I see that my good friend Greg has had his article picked up and partially reprinted by Meridian Magazine under a new title, “51 Questions that Mormonism Answers More Easily & Completely Than Any Other Religion“. Way to go! I’m hoping that my responses are picked up and reposted with a new title like “This Guy Answered 51 Impossible Questions and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” or “Man Tries to Answer 51 Questions from a Mormon, His Response to Number 34 Left Me Speechless”. Between you and me Greg, I think you should tell those gosh dern hacks at Meridian to write their own content. They’re killing the SEO juju on your own blog.
Some quick caveats for those that missed my first post. . . These answers will be short and to the point. I’m not trying give a complete answer, nor am I trying to convert anyone out of Mormonism. If I throw in a joke or two it’s to keep things interesting and not a personal attack on Trimble or an attempt to disrespect the Mormon faith.
21. Why do many Christians say that our works don’t matter, but Jesus says that we are required to repent and keep the commandments?
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When Christians hear Mormons say that grace isn’t enough to save us, we often over sell our commitment to grace. To be sure, our works matter. We are saved by grace to do works (Ephesians 2:8-10). But what we really mean to communicate is that our works don’t save us. Only the grace of Jesus saves us. AFTER we are saved, we’re invited into his kingdom to do his work AND we receive rewards in the afterlife for out good works.
22. The Bible specifically says that we’ll be judged according to our works. Where is the cutoff line for heaven and hell? If you said 20 lies and I said 19, will you go to hell while I go to heaven?
So far, this is the most confusing question for me because I can’t tell where you’re headed. But the Traditional Christian answer is “one.” That’s all it takes. One violation of the law is all it takes to separate us from a holy and pure God.
23. Why do people believe in one heaven and one hell when the Bible teaches that there are various “degrees of glory” after the resurrection? (1 Cor 15:40-42)
This is a common Mormon proof-text and still even when you pull these two verses out of context it seems the Mormon concept of “three degrees of glory” are ham-fisted into the verses. Let’s back up a few verses and then keep reading a few verses afterward (in other words, let’s look at this in context):
I Corinthians 15:35-44
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Paul is making an analogy to describe the final resurrection. You’ll notice in verse 39 he says that not all flesh is the same. There are birds, fish and people. The “seed” of these different types of flesh grow to be something different from one another. In addition, there are “earthly” things and “heavenly” things and even in the “heavens” different objects have different “splendors” just as earthly things have different “flesh”.
Notice something significant in the verses that follow. Paul talks about “natural” bodies and “spiritual” bodies. Paul’s point is that just as every star is unique, so too will our resurrected bodies. Though our natural bodies perish, we remain as individuals. When he uses the word “heavenly” he’s not talking about Heaven, he’s talking about the things in the sky. When he starts talking about the afterlife he starts using the word “spiritual” rather than “heavenly”. Paul and early Christians had no conception that “Heaven” was where the sun and the moon physically reside. They knew it to be a spiritual place not found in the “natural” world.
24. What was Paul talking about when he said he saw in vision a “third heaven”? (2 Cor 12:2-4)
Yes! I’m glad you followed up with this question. Like us, 1st Century people had multiple uses for the same word. Here are three 1st Century uses for the word “heaven”. Let’s see if we can guess what Paul was referring to.
1) The atmosphere, the air around us
2) The sky above us. The place we look to see clouds, the sun, and the moon
3) Heaven, the place outside of nature where God resides.
Paul had a vision of of #3
25. Why does Christ say that there are many “mansions” or if you prefer the Greek, “residences, stopping places, degrees” in heaven? (John 14:2)
Oops, looks like we’re getting confused by a 400 year old version of English. Here’s the KJV
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Here’s the ESV
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Now which are you more likely to find INSIDE a house; mansions or rooms?
If all these rooms, or mansions, or residences, or stopping places or “degrees” are IN the Father’s house, doesn’t that imply that all people are in his presence? Not just those in the Celestial Kingdom?
26. What does the scripture in Acts 3:19-21 mean when Peter talks about the need for a future restoration?
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
He’s talking about the final resurrection when Christ’s work will finally be complete.
I understand that you’re saying this implies that the Church will be restored, but wouldn’t that imply that Peter thinks an Apostasy has ALREADY taken place . . . less than a year after the Ascension?
