RSS

A Response to a Mormon

17 Aug

This post started out as a reply to a Mormon, Dan Holden, who commented on my previous blog post about when two Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by my house.  As I tend to do, I got rather lengthy with it so decided to turn it into its’ own post rather than leave it as a comment:

Thanks for the comment Dan, I really do appreciate your willingness to converse about these things.  I think the biggest thing to remember when arguing against the Trinity is that Christians do believe that God exists in 3 separate persons.  The Scriptures I often see non-Trinitarians like JW’s and Mormons use are verses that we already use to explain God’s 3 Persons.  We believe the Bible communicates that God is 3 Persons but 1 Essence, so arguing that He is 3 Persons is telling us something we already acknowledge (simply stating this as advice as you lay out your arguments).

The second piece of advice is that when you (a Mormon) are talking to a Christian, remember that we do not believe the Book of Mormon to be authoritative/true, so you can’t use arguments from the Book of Mormon with a Christian to help argue your point.  We can both use the Bible in our discussions though, which is a good place to have this conversation.  Though Christians are able to show where the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, which is what brings up my unanswered questions about Mormonism, for example, on Mormon.org it states:

•    “Mormons believe first and foremost that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God.”
•    the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer. In the future Jesus Christ will return to reign on earth in peace for a thousand years. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He will be our Lord forever.

…Which Christians also believe and is straight from the Bible.  If we both really believed this, we would both be on our way to Heaven and in a right relationship with God.  But Joseph Smith, in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:9-19, in reference to Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, he says:  “What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? …I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at that time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)…I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… all their creeds were an abomination…all those professors were all corrupt.”

He says that “all their creeds were an abomination”, that is pretty strong language to say about Christians’ believe in the Atoning work of Christ which brings salvation, which is essentially what Mormon.org is quoting verbatim.  How can what you just stated about the way to get to Heaven/salvation also be an abomination?  Smith is saying that anyone not a Mormon is going to hell, but Christians all believe the exact doctrine Mormons state is what gets someone to heaven!  This is an unanswered question I have about Mormonism, which seems like a huge contradiction to me.

Mormons also believe God the Father was begotten of the species of gods, who existed before him in an infinite series of gods who were once men, but Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 clearly tell us that God is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He has always been here and will always be here.

Mormons believe that God the Father was at one time a sinful human, as we are, was purified, and became God the Father.  They believe the same about Jesus, who (I think) they say is the god of this earth.  These directly contradict Scripture which very clearly tell us God doesn’t change:

Malachi 3:6  “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Psalm 102:12  But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever;
        your renown endures through all generations.
Psalm 102:25-28     In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
        and the heavens are the work of your hands.
 They will perish, but you remain;
        they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them
        and they will be discarded.
 But you remain the same,
        and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
        their descendants will be established before you.”
Hebrews 13:7-9   Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Beyond this, Mormons believe in many gods (and that we can become one), where Scripture clearly says there is only one God:
Romans 3:30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Mormons believe that the ultimate goal of humanity is to become a perfected god with a wife as a goddess:

o    Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 1:356 – When you have learned to become obedient to the Father that dwells upon this earth, to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to the messengers He sends—when you have done all that, remember you are not going to leave this earth.  You will never leave it until you become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of an earth yourselves.”
o    Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:48 “The Father has promises us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom.  In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him.  To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings.  There is not end to this development; it will go on forever”

You can’t find this anywhere in Scripture, and also contradicts the above verses about there only being one God.

And frankly, an embarrassing doctrine in Mormon writing that has nothing to do with Scripture and contradicts Galatians 3:28 (Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.), saying that the less valiant angels were cursed to become Negroes on earth:

o    “We naturally conclude that others among the two-thirds did not show the loyalty to their Redeemer that they should.  That the Negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits , few will doubt.” Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 1975, p. 43
o    “Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body.  The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits” Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:65-66

