If I read it long enough, I feel God’s strength, faith, peace, etc., increase. This contrasts with a time when I read something by a Muslim. He was trying to destroy the credibility of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. After about 45 minutes, I put it down never to pick it up again, having felt the peace of God sucked out of me as if by a vacuum cleaner. (I spend more time with God than most Christians so I’m probably going to sense these things more intensely than many others do.)

    I appreciate you playing along with this. It’s not always easy to bare yourself but interesting and inspirational writing is often personal. Book publishers tell you that. It may be an exercise that helps you increase your effectiveness for the Lord!

  180. Hi Cal,

    Some years ago, I was involved in discussing the Gospel with a friend of mine who was a C of C member. His Church, like mine, was a “restoration type” church.

    Yet, he did not believe that God worked miracles in our time, did not speak to men through prophets, but answered our prayers through the Bible. We would recieve inspriation by reading “the Word”. After all, in his theology, God took away those spiritual gifts with something better: the Bible.

    So, when I asked him to read and pray about the B of M, he did, sort of. He read a few sentences from the B of M, read his Bible some more, then went to the Lord with a massive prejudice against the B of M. And his answer was, the B of M was false.

    After that, he was just as convinced the Book was false as before he prayed. He already knew the answer before he asked. And I told him, if you don’t have an open mind and faith and are humble and set aside your prejudiced beliefs, the Spirit can never come through.

    Now, I knew this was true because I was once an atheist and this is exactly how I felt about Christ: completely prejudice against the very idea that God existed. Back then ,when I attempted to pray, I felt nothing at all.

    The Spirit will not over ride our prejudice or feelings against doctrines except in very rare instances such as the Apostle Paul.

    No where in the Bible does the scrip tell us that the Holy Spirit will give us a witness against something which would foster forms of hate, prejudice and ill towards others. He only bears witness of what is true which fosters goodness and good will towards others. Directly speaking, most, but not all, people’s “revelation” is what they already think.

    This is why the meek shall inherit the earth. We must be deeply humble for the Spirit to come through. The only prayers that get miraculous answers, like I experienced, come when the heart is heavy (filled with intense emotion) and we don’t rely on our knowledge at all and every speck of prejudice is purged and exclusively rely on the Spirit.

  181. Cal, don’t pretend to tell me what I have experienced. I get uplifting feelings from a variety of sources, not all are of God. Telling me my witness is invalid is as arrogant as it is close minded.

  182. Ray,

    What you’ve said is excellent and so true! And the experiences you describe—both your own and the C of C member—come remarkably close to describing my experiences. After my first contacts with Mormon missionaries almost thirty years ago I went home and opened the Book of Mormon, asking God if it was of him. I only dared to read two sentences because I was so afraid of being deceived. Because of my upbringing in a traditional Protestant church—which was a good influence on me in many ways—I was not ready to accept the idea that a book could come as close to the Bible as the BOM does. It occurred to me as I pondered the two sentences I had read, and gazed at the 2-column pages with verse numbers, that the devil imitates what God does. In my immature state as a believer, I actually thought it was the Holy Spirit that reminded me the devil is an imitator because the Spirit wanted to me to know the BOM was of the devil. At some point I told the missionaries that. Oh, if I could only find them somewhere and apologize!

    Some years later I picked the BOM up again. This time, I was under no pressure from missionaries and was armed with greater discernment—just me and the Holy Spirit and, as you described, a humble readiness to hear anything the Spirit wanted to tell me.

    This leads me to what I think the Spirit is impressing on me now, even waking me in the middle of the night. I’m not supposed to badger non-Mormons on this site. They may not be ready. I need to treat them as I would have wanted someone to treat me back before my revelation.

    Blessings to you. It’s been nice meeting you. I’m from cold, now icey, New Hampshire!

  183. Cal, you bring up the precise problem with basing a testimony on a sensation, though. I understand what you felt, and what Mormons have felt, appears to be a strong feeling of overpowering gentleness that is perceived as the Holy Ghost. It is so strong that it is interpreted as unmistakable. Have I experienced this? How can I answer that if my witness is such that Mormonism is denied?

    However, this feeling is really quite unreliable for any number of reasons. I prefer to follow the Bereans in Acts, who are called ‘noble’ for checking what Paul and his friends told them. We are also told to test everything against the scriptures quite directly. When I experience some mystical feeling, I check it against scripture, and I confirm the feeling or deny it. When applied to Mormonism, I find Mormonism fails the test.

    Now, you cannot tell me what I have or have not experienced. I don’t view your insistence on an answer as badgering as much as I see it as trying to search for an answer I cannot give. I see your attempts as trying to manipulate an answer to suit your purposes. There is simply no way that you can know what I have experienced, just as there is no way I can experience what you have. To ‘badger’ (using your word) beyond that when given a clear answer seems as if you are putting words into another’s mouth.

  184. Ray, honest set of questions stemming from this line:

    “And I told him, if you don’t have an open mind and faith and are humble and set aside your prejudiced beliefs, the Spirit can never come through.”

    Isn’t this a self serving and proving statement? Isn’t it something that can’t really be proven? How do you know someone who receives a different answer did not set aside their prejudiced beliefs and was not humble?

  185. Ray said

    I spoke with my sister about her church’s view of the God head. She is a Church of Christ, conservative variety and before that she was a Southern Baptist. She said some interesting things. The first thing she said was, Christ no longer had his physical body. That, like my experience at the American Baptist church, is he simply merged back into the mysterious description of “spirit” called God. Since God was every where, you could consider Him the universe.
    . . .
    And I find it interesting that a woman we baptized a couple of months ago was formally Baptist (though she didn’t say which variety) who’s description of that denomination’s Godhead was like the one I described when I attended the Baptist Church. That God was just one individual appearing in three different forms. She said the LDS view of the Godhead is what convinced her because now she could read her Bible and it makes sense.

    I don’t deny that you, your sister or your friend were all taught some form of Modalism. The Trinity lacks a sufficient analogy so people sometimes default to a theological explanation that’s not quite right. As I stated before there isn’t a change within traditional Christianity, it’s just that the people who explained it to you were mistaken in their own understanding.

    I understand why it’s difficult for you to assimilate what I’m saying. Mormons typically hold a modalistic straw-man view of the Godhead over Evangelicals as evidence that we don’t deal with the “threeness” of God. Any Mormon and any Evangelical who gives you this impression of our beliefs is simply wrong and it wouldn’t take long for me to correct the Protestant’s understanding.

    As I stated before, Mormon missionaries have given me some TERRIBLE explanations of Mormon doctrine. But just because they’re Mormon doesn’t mean that they understand the doctrine all that well. In the same way, Evangelicals sometimes give an incorrect understanding of the Trinity, particularly if they are from an anti-intellectual strand of the faith.

