To Receive Not

28 Mar

In a recent Elder’s Quorum meeting we had a long discussion concerning the hope that those who die without the gospel have in Christ. The discussion was sparked from the planned lesson regarding the Vision of the Salvation of the Dead, known as section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, the discussion soon focused on section 76 and the vision of the Terrestrial glory. In that section, where it describes those who would inherit this kingdom, it declares that they are those “who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.” (D&C 76:74)

In this discussion many things were said, but the main question was this: Is there any hope for those who know of the gospel and yet are never baptized?

To clarify this let me explain the circumstances that were being referred to. One of the brethren was concerned for his wife’s parents. His wife is a convert, and her parents, though acquainted with the church through her, never were baptized. So, if those who have not received the testimony of Jesus are consigned to the Terrestrial Kingdom, he feared that there was no hope for his in-laws to attain to the Celestial.

While I tried to address this during our meeting my thoughts were not fully formed and I found I was not able to properly put into words what I was thinking. Since then I have mulled things over in my mind and have done a little research and scripture study. Having fully formulated my thoughts I believe I have arrived at the correct answer to this concern, and I would like to share this.

 

First, we must consider the language used in the verse in question, as a full understanding of its meaning is found in the details of the definitions. For the purposes of this question there is one word in particular that we must come to a correct understanding of – Receive. This word is the crux of the whole verse, as it is those who receive not the testimony that are being described.

Earlier, in verse 51, we are told that those who inherit the Celestial “…are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized…”

Later, in verse 82, we are told that those who inherit the Telestial “…are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.”

 

So, what does it mean to receive? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it in this way: to take or get something that is given, paid, or sent. Let us consider this for a moment. To receive is not the action of giving, but of accepting what is given. Thus, until the gift is offered than one cannot take the action of receiving. But by this same token, if the gift is not given than one cannot refuse to take the action of receiving. Or, in other words, until the gift is offered one cannot receive or receive not. This is the hinge on which the whole issue rests.

We are told in D&C 137: 7 that “…All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it…shall be heirs of the celestial Kingdom of God.” Who is being referenced in this passage? It is those who never had the chance to either receive or receive not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh. These will be given a opportunity to do so in the next life, and having this first opportunity, if they receive it and are baptized through proxy by those still in mortality, they will inherit the Celestial Kingdom.

However, those who have had the gift of the Testimony of Jesus offered to them and have chosen to not receive it, have no such chance in the next life. They will have the opportunity to receive what they once received not, and in so doing will gain for themselves the Terrestrial Kingdom.

Then there are those who, given the opportunity in this life, received not the offered testimony, and again received it not when offered a second time in the next life. These are consigned to the Telestial Kingdom.

 

But, given that the gift must first be offered for one to receive or not receive, we then must ask by what means the gift is offered. We are given the answer to this in 1 Corinthians 12: 3. In this epistle Paul tells us that “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”

So it is not in the preaching of the brethren that the testimony of Jesus is offered to men. The Holy Ghost, who is the great testator of all truth, offers this gift. As Nephi puts it, “…the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” (2 Nephi 33: 1)

Again note the Holy Ghost only offers the gift, or carries it unto the heart. It is up to us to receive it into our hearts.

 

So what hope is there for our loved ones who have learned of the church but have never been baptized? Are we just to accept that they have lost their chance to be in the Celestial Kingdom? I don’t think so. No man can judge another, and we cannot know if the gift of testimony has been offered to another, so we cannot judge whether they have received or received not.

Thus our hope is that they have not felt the Holy Ghost pricking their heart (Acts 2: 37) and turned away from it. While they are alive we hope they will feel this offered gift and embrace it. But once they have passed on our hope is that God will judge that they did not have a proper opportunity to receive the offered gift.

 

On a final note, we should not confuse those who “receive not” the testimony with those who blaspheme the Holy Ghost. That there is a distinction is made clear in section 76. After stating that the Telestial is for those who have not received the testimony, it states that they “…are they who deny not the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 76: 82-83)

The difference between the two groups is this. Those who receive not the testimony are those who, when presented with the gift, decline to accept it. Those who deny the Holy Ghost are the ones who, when presented with the gift, receive it and embrace it, and then afterwards discard it and trample it under their feet.

