Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Special Witnesses of Christ 2 - Who is the Way? Joseph or Jesus?

Last time we looked at the questionable apostolic claims of Mormon leaders and the way Mormonism demotes Jesus to the status of “a God” in a pantheon. This time we test the Mormon way of salvation and compare it with what the Bible teaches and discover the true focus of the Mormon message.

Jesus declared "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). The Biblical Apostle Peter said, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Biblical Apostle Paul stated,

"Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

(Romans 5:18-21)

It is a constant in Christian teaching that salvation and justification, the putting right of men and women before God, is found in Christ alone, whose righteousness brings life and justifies all who believe in Him. Simply put, through the sin of one man, Adam, all stand condemned before God. Through the obedience of one man, Christ the new Adam, all who look to Christ in faith are justified and made righteous before God. Thus He is "the way and the truth and the life".

The Mormon Apostle Joseph B Wirthlin testified, "Jesus the Christ taught the words of life. He showed the way to truth, the way to peace, the way to happiness". (p.9 emphasis added) The Mormon Apostle Dallin H Oaks said, "I testify that as the Light and Life of the World, He has provided the way for us to return to our heavenly home…" (p.13 emphasis added) Already Jesus is not the way but simply shows the way. He is not the truth but only teaches the truth.

The Mormon Apostle Richard G Scott spoke of "the plan of happiness that would guide our life", and declared, "Only those who make and keep the covenant of baptism, diligently obey His commandments, and receive all the other necessary ordinances will have a fulness of joy on earth and will live eternally in the celestial kingdom." (p.10) Finally, then, Jesus is not the life. The life is found in obedience to "the plan of happiness" (Mormonism).

Christ and the Law

Biblical Apostles clearly teach that righteousness comes to everyone who puts faith in Christ. It is clear also that Biblical Apostles teach that the righteousness we seek comes "apart from the law…through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:21-22). They further teach that "the law was added so that the trespass might increase", i.e. so that the full extent of sin in our lives could be fully and finally revealed. But "where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The more comprehensive the law, the more apparent the depth of sin, the more extensive the reach of grace to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law, by making us conscious of sin, draws us to Christ. Biblical Apostle Paul tells us that "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).

The Mormon Apostle Neal A Maxwell declares "Having purchased us (1 Cor.7: 23) with His atoning blood (Acts 20:28) in the great and marvellous Atonement, Jesus became our Law-giver (Isaiah 33:22). It is by obedience to His laws and His commandments that we may return one day to His presence and that of our Heavenly Father." (p.6) This is the gospel message turned entirely on its head!

Where Biblical Apostles have the law leading us to Christ, Mormon Apostles have Christ leading us to the law.

Where Biblical Apostles have men and women justified by faith in Christ who fulfilled the law, Mormon Apostles have us justified "by obedience to His laws and His commandments", laws that we ourselves must fulfil.

The Last Days

Just as the focus of scripture is Jesus so the time of His coming is the centre of that focus. John the Baptist's message clearly demonstrates this, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). Jesus said of John the Baptist "all the Prophets and Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:13-14), a reference to Malachi 4:5.

The writer to the Hebrews declared,

"But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26) and wrote, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days (latter days) he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2).

The Biblical Apostle Peter said of this time "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake" (1 Peter 1:20).

In contrast with the message of prophets who had prophesied until John a new and unique category of revelation is experienced in the Son. Jesus is God's loudest and clearest expression of Himself and His coming brings the kingdom of God to the people, ushering in the Messianic age known as "the last days", the era of God's mercy and salvation. This was the time prophesied by Malachi and ushered in by John, who, Jesus said, is "Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:13-14); when the promise to our first parents would begin to be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15; Rom.16: 20; 13:12); when the promises to Abraham would begin to see fruition in the lives of all who have the faith of Abraham.

The Biblical Apostle Peter told his Jewish hearers,

“Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, "Through your offspring all the peoples on earth will be blessed." When God raised up his servant (Jesus), he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

(Acts 3:24-26)

The Biblical Apostle Paul told his Gentile converts,

“The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law?…the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”

(Gal.3: 8-9,18-25).

Mormon Apostle Boyd K Packer spoke of the day in 1836 when Malachi 4:5-6 was fulfilled in the presence of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey as reported in D&C 110:14 "Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi - testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come." (p.17)

The Mormon Apostle Russell M Nelson, speaking of the covenant God made with Abraham, said, "From scriptures we learn that this covenant 'should be fulfilled in the latter days' (1 Nephi 15:18). Then the fulness (sic) of His gospel would be preached and many would truly believe…" He went on to declare, "Brothers and sisters, you may also claim the supernal blessings promised to the faithful lineage of Abraham. The Lord explained that blessings and responsibilities of His priesthood are yours because of your faith, works, and lineage - the lineage declared in your patriarchal blessings…The ultimate blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are conferred in holy temples." (p.7)

Thus the focus of these prophecies, so clearly centred around the Saviour and the Messianic age ushered in by Him, shifts from the first century to the nineteenth; from the founding of a church comprising people of faith, to the inception of Mormonism, a religion based on works; from an Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in all who are of the faith lineage of Abraham, to its fulfilment in those who are, through a mystical (patriarchal) blessing, declared to be of his literal lineage; from simple and life-giving faith in the finished work of the cross to esoteric temple ceremonies centred on the dead; from Jesus to Joseph.

