Archive | September, 2016

Little Known Propaganda: 9 – Inner Feeling

20 Sep

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

FACT #9. To the Mormon, the ultimate test that Mormonism is true is an “inner feeling.”

Mormons often refer to this feeling as a “burning in the bosom.” They believe their scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) gives the best test for determining truth. This test reads:

“…study it out in your mind; then you must ask me [the Lord] if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall FEEL that it is right.”

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

I can only speak to my experience, but the witness of the Holy Ghost is hardly a simple feeling. It is a direct communication from the Spirit of God to our spirit. It is communication on a spiritual level, which is an incredibly powerful witness. As the spirit and the body are joined in this mortal life the power of this communication if literally felt. This can be emotional, but in my experience, is more frequently a physical sensation. The description of a burning the bosom is not a metaphor, but an attempt to explain that when one feels the witness of the Holy Ghost they will literally feel a physical sensation of warmth fill their body. They will also frequently feel an emotional reaction of true joy or contentment or satisfaction, but rarely is there an emotional reaction without the physical sensation.

However, both of these are incidental to the true communication that is taking place. This communication cannot be explained, nor can it be truly understood unless it is experienced. To even attempt to explain it is impossible, and so the only descriptions that are given are those of the physical and emotional reactions to it.

So, to trivialize the communication of the spirit by referring to it as merely some emotional thing is to show ones ignorance as to what it really is.

Now, let us look at the references given and the evidence from the Bible.

You may note that the reference from the Doctrine and Covenants above tells us that we must study things out before God will reveal anything to us. The reason for this is that we are intelligent beings who have the ability to detect contradictions and can, by our own diligence, discover some bad philosophies and spirits.

However, he also expects us to seek His confirmation of our conclusions. Why? Because while we have the ability to discern things ourselves, we are also very gullible and have the tendency to set reasoning aside in favor of that which pleases us. So, to make sure that we are right we need God to confirm it to us.

However, we do not simply rely on these impressions, because we know that Satan can deceive, especially when we leave ourselves vulnerable to his influence.

There was the story in the early church of a woman who was visited by an angel. Now, the woman’s husband had been called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, but the angel told the woman that he must not go more than a hundred miles from home or he would die. In telling this story Joseph Smith asked “How…was this known to be a bad angel?” He then answered the question “By…his contradicting a former revelation.” The woman, from her thoughts and feelings, had been deceived. But the deception was discovered through a careful examination of previous revelation, for God will not contradict himself. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 214)

Now let us consider the Biblical evidence. This is only a small sampling, but it gets the point across.

Let us look at Luke 24: 32. This is the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I am sure most people are familiar with it. Two disciples are walking to Emmaus a few days after the crucifixion. They are troubled by Christ’s death, and as they are talking about it they are met by a stranger. When they tell the stranger the reason for their troubles he begins to teach them the scriptures and how it all was going according to plan. Then, when they stopped to eat the stranger blessed the bread, revealed himself to be Christ, and disappeared. The two disciples are astonished and they look to each other and exclaim “DID NOT OUR HEART BURN WITHIN US, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures.

On this please note that they reasoned they should have known it was Christ because of how they felt. It wasn’t because of what He said, or His knowledge of the scriptures. It was how they felt because of his presence and because of his teachings.  And notice how they describe how their hearts burned within them.

This goes right along with Luke 4: 32. Here we have Christ preaching in Capernaum. Luke tells us that when the people heard it “they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” It was not what he taught that astonished them, but the sense of power that was in his words. In fact, the exact doctrine that he taught it not even mentioned. It seems that the power that his words held was of greater significance to Luke’s audience than the exact words.

Then we have a similar event happening on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 37. Peter has just preached a sermon, and the gift of tongues was manifest in a powerful way. As a result some three thousand were received by baptism into the church (see verse 41). What was it that so moved these people? Was it the eloquence of Peter’s words? Was it how well he expounded the scriptures? Was it any of the so called tests that people put forward today? No. Luke tells us that “when they heard this, they were PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, and said…what shall we do?” Again, it is the feeling that they had in response to the preaching that so touched them and convinced them of the truth of what they were hearing.