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Who Gives This Woman Away

2 Feb

This is something that has been on my mind for a while and I really wanted to share it. But first, let me say a few words to introduce the subject.

I am not one that claims direct revelation very often. Most of what I have learned has been through studying the words of the prophets. My understanding has been greatly increased through the spirit, but rarely have I experienced the bursts of light and knowledge that I would describe as direct revelation. Usually inspiration comes gradually through reasoned pondering and constant study.

However, there have been a few times in my life when my understanding had been almost instantly opened and knowledge was given to me without this ponderous thinking that I usually require. It happened once when I was studying the nature of God and the Godhead, which I wrote about at the time. It happened again a few months ago when I was studying section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

As most people know this section details the doctrine of the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. It speaks to the potential of man to become gods, and lays out the requirements to fulfill the covenant of marriage. It also includes a brief explanation of Plural Marriage, or the practice of a man having more than one wife.

A few months ago my sister was reading this section, and we got into a discussion about the meaning of a certain passage. This is verses 43-44.

And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery. And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many.

My sister voiced complaint about the wording of this passage. She has been divorced, and the idea that God is just going to give her away gave her the impression that she was somehow inferior to men, and was being treated more as property than as a person. Now, I had heard similar complaints from other women about this section, but never from my family.

To be clear, section 132 has always been one of my favorite sections. No, I am not anxious for plural marriage to be re-instated. But the passages of this section are among the most beautiful and powerful in any of the scriptures, and they lay out the fullness of the Plan of Salvation so perfectly, plainly, and simply that I am sometimes amazed that those outside the church cannot see the truth of it.

So when my sister voiced her complaints about a section that I so dearly loved it bothered me. Not that I was angry with my sister, but that anyone could get anything so negative from such beautiful literature. But when I went back and read the passage I could easily see why she had this complaint. My mind instantly rejected the idea, as I knew that our Father could not think so little of His daughters. But at the time I could make no real reply, as I could not see how any other interpretation was possible.

Now, the complaints were made over facebook, and while I and others in the family tried to make some comments to comfort her, everything seemed to be flat and uninspired to me. So I left the conversation and I went and reread the entire section. In my mind I was begging for an answer to this problem.

I don’t recall how long I waited, but it was no more than a day. Rather suddenly the answer came to my mind. It did not all come at once, but rather a thought was clearly impressed on me, and once that thought was in my mind I was able to immediately reason out the true meaning of the passage. This is what I have come to know, and what I wanted to share in this post (sorry for the rambling introduction).

In Christian marriage there is the tradition of the father giving away his daughter. He leads her down the aisle to her waiting groom, and the minister asks “Who gives this woman away?” To this the father declares “I do.”

To some this is antiquated and is the perfect representation of the concept of women being property. After all, it is at least implying that the daughter is owned by the father, and that ownership is being given to her new husband.

What people fail to consider is the ancient traditions that this comes from. As established by God, the father is the head of the family. It is the father’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of his children. As part of this responsibility the father was to find a husband for each daughter who would faithfully fulfill these same duties as a father and husband. For once married the husband is now responsible for the welfare of his wife, and not the father. Arranged marriages were done for this very reason; to allow the father his natural right to ensure the welfare of his daughters. While this right and tradition have been abused in many cultures throughout history, this does not negate their divine origin.

So, when a father gives his daughter away, this is not to say that she is his property to do with as he pleases (or it shouldn’t be). Rather it is a father saying, in a very real sense, “I trust this man enough to relinquish my rights and responsibilities to care for my daughter and give them to him. I am willing to turn the care of my daughter, whom I dearly love, to this man, because I trust that he loves her and will care for her as I have done.”

So, what does this have to do with the passage from section 132. Let us look at a short piece of the verses in question.

have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful

Is God indicating that women are merely property to be handed around as rewards for men? No. Rather, as a loving Father he is telling us that no man who is unworthy and unwilling to fulfill the covenants of marriage and care for his beloved daughters, will be allowed to cause them further harm. They are not simply property, but cherished daughters, and God will ensure that they are placed in the care of a man who is worthy of them and will fulfill all that is required of a husband and father regarding them.