I know that much of these contradictions rest on the Book of Mormon trumping the Bible in your view.  The Mormon Elder who came to my house asked me why I believed God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (10 Commandments, etc.), but I don’t believe God’s revelation to Joseph Smith.  My answer is very simple: Jesus did not affirm Joseph Smith’s revelation, but he did affirm Moses’ in Matthew 5:17-18, as well as the fact that Joseph Smith was not a direct eye-witness to Jesus or an eyewitness to the eyewitnesses (which is why we receive the New Testament as Scripture).  And this brings up a huge question that I would love to get answered by a Mormon, which the Mormon Elder who came by my house could not answer: What is the difference between the claimed revelation to Joseph Smith compared to the claimed revelation to the Muslim prophet Mohammad?  Mohammad allegedly received a revelation from God in a cave, telling him the contents of the Koran, which sounds nearly identical to Joseph Smith’s revelation about what to put in the Book of Mormon, or really any other claimed revelation from God which comes after the New Testament (e.g. David Karesh, Jim Jones, etc.).  So what makes Joseph Smith’s differ in comparison to these others?  The common threads in these examples is that they got their revelations long after Jesus’ life, they made a claim of God revealing Himself to them that anyone could claim, as there’s no way to validate their claim, and most importantly, all of these revelations directly contradict what we already have in the Old and New Testaments.  The only answer my Mormon Elder visitor could give me is that in his heart he feels a peace from God that Mormonism is true, and also that he thinks this is the best way to live — something I’m sure all Muslims, and followers of various other faiths feel and believe, or else they wouldn’t believe these things and even die for them.  Unfortunately, sincerity of belief is not enough to make something true.

Everyone is entitled to believe what they want, but the major hangup I have with both Mormons and JW’s is that they say they believe the Bible, and then there are these huge contradictions between the Bible and the other writings they have added to the Bible in their traditions.  If you want to believe the Book or Mormon, you can, but don’t say you also believe the Bible because they say two very different things.  Just say “I believe the Book of Mormon, but only bits and pieces of the Bible” as that would be much more accurate and honest.  I know you said your goal in your blog was to debunk myths Christians believe about Mormonism; I’d honestly be very interested in reading that (if you address my above questions) because the response I got from the Mormon Elder who visited my house when I asked him all of the above questions, comparing Mormon belief to Scripture was “That’s really interesting/is confusing to me, I need to do more research on that.”  Which to me is someone’s way of seeing that there are contradictions but he’s obviously too invested in the Mormon culture to pull out of it.

Advertisements
 
14 Comments

Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Theology

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “A Response to a Mormon

  1. Perry Robinson

    August 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Just a friendly suggestion. The Trinity doesn’t put forward the idea of three separate prsons, but three distinct persons. The difference is that a separation between the persons would deny their common essence so that you’d then have three instances of a single kind. That is, three triangles which are instances of of tringularity. To say they are separate would make them into three gods, as the LDS believe.

    something else when talking to the LDS is their base claim of an apostasy. But it is quite easy to show that Christianity continued to exist with its core doctrines from day one without any major alteration. Churches that the apostles literally founded are still in existence and one can go and visit them in person.

     
    • Noah

      August 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Great point Perry, thanks. That subtle distinction between “separate” and “distinct” is important. I definitely meant the meaning of “distinct”, not the full meaning of “separate”, as hopefully could be gathered by affirming 1 Essence. I will definitely clarify with better vocab in the future, as this is such an important topic. I used to think “what is the big deal with the Trinity?”, but after studying other religions, realized that this is the doctrine that separate Christianity from all of these other religions.

      Can you elaborate / explain your point on apostasy? Not sure I, or my readers, are familiar with this accusation (is this something the Mormons accuse Christians of?) and/or what you mean by it.

       
  2. manxmandan

    August 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Noah

    I appreciate the blog entry directed to my comments, and my intent to clear up some common misunderstandings that a lot of Christians have with Mormonism. I’m sure you’ll appreciate, that this entry is quite lengthy, and I’ll not therefore be able to address it all right now.

    However, I will try to make the time to come back and comment on your questions.

    I would just quickly comment on your last paragraph for now – that we do not “believe the Bible”, due to the contradictions. I have prepared a blog entry within my blog that specifically addresses our use of the Bible. We accept the Bible in its entirety. It is of no less importance to us, than any Christian.

    That said, like any christian church, we will interpret the written word of God somewhat differently to others. No one church is the same – yet they all use the same word of God. It is quite unreasonable then to say that because we interpret it differently to you, that we don’t use it. That is one of the natural problems with the “written word” – it can be hard at times to be sure what the author really meant, as written words can be misunderstood.

    Your questions are appreciated, and I will try to address them – when I have a little more time.

    Thanks again

    Dan

     
    • Noah

      August 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      hey dan, i’m hitting the road and just saw you post come up, want you to know i’ll read it in when i get back home and will replace this post with a real one. thanks again for the conversation

       
  3. Perry Robinson

    August 17, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Hey Noah,

    I thought that was your intention given your comments about the singular essence, so I figured a little nudge would be sufficient.

    As for the apostasy, the central LDS claim upon which all the other claims are founded is that in the First Vision, Smith was told that all the other churches had fallen away and their teachings were all an abomination to God and satanic. The LDS quickly developed this idea that after the apostles all died out, the church fell away from the truth with only small parts of correct teaching here and there leftover. To restore the true church Smith was so commissioned.

