Little Known Propaganda: 15 – Shake a Messenger’s Hand

4 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, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13a, #13b, #14

 

FACT #15. Mormons are taught to “shake hands” with a messenger to determine if he is from God or if he is the devil.

The following information is found in Mormon scripture:

“When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. . . . If it were the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.” (Doctrine and Covenants 129:4, 5, 8)

Rather than trusting in “feelings” the Bible commands us to: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)

 

On this point I think a closer, and more thorough, look at the passages in question is in order. After all, this Fact quotes only three verses. Thus a little more context will shed light on the matter; and section 129 of the Doctrine and Covenants is only 9 verses long.

1-3. There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

Here we are taught that there are two types of heavenly beings. This is very significant. We are also taught what these two types are, and what the difference between them is. This is a radical idea, and shocking to some, for Joseph Smith is talking of heavenly beings as being men who once lived in mortality and have been glorified by God. It is a very new idea to many.

After this explanation of the types of heavenly beings, Joseph Smith then proceeds to tell us a means by which we may know which type they are, or if they are heavenly messengers at all.

4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

This is a very simple thing, and, like Naaman the Syrian, many people in the modern day are offended that such a simple, and obviously mortal act, could be used to discern heavenly messengers. But, as Naaman learned, it is by simple means that God does some of the greatest work.

5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

What could be more logical than the idea that it is possible to feel the hand of a being that has a physical body? If it is physical than surely it would be perceptible to the physical senses? So, what more natural way to determine if a messenger is an angel, who has a physical body?

6-7 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

And here is how a ministering spirit is known. Just as it is logical to assume that a being with a physical body can be felt, it is just as logical that a being without a physical body cannot. Knowing this a ministering spirit from heaven will not shake hands.

Now, it says this because it is contrary to heaven for him to deceive you. But how would this be a deception? It would merely prove that he is not yet resurrected, wouldn’t it? But this is explained next.

8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

Devils, ever seeking to deceiving, will try to convince a person they are an angel from heaven by shaking your hand. But, as they are spirits, never having the privilege of being born into physical bodies (Bible Dictionary: Devil), we cannot feel them. This is just as logical as everything else stated in this section.

The reason ministering spirits are forbidden to shake hands is because the devils do try to. Thus, if the ministering spirits did they would be causing confusion and strengthening the deception of the devils. After all, it would be much harder to discern between a devil and ministering spirit if they both shook your hand and you didn’t feel it.

As I said, this is a radical idea to many, and may very well shock those who are not acquainted with the church and what it teaches. But is very logical in how it is presented, and the means given cannot be easily dismissed.

 

The author seems to want to refer us back to Fact #9, and his objection to inner feelings as testimonies of truth. While I have, in that article, shown that such inner feelings are biblical, they have no bearing on the issue at hand. This teaching is talking of physical sensation, not an emotion reaction. It is an attempt on the author’s part to mislead the reader by making a false association.

However, the author does give a biblical quote in an attempt to show that the bible teaching things differently. He quote Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians where he exhorts them to “Prove all things.” So, I would ask “How do we prove all things?” After all, Paul doesn’t actually give us any processes whereby such proof can be obtained. He simply tells us to obtain it.

How do we prove things? Well, in the case of ministering angels and spirits, we prove them through a handshake. There is nothing contradictory here. Joseph Smith has merely provided the means by which we may do as Paul has exhorted us.

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Little Known Propaganda: 14 – 56 Year Prophecy

25 Aug

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

 

FACT #14. In 1835 Joseph Smith prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord.

At a meeting called by Joseph Smith he instructed the Latter-day Saints that it was “the will of God” to go forth and “prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh-even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 182) Eight years later he reinforced this by stating:

“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written – the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till 1 am eighty-five years old.” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 336)

These are obvious False Prophesies which would make Joseph Smith a False Prophet.

 

Before I address the full claims being made here, I would like to point out first that this fact is completely true, as it is stated initially. Joseph Smith did indeed prophesy concerning the coming of Christ. Of course, so did almost every other prophet who ever lived, so it should not be surprising that Joseph Smith would as well.

