Tag Archives: salvation

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: 8 – Temple Work For the Dead

8 Sep

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7

 

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

Joseph Smith offers this explanation:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Little Known Propaganda: 2 – No Salvation Without Joseph Smith

13 Jan

This is my second response to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Was Witnessed

28 Nov

This is a video that I put together just for the fun of it. It is compiled from a number of videos at LDS.org, and is intended to be a kind of music video for the Hymn “What Was Witnessed In The Heavens,” the eleventh hymn in the LDS hymn book. I Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

Family Talks – Chryshal

19 Oct

On the 20th of September my family was asked to speak for Sacrament meeting, as well as perform a special musical number. They didn’t just ask me and my wife, but our three oldest children. This was a little unusual as our oldest is only nine, and the youngest of the three had just barely turned seven. However, my family all did a fantastic job. I am very proud of all my children, and so I am going to post the talks that we all gave, as well as the song we sang. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The second to speak was my nine year old daughter. She spoke on Temples.

I was asked to speak to you today about temples. Temples are where you get sealed to your family. Also if you die before you hear the gospel then you can have someone be baptized for you. I went one time to be sealed to my family in the temple and while I was there I got to watch a video on temples. The video said that temples are sacred places and we should care for them like Jesus cared for the people. There are 144 temples in the world that we must care for; the closest temple to us here is in St. Louis. When you go to the temple you can feel the Holy Ghost better than when you are at home, and I can read my scriptures better there. When you are at the temple you need to dress in white to be sealed as a family. When I was sealed to my family I felt like I was being joined as a part of each of my family members. I can’t wait to go to the temple again to be married to my future husband. When I do I will be making the circle of my eternal family even bigger. Temples are really beautiful places to be with your family.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Revelation of John: Chapter 15 – The Righteous

14 Oct

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

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

Revelation 15

This chapter is probably the shortest chapter, but it has many important concepts presented in it. Remember that in chapter 14 we saw a great deal of what will happen just prior to the second coming. In the second half we read of two harvests, one of the righteous the other of the wicked. The main theme of chapter 15 is what the righteous will experience in the harvesting. This theme runs throughout the chapter and should be remembered when reading it.

 

Verse 1

“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”

This verse is a preview of chapter 16. The seven plagues mentioned are described in that chapter, and are what the wicked will experience when they are harvested. The two chapters go together and should be understood together.

 

Verse 2

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”

This verse tells us two different things.

First, the righteous will be victorious over all the cunning plans and seductions of Satan, as seen in their victory over every aspect of the Beast. This is an important message, and is the primary message of the entire book of Revelation. There will be an eventual victory of God over Satan and good over evil. In the past several posts I have delved into the details of this revelation, but none of it is as important as this. God will win and the righteous will be justified. If we don’t understand this message than the rest of it is basically meaningless.

The second aspect of this verse is the sea of glass mingled with fire. This was mentioned in chapter four as well. In my commentary on that chapter I mentioned that D&C 77:1 we read that it “is the earth, in its sanctified, immortal, and eternal state.” That it is seen as a sea of glass because “This earth…will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim…” (D&C 130: 9). However, in this we also see it mingled with fire. This is because, as Joseph Smith says, those who inherit the Celestial Glory will dwell in everlasting burnings; a description of the glory and light of God.

 

Verses 3-4

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

The song of Moses in recorded in Exodus 15: 1-19. It was song by Israel after the Lord had destroyed the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Its main theme is praise to God for deliverance from bondage in Egypt. The saints in the Celestial Glory will again sing this song in praise of Christ delivering them from the bondage of sin.

 

Verses 5-8

“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.”

We again see a preview of what is to come. These verses show the preparation for the harvest and destruction of the wicked. As we read we see the process.

The seven angels come out of the temple, or from the presence of God. They are clean of all sin, as seen in the whiteness of their garments. Also, they have glory and authority, as seen in the golden girdles.

Then, one of the four beasts (which one is not specified) gives the angels the vials that actually contain the plagues. It was said in verse one that the angels had the plagues, but here we see them being given the vials. So, the first statement meant that they had the authority to pour out the plagues, and now the time has come to do so.

