Tag Archives: Article of Faith

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: 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)

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.

Articles of Faith: Thirteen

12 May

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Today I will discuss briefly the thirteenth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

This final article is the great declaration of moral character and behavior that all true saints strive for. It lists those things that define our behavior, or motivation, and our very being. Looking at each one individually we can see how all encompassing this statement is.

Honest: To never knowingly give a false statement; to correct any false ideas or impressions we may have inadvertently given.

True: To always fulfill that which we say we will do; to never take an unfair or unjust advantage over another because of their words or deeds.

Chaste: To never engage in sexual actions outside a legally and divinely sanctioned marriage; to never entertain thoughts of such actions; to never engage in crass or vulgar language that demeans and denigrates the sanctity of marriage and the sexual relations between a man and wife.

Benevolent: To help others in their need and in their want; to give freely without thought of reward or recognition; to speak kindly and not to ridicule or deride.

Virtuous: To make thousands of small choices to do the right; to follow a course of moral purity in all things.

Doing Good to All Men: In our striving to do those things that are listed we do not shun any man or woman, but seek to help all, regardless of faith, race, or nationality. No one should be beneath us or above us, but all should be equal in our eyes.

After listing these things Joseph Smith states that we follow the admonition of Paul, which is given in Philippians 4: 8, where Paul writes to the saints at Philippi

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Notice here that everything that Joseph Smith says we should seek after are the very things that Paul tells these saints to think on. Either way it has the same meaning. As our conduct is, so should our motivation be. We should seek after anything that upholds our standards, and shun that which does not. If our entertainment is not virtuous we should end it; if the company we keep is not chaste we should seek out new friends. If we find anything that promotes the moral standards we espouse, regardless of the source, we should welcome it.

Finally, I would like to comment on the middle section of this article.

Joseph Smith states that we believe all things. We must not take this to mean that we literally believe every idea or theory that was ever espoused by man. Joseph Smith himself stated clearly that there were many things that he did not believe to be true. Rather, we take this statement to mean that we believe all things that are true; all things that really exist.

Again, when Joseph Smith states that we hope all things we do not take this to mean that literally, as there are many hopes and desires that are not in line with the moral behaviors he outlined. Rather, we understand this to mean that we hope all things that are good and righteous and that God has promised.

The same is true about our hope to be able to endure all things. There are many things that we hope we never have to endure, and so this statement means that our hope is that whatever we may be called on to endure we will have the strength to do so.

Articles of Faith: Twelve

6 May

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Today I will discuss briefly the twelfth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

This is a simple statement that is also a very important one, especially at the time that Joseph Smith wrote these down. He and the saints had been accused of criminal activity for over a decade and the accusations were beginning to creep up again in Nauvoo. Thus this statement was given in large part to counter those accusations and set other peoples minds at ease.

Notice also how comprehensive this statement is. It lists all types of government administrators that are legally appointed as such. He does not only uphold the ideals of the American government, but he also states that Kings have a right to rule and those living under their rule should be subject to them. More importantly, however, he lists how we are subject to them, and I think each of these three things is important and stated for a reason. So, let us look at them each separately.

The first is rather simple. We believe in obeying the law. This means that we do not violate the law, or at least strive not to.

The second is less understood I think. We believe in honoring the law. This means we hold the law in high esteem and are honest in our beliefs and actions regarding them. To honor the law means that if you do violate it you pay the appropriate penalty without trying to weasel your way out of it. To honor the law means that we do not take justice into our own hands, but seek redress through the appropriate channels. It means that the law of the land is second in our estimation only to the law of God, and we will uphold it as long as it is not in opposition to that higher law.

The last thing is to sustain the law. This means that, whether we agree with the law, we accept it as the law. We do not allow ourselves or anyone else to violate the law simply because we disagree with it. I have heard some state that if a law is a bad law it is okay to not obey it. This is not sustaining the law. Sustaining means bearing up, or supporting, and if we have this attitude we are are not in support of the law and thus we are not sustaining it. When we know a law is being violated and do nothing we are not sustaining the law, because our actions are undermining it. On this point I am reminded of the common philosophy that we are not to tattle on others as children, which turns into not being a snitch when we get older. I think this philosophy is in direct opposition to what Joseph Smith was teaching when wrote this article. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that people call the police every time they see a person speeding. That is impractical and would bog down the system. But when a person knows that another is stealing, then it becomes their duty to report it; if they are cognizant or witnesses to crimes they should not only be willing to testify, but should volunteer to testify. When a person chooses not to they are not sustaining the law.

These are my thoughts on this article. Right now I am dealing with the state Social Services here in Illinois, and so right now I have much to be agitated about concerning the law. However, I do believe this article and so I am trying to work within the law as it is given. I do not like the law; I think it is corrupt and evil and will be the downfall of this nation. However, until that happens I have to work within the law, because that is what God wants me to do. I will obey the law, and I do honor the law. Sustaining it right now is difficult, but I am trying.