However, what the author is really trying to do is claim as fact his opinion that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. He doesn’t state that as part of the fact, of course, but that is the intention of including this in the list.

 

On this point, of Joseph being a false prophet, the author provides two different references to where Joseph Smith spoke concerning the coming of Christ. Let us look at each separately.

 

His first reference is from the second volume of the History of the church, and comes from the minutes of a meeting that Joseph Smith had called on February 14, 1835 in Kirtland. At this meeting all those “who journeyed last season to Zion for the purpose of laying the foundation of its redemption” were called together. After opening the meeting Joseph called the men together and addressed them regarding their service in Zion’s Camp. It was at this meeting, on the second day, that the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was chosen, and soon after that the first Quorum of the Seventies was called.

In the context of this meeting we are given a summary of what Joseph Smith said to the brother. The minutes were taken by a scribe and recorded in the History of the Church. In this record we read that Joseph

“gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending while journeying to Zion…and said God …had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went Zion…should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh—even fifty-six years should wind up the scene.”

What was being said here? It is clear that the subject was the calling of the men of Zion’s Camp to the ministry, in preparation of the coming of the Lord. However, the exact words are not known, and thus the exact meaning is not known.

If it is calculated 56 years from the year 1835, brings us to the year 1891. We know that Christ did not return in that year, but there is something else of note that did happen. By the year 1891, all of the original 12 apostles were dead. From all I have been able to discover, the seven presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy were also dead. A little extra research is needed, but it appears that all members of Zion’s Camp had died by the year 1891. So, it would appear that 56 years did, in fact, wind-up the scene of the ministry that these men were called to.

 

 

Now, the second reference seems even more damning, as it is in Joseph Smith’s own words. However, if you look at what he is saying, and look at the context, you will see that what he said did, in fact, come to pass. So, let us see the full quote.

I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, “My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.” I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make his appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.

So, the only definite thing that Joseph Smith prophesied was that Christ would not come before he was 85 years old. That would have been the year 1891 again, and we can all agree that Christ did not come before that year. As such, Joseph Smith’s statement was perfectly fulfilled.

Beyond this, Joseph Smith himself stated that he was unsure of what to make of the revelation given, and that it could have reference to Joseph’s death, and thus him seeing Christ beyond the veil.

Then, to take the reference even farther, we read the following from Joseph Smith in the next paragraph of the record.

Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. …all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven…as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.

So, far from saying that Christ would return in the year of 1891 (or the year Joseph would turn 85), Joseph made it clear that many things had to happen before the Lord would return, and that it would not happen until sometime after the year 1891, and not before.

None of this is in error, and thus Joseph Smith is once again shown to be a prophet.

Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 2)

12 Aug

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.

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

Note: This is the second part to this one because it ended up being much longer than the others. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

Now, let us look at what Joseph Smith said.

 

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay.

First Joseph Smith tells his audience his purpose in speaking, which is to let the world know that would remain faithful to God and the gospel.

I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted…

Here he directly compares himself to Paul, which is something he does throughout this talk.

God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! Ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last.

Just as Paul was speaking to answer the accusations of false teachers, so Joseph Smith is addressing the accusations of those who opposed him. Then, what follows is his very brief statement of boasting.

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.

Note a few things. First, the author made the claim that Joseph Smith boasted of doing a greater work than Jesus. They even placed the word ‘work’ in quotations to emphasize their point. Clearly they want the reader to believe that Joseph made the claim that he did a greater work than the Atonement that was wrought by Christ. However, if we look at what Joseph Smith said we see clearly that he never said any such thing. He claimed only to have done a unique work, making no claim to superiority in any way. So, the only thing that one need ask is was his work unique in the history of the family of Adam?

The answer to this is clearly yes. Every prophet in the scriptures had trouble with dissenters and apostates that continually divided the church and led to wide spread rebellion. Even Jesus was abandoned by a great portion of His followers. However, Joseph Smith led a church that remained faithful through some of the greatest tribulation that man has ever experienced. The vast majority stayed faithful through it all. This is unique in human history, and thus the claim is true.