Lastly the temple is filled with smoke from the God’s glory, preventing anyone from entering it until the angels have poured out the plagues. Heaven and the world are not ready for the destructions and plagues to happen just before the second coming.

 

On a final note the plagues are full of the wrath of God. Also, there are seven plagues. This number is important. Seven is a number of completion, or finishing. So, these plagues represent the completion or finishing of the Lord’s judgments against the wicked.

Response to CARM: Difficult questions, part 12

5 Sep

I have recently been pointed to a website called Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry as an excellent location to learn LDS doctrine. On this website they have many pages dedicated to what they call exposing the truth of Mormonism. Most of what they present is well thought out, and they use many quotes and documents to support it. When they are simply giving a list of quotes they don’t do too bad. When they try to interpret those quotes and explain doctrine they fail almost completely. So I am starting a new series in which I will address a selection of pages from that website.

This next page is titled “Difficult Questions For Mormons to Answer.” It is a series of questions that are supposed to stump members of the LDS church. There are 32 questions total. Most are followed by a few quotes that try to establish the subject in question. The first part of my response will be a comment on the quotes given, and this will be in green.

 

Q. Why did the Nauvoo House not stand forever and ever? (Doctrine and Covenants 124: 56-60)

A. No quote is given, but I will here give the first verse in the citation given in the question.

And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.

This is not a prophecy or a promise being made by the Lord. It is a commandment to built the Nauvoo house and to give it to Joseph Smith and his family. Just previous to this the Lord tells us “when [He gives] a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto [His] name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.” (verse 49)

The Nauvoo house did not stand forever because the enemies of the saints hindered the work and prevented the commandment from being fulfilled. As such, the saints were no longer under any obligation to build it.

This command was later fulfilled in the construction of the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Q. How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon’s while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple? (1 Kings 5: 13-18 and 2 Nephi 5:15-17)

A. No quote is given, but I think we need to see 2 Nephi 5: 16.

And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the contruction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.”

Nephi states clearly that his temple “could not be built like unto Solomon’s” because the material was not available. However, the manner, or style of the construction was patterned off Solomon’s. So, Solomon’s temple was 60 cubits long, and Nephi’s was also 60 cubits; Solomon’s was 20 cubits broad, and so was Nephi’s; Solomon’s was 30 cubit high, and so was Nephi’s.

However, Solomon’s was constructed party using the Cedars of Lebannon, which had to be transported over great distances. This wood was not available to Nephi, so he used indigenous wood that was likely closer to the construction site (cutting down time). Solomon also used olive-wood and cypress. He also overlaid everything in gold, including the walls. These adornments may likely have been lacking when Nephi built his because he could not gain access to sufficient quantities at the time.

Finally, we are given no indication of how long it took Nephi and his people to construct their temple. From the time Lehi’s family arrived in the New World there is a space of 20 years that we are given no information as to the timeline, then another gap of ten years. It may have taken Nephi seven years, or maybe more. We simply don’t know. What we do know is that sometime after they arrived Lehi died, and shortly thereafter Nephi led the faithful members of the family away. It was after this that he built the temple. Since we don’t know how long it took, or how many people were involved, trying to make a comparison like this is impossible.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.

Q. Why was Joseph Smith still preaching against polygamy in October 1843, after he got his revelation in July, 1843, commanding the practice of polygamy? (Doctrine and Covenants 132, and History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 46, or Teachings of the Prophet, p. 324)

A. No quote is given, though I think quoting the section of church history would do us some good.

Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives: for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.

As one can clearly see here, Joseph Smith was not preaching against the practice of Plural Marriage. He was condemning the unauthorized practice of it. As there is only one person at a time who can authorize such marriages (D&C 132: 7), as Joseph Smith rightly states in the above quote, those who are preaching, teaching, or practicing plural marriage without that person’s permission are in violation of the laws of the Lord. Thus those people are to be tried in the courts of the church and dealt with accordingly, just as Joseph Smith says.

*This question is answered in the response be S.H.I.E.L.D.S. I will address that in a later post, so keep an eye out for it.