Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Are Mormons Smithians?

Christians believe Christ, as relayed through the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

Mormons believe Christ, as relayed through Joseph Smith (and then other revelation, and then other prophets, and then the book of Mormon, and then the other Standard Works - of which the Bible ranks last).

The core of the problem is that Mormonism is subject to Joseph Smith's "Jesus."

If the Jesus presented by Mormonism is different than the Jesus presented by Christians, then there is a problem. You have 2 Jesus figures to choose from.

Christians claim that their Jesus is the same one of the Bible.

Mormons claim that their Jesus is the same one of the Bible, *but* the Bible is corrupted and Christendom has Jesus wrong -- or not quite right as they might nuance their point.

Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was right, and that Christendom has it wrong. Mormons put their faith *first* in Joseph Smith.

It is easy to see why Mormons should call themselves Smithians not Christians... But then they would have to admit the truth, and that is not likey to happen any time soon.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Saved By Faith??

Many Mormons will repeatedly tell investigators of their faith that the Mormon church believes (to a certain degree) that it is only by faith they are saved. What the investigator must understand though is the fact that there is a major language barrier one must scale in order to fully grasp what a Mormon is truly saying.
So the next time a Mormon tells you that his/her church teaches that they are saved by faith, please consider the following statements from LDS officials....

“We have discussed elsewhere that other class of people who are basically unrepentant because they are not ‘doing the commandments.’ They are Church members who are steeped in lethargy…They are doing nothing seriously wrong except in their failures to do the right things to earn their salvation” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp.211-212).

Many in the world, and even some in the Church, seem to think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give them the unearned blessing. But the Lord cannot be merciful at the expense of justice” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 223).

“They [Mormon missionaries] made clear distinction between general salvation or resurrection from the grave and individual salvation or exaltation earned by a man through his compliance with the laws of God. They taught that there are preferential places in heaven as there are on earth and that the highest place or Celestial Kingdom could be attained only by those who faithfully subscribe to and keep all the laws and ordinances Of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thereby entitle themselves to come into the presence of our God and Jesus Christ, His Son” (Stephen L Richards, Conference Report, April 1941, pp.102-103, brackets mine).

There will be no government dole which can get us through the pearly gates. Nor will anybody go into the celestial kingdom who wants to go there on the works of someone else. Every man must go through on his own merits. We might just as well learn this here and now” (Marion G. Romney, “In Mine Own Way”, Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1976, p.123).

"Many people think they need only confess that Jesus is the Christ and then they are saved by grace alone. We cannot be saved by grace alone, 'for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.'" (James Faust, Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2001, p.18).

“There are but few that will be absolutely lost, and that will go with the sons of perdition. Nearly all will be saved in some degree of glory and salvation, just according to what they have earned. That is what we shall receive finally” (Francis M. Lyman, Conference Report, April 1910, pp.32-33).

“The Lord has given to every individual soul power, if he will but exercise it and do the will of the Lord, to earn eternal life” (Francis M. Lyman, Collected Discourses 4:243).

“…after we have been recorded members of the Church we must then work out our salvation and earn eternal life, for it is not obtained without earning it” (Francis Lyman, Conference Report, October 1899, p.35).

“If men are to be rewarded according to their works, then since the works of men vary, the judgments of God must differ. That leads to the doctrine of graded salvation. Every person will inherit a glory of salvation, which will be the one that he has earned” (John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith--Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God, p.170.)

“In reality, this doctrine means that we earn and must earn what we get. Salvation must be earned. The plan of salvation is of value to us only as we conform, actively, to its requirements. It has been so throughout the eternities of existence. The spirit of man, seeking progress, has toiled and striven to rise towards his high destiny, the likeness of God. The privilege to come on earth was earned by him. Earth-life was not forced upon him, nor did he receive it as a gift. That doctrine lifts man into the position of kingship. He has labored and won. His battle has resulted in victory. He has the right to walk among kings. This is one of the great doctrines, often forgotten, laid down in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” (John A. Widtsoe, An Understandable Religion, pp.81-82.)

“This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23)” (LDS Bible Dictionary, p.697).

“Indeed, it is only after a person has so performed a lifetime of works and faithfulness – only after he has come to deny himself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust – that the grace of God, that spiritual increment of power, is efficacious” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon 1:295).