Previously:

Special Witnesses of Christ

Next:

Enemies of the Cross

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Special Witnesses of Christ

This reproduces in three parts an article I wrote in response to a special feature in the April 2001 Mormon Ensign magazine containing the text from a video presentation, Special Witnesses of Christ, broadcast by the leaders of the Mormon Church during their annual convention. The text can be found in the online edition of the April Ensign. From carefully selected locations Mormon leaders spoke of various aspects of their faith. It was clearly an attempt to present to the world the Christianised message of Mormonism at a time most precious to all true Christians throughout the world and that time is here again.

Inevitably there will be those whose initial reaction to this message will, like my own, be an audible groan as Mormonism once again misrepresents itself before the world. Once again it claims to itself an authority it does not truly have, presents itself as being in the vanguard of Christian faith and culture, which it is not, and tells it's own story in language that is characteristically hyperbolic as, with no more than a passing nod at the truth, it hurries on to give it's own version of events.

Of course, this sophisticated representation of Mormonism will impress many – that is what it is designed to do. Not least it will confirm Mormons, had they ever dared to doubt, in their conviction that they are indeed Christians. And this is a great pity since their convictions are misguided, their hope unfounded, their message misleading - and their non-member friends in real danger of falling for the same 'gospel, that is no gospel at all'. Hence the concern of so many Christian ministries that people should know the truth about Mormonism and, more importantly, about the Jesus Christ of the Bible of whom we are all special witnesses.

Carefully read, this videotext does tell us a great deal that is true about Mormonism. Indeed it may tell us more about the Mormon faith than those who produced it ever intended. Unfortunately, it will not be so carefully read by many of those invited to consider it's message. As we look at the Mormon message contained in the text, comparing it with Biblical truth, I encourage Christians to read carefully where others might read superficially and explain to their Mormon friends, and to their non-Christian friends who might consider becoming Mormons on the strength of it, how far from the truths of the Bible is the message of these 'Special Witnesses'.

Authority

In his opening address the Mormon president (Gordon B Hinckley at the time) speaks against the carefully chosen backdrop of Jerusalem. Here he is to introduce the special witnesses, telling of their "unique calling [as] Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by him". This is clearly an attempt to suggest a direct connection between the apostles of Utah with the apostles of Jerusalem. Much might be said about the Mormon claim to such authority, indeed much has been said on the subject. I simply point out the special qualifications for a member of the twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ as clearly explained by the Biblical Apostle Peter, i.e. he should be:

"One of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

(Acts 1:21-22)

Any claims to being "special witnesses" of this kind must be questioned since no one of any subsequent age or time could possibly qualify. Yet we are invited to believe that this is the message of apostles, having the same authority, qualification and calling as the twelve of old. Indeed Mormon Apostle M Russell Ballard states that the Mormon Church has to date seen "more than 90 men called to serve as Apostles".

But are the messages of these two groups of men, apostles both ancient and modern, the same?


Jesus, The Way

Those who carefully consider the message of the Bible cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is all about Jesus. From the promise made to our first parents that Christ, their offspring, would crush Satan, the serpent, in final victory (Genesis 3:15; Rom.16: 20); through the promises made to Abraham and his descendants that the original blessing on all mankind would be restored through Christ, the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Acts 3: 24-26; Gal.3: 8,18); to the powerful symbolism of Old Testament temple worship that foretells the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Genesis 22:8; Exodus 12:21; Numb.9:1-12; John 1:29), it is Christ who is the focus and theme of Biblical prophecy.

In the glorious fulfilment of those promises in the New Testament, where Christ, the new Adam, offers life eternal to all those who look to Him with the faith of Abraham, (Romans 5:12-20; 4:11-12), Jesus proves to be the origin, theme, purpose and fulfilment of God's will for His creation.

As we consider the opening verses of the letter to the Hebrews we see the apex of God's message in Jesus who is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word". He is God's loudest declaration of Himself and His clearest message in "these last days". As we read the first chapter of Ephesians we see that all blessings, hopes and aspirations of men and women everywhere find their fulfilment in Him.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Christ Jesus in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

(Ephesians 1:3-10)

As we read the words of Jesus Himself we see that He is 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life'; the one through whom all must come if they are to know God, which knowledge is life eternal. (John 14:6; 17:3) Like the Biblical Apostle Paul, every true Christian can say,

“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

(Philippians 3:7-9)

To the evangelical mind Jesus is all in all.

What have these special witnesses to say of Christ? Where and what is Jesus in the mind of a Mormon, in the minds of these exemplars of Mormonism? They seem to speak in the idiom of Christianity, employing distinctly Christian superlatives to demonstrate their credentials as His special witnesses. They refer to Him as "The Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior (sic) of mankind, the Prince of Life and Peace, the Holy One", claiming Him to be at the centre of their faith. And yet a more careful reading reveals a disturbing characteristic of this message. The message of Mormonism raises serious questions as it subsumes Jesus into the greater message of the 'plan' that is the Mormon gospel.


My Lord and my God

The Biblical Apostle Thomas recognised Jesus as "My Lord and my God", (John 20:28) a confession for which he was commended. Jesus Himself claimed equality with the Father, a claim for which the Jewish authorities "tried all the harder to kill him" (John 5:18).