Yes, he uses the word “restore” but if you think that’s just about an organizational church structure and a priesthood you’re selling the word “everything” WAY too short. No more sin, no more tears, no more angry blog commentors, no more Anti-Mormons, no more list of impossible questions to answer. Everything will be restored to its rightful place.
OVER HALF WAY! That’s right. You remind me of a blind kitten trying to nurse off a moldy rubber glove. Your unnaturally sharp, baby kitty razor claws can’t scare me because I know you’re weak. Next time make a list with an even number so I’m not tempted to put this vain posturing statement in the middle of an answer. (you know this part is a joke, right?)
27. What was Christ teaching his apostles during the “40 day ministry”? What did He need an entire 40 days for after he was resurrected when he was with them everyday for the last 3 years? (Acts 1)
Well we don’t know everything but he was probably helping them make sense of what just happened. After all, he had just died and then defeated death and eliminated the need for the entire Old Covenant . . .all in a way they totally didn’t expect, so I think they’re brains were a bit scrambled. There’s a LOT to unpack there in ways we 21st Century Gentile Christians don’t quite understand. He was probably helping them see that HE was their sacrificial lamb, that HE was their High Priest, that HE was greater than Abraham and Moses and all the prophets combined.
Why 40 days? Jesus’ ministry starts out with 40 days of prayer, fasting, solitude and temptation in the wilderness. It concludes with 40 days of Resurrection Joy. Symmetry!
28. Why don’t Christian denominations build temples?
Because Jesus eliminated the need for them. Why would we go about building something that Jesus destroyed the need for? It’s like asking “why don’t Mormons sacrifice animals?”
The New Testament teaches that WE are God’s temple. Through the Holy Spirit, God lives in US. There’s no need to build a special place where we can meet God, we already have Him.
29. Revelation 7:15 say [sic] that in the last days, disciples wearing white clothes would be working “day and night” in the temple. What church does that?
It’s that time again, when I do my favorite Bible trick. . . provide context.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’[a]
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[b]
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[c]”
Revelation is a vision of three things 1) Heaven 2)The Second Coming 3) The Final Resurrection. In this particular passage John sees people who have died in the Tribulation. As far as I know, Mormons don’t believe the Tribulation has already taken place. Nor do they think they died in that Tribulation. Nor do they think they have experienced the final Resurrection. Nor do they think they are serving in a temple in the otherworldly presence of God. Nor do they think every tear has been wiped from their eyes.
This ISN’T something anyone should expect to see Christians on Earth acting out because this ISN’T about Christians who are living on Earth.
I’ve visited a Mormon temple, there was no throne for God inside, so we also know that this passage ISN’T about Mormon temples (notice there is only one in the passage, not 144 with 14 under construction). It’s clear where Joseph Smith gained some inspiration for LDS temple worship but this passage is not instructive in nature, it’s descriptive.
30. The last chapter of the Old Testament seems kind of important. Does anyone have any idea what it means to “turn the hearts of the the[sic] fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers?” (Malachi 4:5-6)
If you non-Mormons are thinking that you must be missing something here, you’re not the only ones. Doctrine & Covenants 128:17-18 tells us that there could have been are plainer translation of this.
I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands.
What all of us are missing is that this is all about baptism for the dead (according to LDS scriptures). Obvious right? Well according to Joseph Smith, even God says it’s not super obvious, but that’s what we should have guessed.
For the final time in this post I’m going to say the word the word “context.” Are you ready? Here it comes . . . context. Let’s go back a full chapter (remember Malachi wasn’t written with all those numbers crammed in between the words.
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
The Messiah is coming and before he arrives a messenger will prepare the way (and then the chapter goes on to say that when the Messiah arrives the gig is up).
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Now let’s take a brief look at what Jesus said about this Elijah:
10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
According to Jesus, Malachi 3 & 4 were fulfilled 1800 years before Joseph Smith gave us D&C 128. So if the prophecy was REALLY about Elijah telling Joseph Smith about baptism for dead, does that means Jesus was wrong? Man, if I had to choose between baptism for the dead or Jesus correctly understanding Old Testament prophecies, I’m rooting for Jesus.
To answer Mr Trimble’s question I think “turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers” is about repentance. . . which is what John the Baptist taught.