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Little Known Propaganda: 12 – Personal Relationship With Jesus

8 Feb

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

FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:

“… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)

In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

I have read the talk that is being quoted here, and I will agree that this is likely unknown to the vast majority of the world. I think the best way to address this is to simply let Elder McConkie explain himself. So, we will first see the quote in its context. After all, the quote given is actually taken from three different parts of the talk, and are separated by a great deal of further explanation.

 

“There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”

So, Elder McConkie is, first of all, speaking of an over the top Zeal that is truly fanaticism, which is never healthy.

“I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

“Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed…”

Here we are told why it is perilous. It causes arrogance and pride in those who seek it, or such depression that it hinders their functioning. The Bible tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16: 18) Is it any wonder that we are warned against such actions?

Please note that we have not even touched on the second part of the quote given, and we have gone through three paragraphs. We now skip down four more paragraphs before we get to the second part of the quote.

“Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.”

So, again, we have Elder McConkie speaking against an improper relationship. There is a proper, personal relationship we can have with Christ, but once we step over that line to seek an improper relationship, that is when we are in danger.

“It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.”

And here we get the full point of all of this. The personal relationship with Christ becomes improper when we seek that over the other members of the Godhead. When our devotion to Christ overshadows our devotion, veneration, and worship of the Father we have stepped over the line and are in peril.

Then, jumping down four more paragraphs, Elder McConkie tells us this.

“Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.”

When we try to remove the reverence between us and God in a desire for a personal relationship with Christ we dishonor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we maintain that reverential barrier we strengthen ourselves spiritually.

 

I think this is sufficient to show the true intent of Elder McConkie’s words. He is not saying we shouldn’t have a relationship with Christ, even a personal one. He is saying that we should not have an improper relationship that removes the reverential respect and excludes the rest of the Godhead from our devotions. I honestly don’t see how any Christian could even disagree with this, let alone complain about it.

 

On a final note, none of this contradicts anything in the Bible. The specific quote given tells us to come to Christ, which we should do; but we should do so with reverential respect, never forgetting that He is the Son, not the Father.

 

Little Known Propaganda: 5 – God man and man God

1 Feb

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

 

FACT #5. Mormonism continues to teach that God the Father is a glorified, resurrected Man, and men and women may become Gods and Goddesses.

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie makes this claim: “God himself, the Father of us all, is a glorified, exalted, immortal, resurrected Man!” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 643[pg 229 in the pdf link, halfway down the second column)

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, taught: “…you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you,…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 346 [pg 346 on pdf link)

The Lord Himself answers this teaching by pronouncing: “… I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

 

There are a few things to understand about LDS doctrine regarding this.

First, one must understand that the LDS use the word God in three different ways.

  1. The supreme authority that we worship; a title used only in reference to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  2. Any being that lives in an exalted state, possessing all good attributes in their fullest and most perfect sense.
  3. The entities that false religions worship as gods are called gods, but do not fall into either of the first two definitions.

 

So, while we believe we have the potential to become gods, we mean this with reference to the second definition. We believe that we can possess all the same power and attributes that our Heavenly Father possesses. Thus we will gain the power to create; we will gain the power to have spirit children and have them progress through mortality to exaltation; we will have all knowledge and power that is possible to have.

However, what we will never have is the authority to rule in heaven, and thus we will never be a God in reference to the first definition. That distinction belongs only to the three members of the Godhead.

There are a number of Biblical verses that we believe support this doctrine.

Gen. 3:2, Ps. 82:6, Matt. 5:48, John 10:34, Acts 17:29, Rom. 8:17, 2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 4:7, Eph. 4:13, 1 Jn. 3:2, Rev. 3:21

This is not a comprehensive list, but the ones that are clearer and together they illustrate the point.

 

As to God being an exalted man, that is also in the Bible, but let us just consider what the doctrine actually says.

First, as it says in Acts 17: 29, we are the offspring of God. We are not merely something he decided to create one day. We are his literal children, sons and daughters of God, and (as Paul says in Galatians 4: 7) if we are sons and daughters then we are heirs of God. An heir inherits what his Father has, and, in this case, that is perfection and exaltation.