    Further, she told me that Southern Baptists used to think just like her church on this but changed in the first half of the 20th century. Now, they think more like the Evangelicals here at this site. Back then, the So. Baptists, were a-millennial but changed over to pre-millenial.

    This is mostly true. Pre-millenialism didn’t become popular in American Protestantism until about 100 years ago. The core doctrine, Jesus will return, is unchanged. The speculative doctrine on how he will come will probably be up for debate until he actually comes and almost everyone will discover that they had at least one wrong opinion about it if not many.

    So, I am beginning to wonder if the Evangelicals here are actually Evangelicals or rather just Protestants.

    Trying to split the difference between “Evangelicals” and “Protestants” is a bit like me trying to split the difference between “Mormons” and “LDS”. You’ll have an fuller understanding of our faith if you just accept that sometimes Evangelicals don’t understand the Trinity all that well themselves.

    Imagine if I went around saying “Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is an actual history whereas LDS believe that the Book of Mormon is just a faith promoting fiction that helps us feel closer to Jesus.” It would be preposterous right?

  186. Ray said

    Somebody thinks they’re hearing God’s voice when they aren’t! This is a major problem that needs solving. Don’t you think you should do some articles on how to recognize God’s voice?”

    This would be a very good topic. I mentioned I felt the Spirit at the Orthodox Church at their New Year’s eve service and it was the same spirit as at the Baptist Church and LDS church. But it was the spirit in general when certain things were being said which were true. . .

    I think a better question to ask is have we felt or seen the power of God. If the LDS were “so” evil like most Christians believe, then why, in their most dire time, did the Lord blow a massive flock of California Sea Gulls 900 miles inland, which consequently saved the LDS from starvation as the Gulls consumed the millions of crickets which were leveling their crops?

    Almost every faith tradition in the world has experiences with miracles and profound spiritual experiences. I think they are problematic for a number of reasons as a tool in verifying which religion is correct.

    Just this week a man in my church was miraculously healed. I know a Buddhist man who describes a miracle in his life. I believe in a God of grace and love so I don’t think it’s impossible or unlikely that God could grant people this kind of blessing as a means of calling everyone to him.

    As far as the seagull story goes though. . . Many Mormons have done further research on this popular story and I would recommend you look into it a little more deeply before sharing it again. The real story isn’t quite what you’ve been led to believe. It’s probably better to just share stories in which you have first hand experience. Here’s one of mine. https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2007/05/16/pray-boldly/

  187. Ray said

    If we compose in a list all the things we think a God is and then compose on another list what we think man’s final state which is based on the Bible, it stands to reason that we will be ‘gods’ and I think the Church Fathers understood this and used the proper terminology.

    They certainly used the word “gods” but the context would clearly reveal to you that they didn’t use the word “gods” in any way similar to the way Mormons use the word. Your failure to appreciate the context of their use of the word “gods” does a disservice to your own understanding of what they are writing about.

  188. Cal said

    Tim,
    Specifically how, and under what circumstances, does the Holy Spirit tell you the LDS is totally unchristian [underlined]?

    . . .

    Anyway, the reason I’m asking is that I’m trying to demonstrate that you and Tim are not actually hearing the Spirit when it comes to Mormonism. I feel kinda mean doing it, but I know you’ll agree that the status of the LDS is a very important issue.

    I knew you’d get there eventually but I honestly didn’t think you’d be this blatantly Pharisaical or self-righteous about it. If I’m understanding you correctly, YOU are the standard of what the Holy Spirit is properly or improperly teaching people and if someone disagrees with you it must be that they aren’t praying correctly.

    I can just as easily say that you’re the one who isn’t praying correctly or isn’t hearing the right quality of message from the Spirit. It’s a no win scenario. I’m not playing. I have enough experience with Pharisees to know I can’t win unless I allow them to be the authority (as opposed to the Bible or 2,000 years of Christian wisdom).

    Ray has been VERY upfront with us that Mormonism teaches that a man can become a kind of deity. You and I both AGREE that Christianity doesn’t teach that a man can become any kind of deity. It’s you who wants to say blatantly non-Christian teachings can be taught as a part of Christianity; and it doesn’t have any thing to do with my prayer life.

    It’s quite offensive that instead of dealing with your own contradictory thinking you’ve chosen to try to make my ability to interact with the Holy Spirit the subject of debate. It’s just gross. No thanks.

  189. Ray said

    No where in the Bible does the scrip tell us that the Holy Spirit will give us a witness against something which would foster forms of hate, prejudice and ill towards others. He only bears witness of what is true which fosters goodness and good will towards others.

    Ray are you saying that because the Holy Spirit told me that Mormonism is false that I hate, am prejudice and have ill feelings toward Mormons? I can assure you that the Holy Spirit most certainly did not indicate that I should behave in that way toward Mormons, quite the opposite.

  190. Ray:

    Ray writes, “Tim mentioned Augustine was an ‘old earther’. Are you familiar where in his writing this is mentioned or can post a link on the subject?”

    I’m not aware of any evidence that Augustine was specifically an “old earther”. However I think it’s pretty clear that he also was not a literal six-day creationist. He writes,

    “In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.”

    See paragraph 37 of http://college.holycross.edu/faculty/alaffey/other_files/Augustine-Genesis1.pdf

  191. They certainly used the word “gods” but the context would clearly reveal to you that they didn’t use the word “gods” in any way similar to the way Mormons use the word. Your failure to appreciate the context of their use of the word “gods” does a disservice to your own understanding of what they are writing about.

    More importantly, they didn’t use the word “gods” in an identical sense to the way they refer to God.

    Ray, none of this is some kind of lost doctrine in Christianity–the Eastern Orthodox still have a strong doctrine of theosis which they would typically express in the same words as the ECF. But try asking an EO whether their doctrine of theosis is consistent with Mormonism’s doctrine of man’s ability to become like God. Or, you could just check out the many past posts on the precise topic here at LDS & Evangalical Conversations.

  192. Tim mentioned Augustine was an “old earther”. Are you familiar where in his writing this is mentioned or can post a link on the subject?

    It’s in his Confessions.

  193. It’s you who wants to say blatantly non-Christian teachings on can be taught as a part of Christianity; and it doesn’t have any thing to do with my prayer life.

    Cal, stop dancing around reality: the reason you want to somehow bend the meanings of words to show how Mormons and Evangelicals really agree about humanity’s potential to become like God is because the Word of Faith Movement–of which you admit that you are a part–is absolutely riddled with heresy about the nature of God and the nature of man, and you’re trying to peddle their false doctrine. You’re not only doing your best to try to obscure the deep heresy of what Mormons believe, but in doing so you are achieving your real goal, which is to obscure the deep heresy of what you believe, and worse, to convince Christians to believe it.