    So, this is why the LDS do not view themselves as a denomination of Christianity or one of many Christian churches, but the one and only Christian church now restored. All other bodies claiming the name are apostate.

    The claim of restoration was quite common in the 19th century out of which the LDS grew. On the American frontier among many untrained circuit preachers the Protestant idea of Reformation morphed into a claim of Restoration. Out of this grew a number of well known and not so well known new sects like the Seventh Day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and of course the LDS, along with the Millerites, the Christadelphians and dozens of other small restorationist sects that either didn’t survive into the 20th century or sitll exist but are quite small.

    In any case, if there was no apostasy, the entire set of claims by Smith and the LDS are false.

     
  4. manxmandan

    August 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Hi

    I have a little time to comment on your point regarding the statement through Joseph Smith that “their creeds were an abomination”.

    Firstly, I would confirm that the gospel we teach is as you quoted from mormon.org, namely that salvation is in and through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. You are correct that we both agree on these points. We teach the same gospel as that taught by the apostles and prophets of old.

    An abomination:

    There are many occasions throughout the Bible (both old testament and new testament) when the word “abomination” is written. There are many situations where this applies, and in short, it is stated where God is dissatisfied with the actions of a people. To us, it does seem a “harsh” term of phrase, but yet, God has demonstrated that he can indeed be harsh!

    Jesus said to the woman of Samaria (John 4:22 onwards)

    “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    “True worshippers” he said will worship “in the Spirit and in truth”. What is truth to a perfect God? His standards are so high, he cannot accept anything less than ‘complete truth’. Truth = 100% true. God wants his children to worship him in truth.

    When he sees his gospel being taught with any less than the ‘complete truth’, it is an abomination in his sight. After all, he is God.

    Matthew 15:9 says “They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules”

    When the teachings of God are taught with less than the complete truth, when the teachings are tainted with ‘human rules’, the worship is in vain, because is it not 100% truth.

    To us, “abomination” can seem harsh, but to God, these are the standards he sets.

    It was not however saying that what other Christians taught at the time of Joseph Smith were completely wrong. They taught an awful lot of truth, but the “creeds” spoken of were not complete truth. For example, the Nicene creed! (trinity)

    Joseph said himself:

    ““I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things: but the creeds set up stakes, and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further’; which I cannot subscribe to.”

    It is clear then that he knew that these other churches taught much truth – but not complete truth. It is this that the Lord called an “abomination”.

    You also mentioned that Joseph Smith is saying that anyone not a Mormon is ‘going to hell’. This couldn’t be further from the truth! We actually say that God loves all his children, and we believe that all christians of all churches will have an opportunity to return to God, irrespective of them being a mormon or not in this life.

     
  5. manxmandan

    August 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Noah –

    Just a general comment on your queries. It seems to me that you have a lot of concerns and questions regarding various topics, and quite rightly so, because of your inquiring mind. However, please be careful that you do not prevent yourself from truly learning about the teachings of the Mormon church, by diving in for the “meat”, before you are able to take the “milk”.

    Milk before meat…..

    1 Corinthians, Chapter 3:

    1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
    2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
    3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

    Hebrews, Chapter 5:

    12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
    13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
    14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    1 Peter, Chapter 2:

    1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
    2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

    The gospel is taught, precept upon precept and line upon line. Here a little, and there a little.

    Paul especially was careful to teach basic principles first (the milk) before moving onto the solid foods! Jesus himself always taught by parables… wary that many would not understand the “meaty” doctrines.

    I would urge you to be open minded and slowly address the basic principles first, before moving onto all these deeper questions such as ‘wasn’t the mormon church racist?’ and ‘you believe you can be a God’. While these issues can be answered and clarified, you are in danger of choking on the meat before you are able to.

    Imagine if you were trying to explain the Bible to a Muslim, and the Muslim would keep on looking up “contradictions” in the Bible etc. It won’t help the Muslim appreciate and understand the basics.. and may lead that Muslim to be unable to accept the truth.

    This is why in the church, we plead with people to pray and ask God. To be sincere, and test the fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith — the Book of Mormon. If this book of scripture truly is the word of God, then all these other questions can one day be understood.

    The Book of Mormon is the milk here. If that book is true – then Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God. Be open, and be sincere – just as you would want a Muslim to be, when you explain the Bible.

    Your questions – whilst valid (albeit a little misdirected) – can otherwise act as a stumbling block for you. Again, this is why I am trying to address some common misunderstandings about our church. These misunderstandings create barriers, and prevent people from understanding and recognizing the truth. I will work to break down these misunderstandings… these barriers.