This is a statement of the most perfect love of a Father who has the power to ensure the happiness and joy of His beloved daughters.

I hope I have stated this in a way that people can understand.

9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (7-9)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Temple Worthy Members wear Sacred Temple Garments

Anyone who thinks the church is trying to conceal this is crazy. The Temple Garment is an integral part of the faith and anyone who has worked with a member of the church will learn about them eventually. The church itself has, on various occasions, published information regarding the Temple Garment. On lds.org there is a brief explanation of the Garment under the Gospel Topics section. In 1997 there was a lengthy essay published in the church magazine the Ensign, which was reprinted in the Liahona magazine for the youth in 1999. Every member learns of the garments in the church’s Temple Prep classes, and in the Mormon News Room was recently published this article and video.

 

Practice of Spiritism (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12)

First, the maker of the video makes an error in definitions. Spiritism claims to be a science that studies the relationship between spirits and humans. Spiritualism is a religion based around contacting the dead.

However, in either case it doesn’t apply to the church. The church does not engage in scientific studies of spirits, nor has any leader in the church, past or present, attempted to contact the dead.

Now, it is true that the dead have appeared to some in the past, and likely will continue to do so, but that does not mean it is spiritualism. When Joseph Smith was visited by Moroni he was not seeking contact with the dead, but was praying to God, who then sent Moroni in answer to the prayer.

The same is true of every angelic visitation, and is in perfect agreement with the Bible. After all, we read that Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration to Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-3). We also read that after the resurrection many of the ancient saints rose from the grave and appeared to faithful members of the church (Matthew 27:52-53).

The church has always spoken against the use of mediums or other devices to contact the dead and seek knowledge. But they acknowledge that God at times sends the dead in answer to prayers.

So, no, the church does not want anyone to think that we believe or practice either Spiritism or Spiritualism, but neither is true and thus to believe this is to believe a lie.

 

Mormon – r = Moron

Of course this is just thrown in to be silly, but also as a personal attack and mockery. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can make that deduction. But it has nothing to do with the church, except as a way to belittle and mock it. Honestly, this should show anyone who watches this video that it is all a bunch of hogwash.

9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (4-6)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Life on the Moon and Sun.

I will be brief on this point, as it is an obscure idea that is based on a single quote from Brigham Young and a third hand claim of what Joseph Smith might have taught fifty years after he died.

I just don’t see the evidence that the Church is attempting to conceal anything. The Journal of Discourses, which is the source of the Brigham Young quote, is printed and is available online. It just isn’t that important, except as an interesting historical snippet.

 

Polygamy practiced for 40 years.

Again, there is no proof that the church is attempting to hide or conceal this fact. The practice is recorded in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants, and is standard reading for all members and investigators. It was discussed in the institute manual Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual. Also, in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism we have a detailed essay on the matter. And, more recently the church has published four essays on the subject that can be found at lds.org. These essays deal with the practice in general, during Kirtland and Nauvoo, in Utah, and then the ending of the practice.

So, where is the attempt to conceal this information?

 

Joseph Smith will judge people.

Again, to be brief, there is no attempt to prevent people from learning this. It is also very misunderstood, but that is beside the point. Just like the concept of Life on the Moon, this idea is primarily mentioned in the Journal of Discourses, which is readily available and which the church acknowledges has benefits to reading and studying, but is not recognized as official doctrine. So again, there is no

 

9 Ways Anti-Mormons Want You to Mistrust the LDS Church (1-3)

3 Jul

A while ago I came across this video that purports to reveal to the public Nine things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the church doesn’t want people to know. I have seen many such lists, and this, like all the others, is largely inaccurate or fails to support what they claim to be doing.

At the time I had considered doing a response to the video, but things got away from me and it never happened. But this video has recently been put up in another blog post and thus was brought back to my attention. So, I have decided to make a few comments on it.

 

To be clear, I am addressing the claim that the church doesn’t want you to know what the video portrays. I will not be addressing the accuracy of any point except briefly, unless doing so is necessary to the main claim of the video. Also, since I don’t like my posts to be too long, I will be separating this into three posts, each addressing three points from the video.