    You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  194. Cal,

    Of course you are encouraging confusion and any Mormon who understood basics of orthodox theology would clearly see that you are playing word games.

    Tim’s original post was spot on. Good theology is an exercise at knowing our Creator and knowing ourselves (see John Calvin). Good Doctrine is an aid and a comfort. It is “faith seeking understanding.”

    Bad theology is a dragging anchor, it doesn’t hold fast and it can’t set free.

  195. Kullervo & Agellius – thanks for the reference. I was hoping for a direct link but will take what this group gives me.

    Kullervo, I think you are mis-judging Cal with:

    “You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

    Being a wolf in sheep’s clothing means there is a deliberate intention to deceive some one else and I don’t see that. I think you may not like what he is saying but I don’t see any evidence of deception.

  196. Tim says:

    “Almost every faith tradition in the world has experiences with miracles and profound spiritual experiences. I think they are problematic for a number of reasons as a tool in verifying which religion is correct.”

    I didn’t use the Miracle of the Gulls to prove “Mormonism”. I used to to indicate if the LDS are a ‘false church of the Devil’ as most Christians think and probably some at this site, then why did God save them?
    Despite some dramatic story telling, all the basic facts concerning the LDS miracle are true. There were enormous amounts of crickets eating everything and Gulls did arrive eating the crickets and there were prayers requesting salvation from the consequences the crickets were imposing. In short, a miracle.
    Now, if you chose not to see it that way, then that’s your business.

    The Evangelicals are starting to exercise faith since the Great Awakening. And where there is faith, there is also miracles. They go hand in hand. No faith, then no miracles.

    I read your miracle experience. I believe it happened. The child had faith that God could heal her and he did. Faith can move mountains. This is a principle of eternity.

    What I want to know is when did Protestants start “laying hands” on people to literally cure them of disease? I am pretty certain that it was common knowledge before the Great Awakening that such things had been done away and replaced by the Bible.

  197. Tim:
    “Ray are you saying that because the Holy Spirit told me that Mormonism is false that I hate, am prejudice and have ill feelings toward Mormons?”

    Negative. I think you are a sincere good Christian.

    Many anti-Mormons “pray” and “God tells them it’s false”. And with this, they think it gives them the ‘right’ to attack the LDS, doctrine, leaders and use completely un-Christ like behavior and distortion of facts as long as it keeps their congregations in place in the name of “defending the faith”. Individuals do this as well.

    You, Tim, have seen them do this and you know, in your heart, it is wrong. I think you also believed the LDS Church was not Christian before you ever prayed about it. What I suggested is those who pray about it with prejudice such as this will never have the same type of experience as me where knowledge is imparted in a truly spiritual way.

    Often times Christians, and many in the LDS church as well, have a “confirming” experience of what they already believe. In other words, they confuse deep inner feelings with the Holy Ghost. Yet, to them, it is quite real that God spoke to them. I’ve even experienced this myself with many things I’ve prayed about which didn’t turn out like I thought God had communicated to me.

    Having said this, there is a dramatic stark difference in the way I’ve had some prayers, which were truly miraculous. This includes when God acknowledged his existence to me and when He revealed to me that Joseph was his prophet are among at least a dozen “high powered” spiritual experiences and miracles I’ve been blessed to have experienced during my life (not to mention the many thousands of quiet spiritual experiences most people have too).

    Now, what you experienced when you prayed about the LDS and how open your were to be prejudice free is between you and God. Based on the posts I’ve read, I don’t see how you could possibly be completely impartial when you prayed about it.

    There is an irony here. The people I know who’ve had the most spirtual expereinces and most powerful testimonies are often former drug addicts. They were so down on their ‘luck’ and so humble and needed God so much they are often blessed with extremely powerful spiritual witnesses. (I was not one of those, I never used drugs or alcohol). Just so you know, these aren’t “crazy” people. One of them I know went on to be a millionaire from his business.

  198. Ray writes, “I was hoping for a direct link but will take what this group gives me.”

    A direct link to what, specifically?

  199. Ray:

    Being objective, can’t we acknowledge that there simply is no way to compare one person’s subjective spiritual experiences with another’s? Naturally, a “testimony” in favor of a religion is going to sound genuine to that religion’s adherents and false to its detractors, and vice versa. And that’s pretty much all we can say.

    This isn’t to say that LDS or non-LDS spiritual experiences are high-powered or low-powered, authentic or inauthentic. But since they can only be experienced interiorly, I can never know what yours are like and you can’t know what mine are like, since yours can only be “seen” by you and mine can only be “seen” by me.

    There’s nothing wrong with sharing such experiences as a matter of personal interest, if that’s what the conversation is about. They just can’t be the basis for any kind of an argument, which to be productive must be based on shared premises.

  200. Ray said

    Despite some dramatic story telling, all the basic facts concerning the LDS miracle are true. There were enormous amounts of crickets eating everything and Gulls did arrive eating the crickets and there were prayers requesting salvation from the consequences the crickets were imposing. In short, a miracle. Now, if you chose not to see it that way, then that’s your business.

    I think the miraculous portion of the story is not that gulls ate crickets but where the gulls came from 900 miles away or if they were local. It’s really here nor there for me, if you want to debate the story further taking it up with your fellow Mormons who disavow the story is probably the place to start.

    I used to to indicate if the LDS are a ‘false church of the Devil’ as most Christians think and probably some at this site, then why did God save them?

    My original point still stands that miracles being performed for Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims is probably more problematic than miracles on behalf of Mormons. It really a question of “why does God choose to perform miracles” rather than if the LDS church is the church of the devil.

    What I want to know is when did Protestants start “laying hands” on people to literally cure them of disease? I am pretty certain that it was common knowledge before the Great Awakening that such things had been done away and replaced by the Bible.

    I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. I think your certainty is probably misplaced. There are factions of Protestantism that believe in “cessationism”, the belief that the acts of the Holy Spirit ceased but that belief in no way defines all of Protestantism. I tried to do a brief search on the topic and it appears that the American Baptist subscribe to cessationism so it could be that you gained this understanding through what you were taught.

  201. You, Tim, have seen them do this and you know, in your heart, it is wrong. I think you also believed the LDS Church was not Christian before you ever prayed about it. What I suggested is those who pray about it with prejudice such as this will never have the same type of experience as me where knowledge is imparted in a truly spiritual way
    . . .
    Based on the posts I’ve read, I don’t see how you could possibly be completely impartial when you prayed about it.