Now, to say that Joseph was foolish to have said this, especially as regards Christ, is perfectly true. But then, as we have seen, he is taking his lead from Paul, who stated directly that he was going to speak foolishly. If Paul may have the privilege of speaking foolishly and still be considered a prophet, than why not Joseph Smith?

 

Now, we have seen that Paul’s intent was to answer the accusations of false teachers, and the rest of Joseph Smith’s remarks are also directed to this main purpose, with just a few side notes.

You know my daily walk and conversation…For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings…therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me…

To preface this answer to the accusers Joseph Smith declares that he can produce proof against their accusations, showing them all to be liars. He then spends the next five paragraphs speaking of the accusations of a Mr. Simpson, then nine paragraphs addressing William Law and his conspirators. In all this he is still, to some extent, boasting that these men can prove nothing against him.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross–I can lay down my life; but don’t forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.–Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ…

Here he entreats the saints to not forsake him, but to join with him in teaching Christ and his gospel. For Joseph Smith, even after foolishly boasted, still saw himself as a follower of Christ, and sought only for the glory of God.

He then gives some counsel, which is not important to our purpose here, and then speaks again about William Law and his associates. Finally he closes with this statement.

As I grow older, my heart grows tenderer for you. I am at all times willing to give up everything that is wrong, for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader, I have set your minds at liberty by letting you know the things of Christ Jesus. When I shrink not from your defense will you throw me away for a new man who slanders you?…

He expresses his love for the saints, and his desire to be the virtuous man they deserve (though he does not claim to be perfect in any way). He then invokes Christ, declaring that it is Christ that has liberated the saints and brought them the joy and blessings they had received.

He finally says something similar to what Paul had said to the Corinthians. Don’t forsake him (even though he is foolish at times and has weakness), especially for a false teacher.

 

In all his words Joseph Smith spoke to address the concerns of the saints that had arisen because of the false accusations of some among them who were seeking to pull him down that they might lead the people instead. Just like Paul he spoke foolishly, boasting in his own works in order that the saints might see the truth of his prophetic calling, despite his faults. He gave the credit for his success to Christ, and entreated all to remain faithful, even though he was not perfect.

Little Known Propaganda: 13 – Joseph Smith Boasted (part 1)

12 Aug

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.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12

Note: Because this one ended up requiring a longer response than the others I will be posting it in two parts. Please read both to have a full understanding of my comments. I do this because I don’t like any article on my blog to be over 1,000 words. Thank You

FACT #13. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, boasted of doing a greater “work” than the Lord Jesus.

 

Joseph Smith made this incredible boast:

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. . . . Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor JESUS ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of JESUS ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408, 409)

 

No true Prophet of God ever spoke such words as these.

 

This little tidbit has nothing to do with LDS doctrine, but is a sensationalized twisting of the words of Joseph smith. You can tell this by the fact that there is no attempt to actually address what was said. There is just a subdued outrage that he would dare to utter these words.

So, let us set aside the apparent clairvoyance of the author who thinks he knows everything every prophet has ever said, and let us look at what Joseph Smith is actually saying here, and in its full context.

 

In the record of this talk we are told at the beginning that Joseph Smith read from the 11th chapter of II Corinthians. We are not told how much of the chapter he read, and so it is assumed that he read the entire thing. So, to fully understand Joseph Smith we need to understand this chapter. As such I will review those relevant parts as briefly as possible.

1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

First, Paul begins this chapter by asking us to bear with his folly. This is important for what comes later.

2-5 …I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached…ye might well bear with him.

It would seem that there were those in Corinth who had been teaching things contrary to the gospel that Paul and the other apostles had taught. Paul is here telling the people that if they follow Paul they should bear with him, but if they follow another they should bear with that person. This is important, as Paul is basically telling the people that they need to look past the faults of those whom they accept as teachers sent by God.

7-9 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?…in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

Basically, Paul is asking if it was wrong of him to work for their salvation at the expense of his own interests.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Here we have the first direct statement of Paul boasting. He here states that he boasts of his work in Corinth throughout that region of the world.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

Here we get the real purpose of what Paul is saying. It is clear from this that there were those in Corinth who were not only teaching false doctrine, but were justifying themselves by ridiculing and accusing the apostles. They were seeking to find a reason, or an occasion that they could accuse the apostles, and thus turn the saints from them.

13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

This is a great indictment against those who would seek to find fault with God’s anointed leaders.

16-19 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.

Here Paul asks the Corinthians to allow him a little folly and to suffer his foolishness gladly. In other words, accept that he had fault and let him have a few, as all men have faults.

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

And from this point on Paul really gets into the folly of boasting, though I do not feel the need to post the rest of the chapter. It is simply a list of all the sufferings and works of Paul that he lists to show how much he has done for the church, and in so doing he also claims that he has done more and suffered more than any of the other apostles.

 

So, to summarize: There were people in Corinth that had been teaching false doctrine and justifying themselves by accusing the apostles and persuading others that since the apostles had faults they weren’t really from God. In response Paul boasts of his works, doing so to counter the accusations of these false teachers in an attempt to persuade the Corinthians to remain faithful to the true gospel.

(Continued in part 2)

 

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: 11 – Attack Faith Alone Doctrine

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

FACT #ll. Mormon leaders have consistently attacked the Biblical doctrine of Salvation by God’s Grace through Faith alone.

In Apostle James Talmage’s book, The Articles of Faith, twice he refers to justification by Faith alone as a “pernicious doctrine,” and further declares:

“The Sectarian Dogma of Justification by Faith alone has exercised an influence for evil.” (pp. 107, 480)

The Bible responds:

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 1)

 

Once again the author seems to misunderstand what the term ‘little known’ means. Our rejection of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is well known and has been for many decades. So, what we have here is another attempt to sensationalize something for the shock value that such an inclusion would involve. This is increased by the author’s insistence that this doctrine is ‘Biblical.’ Of course, what this really means is that it is the doctrine the author believes in, but by using the term Biblical they seek to suggest to the mind of the reader that anyone who disagrees with them must also reject the Bible, at least in part.

Now, this is completely false, as we do not reject the Bible, nor do we believe that it teaches that salvation can be obtained through faith alone. The many admonitions to be baptized, as well as the many commandments given in the scriptures attest to the fact that our actions have an impact on our eternal salvation.

 

Of course, most Christians seem to realize this instinctively, while at the same time trying to deny it. In all my experience the most common belief that Christians have is referred to as ‘Living Faith.’ According to this doctrine, as it has been explained to me, in order for one’s faith to be sufficient to ensure salvation it must produce righteous works. So, a person who claims faith but lives in wickedness doesn’t have a Living Faith, as proven by their works.

In espousing, or even allowing for this understanding of the doctrine the rest of the Christian world is actually advocating for LDS doctrine. Nowhere in LDS doctrine is it taught that our works ensure our salvation. Rather, our works prove our faith, and our faith secures the Grace of God, and that Grace then acts in us to bring us to salvation.

This is what James taught in his epistle to the saints.

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2: 14, 17-18)

In other words, if your faith is not proven through your works than it is meaningless and salvation will elude you.

Now, this is LDS doctrine, despite what those outside the church may claim. In the Fourth Article of Faith we state our doctrine that the very first principle in the gospel is faith. Faith must come first or nothing else matters. In the “Lecture on Faith” Joseph Smith declared that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness.” (first lecture, first paragraph).

So, how do we attain salvation? It is through the power of faith. This is no mere belief, for James, again, points out that “the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2: 19) But the devils have not learned to walk and act in faith. James also provides examples of those who have learned to walk and act in faith. He speaks of Abraham and how he was “justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar” and that “by works was faith made perfect.” (2: 21-22). He also uses the example of Rahab, the harlot, who acted in faith when she hid the spies of Israel.

Faith is required for salvation, and no one without faith will be truly saved. For this reason it is said that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11: 6), for God is only truly pleased when we are saved.

All of this is clearly taught in the Bible. Paul teaches that “the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2: 13) and that God “…will render to every man according to his deeds…Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil…But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good…” (2: 6-10). To deny that our works, or deeds, have an effect on our eternal salvation is to truly deny the Bible. However, to deny that it all begins and ends with our faith is also to deny the Bible. Only through faith can we be saved, but not until our faith has been tested and proved through our works.

Little Known Propaganda: 10 – Total Obedience Required

6 Dec

Little Known Propaganda: 10 – Total Obedience Required

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

FACT #10 Mormon leaders demand total obedience regardless whether they are right or wrong.

The ward teacher’s message for June, 1945, stated:

“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan it is God’s plan.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354 – page 36 of the link)

Herber C. Kimball, First Councilor to Brigham Young, clarifies further:

“But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 32)

The Bible warns us in I John 4:l:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

The truth is that the prophet of God is not wrong for he is speaking for God, and God is never wrong. It is not that they demand total obedience regardless of whether they are right or wrong. It is simply that if one truly believes them to be prophets of God than they would have faith that their counsel will always be right. So, regardless of what an individual member may believe regarding a particular thing, they should have enough faith to accept that the prophet is delivering the truth from God himself.

This is the same attitude that is praised throughout the Bible.

When Korah and his companions led a rebellion against Moses they didn’t accuse him of any serious crimes. They simply claimed the right to lead Israel with equal authority as Moses. But Moses was the one chosen by God as Prophet and leader of Israel. The rebels who challenged this were destroyed by God when the earth swallowed them and fire consumed 250 more. (Numbers 16)

When the Israelites spied out Canaan the men sent declared that Israel was not strong enough to concur the people. This was said despite the fact that Moses had told the people that God had commanded them to go in and take the land. The people listened to these people more than to Moses to the point that they were ready to choose their own leader and return to Egypt. As a result of this rebellion the people were denied entry into their promised land. (Numbers 14)

Perhaps the most famous example is that of Naaman the Syrian. When he went to Elisha to be cleansed of his leper Elisha sent a servant to tell him to wash in the Jordan and be healed. Naaman was angry at this, and only at the persuasion of his servants did he wash and was cleansed. (2 Kings 5)

And, lest people say that things have changed since the advent of Christ, this is the same attitude displayed by the early saints, as shown in the account of the controversy over circumcision. People argued and debated both sides, but when Peter stood and declared that the practice was no longer required everyone sat down and stopped arguing. The prophet had spoken and there was nothing left to be said. All that was left was to spread the word, which was soon agreed upon and men were chosen to do just that. (Acts 15)

Now, this is the kind of faith that is being talked about in the quotes given. When the prophet tells us to do something we should accept that he has greater authority from God and the power to speak the will of God, and so we should simply act. If they declare a doctrine we should accept it as the will of God and the truth of heaven. That is the very nature of their calling. Just as those in scriptural times were expected to follow the prophet so we are expected to do so today.

So, yes, when the prophet tells us to do something we should do it, and we should not try to reason in our own minds whether it is right or wrong, nor should we wait for God to tell us personally. We read in the scriptures that those who followed the prophets without question are those who were blessed by God, while those who challenged the prophets found greater tribulation and hardship. We are expected to do nothing but what all the followers of God have been expected to do in any age that God has had a church on the earth. God speaks through his prophets, and if we are going to question that than why believe in the prophets at all?

Now, as to 1 John 4: 1, this does nothing to counter this principle. We are to try every spirit, but anyone who has chosen to join the church and continually sustains the leaders in our various conferences is assumed to have tried the Spirit of the prophets and found it to be a true spirit, and thus we can follow them without question. I have tried the spirit of the church and found it to be of God. I have sensed that spirit in the words of the prophets, and thus I know that they are speaking for God. I don’t need to know anything else.