“After we have done all that we can do, after we have denied ourselves of ungodliness and worldly lusts, then is the grace of God sufficient for us; then we are sanctified in Christ and eventually made perfect in Christ (see 2 Nephi 25:23; Moroni 10:32)” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon 2:258).

“The perfect relationship between the atoning grace of Christ and the obedient efforts of mankind is powerfully stated by Nephi: ‘We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Nephi 25:23). Furthermore, we are invited to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.’ When we deny ourselves ‘of all ungodliness,’ then and only ‘then is his grace sufficient’ for us (Moroni 10:32)” (BYU Assistant Professor Clyde J. Williams, “Plain and Precious Truths Restored,” Ensign, October 2006, p.53).

“It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned” (Thomas Monson, "An Invitation to Exaltation," Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1988, p.53).

Monday, November 26, 2007

MormonISM: Is Not Christian

This is a great parable by Shawn McCraney, host of Utah TV20's show The Heart Of The Matter, and author of I Was A Born Again Mormon, that demonstrates why the LDS Church has no right to call itself Christian.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Burden and Yoke of the LDS Faith : Commitment

When LDS and Christians meet in conversation, the differences of the faith systems tend to percolate to the surface rather quickly. The challenge that Christians face with Mormons is in the definition and meaning of various words that we both use, and the painful realization that these words we have in common will often have vastly different connotations for each camp.

Christians often bring up the works required by the LDS faith system in order to reach exaltation, and then the LDS will point to James and say that Christians teach a cheap grace that requires no effort. And thus we begin the "what are works, what do they mean, and what role do they play" carrousel ride.

It dawned on me this morning that when we Christians try to point out the LDS works system, the LDS often leave the conversation as confused as when they started in regard to the Christian position. I think that the key to this issue is pointing out the core of what it is that we are calling works.


In Mormonism there are four key/foundational concepts that drive their works-based lives (all definitions from scriptures.lds.org) based on Christian concepts that have been redefined:
1. Endure = To remain firm in a commitment to be true to the commandments of God despite temptation, opposition, and adversity.
2. Baptism = Baptism is a most sacred ordinance, which a person, having received it, can remember throughout life as a reminder of the personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Its symbolism is beautiful, and its consequences ever so desirable. John the Baptist had the signal honor among all men to take the Son of God into the water and baptize him, after which he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus. By being baptized Jesus obeyed the law himself, and set the example for all mankind.
3. Covenant = The gospel is so arranged that principles and ordinances are received by covenant placing the recipient under strong obligation and responsibility to honor the commitment. Thus the severe consequences to Ananias and Sapphira, who deliberately broke their covenant and lied unto God (Acts 5: 1-11).
(note the misapplication of Acts 5 - the threat of death to covenant breakers!)
4. Obedience = In a spiritual sense, obedience is doing God’s will.

In this analysis the magic word is Commitment. What can LDS DO today to honor their commitments to the LDS system? Commitment is a promise to DO, DO, DO. "Today I will not sin. Today I will love my wife. Today I will not lose my temper. Today I will keep the Word of Wisdom. And I will not do... I will not do... I will not do..."


In the Bible, the Christian walk is based on surrender to the Holy Spirit. Not about what we can do, but about surrendering to Him, our counselor/lawyer/judge. When and if we learn to surrender our days to the Holy Spirit, we are convicted of sinful thoughts, we are convicted of right and wrong, we are led in the direction that God wants us to take. Galations 5:18, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

Hebrews 8:10 echoed Jeremiah 31:33 - I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.

We do not need to focus on the law -- the schoolmaster (Galations 3:24), if we are listening and surrendering to the Holy Spirit ... like following a car to an unknown location, the work involved on our part is in following -- making sure we stay close and watch the signals.

The Jesus of Mormonism came with arms-full of more commandments to follow -- he did not bring forgiveness but amplified the message of the Old Covenant.

The Jesus of Christianity brought freedom through the New Covenant.

Where Mormonism stresses the 4 key DO's; Endure, Baptism, Covenant and Obedience, it produces slavery to the law through works, versus the meaning of those same words in Christianity, the New Testament stresses the Lord's New Covenant plan for us, to have us surrender ourselves to His will.

Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28-30
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Friday, October 05, 2007

General Conference "Just Doesn't Do It" For You? You're Not Alone!