    I’m not sure what makes you think you can stand in judgment of my humility. Couldn’t it be just as likely that my certainty in opposition to Joseph Smith was inspired by how the Holy Spirit spoke to me, just as your fervency for Mormonism was inspired by the answer you received? If the Spirit had told you that Mormonism was false and spiritually dangerous would you be nonchalant and unconcerned about it?

    The chief problem with Moroni’s Challenge is revealed here. If anyone gets an answer different than the one you received there must be something wrong with the other person (they aren’t humble, they didn’t read or pray correctly, they have unrepentant sin) rather than something wrong with the method of obtaining knowledge. Seth is a devout Mormon who comments here frequently. God has never given him a testimony of the truthfulness of Mormonism vis-a-vis Moroni’s Challenge. Should we conclude that he also lacks humility despite his consistent and fervent love of the LDS church?

  202. Ray,

    In my experience, Moroni’s challenge is generally effective because it is often a person’s first sincere effort to obtain an answer to their prayers from God.

    The interpretation of the answers to these sorts of prayers is not straightforward. I don’t think it is “proof” of any particular proposition to have a spiritual experience in response to these sorts of prayers. I think whatever an answer to a prayer is, it must be a complex psychological response to a person’s thoughts and the Spirit, and an individual is generally not in a position to separate the two influences. This is why those who are biased against the expected answer will generally not receive the expected answer, and will often receive a spiritual experience that confirms to them that the proposition is false. It is also impossible to tell how biased a person is toward the expected answer.

    For example, some pray and find that the Book of Mormon is true, and some pray and find the Book of Mormon is false. I don’t think we can judge which group is in more favor with God, or more open to the Spirit.

    I think this much we can tell from experience: those that receive answers saying the Book of Mormon is false, are generally confident of the answers they have received to other prayers in their lives, and are generally confident in those answers. Those that receive answers that the Book of Mormon is true are generally confident in those answers.

    There is no way to objectively tell what is actually going on, just like we can’t tell if the power of God allows us to perform better in sports if we pray before entering competition.

  203. Ray,

    You wrote: “Being a wolf in sheep’s clothing means there is a deliberate intention to deceive some one else and I don’t see that. I think you may not like what he is saying but I don’t see any evidence of deception.”

    I do. I think he is fishing for an answer he likes to set up an argument that only sincere prayer works. As others have demonstrated, it is impossible to compare experiences like that. You can never know, nor can Cal, whether I have prayed sincerely and/or humbly or not.

    Let me ask you something, if I could, how old were you when you left the American Baptist church for the LDS church?

  204. Tim:
    “I’m not sure what makes you think you can stand in judgment of my humility.”

    I don’t judge your humility. I said that was between you and God. I cited evidence which suggests to me that you can’t be completely impartial when you pray about it. Evidence is not proof but can sway the direction one thinks. If more evidence comes in it can either enhance the direction one thinks or it can change it’s course.

    “If the Spirit had told you that Mormonism was false and spiritually dangerous would you be nonchalant and unconcerned about it?”

    And that’s the exact point I made earlier which is my view. The Holy Spirit does not testify against something to verify whether it’s evil or not so that we pro-actively go after people or entities. Determining evil is by “their fruits”, with righteous judgment as much as we are capable.

    I know, for instance, that Islam is a totalitarian political system mingled with religion because of their fruits.

    I am in no way suggesting the LDS have a monopoly on faith, miracles or answers to prayers. But I have lined out the reasons why I think people can think they are hearing the Spirit but are actually hearing themselves. You can take it for what it’s worth and see if it applies to your experience.

  205. Tim:
    “Should we conclude that he (Seth) also lacks humility despite his consistent and fervent love of the LDS church?”

    Not all testimonies are “power house” revelations. Many testimonies, especially for those raised in the Church, are built over a long period of time with small spiritual witnesses here and there until it accumulates into a large spiritual witness. Having the “truth revealed”, as Moroni testifies, is not necessarily in an instant. When it does come in an instant, it is much easier to pin point when and under which circumstance the experience occurred.

    I have never prayed about the B of M. I prayed about Joseph Smith because the idea of a living prophet was radical to me at that time. It’s easy to believe in a man who was in touch with God two thousand years ago, but to say one was living today requires a completely different level of faith.

    I believe the B of M by default, since I know Joseph was a prophet, yet, when I read the book I feel the Spirit. Or it can work the other way around, if the Spirit of the book testifies to you as you read it, then you can know by default Joseph was a prophet.

  206. “Determining evil is by “their fruits”, with righteous judgment as much as we are capable.”

    A) What fruits is Tim lacking that suggests his testimony is wrong?
    B) What role does previous descriptions of our faith play in determining truth?

  207. Agellius:
    “This isn’t to say that LDS or non-LDS spiritual experiences are high-powered or low-powered, authentic or inauthentic.”

    And that’s the importance of the whole discussion. Tim has laid out, and the other non-LDS agree, the LDS are not Christian. That we do not believe in Christ is such a way as to even qualify as basic Christian.

    The implication is then, the LDS are inspired by Satan. The Angel of light, new scripture and different view of the God head all are supposed “evidence” of this ‘Satanic’ group.

    I am saying this just isn’t so. And I have cited the power of God, through the saving of the LDS by the Sea Gulls and my own personal experiences (which I have not detailed) as evidence that the Satanic implication is wrong.
    As far as dismissing the Sea Gull Miracle, there are always dissidents in every group trying to draw attention to themselves. I’ve read from copies of the journals of those who experienced the event: it was a miracle.

  208. And that’s the exact point I made earlier which is my view. The Holy Spirit does not testify against something to verify whether it’s evil or not so that we pro-actively go after people or entities.

    The Bible is replete with examples that contradict this. Take Balaam for example. Or Nathan’s confrontation of David. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are practically full of counter examples.

    I can even find Mormon scriptures that contradict what you’re saying. Look at D&C 132 and what it says about Emma. I’m sure I can find more.

  209. Jared:
    “I think this much we can tell from experience: those that receive answers saying the Book of Mormon is false, are generally confident of the answers they have received to other prayers in their lives, and are generally confident in those answers. Those that receive answers that the Book of Mormon is true are generally confident in those answers.”

    Do realize that your post is saying that praying is worthless?

    I think understanding inspiration validates what I’ve suggested.

  210. Tim:
    “I tried to do a brief search on the topic and it appears that the American Baptist subscribe to cessationism so it could be that you gained this understanding through what you were taught.”

    From a different post, I had confused Fundamentalists with Evangelicals as you are correct that Evangelicals are Protestants. My mistake.

    I’m of the thinking that cessationism ended in Christian factions with the rise of Fundamentalism. Prior to Fundamentalism, virtually all Protestants believed in Cessationism.

  211. Cowboy:
    “Let me ask you something, if I could, how old were you when you left the American Baptist church for the LDS church?”