     
  6. Perry Robinson

    August 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    manxmandan

    It doesn’t matter if you say that Salvation is from and through Jesus Christ the Son of God. What matters is what you mean by those terms. Jehovah’s Witnesses can and do say the same, but yet you and they do not agree on who Jesus is and the nature of his work. As Paul makes clear in 2 Cor 11:3-4, one can have a false Jesus and a false gospel. Using the same words won’t change that.

    The material from Jn 4:22 is irrelevant since what is at issue is not what God wants, but what the LDS claim regarding the apostasy.

    Matt 15:9 is also irrelevant since it is about hypocritical Jewish leadership of the time. Smith’s claim wasn’t that the teaching of various churches was right but that the members of other churches were hypocrites, but rather they were apostates.

    Second, Smith didn’t merely claim that the established creeds were lacking, but actually promoted false doctrines. These are two different claims.

    The fact is that there never was an apostasy in the first place so there is nothing for Smith to restore. As I noted previously, churches the apostles personally founded are still in existence in Europe and the Middle East.

    But it is rather confusing to me that you rely on the Bible that was preserved, composed and canonized by an organization that you believe was apostate. Why think that apostates selected the right books to be in the bible that you use?

     
    • manxmandan

      August 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Perry

      I’m not sure that you understand the apostasy as we teach it. The apostasy is a falling away from the truth, and this was prophesied in the Bible.

      2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 states: (NIV)

      1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

      When Joseph Smith taught that there had been an apostasy, he meant just that – a falling away. The church of Jesus Christ as it was established (built on a foundation of prophets and apostles) had collapsed. Many of the apostles had been murdered – they were gone.

      2 Tim 4:3 states: (NIV)

      For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

      Without a foundation of apostles to guide the Church, there was a great apostasy. The children of God were left to interpret the scriptures as best they could, and yet for much of the time, the Church refused to allow people to read the Bible. Through history, Christianity divided and divided again. Various reformers searching for truth.

      When God appeared to Joseph Smith, he looked on the state of his church – the remains – and acknowledged that the creeds being taught as doctrine were an abomination to him, because they had erred from the truth. On top of that, the authority of God (that which was given to the apostles) was no more on the earth.

      The apostasy is therefore about the collapse of the Church of Christ. Although the teachings were preserved in writ, they had been wrongly interpreted, and subsequently wrongly taught. There were no apostles to provide the necessary inspired direction.

      The apostasy has nothing to do with ‘physical’ buildings still on the earth. Of course they exist. Yes, you can go and visit them. But the gospel is more than a physical building. As I mentioned about, “true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth”. The father seeketh such to worship him. Though the physical building be remaining, if the complete truth is not, we have an apostasy… and God is not best pleased.

      You disagree with this of course, but this is what we teach – at least now you will understand our position. We are respectful of all other churches, and we recognize the good the do, and the truth they teach. However, the complete truth was lacking, and God couldn’t allow it to continue. He restored his full truth through Joseph Smith, and under the direction of our Lord, the Church of Jesus Christ was reorganized onto the earth again.

       
  7. Perry Robinson

    August 20, 2011 at 2:39 am

    I think I understand the LDS claims to apostasy sufficiently well. I don’t believe you properly understand the scripture you cite.

    2 Thess 2:1-3 doesn’t predict a complete falling away of the church for all of the apocalyptic material in the NT makes it clear that the church survives through a remnant. Secondly, the man of lawlessness was Caesar Nero was who restrained by Claudius. Once Claudius died, Nero became emperor. Consequently the apostasy refers to the falling away of Israel and the subsequent Roman obliteration of the Jewish temple. All those things took place in that generation. (matt 24:34)

    Secondly, Jude 3 makes clear that the faith is once and for all delivered to humanity and Matt 16:18ff indicates that the powers of darkness cannot prevail against the church. If as you say the church “collapsed” then Jesus was a liar or deluded or worse.

    The death of the apostles doesn’t imply the collapse of the church since the apostles appointed successors. And we have very good lists of who was ordained all the way back to the apostles. Furthermore, apostles and prophets laid the foundation of the church ( eph 2:20) and you don’t need to lay the foundation more than once. Hence there is no need for a continuity of a living apostle, just so long as the apostolic ministry through their successors the bishops exists. Just as the Mosaic covenant began with extra-ordinary commissioning of the priesthood and then continued on without Moses and Aaron, so too the New Covenant priesthood began in an extra-ordinary fashion and continues through the bishops down to this day. The continuity of the Mosaic covenant didn’t depend on Moses living down to the time of Jesus. The levitical succession worked just fine.