In the Ensign magazine the Mormon Apostle Neal A Maxwell declared, "Long before He was born at Bethlehem and became known as Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior was Jehovah". (p.6) Mormon Apostle Russell M Nelson referred to Jesus as "Jehovah - God of the Old Testament". (p.7) There seems to be agreement here. Yet to Mormons He is not God as He is to Christians, as He was to Thomas.

Mormons differentiate between Jehovah, who is Jesus, and Elohim, who is God the Father, under whose direction "Christ was the Lord of the universe, who created all worlds without number". (p.6) In reference to "the literal relationship of the Father and the Son" Mormon Apostle James Talmage wrote, "Among the Spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ" (Articles of Faith 1977 ed. p.472). Speaking in the April 1994 General Conference of the Mormon Church newly appointed Mormon Apostle Robert D Hales spoke of his "opportunity to bear testimony as a special witness of …Jesus Christ". He went on to declare that, "Jesus Christ is a God; he is Jehovah of the Old Testament…he is the Savior (sic) of the New Testament. Jesus Christ dwelt in the heavens with his Father…and we dwelt with them as spirit children of God the Father." (Ensign, May 1994, p.79, emphasis added)

Yet Jehovah is referred to as Jehovah-Elohim over five hundred times in the Old Testament. For example in Genesis 2:4 we read, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord God (Jehovah-Elohim) made the heavens and the earth". Deuteronomy 10:17 reads, "For the Lord your God (Jehovah your Elohim) is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome." In other words Jehovah is God of gods, the supreme God.

Deuteronomy 6:4 reads literally, "Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah". In our Bibles the Hebrew word for "Lord" is Jehovah and the Hebrew word for "God" is Elohim, i.e. "The Lord our God is one Lord". Perhaps the most telling reference is Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God (literally Elohim), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

The Biblical Apostle Thomas' utterance translates "My Lord (Jehovah, Greek Kyrios) and my God (Elohim, Greek Theos)." To Thomas Jesus is God, Theos or Elohim, while to the Mormon Apostle He is “a God”, and not God Almighty. This demotion of Jesus does not bode well in comparisons between Biblical and Mormon Apostles. However it is a common theme in the message of these "special witnesses".

Next:

Who is the Way? Joseph or Jesus?

Enemies of the Cross

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Mormons and The Miracle of – Forgiveness?

In 1969 Spencer W. Kimball published a book entitled "The Miracle of Forgiveness". This book became a classic within the Mormon Church. At the time he was an apostle, one of the Council of the Twelve, second only in authority within the Church to the First Presidency. In 1973 he became President of the Mormon Church, until his death in 1985. This man spoke with authority, and his book has become the definitive work on sin and forgiveness for Mormons. However it is not by any means the encouraging book its title might suggest.

Burden

Perhaps the reason is because of statements like the following:

No matter how brilliant was the service rendered by the bishop or stake president or other person, if he falters later in his life and fails to live righteously "to the end" the good works he did all stand in jeopardy. (p.121)

… for who can tell when one might slip across the line? (p.122)

In a religion founded on a message of works and merit even a person’s good works, it seems, are not enough. A life spent in good works can still be lost if we do not keep it up "to the end". This is a great burden indeed and the Christian reader might wonder where is the Bible message of grace. You might be relieved to find that the message of the book is that there is forgiveness for those who sin and are repentant. After spelling out the details of sin and its consequences, Kimball gives assurance that there is a way out:

There must be works - many works - and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and "a broken heart and a contrite spirit."

It depends on you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes. (p.325)

Oh, dear! Jesus paid the price it seems, made it possible for you to be forgiven, but whether you are forgiven depends entirely on you. More works are required, this time to prove to God how repentant you are, and assurance can be a very long time in coming. It seems that some people may never know for sure that they are forgiven.

There is also no room for weakness or error, especially if you commit the same sin again. If you succeed in being forgiven, receiving that assurance that you are once more right with God, you have to go back on your guard again, because those who repeat a sin are in very deep trouble:

"… Unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God." (D&C 82: 7).

Would this mean that the person who has returned to the sins he has professedly abandoned must start the process of repentance again from the beginning? that one cannot return to sin and then start repentance from where he left off?

To return to sin is most destructive to the morale of the individual and gives Satan another hand-hold on his victim. Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to their sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load. (p.170)

The load that Mormons have to bear is a heavy one indeed with past sins coming back to add weight to the burden of today’s failings. This book, which outlines so graphically the extent of sin and the way to forgiveness, makes it clear that forgiveness is not a miracle at all, the miracle is that anyone gets forgiven!

The Mormon Church teaches that we are saved by grace "after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25: 23). This means that the grace of God only comes into effect after you have done everything you could and should have done. There is the idea that we spend our entire lives accumulating good and bad deeds which will be weighed at the judgement bar to see if we have done enough to merit heaven.

Even the murderer is justified in repenting and mending his ways and building up a credit balance in his favour. (p.131)

The child born in the Church goes to Primary and Sunday School; later attends MIA and seminary and institute; works in scouting and exploring; later participates in Relief Society and much other specialized works, besides serving and attending and participating in other meetings and conferences, and all this in addition to the study of the gospel and many hours on his knees in prayer. The adult convert can make up much of this training by intensive study and pondering and prayer. (p.203)

Oh, The Plan!

The Mormon God's 'Plan of Salvation' is to make an earth for his children to live on

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Abraham 3: 25,26)

The first estate was life with God before we were born, the second estate is life on earth, and the glory to come is eternal life. This life is a school for godhood, where we prove ourselves.