 

Joseph Smith was a Mason.

Far from not wanting people to know that Joseph Smith was a mason, this little fact was included in the Institute manual for college students. The title of the manual is Church History in the Fullness of Times. In chapter 21 of this manual is the following quote:

As early as October 1841 some Masons who were members of the Church obtained permission to initiate a Masonic lodge in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith could see advantages in belonging to this fraternal order. Presumably it was felt that other Masons in the state and nation, many of whom held prominent positions, would look more kindly upon the Church. Joseph Smith and many others in Nauvoo were formally introduced into the order in March 1842.

It is also true that in 1938 the church published a book called Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which is a collection of quotes from Joseph Smith. On page 255 there is a brief mention of him and other church members attending the formation of the Montrose, Iowa lodge.

As to the similarities, in 1991 the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published. It was a joint venture initiated by MacMillan Publishing in New York, but was approved of by the First Presidency of the Church. The Encyclopedia contains an article titled Freemasonry and the Temple. It makes a thorough comparison between the two from a scholarly perspective.

 

The Book of Mormon is completely unreliable.

I think the author of the video does not quite understand the meaning of the word reliable. It means to consistently give the same result over several trials or tests. So it doesn’t matter if the result is wrong, as long as you get the same result over and over it is reliable.

So, is the Book of Mormon unreliable? To determine this you have to show that over a period of time it has given varying results rather than consistent results. The test of reliability would be different for different aspects of the books.

Now the author of the video claims it is unreliable for two reasons. First, the translation cannot be verified; second it is inconsistent with historical knowledge. But neither of these actually tests reliability, but rather accuracy. The real truth is that the Book of Mormon reliably conveys the same story and message no matter how many times you read it, and whether that story is accurate or not has no effect on its reliability.

Of course, the church actually offers a test of reliability regarding the Book of Mormon, which is found in Moroni 10: 4-5. This is a spiritual test that, if followed, will reliably render the same result each time.

 

Racism against Blacks.

Actually, the church has always been fairly open about its policies regarding the African race. And please note that it was African and not black that the policy affected. Other black races, notably the aborigine of Australia, were unaffected by it. About 3 months after this video was put up on YouTube the church published an essay that gives all the details about the churches policy and the various theories surrounding it. Note that they were theories and not doctrine, and the church does not, nor has it ever actually subscribed to any of them. We simply don’t know the details regarding it.

Now, there are many quotes from earlier church leaders that many members are not familiar with. But there is no evidence that the church is trying to hide them. Far from it, they have continued to make them available to those who seek them. The Journal of Discourses, the Discourses of Brigham Young, the Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, among other collections, have been published by the church for some time. More recently they have started the project called “The Joseph Smith Papers” as well as other initiatives to uncover as much as they can about the early church and its leaders.  While they have not paraded these things through the news, they have made no effort to conceal them either.

Little Known Propaganda: 17 – Life on the Moon

2 Apr

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13a#13b#14#15, 16

 

FACT #17. Joseph Smith taught the moon was inhabited by people who dressed like Quakers and lived to be about 1000 years old.

In the Mormon publication, The Young Woman’s Journal, pp. 263 & 264, O.B. Huntington gives this interesting information:

“As far back as 1837, I know that he [Joseph Smith] said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years. He [Smith] described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”

Now that man has walked on the Moon, there can be no doubt that there aren’t any 6 foot tall Quakers roaming its surface.

 

This one might have been little known before the age of the internet, and even in the early years of the internet. How well known it was when this list was first put together would be impossible to say, but of all the items on the list, it is likely the least well known. The reason for this is that it is stated in only two places, and both sources are fairly rare. The Young Woman’s Journal was printed from 1889 to 1896, when the New Era took its place. The fact that a single article from more than 100 years ago is not known to the general membership is hardly surprising. When you consider that it was an independent publication (meaning associated with but not published by the church) it is even less surprising. This journal did not, nor has it ever represented actually church doctrine, and anyone who says it does has no idea what they are talking about.

But, regardless of that, there is still the fair question of whether or not Joseph Actually said this. So, let us examine this from a historical perspective, rather than from a theological one.