    I was 20. Why?

    Cowboy:
    “Determining evil is by “their fruits”, with righteous judgment as much as we are capable.”

    A) What fruits is Tim lacking that suggests his testimony is wrong?

    I do not think Tim is evil or is evil fruit. I merely suggested when we already know the answer because we have ‘figured’ it out, then that’s the answer we are going to get, that our inner feelings get mistaken for the Holy Ghost. I think this happens to very one who prays but probably doesn’t happen very often with prophets. As far as I can see, Tim is not claiming the mantle of prophet.

    B) What role does previous descriptions of our faith play in determining truth?

    I’m off to work now, but I can’t answer this question because I don’t know what you mean by “previous descriptions of our faith”. Maybe if you explain this, I can give you my view later.

  212. Ray, your inference is that criticism of your faith is or can be evil. In a discussion where we are talking about getting the correct testimony, and your position is that only when one clears himself of all prejudice can one get the true answer, which is that Mormonism is true. All other answers are the result of prejudice.

    Now, when one receives a testimony contrary to your position, and calls out the very question as faulty, and dismisses Mormonism as false, isn’t that criticism and isn’t it fair to conclude that even asking the question we have raised is evil?

    It is by the fruits that one determines evil, right? That was your quote, by the way. The fruits of our testimony are contrary to yours. Calling into question your very premise is absolutely one of those fruits.

    So, I ask what fruits of his testimony is wrong? And if there is no bad fruit from his testimony, why even question it?

    Previous descriptions of faith could be past prophets, scripture, etc.

    Why does it matter your age? I’ve just seen a number of Mormon converts occur in their teens. It also helps me understand your position better knowing when you converted. I could be completely off and don’t want to make assumptions, but it helps knowing you were just out of your teen years.

  213. I merely suggested when we already know the answer because we have ‘figured’ it out, then that’s the answer we are going to get, that our inner feelings get mistaken for the Holy Ghost.

    I think just about everyone who comments here agrees with you on this.

  214. Kullervo:
    “This is why the Bible is a more reliable guide to truth than our subjective feelings and experiences.”

    People don’t repent of their sins because a book tells them to. Conversion is not an intellectual experience. They repent because the Spirit touches them in a way which motivates them to live better lives. God is love. Without those feelings we would have “hard hearts” and our love, the love of men, would “wax cold”. We would be Godless just as Satan wants us.

    Those “subjective feelings and experiences” are critical for salvation.

  215. Cowboy:

    B) What role does previous descriptions of our faith play in determining truth?
    “Previous descriptions of faith could be past prophets, scripture, etc.”

    It sounds like you are saying, what role does the contents of the Bible play in determining truth?

    I think it plays a very important roll, because the Bible are the words and experiences of men who had a relationship with God that most of us will never have. Further and more importantly, God himself walked the earth as a man and taught us much on the subject of truth. Not only do we learn about how we should think and behave in this life, we learn some thing of what the next life has to offer.

    There is a simple rule from determining truth from error.

    If some doctrine leads men to Christ, it is truth.
    If some doctrine leads men away from Christ, it is error.

    So, case in point, the Bible. The Bible leads men to Christ. It is truth. The Koran leads men away from Christ. It is Gospel error.

    Obviously, some things and doctrine are more complicated than just that but anything examined for truth and error needs to pass the basic lithmus test.

  216. Cowboy:
    “Ray, your inference is that criticism of your faith is or can be evil. In a discussion where we are talking about getting the correct testimony, and your position is that only when one clears himself of all prejudice can one get the true answer, which is that Mormonism is true. All other answers are the result of prejudice.”

    I think it is okay to question the doctrine of other Churches, including mine. I only suggest it is not right to classify the LDS as “Not Christian” because the LDS Church leads people to Christ in an enormous way.

    It does not matter what we pray for whether it is that new job we want to get and if such job will be good for our family or if the LDS Church is false or true. We can never be sure if the “inspiration” we recieve is from the Holy Ghost or not if we are prejudiced one way or another on a subject. It’s not that God can’t get through to us, he is capable of doing that like with the Apostle Paul, but generally he will not.
    He wants us to submit completely our will and thoughts to his. If we are opinionated about something, our will prevails in our inquiry, which is why I question the “witness” non-LDS claims they have against us. The friend I spoke of was 21, yet, he was steeply entrenched and he read a whole lot of anti-Mormon nonsense, but hardly read a single paragraph from the B of M.

    Generally speaking, the older and more religious a person is then the more entrenched the thinking of such people. I have found it very difficult to go to the Lord, unopinionated about things, as the older I get the more set I am getting in my thinking. Remaining truly teachable with the Lord is difficult. Often, if I really want the Lord’s help with something, I have to pray more for humility than the thing I want to talk with him about. Otherwise, I won’t get an answer I can completely trust.

    When I was 18, I was an atheist and had been for the previous 5 years. I really wanted to know if God existed, so it took wiping all my partialness, my logic and reasoning completely away to get an answer and asking with sincerity that I had never experienced before. Here I was, alone in a room, and what would appear like I was talking to myself with my head bent, I was praying. An answer came and it was so powerful, it was much more than a feeling, and this answer literally changed the course of my life for the better. I didn’t realize it then, but I was doing exactly what Moroni said we needed to do to have the truth manifest. I learned how to do this purging of dispositions very well, so two years later when I was asking about Joseph being a prophet, it was fairly easy to purge my Baptist prejudices.

    So, yes, I firmly believe if one studies and reads the LDS gospel with an open mind and purging out prejudices of opinion, then God will reveal the truth and there won’t be any question if this was from inner feelings or if this inspiration was from God.

  217. Cowboy:
    “So, I ask what fruits of his testimony is wrong? And if there is no bad fruit from his testimony, why even question it?”

    I don’t consider some one’s spiritual witness, whether it was self generated by our inner beliefs or by the Holy Spirit constitutes a “fruit”.

    A fruit would include how people live and view life and treat others and the goodness which flows from living the beliefs or doctrines of their religion. Anti-Mormons which use old tired manipulations of our history or doctrine are producing bad fruit because of the dishonest approach to what they do. Accusations which are not true, such as we worship Joseph Smith or that we kill people to promote our religion and the like is not just bad fruit, it is rotting fruit. The tongue is the mirror of the soul. What comes out of a man’s mouth is what defiles him and determines what his actions are and what type of fruit he is producing.

  218. “Conversion is not an intellectual experience.”

    The Prophet Isaiah describes the gifts of the Holy Spirit as, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.

    Conversion is not an intellectual experience, but it cannot be less than intellectual.