Now, let us briefly look at 2 Timothy 2: 15 in context (verse 11-16).

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

So, after listing the good doctrine that Timothy should be teaching, Paul warns Timothy to ‘strive not about words’ or to avoid arguments over trivial matters. He also latter warns against ‘vain babblings’ or vain disputations which have no real purpose. Rather, he is to learn the truth so that he is able to put down false doctrine and ‘rightly divide’ or teach the truth.

So, this passage has nothing to do with gaining a testimony or personal revelation. It is, rather, an exhortation to learn the truth before you try to teach it. This is the same message that God gives us in Doctrine and Covenants 11: 21, when He tells Hyrum “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed…” Hyrum, like Timothy, had already been converted and had a testimony of the gospel. So, the counsel given is what to do to prepare to teach after you have already received.

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Little Known Propaganda: 8 – Temple Work For the Dead

8 Sep

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

 

FACT #8. The majority of the activity in the Mormon Temples is work done in behalf of the DEAD.

Joseph Smith offers this explanation:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our DEAD.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356)

Although many Mormons are attempting to save their dead relatives, the Bible indicates:

“None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalms 49:7)

 

First of all, I can’t believe this is little known to the rest of the world. The temples have been in the public view for decades and the church is not shy in stating its doctrine on Salvation for the Dead. In addition there was the controversy of the baptism of Holocaust victims that was finally resolved in 1995. Given the original blog post was in 2008 it is hard to believe that at that time people were not at least acquainted with the fact that the temples are used to do the work for the dead.

 

As to the doctrine itself, it is in the Bible for those who care to actually let the Bible speak for itself. For instance, as support for the doctrine of the resurrection Paul asks “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15: 29) Clearly the early saints were doing baptisms for the dead, and Paul is reasoning that such a practice is not logical unless you also believe in the resurrection.

Then we have the teachings of Peter. He declares that Christ “preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah…” (1 Peter 3: 19-20) Later he explains that “for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4: 6) So, Christ preached to the dead in prison so that they may be judged on the same merits as those who were alive, and thus attain the eternal life that God offers to all men.

This brings us to the prophecy that Christ was anointed to “…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61: 1) As Peter says that the spirits of the wicked at the time of Noah were in prison, it is not a leap to see that Isaiah was prophesying that Christ would begin this work among the dead.

Other prophesies are also found in the Old Testament. Isaiah 42: 7 says that Christ is called “to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”

Isaiah 49: 9 not only says that Christ will “say to the prisoners, Go forth” but that they will have “their pastures…in all high places.” So, not only can the dead get out of prison, but will be equal to others in salvation.

Zechariah 9: 11 declares that by the covenant of the atonement God declares that he has “sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit…”

Another prophecy that speaks to this is found in Isaiah 24: 22, where it is said that the wicked at the time of the second coming with “be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.”

Now, Luke quotes the prophecy from Isaiah 61: 1 (Luke 4: 18). John also tells us that “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5: 25). Paul tells us that Christ’s atonement made him “Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14: 9) and that the Prophets “without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11: 40)

 

All of this establishes a clear understanding that those who have died will be taught the gospel as spirits and will have the opportunity of coming out of the prison they were sent to and gain salvation. This is done through vicarious ordinances, which Paul references in his argument for belief in a literal resurrection.

 

Now, there is the quote from Psalms that is given above, and it seems to contradict this doctrine. However, when it is looked at and truly understood there is no contradiction.

First, let us look at the context of the quote.

“They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” (Psalms 49: 6-10)

What this is saying is that those who trust in their worldly wealth cannot prevent their brother from dying, for all people die. Secondly, as a kind of aside, it points out that it also can’t save the soul, as it is the wrong power. It has no bearing on those who rely on the power of God to save their brother.

 

Then we look at all the quotes that I gave above. They clearly show that it is not us that saves our dead, but the power of the atonement. God anointed Christ to this power, and while we perform the ordinances, it is the power of his atonement that actually saves. So, no one does have the power to save their brother, but they do have the power to bring them to Christ, who then saves them.