    2 tim 4 doesn’t say that the whole church would collapse. It refers to “people.” So you’ll need to prove that it teaches a complete falling away of the church. And simply asserting that without the foundation of the apostles there was a great apostasy doesn’t prove that it was so. I could simply assert the opposite. And as I noted already, the apostles already laid the foundation so there was no need to lay it again, especially since Jesus is the chief cornerstone, who cannot be moved.

    To claim that the church refused to allow people to read the bible is historically false. I think you are confusing a certain period in western Christianity in the middle ages with all of Christian history. The Catholic church in the west restricted the making of bibles and translations to authorized scholars during the time of the Albigensian heresy, when the Albigensians were producing corrupted and modified texts and versions of the bible. The Catholics by restricting the copying of the bible for short periods made it easy to flush out the Albigensian corruptions. And even during these periods most local churches had a copy of the bible chained at the back of the church which anyone could read.

    Secondly, the Orthodox Church, of which I am a member always had people read the bible, especially in Greek. And what is more, most people in the Roman empire were not even literate. At most only about 20% of the population of the Roman empire was literature. And after the period of Christianization from Theodosius in the fourth century to Justinian in the sixth, Christian liturgies were composed almost entirely of scripture with attending daily readings from the scriptures. Lectionaries which divided up the reading of scripture through the whole year so that the average person would hear the entire bible at least once, the New Testament twice and the Gospels three times.

    And no, the church was not left to interpret the scriptures the best they could. In fact, they were the ones who selected the books of the bible that you use. If their judgment is without authority and unreliable then so is the bible upon which Joseph Smith and you rely on. More to the point, it is by the apostolic tradition handed on through men like Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Ireneaus that preserved the Scripture and the right interpretation of it. So it is entirely false to say that people just limped along without understanding. The successors of the apostles continued on down to our own time and this is easily verifiable. It is because the LDS reject the tradition of the apostles handed on that they misinterpret the scriptures just as many other sects do.

    While it is true that Christians have divided over time, that doesn’t imply that the church is so divided. The church is more than its individual members. This of course depends on one’s ecclesiaological commitments, but the matter is hardly as simple as you are making it. Furthermore, given that there are over 100 different sects of Mormons in under two centuries, the LDS haven’t done any better at preserving doctrinal and visible unity, in fact, they have done a worse job, given all of the modern advantages that they had-printing press, trains and such. Nor did the LDS have to contend with three centuries of Roman persecution and yet they continue to split.

    As for Smith’s judgments concerning the creeds, I don’t see a good reason to accept his judgment concerning them. I’ve read enough of Smith’s writings to know that his understanding of even the Protestant theology in the Americas left a lot to be desired. He had no significant understanding of Catholic theology and probably didn’t even know about the Orthodox Churches of the East.

    As for the authority which God gave to the apostles supposedly having ceased, I already demonstrated that this is false given the succession of bishops from the apostles down to this day. We do not need to appeal to secret visions since the very churches the apostles founded exist to this day which house their personal graves. So on the contrary, it is the LDS who have never had any apostolic authority.

    I never claimed that the apostasy had to do with physical buildings, but rather a continuous and verifiable witness through a continuous society of people. Those societies still exist today. We can verify what the early church taught from the close of the NT forward through the writings of the church fathers. This is how we know there was no apostasy and how we know the contents of the NT are apostolic. No such verification exists for LDS claims to be the early church.

     
  8. manxmandan

    August 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    You are claiming a line of authority, and I’m glad you are – beccause it is essential. A lot of churches within Christianity dismiss that there is any need for authority, because they know they don’t have it. The Catholics on the other hand at east have opportunity to claim it.

    It is not possible to prove that the authority of God was no more on the earth, and likewise it is not possible to prove that there had been a complete falling away. Neither is it possible for the Catholic church to prove that they are the original church either – that there had been no falling away.

    It it possible however to present the argument with reasons – and there is enough from either side to make a case. I have read a very good analysis between a Catholic and a Mormon, and the discussion highlighted that both parties have a very strong case – but impossible to verify which one is absolutely correct.

    You will say that you have the line of authority, and that the truth continued. I personally don’t believe that. I believe there is enough error of doctrine within the Catholic teachings to demonstrate that the doctrines of men had corrupted the truth.

    You also point out that there was no need for further apostles, because the foundation was in place. You say you don’t need to lay the foundation more than once – I agree – but I would say you need to maintain it. If the foundation of any building crumbles, the building will collapse. It is quite clear that the foundation of the church was not maintained.