While we lack recollection of our pre-mortal life, before coming to this earth all of us understood definitely the purpose of our being here. We would be expected to gain knowledge, educate ourselves, train ourselves. We were to control our urges and desires, master and control our passions, and overcome our weaknesses, small and large. We were to eliminate sins of omission and of commission, and to follow the laws and commandments given us by our Father. (p.5)

We are to spend our lives working to add to our credit balance, and working to prove our repentance in order to decrease our debit balance. This is the message of this book. The miracle of forgiveness is that we can repent of the bad deeds and have them taken off the scale, and even transform our lives so that no more bad deeds need ever be added.

God in Embryo

The underlying problem is the Mormon doctrine concerning the nature of man.

The scriptures point clearly to the high purpose of man's existence…that, having within him the seeds of godhood and thus being a god in embryo, man has unlimited potential for progress and attainment. (p.3)

It thus becomes the overall responsibility of man to co-operate fully with the Eternal God in accomplishing this objective. To this end God created man to live in mortality and endowed him with the potential to perpetuate the race, to subdue the earth, to perfect himself and to become as God, omniscient and omnipotent. (p.2)

Because man is told that he has godhood within him, he is tempted to believe that he really can perfect himself. The Mormon belief that man is born sinless, adds to this idea. The only problems we carry are those of our own making, and therefore we have the power to overcome them.

All transgressions must be cleansed, all weaknesses must be overcome, before a person can attain perfection and godhood. Accordingly the intent of this book is to stress the vital importance of each of us transforming his life through repentance and forgiveness. (p.16)

Kimball quotes a previous Prophet of the Church, Joseph F Smith:

True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light. Not only so, but to make restitution, so far as it is possible, for all the wrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and restore to God and man their rights - that which is due them from us. This is true repentance, and the exercise of the will and all the powers of body and mind is demanded, to complete this glorious work of repentance…(p.149)

Indeed, Spencer Kimball insists that it is possible not only to overcome sin, but to reach the point

…where the desire or the urge to sin is cleared out of his life.

Surely this is what is meant, in part at least, by being pure in heart! And when we read in the Sermon on the Mount that the "pure in heart" shall see God, it gives meaning to the Lord's statement, made through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1832, that presently impure people can perfect themselves and become pure:

"Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him;…"(D&C 88). (p.355)

This teaching gives man at the same time both arrogance and hopelessness: I am born perfect, containing the seeds of godhood, with the potential to become a god myself one day. Yet at the same time the belief that I can perfect myself does not bear out in my daily experience. I cannot so easily overcome my faults and sins, yet the Mormon Church teaches that I can and should.

Body of Death

When we first became members of the Mormon Church, the idea that we could 'turn over a new leaf' and work hard to become acceptable to God sounded good. Most people believe that they need to be good in order to be accepted by God. But the reality is that perfection is impossible because we are all flawed. Even the great apostle Paul, who had a personal experience of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and spent his life serving God and preaching the Gospel, knew that he was weak and sinful:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

(Romans 7: 15, 18b, 19, 24)

The very purpose of the law in the Bible is to show us how impossible it is for us to reach God's standard on our own, and how much we need God's gift of grace made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus is called the Saviour - because he saves us when there is no other way, no hope for us.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”

(Romans 5:20-21)

No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin

(Romans 3:20)

The Mormon Church, by denying the free gift of grace and insisting that members perfect themselves, is laying an impossible burden on them. Those who take their obligations seriously live in guilt, and fear that they will never be good enough. Those who believe that it will be all right in the end are simply deluded. That is why this book is so dangerous to Mormons. Many will read it with 'rose-tinted spectacles' and see the excellent exposition of what sin really means and the encouragement to 'endure to the end', and not reason it through. But many will see the import and true burden of the message and despair.

We ask all Mormons to seriously ponder what Spencer W Kimball is laying out so clearly - that the Mormon Church is asking you to do the impossible and telling you it is possible. We have seen lives wrecked on the rocks of self righteousness in trying to keep the standards and to be forgiven for abiding sins that they can never renounce and overcome by their own strength.

DO IT YOURSELF

In a nutshell, the Church program is like this:

1. The Malady: Mental and physical sin.

2. The Vehicle: The Church and its agencies and programs.

3. The Medication: The gospel of Jesus Christ with its purity, beauty, and rich promises.

4. The Cure: Proper attitudes and self-mastery through activity and good works. (p.88)

Thus Spencer Kimball sums it all up, and clarifies the problem for us all. The Malady is correct, and The Medication, but the Mormon Church insists that it is the only way, and we must do it ourselves. The message of the Bible, however, is:

But now, a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Christ, to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

(Romans 3:21-28)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Praying About the Book of Mormon

Anyone who has taken “the discussions” (they are now called lessons) with Mormon Missionaries will have met the challenge of the Book of Mormon; “Will you pray about this book and ask God if it is true?”

They will have heard Moroni’s promise, “ … ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

(Moroni 10:4-5)

This is the experience on which the Mormon “testimony” is based, the starting point of someone’s involvement in the Mormon Church.

In principle Moroni’s promise extends beyond the Book of Mormon, encompassing “all things” in which we seek enlightenment. In practice I doubt you will find a Mormon today who has read, and prayed about, the Bible. Of course Mormons pray about many things as they seek that inner affirmation that tells them they are being led correctly, confirms that the church is true, and confirms their leader as a living prophet. They don’t, however, pray about the Bible. This is hardly surprising since the Mormon Church has by-passed God’s word in those very missionary discussions that are meant to teach God’s truth.