  219. If some doctrine leads men to Christ, it is truth.
    If some doctrine leads men away from Christ, it is error.

    If you don’t mind me asking a hypothetical question; if for some reason you concluded that you have been lied to about Joseph Smith and you decided that he was not a prophet, would you remain a Christian?

  220. Tim:
    “The Bible is replete with examples that contradict this. Take Balaam for example. Or Nathan’s confrontation of David. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are practically full of counter examples”

    The aggresiveness of those in the Old Testament was done away in Christ. We are to offer the other cheek, not strike first. The Lord personally fights evil himself now. We are not do do this for him.

    “I can even find Mormon scriptures that contradict what you’re saying. Look at D&C 132 and what it says about Emma. I’m sure I can find more.”

    Section 132 regards Eternal Marriage. Did I miss the part you were talking about?

  221. Tim:
    “If you don’t mind me asking a hypothetical question; if for some reason you concluded that you have been lied to about Joseph Smith and you decided that he was not a prophet, would you remain a Christian?”

    Probably.
    The reason I say this is there are potentially credible attacks on the Bible right now. If a credible attack can take down Joseph my testimony as legitimate, then those same types of attacks can take down my testimony of the Bible which is the core of Christianity. Knowing Joseph was a prophet and he upholds the Bible, gives the Bible credibility no scholar can give it.

    If I still believed in Christ but didn’t believe Jospeh was called as a Prophet, which I think I would, I would not be affiliated with any church because there are several key doctrines the Bible clearly states that the Christian world seems to routinely over look. I have good reading comprehension and can see readily that the other churches are missing it, be I a LDS or not. At the Baptist Church, I was stunned at how much they were missing as I read the Bible.

    If I was a critic of the LDS Church, I would say Joseph read the Bible carefully and built a church that was the most Bible oriented of them all, even if I didn’t believe he was a Prophet. I would claim he imitated the doctrines in the Bible to build his church. Yet, the other churches, too heavily gloss over important things. I would take the position, that while Christ was real and the Bible represented him, I would claim the Lord’s Church, as an earthly organization, was not on the earth. Now, this is important because the Lord’s Church was a well organized earthly organization until the Apostles died and there is nothing to suggest that type of organization should end. In fact, just the opposite.
    I would still live a Christian life.

  222. “I can even find Mormon scriptures that contradict what you’re saying. Look at D&C 132 and what it says about Emma. I’m sure I can find more.”

    Section 132 regards Eternal Marriage. Did I miss the part you were talking about?

    Does D&C 132:54 fit what you say that the Spirit only directs people positively?

    54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

    Or for example an angel threatening Joseph with flaming sword if he didn’t take a 14 year old as his plural wife?

    Or what about Paul saying that Judiazers should cut off their own members? The Book of Revelation seems to pick up where the Old Testament prophets left off with judgment and testimony against things that are evil.

  223. Ray, my head is spinning after reading. I get what you are saying, but its rather convoluted. I define a fruit as anything that comes from a person. Anyway, I hope you have a great day.

  224. I think Mormons and Traditional Christians underestimate/are ignorant to the centuries of early Christian periods of fluctuating belief foundations. This leads TCs to conclude that the Mormon theological messiness is a negative. It leads Mormons to miss the great debates *that have already taken place* regarding the nature of God – thus not taking the Trinity as a well-thought out proposal. I say, let Mormonism evolve – as it will. Maybe it can be nudged toward some ultimate truth.

  225. Mormons may indeed one day looking precisely like traditional Christianity, dropping notions of possible godhood and uniting their godhead to one of a trinitarian bent. They may also drop their additional scripture as not inspired, if still instructional, and Smith as an important and vital figure to religion but so flawed as to not be worthy as a prophet. The authority to reveal may be lost upon future presidents.

    These and others may occur, sure. I’ve had the thought that this will occur due to their current desire to be just normal people as they move from their pride in being a peculiar group set apart from the rest of the world.

    Unfortunately, the move I have learned about Mormonism, the less likely I think all of this is to happen, even as they abandon that which has been problematic for them in the past.

  226. Christian J,

    I agree with you, people miss the nature of the actual debates that took place in the early Church. They ignore commonalities between theological opponents and the biblical arguments they used.

    In quote mining the Church people miss the various hermeneutics, and critical reasoning skills used.

  227. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you need to consult the ECF to be a “good” Christian. I’m just saying if you are historically minded the way some people use the early Church leaves a bit to be desired. You know, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

  228. Cowboy:
    “my head is spinning after reading”

    Sorry, I will try and be less wordy and more to the point.

  229. Hi Tim:

    God hasn’t changed. He will execute judgment and punishment to those who fail him or rebel with sin. God warns us of the punishment he will execute. This always has been the Gospel.

    The distinction I was making is that God will do it not us. It is not our place to execute judgment and justice on others.

  230. Kullervo
    “But if you think that’s the gospel, you are insane.”

    Justice, Judgment and Punishment is one component of the Gospel. For those who do not repent and accept Christ, this is what they will experience.

    I’m trying to keep my answers short. Give me a break on this.

  231. Christian J:
    “It leads Mormons to miss the great debates *that have already taken place* regarding the nature of God – thus not taking the Trinity as a well-thought out proposal.”

    I think the trouble is the Trinity is too thought out. Didn’t Jesus and the Apostles understand the Godhead? Wasn’t this passed on to the members? Why were there any debates at all?
    I said more about this on the other thread.

  232. Justice, Judgment and Punishment is one component of the Gospel. For those who do not repent and accept Christ, this is what they will experience.

    I don’t think you know what “gospel” means.

  233. Ray:

    You write, “I think the trouble is the Trinity is too thought out. Didn’t Jesus and the Apostles understand the Godhead? Wasn’t this passed on to the members? Why were there any debates at all?”

    Why have there been debates about women or blacks holding the priesthood? Debates arise because as time goes on, historical and cultural contexts change and people delve more and more deeply into the logical implications of a teaching, and sometimes draw differing conclusions, requiring the Church to make definitive pronouncements which previously had not been necessary.

  234. Ray:
    “We can never be sure if the “inspiration” we recieve is from the Holy Ghost or not if we are prejudiced one way or another on a subject. It’s not that God can’t get through to us, he is capable of doing that like with the Apostle Paul, but generally he will not.
    He wants us to submit completely our will and thoughts to his. If we are opinionated about something, our will prevails in our inquiry, ”

    Do you think you struggle with that in relation to the biblical texts?

  235. “Justice, Judgment and Punishment is one component of the Gospel. For those who do not repent and accept Christ, this is what they will experience. I’m trying to keep my answers short. Give me a break on this.”

    In the interest of mutual understanding, I think the disagreement here is that Ray is taking “Gospel” to mean all the doctrine falling under the umbrella of the Christian religion, and Kullervo is taking “Gospel” in its literal sense of “good news”, and doesn’t understand how judgment and punishment can fall under the category of “good news”.