    Why are there no apostles? It is clear from the scriptures that after the death of Judas, the remaining apostles met together, and through inspiration called Matthias to replace Judas. This demonstrated the need for a continuing apostleship. When one dies, he is replaced.

    Yet.. pretty quickly, the apostles were killed without replacement. Was that just supposed to happen?

    Also, you keep referring to the fact that the churches can still be found today. I agree they are there, but is the full truth taught within them? No. The doctrines of men – such as the trinity, and children having need of baptism.

    Like I say though, neither argument can be proved. The bible is there to be interpreted, and throughout Christianity, there are all too many churches! They each understand the same passage of scripture so differently, because they lack the authority.

    God knew many would doubt the restoration of the gospel. Through Joseph, he brought forth a record of scripture. This is evidence of Joseph’s calling – that he was appointed by God. The Book of Mormon is thus evidence. Evidence that Joseph was a prophet, and in this case.. evidence that the apostasy had occured.

    The Bible cannot answer every question. It is often unclear, hence the confusion of Christianity. God in his wisdom provided an external source of his truth. The Book of Mormon compliments the Bible, and together they bear witness of his truth.

     
  9. Perry Robinson

    August 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Let me be clear again, I am not Catholic, but Orthodox. So whatever objections you wish to deploy against Catholicism are most likely not relevant to the Orthodox Church.

    Your claim that it is impossible to prove that the Orthodox maintained the truth is a claim without support. As such a simple denial will be sufficient to dismiss it. Second, I can give positive evidence from history to show that the Orthodox have maintained the apostolic deposit. To say that you don’t believe it is irrelevant unless you give reasons for thinking that my evidence doesn’t imply what I claim it does. Reporting your belief states simply tells me about you, not the evidence.

    I agree that the LDS present reasons for their views, I just think they are all bad reasons because they violate some rule of evidence and logic.

    You assert that the foundation of the church was not maintained, but again, this is an assertion with no support. Nor does it even attempt to touch the reasons and evidence I have provided so far. As such, the reasons and evidence I gave are still on the table.

    You ask why there are no apostles. This is so for a few reasons. First the apostles had an extra-ordinary commissioning by Christ himself, just as Moses did. It would be somewhat absurd to ask why first century Jews did not have a Moses, especially when they and Jesus clearly recognized the continuation of the authority given to Moses by referring to “Moses’ seat. “ (matt 23:2-3) Even Jesus recognizes the authority to bind and loose that the Jewish leadership has from Moses in the first century. Consequently, there doesn’t have to be apostles today to continue their ministry and authority. Moreover, given the criterion for what constitutes an apostle of the Twelve (Acts 1:21-22) that the apostleship was limited to the generation of men that had partaken of Jesus’ ministry. So the appointing of Matthias as an apostle doesn’t imply a perpetual continuation of the office of the apostle. It was according to the book of Acts to fulfill a specific prophecy with respect to the Twelve. Here you are further confusing apostleship with the conditions for being one of the Twelve.

    If the apostles were supposed to be replaced, you need to address why they weren’t if the office of the apostle was of a perpetual commissioning. The living apostles were certainly capable of doing so as there are about 15 persons in the NT designated as apostles. Generally these second order apostles such as Barnabas, Timothy and Silvanus who became apostles of by the hands of the Twelve and Paul were to become the first bishops of the church. This is why even up to the time of Tertullian the bishops were referred to as “apostolic men.”

    As for those churches found today, simply stating that they teach false doctrines like the Trinity isn’t a proof that it is so. You need to actually prove that they are false doctrines. Second, your interpretation of the bible is built of a false authority so it isn’t surprising that you think the Bible doesn’t teach those doctrines. The LDS is a false authority because its claims to apostasy and restoration are false for there was no apostasy of the church and so there can be no restoration. The LDS are just like every other 19th century sect that have to claim an apostasy and a restoration, for without it, they cannot claim to be the true church. They are a product of their time and nothing more and given their century of origin then there is nothing special about them as opposed to any other restorationist group of the century. Consequently, all the doctrines of the LDS are doctrines of men.

    And further, I can show from the earliest times from persons personally ordained by the apostles that they taught such doctrines as the Trinity. Take Ignatius of Antioch for example who clearly teaches the full divinity of the Son and a clearly Trinitarian theology. Ignatius was personally ordained bishop of Antioch by Peter and Paul and was a martyr at Rome being consumed by lions. You can read Ignatius’ letters to the churches of Asia minor on line for free and check for yourself. He died in 107 AD.