The Bible – A Book of Apostasy

The whole thrust of the missionary discussions is their account of apostasy and restoration. The Bible is the book of the apostasy, the Book of Mormon the instrument of God’s restoration of truth through Joseph Smith. References to the Bible are restricted to questionable interpretations of texts that,

a) confirm apostasy (Acts 20:29-31) But This, and other texts, e.g. Matt.24: 9-11; 1Tim.4: 1-3, cannot mean a complete falling away from the truth. This would contradict Jesus' promise in Matt.16: 18 that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church he built.

b) confirm Mormon doctrine (John 10:14-16) But this is a misuse of scripture to confirm their claim that Christ visited America after his resurrection (3 Nephi: 15). However, Jesus earthly mission was to the Jews (Matt.15: 24). The other sheep are those outside Judaism. This reference pictures the future, world wide, scope of the Church.

While the Book of Mormon is presented as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” and a companion volume to the Bible, in truth this book of the restoration delivers the final blow to the Bible:

Thou hast beheld that [when] the book proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew; …it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord…Wherefore these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles…And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious…and all this they have done that they may pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they may blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

(1 Nephi 13:24-27 cf. Joseph Smith-History 1:18-19. Here is the true heart attitude of the Mormon Church to Christian Churches. Christians are portrayed as corrupt and abominable.)

A Translation of a Translation….

The Bible is relegated to only a remnant of truth. A book into which many errors have crept, whose dependability is confined to those bits that agree with the words of the Mormon prophets.

No, Mormons don’t pray about the Bible. They already “know” that it has been corrupted in its transmission, altered by profane and uninspired translators, and misinterpreted by “corrupt professors” whose creeds are “an abomination in the sight of God” who “draw near [to God] with their lips, but their hearts are far from [him].” (Joseph Smith-History 1:19) They even have a ridiculous and thoroughly dishonest phrase they use to dismiss the Bible as, “a translation of a translation of a translation”, evidence, if it was needed, that they haven’t the first idea how Bible translation works.

They know this because the book they have prayed about has told them so. By the end of the first missionary discussion the Bible has been effectively dismissed,

Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten.

(Preach My Gospel, Official Missionary Guide, p.35)

When you consider that it is not uncommon for people to receive the first few discussions within a week or two of meeting the missionaries it is clear that they waste no time in destroying any confidence that might have been had in the Bible.

By the time the typical Mormon has a Bible in their hands they know that it is wrong without ever having read it. Now the path is clear for establishing Mormon authority in its place. Mormons do read the Bible but their reading is punctuated by commentary from church leaders through manuals and study guides, magazines and conference talks, and church meetings. The Bible is never allowed to speak for itself because it is not considered reliable; because it doesn’t contain Mormonism They need someone to guide them and to teach them what it really means. Typically a piece of practical advice to Christians on how to deal with suffering (James 1:5) becomes a key formula for discovering truth much like Moroni's promise.

Wont you Please Pray about this Book?

If Moroni’s promise is to be taken seriously, however, we should pray about all things that are presented to us as truth and the Bible should be no exception. Here is a book, much of which, Jesus and the apostles quoted extensively. It contains the most comprehensive account we have of the life and ministry of the Saviour, and the establishment of the church. A book which, contrary to Mormon claims, has been miraculously preserved and extensively authenticated by archaeological, historical and cultural evidence.

Written over a period of 1500 years by more than 40 authors from all walks of life, from shepherds and fishermen to patriarchs and kings. Written in different places and differing circumstances across three continents and in three languages. Yet written with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation, telling one story. Any person seeking truth would surely consider a book with such qualifications. Surely, no one would dismiss it on the word of two strangers whom they have just met. Sadly many do.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mormons and the Cross (Philippians 3:18)

The April 2002 Ensign magazine of the Mormon Church carried a small piece in which a bishop told of the insight he gained into the depth of the Saviour’s love (p.19). It struck me as an eloquent illustration of the subtlety of Mormon deception. It is a moving story of a man bravely bearing the weight of responsibility for his erring flock but who is aware of his own shortcomings. Reflecting on this predicament he asks himself, “If I feel pain when someone commits sin, I cannot imagine the pain the Saviour must have experienced”. The whole tone is Christian, the caring bishop, the repentant church members, thoughtful reflection on the suffering Saviour, the atonement in Gethsemane.

Yes, you read that right, Gethsemane. In his reflections the bishop declares, “As terrible as Christ’s suffering on the cross was, perhaps it was not as great as His suffering in Gethsemane. When he sweat drops of blood as He bore the weight of all the sins of mankind, the great agony of the Atonement took place.”

Does it matter? Gethsemane or Calvary? After all there is faith in the atonement and that is what counts. It does matter because if you look to the wrong place you may be looking to the wrong event and the wrong Saviour. Bear in mind Paul’s warning to the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith”(2 Cor.13:5). Remember also that there are false Christs, a false spirit, a false gospel and false apostles (2 Cor. 11:3-5) and so we should be careful in whom we put our trust, where we look for our help, Gethsemane or Calvary. Consider the following.