 

First

Brother Huntington says that he knows Joseph taught this. He doesn’t say that he heard Joseph teach it. We know why this is by reading Brother Huntington’s journal. However, this journal was kept only during the years of 1880-1882. This means the entries in it for any period before that were recollections and not immediate accounts. Now, in these recollections Brother Huntington writes about the idea of life on the moon twice. The first time he says basically what is quoted here, without claiming to have heard Joseph say this himself. The second time he again gives the same details, but states that Joseph Smith had told a Philo Dibble the information, thus indicating that Brother Huntington received the information from Brother Dibble.

The acceptance that Brother Huntington got his information second hand is re-enforced when we look at his life and the life of Brother Dibble. Brother Huntington was 13 when he was baptized in 1836, and thus would have been only 14 in 1837; and only a member for a year. However, in this same year Philo Dibble would have been 31 years old and a member for 7 years. As this is the year that Brother Huntington claims the idea of life on the moon originated it is infinitely more likely that Joseph would have told an older and more established member of the church, who would relay the information years later to a younger member.

So what we have is the recollections of an older man (in 1880 he would have been 57) about something that another brother told him that Joseph Smith had once said nearly 45 years earlier. Regardless of what Brother Huntington believed, it is not compelling evidence to accept that Joseph Smith ever actually said this.

 

Second

If we accept that Joseph Smith did say this, then let us look at the historical context. Several decades earlier one William Herschel, a prominent astronomer and the discoverer of Uranus and infrared light on the sun, had published a paper in which he not only declared a belief in life on the moon but also the sun (see page 22 of the PDF document). Then, in 1835 a series of articles appeared in The Sun in New York purporting to give details of the life on the moon, and sited to John Herschel, William’s son, who was then a prominent astronomer as his father had been. These articles were revealed to be a hoax, but many people had already latched onto the idea and belief in life on the moon became strong and enduring, taking many decades to dispel.

It also seems that these articles were reprinted in a paper close to Kirtland, and thus it is perfectly reasonable to believe that the members of the LDS church in the area not only read them, but were also fooled into believing them as many others had been. The difference is that the saints had a prophet to whom they believed they could go to get the final answer. So it is also very likely that some of the saints asked Joseph Smith about this, including Brother Dibble.

We must also consider the personality of Joseph Smith. By all accounts he could be quite sarcastic when people were unwilling to listen and was willing to give people what they wanted (in a sarcastic way) if they persisted. For instance; when two sectarian preachers came to visit him in an attempt to trap him in his scriptural understanding he withstood their questions and trapped them with his. When they were about to leave in frustration he made a mark on the ground and took a leap, challenging them to a jumping contest. They went away insulted at such a challenge on the Sabbath, and yet Joseph had, in a sarcastic and mocking way, given them what they wanted; something to criticize.

Taking all this into account it is not unlikely that the members of the church had asked about life on the moon, to which Joseph Smith had not given an answer, or declared that he did not know. But, as he was the prophet, the members kept asking him, assuming (as many today assume) that as the prophet God had revealed everything to him. Getting tired of the constant questions he gave them the answer they were looking for, but with such sarcasm as to be rather ridiculous. But there were those in the church that took this sarcasm literally and chose to believe it to be a prophetic revelation.

 

So, we can reject that Joseph Smith ever actually said, as the historical evidence for it is not compelling; or we can accept that he did say it, but in the context of the time said it in sarcasm and some members foolishly took it as revealed truth. Either way it is at best an intriguing footnote on church history.

Reply To A Video: 4 1/2 things Mormons believe that Christians don’t

22 Feb

I was going to comment on the blog that posted the video in question, but I found my comments to be far to long for a comment, so I decided to put this in my blog, mainly because I really wanted to.

So, this post is in reply to a video recently posted at Bearded Disciple titled “4 1/2 Things That Mormons Believe That Christians don’t.” This video was, in turn, a reply to a video that three Mormon men made titled “5 Things Mormons Believe that Other Christians Don’t.” There are several points I would like to make, and I will number them according to the video presentation.