When we understand our relationship with Heavenly Father then it becomes a simple matter to see the nature of God. As we are his children, and the scriptures say that all things reproduce after their own kind (Genesis 1), then it becomes simple reason to believe that God is also a man, as we would be after His kind.

 

Now, this is not to say that we are the same as God. After all, you would not say that a baby is the same as a fully grown man. The difference in ability, knowledge, and intelligence that is apparent between a baby and their father is comparable to the difference between us and God. Just as a baby must grow through experience and life to become an adult like their father, so to must we grow through experience and life to become a god like our Heavenly Father. And, just as no child can replace their father, we cannot replace God. Actually, a son can become a father, which then elevates his father to a grandfather, thus bringing greater glory to him. The same is true of us and God; when we become gods we only bring greater glory to our Heavenly Father.

 

Christ said in John 5: 19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

If Jesus could only do what the Father had done before him, then it follows that the Father was born into a mortal world, just as the Son was. It is also logical that the Father was the savior of that world, just as Christ was the savior of ours. This is taught by Joseph Smith in the same sermon that the author cites above. Joseph Smith taught “The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 346 on pdf link)

 

In all honesty, no one in the church really understands what happened before this earth. The full truth has not been revealed, and so we generally don’t talk about it much. God was once a man, just as we are. That is about the extent of the doctrine.

 

As to the verse from Isaiah, I wrote a post about the “First and the Last” some time ago which explains this verse.

The Ten Kingdoms and the Great Horn

10 Nov

This continues a series on end-time prophecies. In this series I am making comments as to the meaning of various prophecies that have been recorded, and trying to be as brief as possible. I have focused mainly in the Old Testament so far, but will soon post on prophecies from the other standard works of the LDS church. 

The last few posts I have made have been concerning the prophecies in Daniel, mainly those in chapters 2, 7 and 8. I have addressed the Ancient of Days in chapter seven; spoken of the beasts that Daniel saw; and address the stone cut without hands. I continue with this focus on Daniel for one more post before moving on to another prophecy. I said I would address the fourth beast in chapter seven and the ten horns, and I make a few comments regarding this now.

Daniel 7

…behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth…it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns…behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up…in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things…I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.

This is the vision that Daniel saw. He tells that “Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others… (verse 19)” and gives the following interpretation.

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (verse 21-25)

We know the fourth kingdom is Rome (see my post “The Beast of Daniel”) which was diverse from the others in that it at least stated as a republic, and in the amount of area it covered (thus having a more diverse population). The ten horns, as Daniel records, are ten kings that rise out of Rome. This is commonly believed to be the ten Germanic Kingdoms of Europe that rose up at the fall of the Western Roman Empire. They are the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Lombards, the Franks, the Saxons, the Alemanni, the Thuringians, and the Rugians.  I am not fully familiar with the history of these ten kingdoms. However, I am pretty sure that three were completely destroyed, ceasing to exists as ethics groups. The Ostrogoths, who had been in Italy; the Thuringians, who had been in Germany; and the Rugians, who had been in modern Hungary. All three disappear by the 700’s. The other groups continued to exist, though most were conquered by the Franks. Some would later form the Holy Roman Empire.

So the next question is, what Kingdom is the little Horn supposed to represent. If these Germanic kingdoms are the ten horns, and the Ostrogoths, Thuringians, and Rugians are the three that were plucked up, then who did the plucking? Honestly, I don’t really know. I have heard some theories that I find interesting, but I have not been able to truly satisfy myself as to this point.

There are two theories that I will mention. The first places the Holy Roman Empire as this little horn. This empire covered most of Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and most of central Europe. You may notice that the three kingdoms that appear to have been completely wiped out were all in this area. However, all three were destroyed before the Holy Roman Empire was actually established. Following the prophecy, the little horn makes war on the saints, and, according to this theory, the Holy Roman Empire did this when they tried to suppress the Protestant movements, which started in this Empire with Martin Luther. This also follows with the speaking out against the Most High and wearing out the saints. Yet, it is a little hazy as to the changing of times and laws.

The second theory places the Catholic church as this little horn. It points out that Roman was Catholic, and when the Western Roman Empire collapsed the Catholic church remained the political power in Italy. It even commanded armies and fought wars. The Holy Roman Empire was set up by the church, as it was the Pope who approved and crowned the first emperor, and one could be emperor after being so crowned. This also solves the problem of when the three kingdoms were destroyed, as they were destroyed fighting in Italy where the Catholic church was the main power. However, this theory must also make the claim that the Catholic church was in opposition to the saints of God and made war against God.

As this post is already getting fairly long I will leave it at this, without getting into the controversies that both these theories can generate. If you want to discuss either further, let me know.

Theories: Part One

19 Oct

I originally wrote this post speaking of this thought as a heresy.  I have since decided that this was an error, as I do not have the authority to make such a proclomation regarding any idea or theory.  So I have altered this blog to reflect a more understanding and less judgmental attitude.  In it I address a question that many people raise, and that I know some in the LDS church believe in.  I do not think it is a prevelant thought, but it does exist.  I give only my opinion, and this should be taken as just that, and only that.

So, here is the Question:  Did Heavenly Father Ever Sin?

Some people among the LDS have expressed the opinion that at some point in the distant past our Heavenly Father, the great Elohim, the Head of the Gods might have sinned. Their reasoning is simple. It is based in two simple concepts.
1. It is taught that God once lived a mortal life, and through his diligence and obedience to his father was exalted and became God.
2. It is also taught that if we are diligent and obedient to him we will become exalted and become gods.
Putting these two concepts together they reach the conclusion that since we, who are sinful, can become gods, then it stands to reason that our Heavenly Father, who was once as we are, also sinned while living in mortality.
This sounds reasonable enough, but hits a little snag when our Heavenly Father is described as being perfect. Those who cling to this view address this issue with the simple reasoning that since it is taught that all our sins will be washed away and forgotten, making us perfect, than it is not a problem to say the same of our Heavenly Father.

I wish to point out that there are actually few in the church who even bother to think of such things, and even less of those who actually form any kind of opinion regarding them.  However, it does seem generally accepted among those who do consider such topics that, since we really know so little concerning the eternal worlds, the possibility, however slim it is, is there.  Beyond this any thought on the subject is basically pointless as we will never really know until all things are reveal, and whether it is true or not makes very little difference when it comes to the plan of salvation and our progression.

Now, I do not recall any of the leadership addressing this specifically, or directly.  It seems that they are content to let the members believe as they choose.  This is fine with me, as some do receive comfort in the idea that since it is possible that Heavenly Father sinned, there is hope for us.  I am content to let people believe this, and will not argue the point too strenuously.

However, I will give my opinion regarding this matter, which is that I do not believe he ever did, as I believe he was the Christ, or savior of his generation, and thus he would have had to live a perfectly sinless life, just as Jesus Christ did.  I draw this conclusion from two different passages; one from the Testimony of John in the New Testament, and the other from the King Follett discourse, as delivered by Joseph Smith April 1844 conference.

John 5: 19-20
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the son likewise.
“For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth…”

Here I take note of the statement that the Son only does what he saw his Father do previously.
Christ, as is clearly taught by all the prophets throughout time, lived a perfectly sinless life. From the day he was born till the day he died he did nothing that was contrary to the will of his Father in Heaven. If he did only what he saw his Father do then it stands to reason that his Father also lived a perfectly sinless life.

King Follett Discourse
Section: Power of the Father and the Son
“The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power — to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious — in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again.”

This seems to make it clear that our Heavenly Father was the savior of his generation.  He had the needed power to perform the atonement, and did so, just as Jesus had that power and performed the atonement for us. This goes in hand with John 5: 19; one informs us that Jesus lived the same kind of life in mortality that the Father did, and the other shows us that he has the same power as his Father.

When I consider all this I think it clear that the idea that our Heavenly Father could have sinned at any time in the past is false.  However, it is not really important, and so I will not actively seek to correct anyone who disagrees with me.  I would question anyone who teaches he sinned in our church meetings, but not one who held the private belief that it may be possible.