The Good News of the Cross

The Biblical Apostle Peter first publicly declared the Good News of Christ's triumph at Pentecost saying,

“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-25)

From that time the theme of the cross has been another constant in the Christian faith. The Biblical Apostle Paul wrote,

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)

When you were dead in your sins and in the circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 213-15)

The Mormon Apostle Jeffrey R Holland, speaking from the Mount of Olives, declared, "It was here in the Garden of Gethsemane, on that last night in mortality, that Jesus left His Apostles and descended alone into the depth of agony that would be His atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind." (p.14) Lest anyone misunderstand the place of the cross in Mormon thinking let me quote thirteenth Mormon president, Ezra Taft Benson,

"It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.14)

The cross is merely an afterthought, a fact clearly illustrated in the words of Mormon Apostle Bruce R McConkie:

"As He came out of the Garden, delivering himself voluntarily into the hands of wicked men, the victory had been won. There remained yet the shame and the pain of his arrest, his trials, and his cross. But all these were overshadowed by the agonies and sufferings in Gethsemane. It was on the cross that he 'suffered death in the flesh', even as many have suffered agonising deaths, but it was in Gethsemane that 'he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come to him'" (The Mortal Messiah, McConkie, pp 127-28)

What more subtle way could there be to empty the cross of its power with words of human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17) than to empty it into Gethsemane? While Biblical Apostles look to the cross (John 3:14) Mormon Apostles dismiss the cross declaring "he 'suffered death in the flesh' even as many have suffered agonising deaths". But it is the cross not the garden - oh, yes, the cross not the garden.

If they could but grasp the significance of the cross, the total loss and abandonment he suffered, the weight he bore, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Not the comforted and strengthened Jesus of the garden (Luke 22:43), but the abandoned and desolate Saviour of the cross. Not the garden where, in exquisite anguish, he anticipated his sacrifice in intimate association with heaven, but the cross where heaven looked away for the sin he bore. As far away as a man is from the cross, so far is he from Christ (Galatians 6:14).

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Are Mormons “Peaceable Followers of Christ?”

People sometimes object when I insist on challenging the claim that Mormons are Christians. Mormons object most vociferously. So let me begin by repeating what has been said so often before, that when I declare Mormons are not Christians I am in no way implying that they are not "good people", or "nice to know", which is the way the world defines "Christian".

There are many "good people" in the world who would prefer not to be called Christian. Ironically, a Christian is someone who has confessed to being anything but a good person. Contrary to the world's definition, a Christian is someone who has come to recognise their utterly depraved nature and lostness, and who has come to trust fully in the complete and finished, atoning work of Jesus on the Cross to save them from their lost state of sinfulness.

The Mormon does not subscribe to any such view and therefore cannot in honesty be called "Christian". I and others continue, then, to raise a warning voice to the Christian Church and the world in general, that there is a great deception being perpetrated here and we are determined that people should know about it. This is not spite but genuine concern that folk should not be hurt, disappointed and, ultimately, lost through following a false message.

Lord, Lord!

In an address entitled The Peaceable Followers of Christ given on 1 February 1998, and reported in the April 1998 Ensign magazine, Boyd K Packer, acting President of the Mormon Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke primarily to "those who teach and write and produce films which claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Christian church and that we, the members, are not Christians." In his remarks to us he identified five characteristics of the Mormon Church that mark it as Christian.

  1. Hymns of the church testify of Christ
  2. The name of the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  3. Ordinances are performed in Christ's name
  4. Prayers are offered in his name
  5. The Mormon "Scriptures" testify of Christ

It is noteworthy that all five refer to using, or "calling upon the name of the Lord". However the Bible makes it clear that "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). So what is the will of God the Father?

"My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life." (John 6:40 cf. 1John 3:23).

And yet this is the very message that Packer rejects. He states,

"Our critics' belief, based on the Bible, holds that man is saved by grace alone. Theirs is by far the easier way. Our position, also based on the Bible, but strengthened by other scriptures, holds that we are saved by grace 'after all we can do," and we are responsible by conduct and by covenants to live the standards of the gospel."

It is significant that he readily admits that the Christian view is based on the Bible. His own view is, contrary to his claim, not based on the Bible because it cannot be found in the Bible. It has to be "strengthened by other scriptures", in fact it is exclusive to those other scriptures and sometimes not even found there! It is clearly the opposite of what the Bible declares, which is that,

"righteousness…comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…Where then is boasting? It is excluded…For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law" (Romans 3:22-24,27-28).

My Faith is Not in The Bible!

The place of the Bible in this man's life is significant. You would expect that a man who claims to be a Christian would be most confident about declaring his faith with a trusty Bible in his hands. However he declares himself challenged by the claim that Mormons are not Christians and candidly admits,

“One reason for my feeling challenged by this claim that we are not Christians is that I do not know how to answer it without quoting other revelations, from scriptures which they reject.”

In other words a self-styled "apostle of the Lord" cannot prove himself to be Christian by a simple appeal to the Bible!

Mormons will not wish to believe this, nevertheless the words he uses seem to leave no room for "interpretation" - a favourite Mormon rubric. While he goes to great lengths to prove the Christian nature of the Mormon faith, only six of twenty seven references he makes in support of his claim come from the Bible. Of those six not one makes any reference to any major Christian or Mormon doctrine.

In the final analysis he simply reinforces the point I make which is that outward appearance, being good people, using the Bible, praying and even saying "Lord, Lord", all of which comprise the main thrust of his argument, do not make a Christian. So what advice does Packer offer those who are equally challenged by the charge that Mormons are not Christians?