  236. Agellius:
    “In the interest of mutual understanding, I think the disagreement here is that Ray is taking “Gospel” to mean all the doctrine falling under the umbrella of the Christian religion, and Kullervo is taking “Gospel” in its literal sense of “good news”, and doesn’t understand how judgment and punishment can fall under the category of “good news”.

    Exactly. Thanks for clearing this up.

  237. Agellius:
    “Why have there been debates about women or blacks holding the priesthood? Debates arise because as time goes on, historical and cultural contexts change and people delve more and more deeply into the logical implications of a teaching, and sometimes draw differing conclusions, requiring the Church to make definitive pronouncements which previously had not been necessary.”

    Generally, I agree. The debate comes about because people view things differently and inject their view of what they think is “right” of “fair”. When enough people think differently, a debate starts.

    In the Gospel, however, God rules. Certain fundamental things can’t change, such as women having the priesthood, though in LDS doctrine wives share the priesthood with her husband.

  238. “In the Gospel, however, God rules. Certain fundamental things can’t change, such as women having the priesthood, though in LDS doctrine wives share the priesthood with her husband.”

    Yes, of course God rules. No Christian disagrees with that.

  239. Agellius:
    “Yes, of course God rules. No Christian disagrees with that.”

    We have churches today ordaining women to be Bishops and Pastors; the heads of flocks.

    In this case, are men ruling or is God ruling?

  240. Ray:

    I think you have men thinking that this is what God wants. I think we agree that this is why we need an authoritative church, and not one that follows the whims and “inspirations” of its members.

  241. Solange said:
    “Ray:
    “We can never be sure if the “inspiration” we receive is from the Holy Ghost or not if we are prejudiced one way or another on a subject. It’s not that God can’t get through to us, he is capable of doing that like with the Apostle Paul, but generally he will not.
    He wants us to submit completely our will and thoughts to his. If we are opinionated about something, our will prevails in our inquiry, ”

    Do you think you struggle with that in relation to the biblical texts?”

    In actuality, we all struggle with this.

    Besides the Spirit, there are certain things one needs to know to understand the scriptures.

    One is the historical setting. Two is a fundamental understanding of how God works. Three is understanding when symbolism are in use rather than literal descriptions. And fourth is an understanding of key phrases such as “eternal” or “calling and election made sure”, “more sure word of prophecy” and “the gates of hell” and so on. All of these types of phrases have either ancient Jewish meaning or divine meaning. The ancient Jewish meaning can be figured out by scholars. The divine meaning can only be known when explained by a messenger of God such as an angel or prophet. Other phrases can be understood by sentence meaning.

    I have cited a couple of divine meanings already when I mentioned “eternal life” doesn’t mean immortality as it means being with God and Christ. This divine meaning is explained by Christ in John’s Gospel. But many other terms are not explained within the Bible and require a messenger for it to be clearly known. Otherwise, it’s chalked up as a “mystery”.

    Most, but not all, “mysteries” in the scriptures have been revealed to Joseph in modern times. For instance, in Revelations (Chapter 6) the book sealed with seven seals has been defined. Each seal represents 1,000 years of earth temporal existence. We are currently living near the end of the 6th seal or sixth thousand years. One of the major events to occur in the sixth seal is a globally felt earthquake. So, in these passages we have a symbol, the seals, mixed in with a literal event, the earthquake. By having a prophet, we know the earthquake is not also a symbol as the seals.

  242. Ray,
    When you said that, “We can never be sure if the “inspiration” we receive is from the Holy Ghost or not if we are prejudiced one way or another on a subject. It’s not that God can’t get through to us, he is capable of doing that like with the Apostle Paul, but generally he will not.
    He wants us to submit completely our will and thoughts to his. If we are opinionated about something, our will prevails in our inquiry,” it was done in defense of the LDS Church as the true church and your advice for the people who have prayed and found it not to be true. Your thinking is that because they were prejudiced against it, they were unable to receive a positive answer.
    So I was asking you if, going by your definition above, your firmed up belief that the Bible has been corrupted and cannot be really understood without J. Smith’s interpretations of the text, could be as well, an obstacle for you to be open to learn/ consider another view and understanding from the one you currently hold.

  243. Solange,
    I think if some one is prejudiced against something, it takes a miracle to over come that thinking, which is exactly what happened with the Apostle Paul. Paul is the ultimate example of being prejudiced against something.

    You said:
    “your firmed up belief that the Bible has been corrupted and cannot be really understood without J. Smith’s interpretations of the text, could be as well, an obstacle for you to be open to learn/ consider another view and understanding from the one you currently hold.”

    I mentioned at length on the other thread what’s involved to understand the scriptures, inlcuding latter day scriptures. I hope you read it. I, at the time, prayed about Joseph was not prejudiced in any direction. I was humble just wanting to know the truth.

    I never considered the Bible being tampered with to some degree until I investigated the subject. In fact, I think Joseph was far too soft on the Bible issue.
    Again, I ask you, did you read the four chapters on the resurrection from each of the four gospels and note the discrepensies? This alone indicates there are inconsistencies. But, I understand why those inconsistencies are there. Do you?

    The textural critiscism of the Bible, of which I posted links to show the point is hardly the end of Bible problems. This is why the atheists are literally destroying Christianity in Europe and now they are going after us here. A realistic approach to the Bible, taught to all believers especially the young, is the only thing which can save us from becoming a very small minority in this country. The trouble with this is the “perfect” Bible is the foundation of Protestant authority. To be realistic about the Bible pulls the foundation from Protestants which I think is why it’s not happening.

    Solange, the LDS are not your enemy or the enemy of Christians. In fact, we are one of your strongest allies in the current struggle with secularism.

  244. Ray,
    I thought you said some time ago that while you were still a Baptist, there were teachings about the Bible your church then was teaching that you disagreed with and thought it was lacking but found agreement with your way of thinking about those things in LDS teaching.
    Could it be possible that the teaching you received did not reflect/agree with actual Evangelical views on them? Some examples you gave of what your local leaders told you sounded really foreign and not mainstream at all.
    And could it also be possible that having preconceived, misunderstood ideas about the biblical texts makes one prejudiced about it? I positively think it is possible because it happened to me growing up LDS. We are taught to mistrust it.

    I have read the Gospels many times, sure but as far as “inconsistencies” about the Resurrection as you believe exist, what would be for you the red flags? Would you give me examples of them?

    You said,
    “This is why the atheists are literally destroying Christianity in Europe and now they are going after us here. A realistic approach to the Bible, taught to all believers especially the young, is the only thing which can save us from becoming a very small minority in this country. The trouble with this is the “perfect” Bible is the foundation of Protestant authority. To be realistic about the Bible pulls the foundation from Protestants which I think is why it’s not happening.”