But first, a brief mention of the introduction: You may notice the subtle difference in the titles of the videos. This is because the bearded one wants to deny that Latter Day Saints are, in fact Christian. This is, of course, false and misleading, but is a common point that has been addressed by many and I don’t think I need to go into full details here. I just wanted to point it out to the readers so that they will understand the man’s starting point when he makes his arguments.

I would also like to point out that the original video is not attempting to proselytize or convince anyone to join the church. The purpose is to simply provide information in a fun way. They are not saying “This is why you should should join the LDS church.” Rather they are simply saying “This is what the LDS church and its members believe that you don’t.” But the response frequently tries to dismiss the original with demands of proof or reasons why he should accept and believe these things as well.

1. Prophets

The three Mormons rightly stated that other Christians do not believe that God currently speaks through prophets. They also state that God always spoke through prophets, at least when he was speaking. In response to this is the claim that the first prophet was Samuel and that the only prophet in the New Testament was a woman. So, let us look at this claim briefly. Let us start with the Old Testament.

Genesis 20: 7 God calls Abraham a prophet. Deuteronomy 34: 10 No prophet greater than Moses, indicating that Moses was a prophet. Judges 6: 8 a prophet came to Israel. 1 Samuel 9:9 prophets used to be called a seer, showing that prophets existed long before this time.

In the New Testament, in Matthew 11: 9 John the Baptist was a prophet, and in Luke 7: 28 Christ declares that there is no greater prophet. Acts 11: 27 prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 12: 28 in the hierarchy of the church Prophets were second to the apostles. Ephesians 3: 5 God was, at that time, revealing things to His apostles and prophets. James 5: 10 speaks of the prophets that spoke during the life of Christ.

Finally, to wrap it up, Luke 1: 70 God has been speaking through prophets since the world began. So, while many men are not directly called prophets in the scriptures, it is clear that from the time of Adam there were prophets on the earth.

So, while other Christians may not consider these men to be prophets, it is clear that those who wrote the Bible did consider them to be prophets, and not just having the gift of prophecy.

 

A final point here, in the original video they quote Mark 13: 22, which states “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” In the response the bearded one rightly acknowledges their point that this verse does not completely negate the possibility of future prophets, and then he focuses on Joseph Smith and asserts that there is still reason to reject him as a prophet. The problem is that many Christians deny the very possibility of modern prophets and have frequently said that the roll of a prophet ended with Christ and the early church. So, while the original video is made by Mormons, the point is that we believe in modern prophets. Rather than actually address this belief the response focuses on rejecting Joseph Smith. So, the real question is, if these three Mormons are right about what they say regarding the possibility of prophets, does the bearded one acknowledge the possibility of prophets.

 

2: Speaking Only to Ancient Israel

The three Mormons mention a common belief among many Christians that God did not speak to anyone outside of Ancient Israel. Now, the video does point out that this is not a universal belief, and so I think it should be amended to God has not revealed His Gospel to anyone outside of the Ancient Middle East. This is a better way of putting it because it is not only more in line with mainstream Christian beliefs, but because most of the Book of Mormon was God speaking to Ancient Israel, just a branch that was not in the Middle East.

However, I think that the main point that the three are trying to make is valid, though somewhat poorly worded, so let me re-iterate the basic meaning they were trying to get across. The LDS believe that God has visited members of many nations and revealed his gospel directly to them, calling prophets out of each nation to preach to the people of that nation. Again, it was poorly worded by the three Mormons in the video. However, they quoted 2 Nephi 29: 7-8 which does state this very clearly.

In the response the bearded first claims they are ignorant as to Biblical understanding and then points out times in the Bible when God spoke to non-Israelites. The problem is that none of his examples actually stand up against the point being made. The video did not deny that God, at times, sent prophets to preach to other people in the Middle East or Mediterranean areas. Rather they are saying that most Christians do not believe that God had an organized religion among these other peoples until an Israelite was sent to preach to them. God did not call a Ninevite to preach, but sent the Israelite Jonah. He did not call a Spaniard to be a prophet, but sent the Israelite Paul. And most Christians would say that God never called a prophet to preach to the America’s, but sent the European Christians.