Is Mormonism Indefensible?

“It is not an easy thing for us to defend the position that bothers so many others. But, brethren and sisters, never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never apologise for the sacred doctrines of the kingdom. Never feel inadequate and unsettled because you cannot explain them to the satisfaction of all who might enquire of you. Do not be ill at ease or uncomfortable because you can give little more than your conviction.”

Ending the address with the inevitable Mormon testimony Packer urges his Mormon listeners to do the same and ignore the mountain of evidence that militates against the Mormon faith. He suggests that perhaps someone will be impressed by the sincerity of the testifying Mormon and come to the same conviction, not by the weight of evidence for the Mormon faith which is singularly lacking, but by the force of conviction. The trouble is, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. It is possible to follow conviction down the path of destruction.

For "many will come in [his] name…and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:5).

It is noteworthy that Gordon B Hinckley made it clear that he worships a different Jesus.

"In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints 'do not believe in the traditional Christ.' 'No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages.'"

LDS Church News (6/20/98, p.7)

2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8/9

Now we have a "prophet" who openly declares that he worships a very different Jesus to the one worshipped by "other" Christians, and an "apostle" who cannot prove himself guilty of being a Christian by a simple appeal to the Bible!

The inevitable conclusion any reasonable Christian would draw from these facts is that these men cannot be Christians.

  • They believe in the Jesus of Joseph Smith, that much is clear from Hinckley's statement
  • It is not the Jesus of the Bible, that is clear from Packer's statement.

If it were otherwise then surely the Jesus of Joseph Smith would be clearly portrayed in the Bible and Packer's problem would not exist. There would be no "disadvantage" when "cornered or challenged" because the answer would be found in Christian Scripture. Packer's answer is found in extra-biblical writings, and Hinckley's Jesus is peculiar to Mormonism.

It is clear that the Jesus that Christians worship is quite different from the Jesus of Gordon B Hinckley, Boyd K Packer, and the Mormon Church. The basic message of the Mormon Church to us is that, whilst we may have "some truth", we do not have the Jesus of God. We are mistaken in what we think of him, in how we conceive him, and in what we expect of him.

Whilst Mormon statements concerning other churches are these days couched in terms of conciliation and friendship, nevertheless it is plain that this is so much camouflage to hide the fact that we are considered corrupt in our professions of faith, abominable in our creedal loyalties, and in gross error in our mere lip service to God's power and sovereignty (Joseph Smith, History 1:19). In short, we are not true Christians because we have not embraced the restored truth, and the true Jesus of Mormonism. Against this background Mormons expect us to say, "Of course Mormons are Christians"! In the words Omid Jalili, “You’re having a laugh!”

It seems that Boyd K Packer very much regrets not being a Christian like the rest of us and is torn between the conviction of his testimony and the true state of Mormonism in the modern world. I don’t envy him as he attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. Nevertheless it will take more than the heartfelt regrets of an elder statesman of Mormonism, who cannot in truth offer more than his conviction and who cannot, by his own admission, stand on God's word in defence of that conviction - it would take more than this to make Christians call Mormons "Christian". Can you blame us?

Emancipation from error is the condition of real knowledge

Henri Frederic Ameil (1849)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Mormonism’s Real Secret Doctrine

It is popularly believed that the most “secret” aspects of Mormon doctrine are those surrounding the temple. Try and get a Mormon to talk about what goes on in there and you will quickly learn – nothing. They will not talk about their temple ceremonies, claiming that they are too sacred to discuss with anyone else. However, Mormons will talk about the temple any time, showing great pride in this aspect of Mormonism’s restorationist doctrine. When temples are built folk who would normally not be allowed access are invited to take a tour of the facility, to have this peculiarly Mormon doctrine explained – in general terms. Books are published on the subject, classes held in local chapels, and literature of all kinds issued to explain the restoration of temples “in these latter days”.

While reticent on the specifics Mormons are very proud of their temples. Something Mormons are much more diffident about is their traditional teaching on race.

The Plan of Salvation

Anyone who has studied Mormonism will know of the Plan of Salvation. In it Mormons see a panoramic view of man’s “progress” from a pre-mortal existence with God, through a mortal probation, to an eternity determined by the individual’s obedience to the Mormon gospel. According to this account men and women fought in a great battle in this pre-mortal world. Lucifer rebelled against God and persuaded many of these pre-mortals to follow him. When the revolt was defeated, Lucifer became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven into the earth as demons.

Those who remained were promised physical bodies and the opportunity to prove themselves worthy in their earth life of future blessings in eternity. Some, however, had not been so valiant in the battle, waiting to see who would win, and they would not be allowed such great blessings on earth. They were marked by being born with a dark skin - which is the Mormon explanation for the Negroes. Until 1978 anyone with Negro blood was not allowed to hold the Mormon priesthood. Indeed, Mormon missionaries were instructed to avoid proselytising black people.

The Mormon prophet Joseph Fielding Smith explains this teaching:

“There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol.1, p.61)

The problem here is that, while other religious leaders may repent of holding such views, confessing to have misinterpreted scripture according to their own prejudices, Mormons have no such route available to them. While Christians who held this view may confess to having misunderstood the early chapters of Genesis and the meaning of the story of Cain, this is not possible for the Mormons, for the simple reason that there is no room for equivocation or interpretation in their scriptures.