    Simply saying that neither argument can be proved doesn’t prove your claim. Without proof of the claim, it is entirely baseless. I grant that the bible is to be interpreted but it doesn’t follow from that that any interpretation is just as good as any other. And second, it doesn’t follow from that that the LDS have the authority to interpret the bible authoritatively. But as I demonstrated earlier the LDS have to rely on a bible that they say was put together and preserved by apostates, consequently undermining the very bible they use and so they are inconsistent. If the bible is reliable, then the church in the 4th through fifth centuries that canonized was also reliable in other areas. So either the church was unreliable and so is the bible, in which case Smith’s claims are false since he relied on the bible, or the church was reliable and so is the bible, in which case Smith’s claims are false since he claimed an apostasy. Either way, Smith’s claims are false.

    If there had been a restoration and the bible had been corrupted in the past as they claim, why didn’t they produce a new canon of scripture and a reliable text? Why just assume the Protestant canon of Scripture? Appealing to the BOM and D&C won’t help, since I’ve read the original 1830 edition of the BOM which has been changed substantially over time. This is even more so with the D&C.

    As for there being too many churches, that assumes that all bodies that claim to be a church are so. I do not grant that assumption. Second as I pointed out already in less than two centuries the LDS have split into over a hundred different factions, so they have not done any better at preserving unity than anyone else, in fact, even the Jehovah’ Witnesses have done a better job with about 35 sects for about the same period of time but I somehow doubt that you’re buying stock in the Watchtower because of it.. And even if various bodies understand passages differently because they lack the authority, it wouldn’t prove that the LDS have the authority. That is a fallacy of ignorance. Just because everyone else may be wrong doesn’t prove your view to be right. Your view could be wrong too. And as I already argued, the Orthodox can make a strong claim to having that authority since we can appeal to archaeological facts and ancient historical documents rather than secret plates that no one has ever seen. I mean don’t you wonder why out of the Twelve witnesses so few maintained their story as opposed to the apostles and their successors who maintained their account through the centuries on pain of horrible deaths? The LDS do not even come close then to the credibility of the early church.

    The BOM is no more evidence of Joseph’s divine calling then the Desire of the Ages is proof of Ellen G. White’s divine calling to restore the church as the founder of the Seventh Day Adventists in the 1840’s. Lots of groups during that century produced works claiming divine revelation and restoration. The mere existence of such works is not proof of their veracity.
    I never claimed that the Bible can answer every question or that it is perspicuous in every place, but it does say that the powers of hell could never defeat the church (matt 16:18ff) and that the faith was once delivered to the saints (jude 3) not twice. Again simply asserting your view is not a reason to think it is true. Lots of sects make similar claims for their own prophet or leader, yet you do not believe them on that basis. They make the same claim regarding the bible plus works produced by them claiming to make the bible clear or to extend revelation or both. Again, Smith was no more a prophet than Miller, White or any other 19th century sectarian leader.

     
  10. manxmandan

    August 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Hey

    As far as I see it, we are essentially agreeing on the same points. We both claim authority. We both believe we are right. I have already said that I cannot prove that there was an apostasy – because we are not talking about something tangible, we are talking about the teachings and authority of God. Likewise you cannot prove there was no authority.

    Yet regardless, we both believe that our position and interpretation is correct. I’m not trying to prove anything to you, but to show why I believe what I believe.

    You said: “As for those churches found today, simply stating that they teach false doctrines like the Trinity isn’t a proof that it is so. You need to actually prove that they are false doctrines. Second, your interpretation of the bible is built of a false authority so it isn’t surprising that you think the Bible doesn’t teach those doctrines. The LDS is a false authority because its claims to apostasy and restoration are false for there was no apostasy of the church and so there can be no restoration.”

    You say simply stating that they teach false doctrines isn’t proof – I agree – yet you immediately state that the LDS church teach false doctrines and claim a flase authority. By your own admission, that doesn’t proove anything.

    On your point about the Book of Mormon ‘not being proof’, I do wonder how you can say that. It is simply this, if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, then Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. There is no question on that, so really, the book of mormon is evidence. The test therefore is, “is the Book of Mormon true?”. You say you have read it, and fair play to you. If you have tested it, and come to a conclusion, then well done. That is all that is asked of you.

    The only point I would make on that, is to ask if you were sincere when you read it? – i.e. you weren’t looking for errors? You will know within yourself whether or not you truly allowed yourself to be open to the Spirit of God as you read it.

    I think we have come to the same conclusion though. You claim the truth of God and his authority. You have scriptures to back you up. I am glad you are confident in your position. You appear a learned man, and I’m glad you have taken time and genuine consideration to believe that you are right.

    I however am speaking from a similar position. I know scriptures to back me up. I have also taken the time to carefuly ensure that I am confident in what I believe.