Another topic on this point is Other Sheep: The original video quotes John 10: 16 and point out that it is talking about Christ personally visiting the other sheep, and thus the work of the apostles cannot be what the passage is talking about. The response wrongly claims that Christ taught the gentiles, as Christ never did. He blessed them at times, but he never taught them. In fact, in Matthew 10: 5 He tells the apostles not to go the the gentiles. Then in Mark 7: 27, when a Greek (gentile) woman approaches him to heal her daughter he calls her a dog and declares that the children must come first. Then there is the story of Cornelius in Acts 10, which is the first recorded baptism of gentiles and something that other leaders in the church (even some apostles) questioned. If Christ had been teaching gentiles all along why would the Apostles, all of whom had known and traveled with Christ, have been shocked at Peter’s actions.

As to the Samaritan woman, the Samaritans were of the House of Israel, though of mixed descent. Thus to teach the Samaritans was still to teach Israel.

On a final point the bearded one sets up a straw man argument with his saying that we don’t include the people of Asia and asking who is included in the other flock. This shows his ignorance, as we include every branch of Israel that was a separate nation at the time of Christ. Christ explained this to the Nephites. In 3 Nephi 16: 1 he declares “…I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister….” So, clearly before Christ visited America He visited other lands as well, and yet more lands after He visited America. Many lands are included in this, and while we don’t know every place He visited, we are confident that He visited all the House of Israel. This would include those living in the East (where the Wisemen came from) as well as the Lost Tribes in the North, and likely others.

 

3: Eternal Families

I am not going to make any comments on the scriptural nature of the doctrine, or on the passage that is debated (you can read the passage here or here). So I make no other comment here, as this is all that the bearded one talks of in the video.

 

4. Degrees of Glory

On this point the original video kind of rambles and again fails to effectively portray the topic. But the response to this is only to say “You haven’t proved it so I won’t believe it.” Not really effective either.

After that the bearded one makes a reply to something that was said under the topic of eternal families, and it is something that needs to be addressed. That is the idea that Heaven would not be heaven without our families.

Now, in the video it is implied that to have this opinion is to not truly love God. After all, it says in Luke 14: 26 that if we are to come to God we have to hate everyone else. The problem here is that the the bearded one does not actually understand what Mormons mean when they say that heaven would not be heaven without our families.

First, please note that every member of the church, who takes their faith seriously, is willing to give up their family for Christ’s sake. Truly, many members have had their families break over their conversion and have lost loved ones to become a disciple of Christ. Christ is the most important and His gospel is the only way. If following that means losing our families than we are prepared to do so.

Secondly, there will be many who enter the Celestial worlds without all of their family. It will still be heaven to them, even without their families. However, at the same time we all love our families and want to be with them forever. It is not so much that we wouldn’t feel it was heaven without our families, but that we cannot believe that Heaven would not at least have the possibility of our families remaining together.
Heaven would not be heaven without families; that is true. God Himself recognizes the eternal nature of families when He asks us to refer to Him as Father. Individuals may not have all their family with them, and some very unlucky ones may have none of their immediate family with them. But families will exist, and thus there is the possibility and the hope that our families will be with us. That is what makes it heaven. None of this puts Christ as second in our devotions. Rather it strengthens our devotion to Him, as what He has made possible is truly glorious.

 

5: Baptism

If you noticed the response also altered it to 4 1/2 things on the list rather than 5. This is the one they want to cut in half. The bearded one says that most Christians agree with the point, but then states that they don’t.

Just to clarify, the original video listed number five as “Mormons believe you should get baptized in the same way Christ did.” That is the statement, which is then clarified as ‘full immersion’ and ‘by fire of the spirit.’

The response video says that most Christian are going to agree with this, and then immediately says ‘we look at it and say that ultimately the way and the method that that’s done isn’t really important…’ The problem here is that the way and the method are exactly the point of the original video. It has to be by immersion, in the exact manner that Christ was baptized. The 3 Mormons even discuss to some extent the different methods and ideas surrounding baptism, and point out that Mormons don’t agree with them. So while most Christians may agree that you should get baptized, they do not agree that it should be done in the same way that Christ was baptized.

 

Sorry this is so long. I really didn’t want to break it up and I had a lot to say.