    Yes, the inerrancy of biblical texts are the foundation of Protestantism but not exclusive to it.
    The other side of your argument is that for religious organizations like Mormonism, there is definitely a vested interest in declaring the authority of the Bible imperfect. If not so, Joseph Smith and all the added Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, D&C, PGP become totally irrelevant. Nothing in need of restoration.
    No prospect member who prays about J. Smith and the Book of Mormon does so without being told that the Bible has been corrupted, Jesus’ original followers and church exterminated and God’s truth lost. Then they are told that if they pray looking sincerely for that warm feeling of confirmation that will confirm to them the missionaries’ message is true. Call it what you may, but that in a courtroom would be called “leading the witness.” There is a sure suggestive phycological push leading in one direction. That is the training missionaries get when performing their work.

  245. HI Solange,
    You said:
    “Could it be possible that the teaching you received did not reflect/agree with actual Evangelical views on them? Some examples you gave of what your local leaders told you sounded really foreign and not mainstream at all.”

    After my discussion with Tim and my checking with the C of C members and Baptist history that the Godhead I understood at the Baptist is what they taught. There was no misunderstanding about what I learned from multiple people there. This may not be “main stream” but what is main stream in the Protestant world?
    Today, a full 70% of Christianity accepts the evolution view of man’s origin. That is down from well over 90% in the last 100 years. Since the Young Earth Creationists have come along there are more Evangelicals who believe in special creation making about 30% now, which is down from 100% 200 years ago.
    When I joined the Baptist Church I asked specifically about evolution to one of the leaders. His answer was, “Ray, we are not going against science”. I assumed from this, they followed the ‘man came from a lower life form’ theory. This was not what I was reading in the Bible. There were many other things such as this that didn’t square with the Bible which when I spoke with the missionairies did square completely.

    More on your post later.

  246. Solange,
    “I have read the Gospels many times, sure but as far as “inconsistencies” about the Resurrection as you believe exist, what would be for you the red flags? Would you give me examples of them?”

    You can find them yourself, but this is what you are looking for:

    1) The number of angels
    2) Inside or outside the tomb
    3) How many women and who did they tell or didn’t tell
    4) Who saw Jesus first, Mary or Peter? (see 1 Cor 15 too)

    Also, you can check all four Gospels about the inscriptions on the sign above Jesus while he was on the cross. Not one of them is identical, though they say similar things.

    Now, most Protestants claim the Bible is perfect, as in the Apostles sat down and being moved upon by the Holy Spirit wrote the books of the New Testament. Because of this perfect delivery, God no longer speaks to prophets since the New Testament is supposed to replace living Apostles.

    If this is true, then all accounts would match precisely, at least that is the level of scrutiny you are holding to Joseph with his first vision accounts.

    Incidently, I’ve done further reading about the four accounts and something interesting came of it. Apparently, the term “angel” was a common usage with many definitions in the 1820’s & 1830’s as it is today, of things referring to God. Apparently, one of the usages of “angel” refers to Christ directly. Now, this usage was so wide spread that it made it into the Webster 1828 dictionary, so it wasn’t specific to Joseph’s usage. It was apparently word usage of the time. (I also found the OT also uses “angel” for God in a few places. Since when people started learning to read used the Bible first, this may be the reason “angel” was used this way in Joseph’s time).

    Now today, we use distinct terms to seperate angels from Christ.

    Joseph’s two accounts which used the term “angel” in place of God, was not for the public and the accounts were merely to get it on record. Here he used “angel” instead of God because it was a common usage for God. I also still think he didn’t want to alarm others who had access to this information, so he deliberately used the “angel” term for reasons of self protection.

    Anyway you look at it, comparing our usage of the term “angel” to those in the 1800’s is hardly an argument of inconsistency on Joseph’s part. And like the inconsistencies in the resurrection story, those inconsistencies don’t thwart the truth of the stories. I my view, they strengthen both of the stories.

  247. You have four people recounting many of the same events. Heres a little experiment: what you saw and remember during the last play of the Super Bowl is going to be different than what I saw and remember.

    Its not surprising there are differences in details. And a further experiment : which of those details alters the meaning and highlight of the story in question?

  248. Cowboy,
    I’m not putting forth the position that when God speaks through prophets it not less than perfection. That’s a Protestant position (if I am not mistaken) and I believe this is Solange’s position as well. Basically, I agree with you, though in the resurrection account there are some serious contradictions which I think can be reconciled only one way.

    And you said:
    “which of those details alters the meaning and highlight of the story in question?”

    And I ask the same question when Joseph is called a fraud because the four accounts of Joseph’s First Vision have different elements in them.

  249. Ray, the difference between the two is that you have different people giving their recollection of the same event. Smith’s is his own recounting of the same event. Surely, you see some difference right there off the bat.

    We also have to look at the elements of Smith’s different accounts. These do change significantly, with additions that favor Smith and his organization. Its interesting to note the evolution of these particular elements. One of the earlier accounts even has Smith saying that he developed the story of the books to get money out of someone. Now, that account is apparently from a third person, but its interesting nonetheless.

    What I see in these stories and what they reveal to me is of little importance. Its sufficient to say that its another brick in the wall for in the revelation that Mormonism is false and the creation of Smith. But what is important is that it is absolutely clear that the evolving story was more than just a revisiting to focus on different things.

  250. Cowboy:
    “Ray, the difference between the two is that you have different people giving their recollection of the same event. Smith’s is his own recounting of the same event. Surely, you see some difference right there off the bat.”

    After, I received my conversion experience during the time I was attending the Baptist Church, I would tell it from time to time. Each time I tell of my experience I leave out some elements of the experience and other times I include the ones I left out, depending upon when I told it, to whom I’m telling it and so on.

    Joseph’s vision is hardly an evolution. That claim can’t be validated. Nearly all the important elements are present in all accounts. The only significant concern is whether Joseph was speaking with God or an angel, which as I have learned recently the terms were used interchangeably enough for the definition to make it into the dictionary.

    Joseph had a lot of people who just didn’t like him because they simply thought he was a liar even having never met him. The slander was just unbelievable. I’ve personally experienced this type of behavior from people and it is amazing what people can dream up to say about you, even when they were never involved with you.

    I have read a great deal of Joseph writings. And the Joseph that I have come to know through his writings is not anything like the person anti-Mormons claim he is, in fact, just the opposite. They apparently rely on slander to define his person which is pathetic.

    If Joseph was a true prophet, then it only makes sense that Satan would use other people as much a possible to bring him down. As such, these attacks on his character and a mountain of false claims should be expected for this very reason.

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