    As an Orthodox, what do you think about the teachings of other churches e.g. Methodists, Anglicans, Pentecostals. Do you believe they have the full truth? and if so, why do you think they are different to the Orthodox? (i.e. interpret doctrines differently)

     
  11. Perry Robinson

    August 21, 2011 at 12:31 am

    We may agree on the need for authority but we obviously disagree on where it is to be located and identified. So far I can’t see that you’ve offered any reason for identifying it with the LDS.

    If you cannot demonstrate the truth of your claims then there is no reason to think that they are true. Whether the claim refers to something tangible or not is irrelevant. Numbers aren’t tangible and yet they exist and there are good reasons for thinking such things exist. Secondly, the claim is historical. One isn’t free to defend any historical claim simply by virtue of saying that the object of the claim isn’t immediately tangible to us. One needs to provide evidence for historical claims. Without that, one is doing fairy tales and not history. So yes, I can and have proven that the LDS lack the due authority by the reasons I gave and the evidence I referred to, which so far you’ve left pretty much untouched. In supporting the historical claims contra an apostasy, I referred to actual historical documents written during the period and real historical persons we know existed. The LDS have to appeal to people and objects that we don’t know existed at the time that they claim to have existed or been written. Perhaps this is why so many of Smith’s twelve witnesses said he was a fraud. 3 out of 12 isn’t a particularly good track record. Some of them even testified under oath in courts, under threat of death from the LDS that Smith was a fraud.

    After twenty plus years of talking to LDS laypeople, missionaries and bishops, reading through LDS primary source material, I have a pretty good idea of why the LDS believe what they do. And what good is expressing your beliefs and why you adhere to them if the reasons you give are bad? And if you’re not trying to prove anything, why make claims about the history of Christianity at all? Why not just state the beliefs?

    I did say that mere assertions prove nothing, but when I claimed that the LDS have false doctrines and lack any due authority, I did not merely assert it. I made a claim, gave reasons and adduced evidence for thinking the claim was true. Hence my claims were supported. So you are mistaken in charging me with simply asserting my view.

    If the BOM was the word of God then it would have evidentiary value. But so far, you haven’t given me any reason for thinking that it is the word of God. So the consequent of the conditional doesn’t follow, namely that it is evidence. Simply referring to the BOM is not proof of the truth of Smith’s claims anymore than the writings of Ellen White are proof of her claims. Secondly, the BOM being the word of God depends on Smith being a prophet. If Smith wasn’t a prophet, then the BOM most probably isn’t the word of God. I already gave some sufficient reasons for thinking that Smith was not a prophet. Either way, the BOM is of no evidentiary value simply by referring to it. There needs to be something about it that would pick it out as the word of God and more importantly, some sufficient reason or reasons for thinking Smith was a prophet in the first place. And lastly, referring to the BOM as proof of Smith being a prophet is circular reasoning since it is on the basis of Smith’s claims to being a prophet that the BOM depends. How do you know Smith is a prophet? Because of the BOM. How do you know the BOM is true? Because Smith is a prophet.
    Whether I was sincere or not has nothing to do with whether my reasons for rejecting it are good reasons or not. Logic is person independent and so arguments can be evaluated not on who utters them, but on whether the inferences are truth preserving with respect to the conclusion or not. I think my reasons are good reasons. As for sincerity, I seriously doubt you or most Mormons came to the BOM, D&C with a reasonable amount of skepticism regarding its claims or that they sincerely investigated church history. Your own remarks regarding Christian history seem to confirm this.
    The question is not whether I am confident or not since one can be confident and have a false beliefs. We do not give reasons for things to be confident, but to show that we in fact know things. If you can’t show that you know the claims of Mormonism are true, that is probably either indicative of how much you know or that Mormonism is probably false or both.
    If you know the Bible backs you up, then you should be able to show it here. So far I haven’t seen anything that you’ve given from the bible apart from what I’ve read in say the “missionary pal” for thinking that it does. Nothing personal, but I don’t care if people are confident in what they say. I care about whether there is good reason to think that what they say is true. Truth matters, confidence doesn’t.
    As for other professing Christians, the Orthodox church does not recognize their bodies as true churches, even though we recognize their members as professing Christians, which is why we accept generally the rite of baptism performed by them and accept their members via chrismation. We do not do so with respect to the LDS or any other anti-Trinitarian non-Christian body.
    Various Christian bodies have different beliefs for all kinds of reasons, some historical, some political and some theological. Some are closer to Orthodoxy than others and some closer on some points than others.
    Why do you think the hundred plus sects of Mormonism interpret the BOM and/or D&C so differently? Do you believe they have the full truth?

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: