Archive | January, 2016

Little Known Propaganda: 4 – Christ and Satan Brothers

20 Jan

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

 

FACT #4. A basic tenant in Mormonism today is that Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan.

Milton R. Hunter explains it like this: “The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer,… this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.” (The Gospel Through The Ages, p.15)

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Lucifer attempted to become the Savior: in fact, Jesus created all the angels including Lucifer, so they can’t be brothers. Colossians 1:16 indicates that Jesus created “all things,” whether “in heaven,” or “in earth, visible or invisible.”

 

First of all, the book the author cites, “The Gospel Through the Ages,” is not an official source as far as I can tell. So, once again we have the author claiming to use official sources, and then turning to unofficial sources to try and prove his point.

 

Second, the basics of any religion are those things that all else are dependent on, but which are not dependent on other doctrine themselves. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. This is a basic tenant as it stands on its own as well as upholds other doctrine (actually, all other doctrine).

 

The basic tenants of the LDS church are summed up brilliantly in the 13 Articles of Faith. These articles list the main points of doctrine, on which all other doctrine rests; and while these doctrine are woven together none of them require any of the others for their support. If you read the link I provided you will see that the idea that Jesus and Satan are brothers is not to be found.

 

However, even though these articles are fairly exhaustive, they do not quite list everything that I would consider a basic tenant. They are those doctrines that non-members are frequently first exposed to, and are the issues that were of the greatest importance at the time that Joseph Smith wrote them. There are a few other doctrines that are basic as well.

 

There is the doctrine of the pre-earth life, which teaches, in simple terms, that we all lived as spirit children of God before coming to this earth. This is the basic tenant, from which flows the purpose of this existence; the reason and necessity of the fall, as well as the atonement; as well as many aspects of the next life; and other doctrines that I will not list here.

For our discussion the more important aspect of this doctrine (one might say the deeper meaning of it) is that it is all inclusive; meaning all those who have ever or will ever be born on this earth, as well as those spirits that were cast out of heaven for rebellion, who shall never be born.

 

So, we have a basic doctrine in the per-existence, which leads to the deeper doctrine that we are all spirits and are part of that eternal family and the progeny of divine parents. Coming out of this we have the additional doctrine that Jesus Christ was the eldest of all the spirit children of God.

(On a side note: Despite what many critics try to claim, there has never been any revelation regarding to order in which any other person was born as a spirit. We know that Christ was the eldest, but that is as far as our knowledge, and thus our doctrine, goes on that point.)

Now, if all those spirits that were cast out were also spirit children of God, than it logically follows that Satan, who was their leader, was also a spirit child of God. And, as Christ is the eldest spirit child, than the two have the same divine parents, and thus we conclude that, yes, they are brothers.

Of course this conclusion can also be derived from the Bible. I don’t think anyone will argue that Christ is identified as God’s son. However, in Isaiah 14: 12 Satan, then called Lucifer, is identified as “A son of the Morning.” This phrase is repeated again in modern scripture (2 Nephi 24: 12; D&C 76: 26, 27), and means that he was among the older spirits.

However, none of this is the basic doctrine, but is simply incidentally to the basics, and is not really all that important. Understanding this is not essential to our eternal salvation. The basic doctrine is, but this reasoned conclusion is not.

 

On a final note, the author refers to Colossians 1: 16 as proof that Satan was created. However, that verse never mentions Satan. True, it mentions ‘all things’ in heaven and earth, but let us look at this logically.

First, is not God in Heaven? As we all agree that God did not create himself, we have logical proof of at least one thing in heaven that he did not create. So, Paul could not have meant to include all things that exist in his statement to the Colossians. His meaning is more in line with what Lehi said to his sons in 2 Nephi 2: 15 “he had created…all things which are created.” By this we know that there were some things that were not created, but simply are, like God, eternal. God has told us that “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.” (D&C 93: 29).

So, as Satan is a spirit, possessing intelligence, he is also among those things that “was not created, neither indeed can be.” As such Paul’s statement, which applies only to things that were created, does not apply to Satan.

 

(I have also written commentaries on the Articles of Faith. You can read them here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen)

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The Revelation of John – chapter 18: Babylon Is Fallen, Is Fallen

19 Jan

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I, Twelve II, The Beast, The Mark, Three Angels, Two Harvests, Righteous, Plagues, Whore, Kings

Chapter 18

Chapter 17 described Babylon. This chapter now describes the judgments that God has decreed against her.

Verse 1 

I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

John sees another angel. Honestly, I have lost count as to how many angels John has seen in his vision. Obviously the events of the last days will bring all of God’s servants into the actions. While we are given no indication as to who this new angel is, their power and glory indicates one who holds a very high position of authority in heaven.

Verses 2-3

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication…

The angel announces the fall of Babylon, and explains the reason for it. The final fate of Babylon is to be a foul and evil place, where only devils dwell. The reason for this is the corruption that was described in chapter 17. Verse three is very reminiscent of that chapter. Notice here that Kings, and merchants have partaken of this corruption, meaning political and economic groups.

Verses 4-6

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins…For her sins have reached unto heaven…Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works…

I believe the voice is the voice of God, though it is not identified as such. God issued a similar call to the saints today. “Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean…gather ye out from among the nations…from one end of heaven to the other…Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness…” (D&C 133: 5, 7, 14)

The admonition to double unto her according to her works rinds me of the Law of Moses and the restitution that it required for many crimes. This could be God calling his people, not only to abandon the evil of Babylon, but to condemn it in others.

Verses 7-8

How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously…for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day…and she shall be utterly burned with fire… 

The pride of Babylon, or the culture of corruption, will cause the judgments to come swiftly against her. In one day does not literally mean 24 hours, but rather a very brief period of time. Notice also that Babylon will be burned. This is common imagery for the events of the last days. In the parable of the Wheat and Tares the tares are burned. In D&C 64: 24 the Lord says that all the proud and those who remain in Babylon will be burned. And of course, the wicked will be burned at the second coming.

Verses 9-19

And the kings of the earth…shall bewail her, and lament for her…Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!…And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more…The merchants of these things…and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning…weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city…for in one hour is she made desolate.

Here we read that all those who partook of the wickedness of Babylon and supported the culture of corruption will mourn its destruction. Both the kings and the merchants mourn (including seafaring merchants), again showing how pervasive the culture had become. Verses 12-14 give a long list of merchandise that is basically all encompassing of every fine thing that could represent the pride of the world.

President Harold B. Lee warned “we are going through some of the severest tests today and we don’t realize perhaps the severity of the tests that we’re going through. … Today we are basking in the lap of luxury, the like of which we’ve never seen before in the history of the world. It would seem that probably this is the most severe test of any test that we’ve ever had” (“First Presidency Devotional” [unpublished Christmas devotional for Church employees, Dec. 13, 1973], 4–5

Among the list of goods included are “slaves and the souls of men.” If we take this literally we see a reference to human trafficking (slavery). We also see an allusion to the practice in many religions of promising salvation for money, or the trafficking in souls. This reference can also be seen as a symbol of the addictive nature of the corruption of Babylon, causing men to be slaves to it, both body and soul.

Verse 20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 

Those who are aligned with God and heaven has suffered greatly at the hands of Babylon, but now they can rejoice, for God has brought vengeance against her.

Verses 21-23

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down…And the voice of…musicians…shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman…And the light of a candle…and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more…for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Another angel, this one of great strength, now declares that all those things that made Babylon enticing no longer exist. The culture, the industry, community, the families; all are gone.

Verse 24 

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The only thing that is now found in Babylon is the guilt that she carries for the death and persecutions of the saints and the prophets.

Little Known Propaganda: 3 – Don’t Trust the Bible

14 Jan

This is my second response 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

 

FACT #3. Mormons are taught to doubt the reliability of the Bible and their leaders have consistently attacked its accuracy.

Joseph Smith claimed:  “… it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.10)

The Bible answers this attack: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

 

This little tidbit is actually false. It is an assumption that people make based on other aspects of our doctrine. The real fact is that we study the Bible more than any other scripture; we love and cherish its doctrine; and we hold it as equal, if not greater than all other scriptures. When read with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in light of the rest of God’s revealed word it becomes the greatest scriptural work ever written. In fact, God commanded the saints to “teach the principles of [his] gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.” (D&C 42: 12) You will notice that the Bible is listed first here.

Now, it is true that Joseph Smith taught that much truth was removed from the Bible, but far from attacking its accuracy he used it more than any other scripture to teach the gospel. The quote given above makes no mention of its accuracy, but of its completeness.

Joseph Smith made a new and more correct translation of the Bible, and the vast majority of changes were additions, replacing that which was taken out; not fixing that which was changed. Most of the changes that Joseph Smith made are printed with every copy of the Bible that the church produces. These are frequently referenced in discussions and lessons. Far from causing doubt concerning the Bible, these passages reinforce its authenticity and make it an even greater work of scriptures than that which was originally preserved through the ages.

 

On a last note, let us look at the passage that the compiler tries to use in order to try and disprove the original idea. Disregarding the fact that the claim is false, this passage from Isaiah wouldn’t prove it wrong anyway. God’s word shall stand forever, but the written record of his word is never mentioned, nor is it promised that the written record would stand forever. As the Bible is the written record, and not the actual words of God, the truth that Isaiah taught does not apply to it.

Little Known Propaganda: 2 – No Salvation Without Joseph Smith

13 Jan

This is my second response 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

FACT #2. Mormonism teaches there is no salvation outside the Mormon Church and no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this statement:  “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670)

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches salvation is in Jesus alone:  “Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

 

First, Mormon Doctrine is not an official source, as the compiler of the list claims. It is the independent work of Elder McConkie. You can read the report by David O. McKay that lists several things that the church did not sanction which the book contains.

However, that is incidental to the point being made. The obvious claim here is that the LDS place a greater emphasis on Joseph Smith than on Christ. While it is true that we believe one must accept Joseph Smith as a prophet to be saved, we also believe that one must accept Moses as a prophet, and Abraham, and Peter, and Paul, and all the other prophets. We can’t reject any prophet sent by God and expect to be saved.

Now if we read the entire quote from Mormon Doctrine we see a list of things that are needed for salvation. The very first one on the list is the Atonement of Christ. Others include the gospel, priesthood, miracles, angels, and other things mentioned frequently in the scriptures.

Salvation is made possible through Christ, and there is no one else who could have satisfied the law and brought about a forgiveness of sin. But a man cannot be saved in ignorance (D&C 131: 6) or without faith (D&C 63: 11; Heb. 11: 6). When there is faith there are miracles and angels (Moroni 7: 37), and where there is knowledge there is the priesthood (D&C 84: 19; 128: 11). So, all of these things must be present for salvation to be possible, but all of it hinges on the atonement.

Earlier in his book Elder McConkie makes an entry on the atonement, where he says “it is the most important single thing that has ever happened” and that “it is the foundation upon which all truth rests.” (pg 60).

Furthermore, in the Book of Mormon (much more official than Mormon Doctrine) it states “…that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3: 17) This is stated three other times in the Book of Mormon, though in different words: 2 Nephi 25: 25; 31: 21; Mosiah 5: 8. Every single one of these verses is cross-referenced with Acts 4: 12, which is the verse the compiler uses to try and prove our doctrine wrong.

Little Known Propaganda: 1 – All Churches Wrong

11 Jan

This is my first response 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.

 

FACT #1 The Mormon Church teaches ALL other Churches are WRONG; ALL their creeds are an ABOMINATION in the sight of God; and ALL their teachers are corrupt.

One of the Mormon Books of Scripture, The Pearl of Great Price, says this about non-LDS churches:  “…they were ALL WRONG; and the Personage who addressed me said that ALL their creeds were an ABOMINATION in his sight; that those professors were ALL CORRUPT…” (Joseph Smith 1:19).

 

Very true; however this is hardly a little known fact. Even in 2008 it was well known that we believe we have the only true church. So, to have it on a list of supposedly little known facts is not completely honest.

 

Also, it must be understood in its proper perspective. You see, we take Paul literally when he says there is but one church and one faith (Ephesians 4: 4-5). We do not hold to the view that the church is all Christians; rather we believe the church to be the organized system of religion that Christ established while on the Earth. When that system was lost the church was lost. Any religion that is not part of that organization cannot be the true church. Paul also described this organization, listing as offices within it Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4: 11-12).

So, any church that does not contained these offices, duly appointed by God as was Aaron (Hebrews 5:4), cannot be the true church that Christ established. As none of the churches at the time of the First Vision had these offices, or the authority to appoint them, all of them were the wrong church.

 

As to the creeds, anything that tends to lead men away from God and the fullness of his glory would be an abomination to God. God wants all his children to share in his glory; anything less causes him sorrow. So, those creeds that teach false doctrine and thus lead men to a lesser glory would be detestable to God as they frustrate his desires.

 

Having said all this it must also be understood that just because a church is not the one true church that does not mean that all the doctrine that it espouses is wrong. All churches have a measure of truth, some more than others. It is also true that the followers of the different religions are most often good people who have simply been deceived.

Little Known Propaganda

11 Jan

I have recently come across another list that someone has tried to use against the church. It is titled “17 Little Known Facts About the Mormons.” It was 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.

When I first came across Damon’s blog I read only four or five of the facts with the response and the rebuttal. I was not satisfied with either, and so I have decided to write my own response. I will give only one fact per blog, so this will consist of many blog entries. I invite everyone to discuss the points.

I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said. If you want to read what they have to say the links are above, and if you desire you may refer to their comments in any comments you make here.

Now, for this entry I will focus on the title of the list, rather than any of the actual facts. I will also make general comments as to its composition.

 

First, the title, at first, seems a little misleading. It says these facts are little known, but with so many people publishing these kinds of lists, with these very items appearing on a number of them, it becomes difficult to believe that they are little known, especial to the online reader. Now, to be fair, this article was written on September 24, 2008, and thus they had not yet floated around quite as much. Even considering this many of these facts have not been ‘little known’ for decades.

Another claim that made is that “All quotes given are from official LDS publications or the Bible.” This shows that the compiler does not understand what an official source of the church is, showing his lack of understanding regarding the church itself. It also makes one wonder if they have actually read the sources given, or if they are just harvesting quotes from other sites and lists. For instance, they quote from the book “Mormon Doctrine” written by Bruce. R. McConkie. However, this book was his work, and his alone, which he states in the opening. In fact, Elder McConkie was censured for writing it and for some time the church would not let it be published. While I enjoy the book, and I agree with much of what it says, I would never hold it up as an official church publication.

There is also a frequent lack of understanding on the part of the compiler of this list. They present a single sentence snippet that is generally geared for sensationalism, not accuracy. On occasion the statement includes aspects that are completely false, but are included for their shock value. At other times the statements, though technically corrected, are worded so that the reader will get the wrong impression from the shock value of the wording.

So, none of this is for the simple purpose of conveying information, but is a propaganda piece designed to scare people away from the LDS church.

I also note that on occasion the compiler tries to use various Bible verses in an attempt to show that LDS doctrine contradicts the Bible. There are two problems with these attempts. Either the compiler misunderstands LDS doctrine or provides a verse that does not contract the doctrine.

 

So, with these things in mind I will begin to post responses to the 17 facts that the author lists.