Egyptus and the Canaanites

In Mormon scripture the position is very clearly explained:

Behold, Potiphar's Hill was in the land of Ur, of Chaldea. And the Lord broke down the altar of Elkenah, and of the gods of the land, and utterly destroyed them, and smote the priest that he died; and there was great mourning in Chaldea, and also in the court of Pharaoh; which Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood.

Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.

From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.

The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;

When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.

Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

(Book of Abraham, vv.21-27)

A Curse of Blackness

The ‘Mark of Cain’ is thus clearly identified as an obvious barrier for the Canaanites to full participation in the blessings God has for His children. In other Mormon scripture we read the following:

And the Lord said unto me: Prophesy; and I prophesied, saying: Behold the people of Canaan, which are numerous, shall go forth in battle array against the people of Shum, and shall slay them that they shall utterly be destroyed; and the people of Canaan shall divide themselves in the land, and the land shall be barren and unfruitful, and none other people shall dwell there but the people of Canaan;

For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.

And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent;

(Moses, 7:7-8,12)

 

The curse is a denial of blessings, especially priesthood but also denial even of hearing the gospel. The mark is a dark skin. A third source shows a similar picture. In the Book of Mormon the Nephites are faithful in following God’s plan while their brothers, the Lamanites, rebel. The two groups separate and, in order to distinguish the faithful from the rebellious, the latter are marked with a dark skin.

 

Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

(2 Nephi 5:20-24)

Further on in the same story the descendants of those first Nephites are warned:

O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their [the Lamanites] skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

(Jacob 3:8)

A Blessing of Whiteness

Indeed, much later in the book many Lamanites repent and join with the Nephites with astonishing results:

And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites.

(3 Nephi 2:14-16)

In the Standard Works

While other churches and individuals with such views may have repented of their racist opinions, the Mormon Church has simply had a convenient revelation that gives the impression of leaving racism behind while leaving it enshrined in their scriptures and in their most fundamental doctrines of God and man. How often have we heard Mormons insist that it is only official if it is in the Standard Works (Mormon Scripture)? Black skin is still explained in Mormon scripture as a mark of rebellion and unfaithfulness. Those who have black skin are still, in Mormon scripture, those that were less valiant, therefore proving themselves less worthy, in a pre-mortal life.

According to the Book of Abraham the mark and the curse singles out the idolatrous. According to the Book of Moses the mark and the curse single out those who are violent and despised, to be denied the gospel. According to the Book of Mormon they single out the rebellious, the unlovely, the iniquitous, the loathsome and the mischievous.

To repent of such views the Mormon Church would have to reject something that is fundamental to their faith, enshrined in their scripture, part of the very pattern laid out by their god from the beginning. Lifting the ban in 1978 does nothing for the status of black people in Mormon historical theology. The ban has been lifted as a matter of political expediency, the curse remains as a matter of fundamental doctrine.

In the official Institute (religious studies) manual on the Books of Abraham and Moses these issues are skirted around. For the Book of Moses in particular, where it speaks of Canaanites turning black, the relevant verses are ignored altogether as the manual covers Moses 7:3-4; Moses 7:13; Moses 7:19 and then on to the later verses. Thus by subtle means this becomes one of the greatest secret of Mormonism today.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Famous Dead Mormons: Karen Carpenter


“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that [Karen Carpenter] was baptized a Mormon after she died. But we still struggle to understand how she is any more saved by having her work done twice in a month at the same temple in 1992. Or twice in 2 days in 1993. It just doesn’t seem necessary.”
To be precise she was baptised a total of six times, washed and anointed (don’t ask) twice and received her temple endowments a total of five times – and she was never a Mormon. Mormons come up with all sorts of excuses for why this happens and keeps happening. The real reason is that it satisfies, each time, the sick need of some wacko necromaniac to be able to simper, “Of course, I went through the temple for Karen Carpenter you know.”

The Mormon preoccupation with the dead has long passed from the bizarre to the profoundly offensive, as shown by the web site Famous Dead Mormons. They are all in there, from Vlad the Impaler (baptised a Mormon Sept.2009, I kid you not) to Joan of Arc (baptised 4 times), from Elvis (baptised 7 times) to Emperor Constantine (baptised 1994) 

While it can be funny there is a serious side to this as family wishes are run over roughshod and every few years Jewish groups complain to Salt Lake City about the temple baptism of holocaust victims.

Each time apologies are offered and assurances given but each time the Mormons just ignore everyone and go on doing what they like. No one is suggesting that this pointless exercise actually has any influence on the eternal destiny of people used in this way but while none of this temple doctrine is true, and every work done is done in vain, nevertheless it is very real for the relatives of those so used and the offense is almost unbearable to many.

Christians do not build temples (2 Cor.6:16) and the temples Mormons build are neither Christian nor Jewish, although curiously enough they do have their biblical parallels  – see more here. Neither is baptism for the dead taught in the Bible. Imagine what heartache might be avoided if Mormons were to realise this, and what might otherwise be done with the resources fruitlessly poured into building, equipping, maintaining and attending these temples of the dead.

Famous Dead Mormons: Karen Carpenter

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Mormon Teachers of the Law

"Watch out for the teachers of the Law. They like to walk around in long robes
And be greeted in the marketplaces

And have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at feasts.

They devour widows' houses and for a pretence make long prayers.


They will receive the greater condemnation."

Mark 12:38-40