Articles of Faith: Eleven

21 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Today I will discuss briefly the eleventh of the Articles, as given below.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

This will be a short comment as there really isn’t much to say concerning this. We believe that all men have the god given right to believe whatever they choose. No one has the right to dictate conscience. Joseph Smith gives this same sentiment in another place. He declares

If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any
man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way. (quoted in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith)

We believe in building men up, and building them up in the way they desire if we cannot persuade them our way is better. In other words, I will teach everyone the truths of the gospel, but if one comes to me for assistance in building his Hindu shrine I will assist him. This is actually a little exaggerated, but it makes the point. I think I would be willing to help a friend construct a religious building or shrine to his faith, but what I think Joseph Smith meant was that we will not deny anyone our assistance in a good work. We will not turn others away from our stores, or deny anyone any aid we can provide based on what they believe.

We will not assist in any undertaking that is not good and calculated to uplift our fellowmen, however. So, we will not help a friend conceal his affair from his wife, nor will we assist anyone in covering up a crime. However, we will not hold back aid from anyone who is doing good, regardless of what they believe.

I think the reason that Joseph Smith included this in the articles was in large part due to the severe persecution he and the saints had suffered for the past 25 years. Part of that persecution was the spreading of lies that the saints were isolationist in nature, that they didn’t trade or associate with those of other faiths. It was also spread around that in Nauvoo those who were not Mormon were persecuted, especially because Joseph Smith was the Mayor. He wanted to dispel these false rumors and make the truth of our beliefs known.

Articles of Faith: Ten

15 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Today I will discuss briefly the tenth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We are now coming to what might be called the peripherals of the gospel. We started with those essential elements; God, the Atonement, the First Principles and Ordinances. We then went to the workings of the church in the organization, authority, and revelation. These things set up the church itself, its foundation and workings. Now we receive those things that are not directly related to the church and its operation. Do not mistake this as things that are not doctrine or not essential. The last four articles speak of doctrines, and are essential to the gospel.

So, let us examine the various doctrines.

First, the Gathering of Israel. Many Christians at that time of Joseph Smith, and even today, believed that church was the Gathering of Israel. They held that the Gathering was a spiritual gathering, and so when one accepted Christ they became part of the Gathering. However, we believe in the Literal Gathering. This means that we believe not in a Spiritual Gathering, but in the truth that those who are descended from Israel will be physically gathered together and separated from those who are not descended from Israel. This was started with the call to move to Ohio, and continues today as Israel is called to gather at the stakes of Zion. It most definitely matters that we heed to call to gather when it is given.

This ties in with the restoration of the ten tribes. For Israel to be gathered all twelve tribes must be gathered, and thus the ten that we taken captive to Assyria must also be gathered. However, their restoration is much greater than just being a part of the gathering, and that is why it was listed separately. We read in 2 Nephi 29 12-14

For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

I believe that the restoration of the Ten Tribes is the revelation of their records; the bringing to light of their history that has been lost. It could be said that the Nephites and Lamanites have been restored because knowledge of them is now on the Earth again. We believe not only that Israel with be gathered, but that all their history and all their scriptures and prophecies will be restored to the Earth that all may know them.

The Building of Zion, as spoken of in this Article, speaks directly to the City of Zion, or New Jerusalem, that will be built. It does not speak to the condition of the saints as being all of one mind, but a literal city that is to be built. Enoch prophesied of this city. Moses 7: 62

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

This city will be built on the American Continent, specifically in Jackson County, Missouri, near Independence. (D&C 57: 3) While most churches look to the Middle East for the fulfillment of all God’s promises, we look to the United States as well. That must be understood. We look to both locations, for the old Jerusalem will also be rebuilt. But we also look to the United States, for it is here that the New Jerusalem will be build.

We also believe that Christ will reign personally upon the Earth. We mean by this that Christ, when he returns, will stay on this earth. He will live here, not just visit. Not only will he live here, but he will claim his right to rule over all the earth. He will be the sovereign and all men will be under his dominion. This is not just Spiritual dominion, but civic and secular dominion. He will reign as King over all men and a pure theocracy will be established.

Lastly, we believe the earth will be restored and receive its paradisiacal glory. The restoration of the Earth means that it will be restored to its original perfection that it had when it was a paradise before the fall. The continents will come back together; the mountains about the tree lines will fall; there will not be a single potion of the earth that is not capable of fully sustaining life. It will then be restored to the state of paradise it was in. Disease will not be known; aging will not cause any difficulties; animals will not kill each other for food; man and beast will live in harmony. We are now in a Telestial world. but the Earth, when restored, will enter into a Terrestrial state and receive its glory. (Note that this is called the Earth’s glory, and thus we also believe that this is the Earth’s right to inherit this, thus indicating that the Earth is an entity in itself.)

You may notice that everything in this article is dealing with the second coming and millennium. We are not talking about the final state of things, but the state during those thousand years between Christ’s coming and the final judgement. This is our article of faith regarding this important event and time.