Bored Watching Conference? To be sure, non-Mormons find the early General Conferences much more exciting.

Of them Will Bagley said, "this was a time when they didn't write up all these speeches, send them in to the correlation committee, get them back, read them from the teleprompter, and if necessary, re-tape them." (>>)

Armand Mauss, sociologist, scholar of Mormonism, and former board member of Dialogue, writes:
"Today's bland platitudes do not compare with the spirit-driven exegeses and calls to service that used to be common. Since the Conference talks have been correlated and homogenized, I find them mostly boring and repetitive, and I remain totally uninspired by the 'large and spacious building' in which they are now delivered." (>>)

But non-Mormons aren't the only ones who find Conference lacking. Mormon Kevin Barney, on the 501c3 board of FAIR, a Mormon apologetics group, writes:
"I just can't get very excited over conference. I guess part of it is that it all seems so boring, so obvious, so cliched. The constraints of modernity-talks have to be vetted beforehand, the timing has to be to the second in a TV age, nothing too new or controversial may be broached-means there are no Brigham Youngs' or J. Golden Kimballs' or LeGrand Richards' any more. The delivery is uniformly bland and monotone, the content is mostly highly repetitive. One of the curses of being a lifelong member of the Church is that there is nothing new under the sun. I know how heretical this sounds, and trust me, I'm not trying to proselyte anyone to my perspective.

I'm glad most of you find spiritual nourishment in conference. I've heard the apologetic that they always teach the basics because we haven't really learned them yet. I realize that I'm in a minority among members of the Church. But conference just doesn't do it for me." (>>)

Mormon Molly Bennion writes:
"After years of just reading the conference Ensigns, I watched the Sunday sessions of April Conference. It was a mistake. Is anyone else struck by the grimness of it all? Almost no speaker smiled. President Hinckley did, as did Elder Jenson and RS Counselor Anne Pingrey, but most never showed the slightest positive expression. There's joy in the gospel, but a nonmember happening upon Conference would not get an inkling. The average funeral is more joyful." (>>)

A Mormon named Loyd writes:
"I often get the feeling that many LDS love General Conference because it is something that they have been taught and constructed [sic?] to do. It reminds me of hearing my grandmother and aunt telling everyone how wonderful the new Joseph Smith movie in Salt Lake was. I couldn't help but feel like they would have been saying the exact same thing had the film been un-engaging, poorly written, over-dramatized, and historically inaccurate.

"Like much of what goes on in this culture, GC has an a priori status of being wonderful, fantastic, edifying, and 'the greatest ever' because it is an official Church production. No matter how boring, mundane, repetitive, or uninspiring a talk may be, it already has the status of being lively, exciting, 'just for us,' and inspiring - before it is even read." (>>)

Yes, my friends, the emperor's clothes are off. But we won't leave you hanging. Allow us to suggest some alternative conferences:

* The Holiness of God
* God is the Gospel
* Exulting in the Trinitarian Relationships of Jesus Christ
* Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
* Money, Ministry, and the Magnificence of Christ
* Sanctification By Faith Alone
* Universalism and the Reality of Eternal Punishment
* By Grace Through Faith
* When I Don't Desire God
* Boasting Only in the Cross: video, audio (message by John Piper)

If you're hungry for some great praise music, you won't regret buying these songs on iTunes:

* "In Christ Alone", by Stuart Townend
* "How Deep the Father's Love for Us", by Stuart Townend
* "How Great Is Our God", by Chris Tomlin
* "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty", by "Passion"
* "Creatures of Our God and King", by "Passion"
* "Beautiful, Scandalous Night", by Smalltown Poets

-By Aaron Shafovaloff

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

4 Marks of a False Church

In a very interesting study of historic Christianity, the great folks at Reclaiming The Mind Ministries' podcast "Theology Unplugged" addressed four characteristics of "church" orgranizations that violate historic Christian principles.

This podcast series was part of an examination of the Catholic Church, but these points apply across the board for any church/denomination/organization that calls themselves "Christian."

1. Radical Exclusivism
Churches who claim that it is only in their denomination or tradition that salvation can be found. They have all the right answers, right practices, and right ordinances/sacraments. Once this is claimed then the institution itself becomes the determining factor of salvation.

2. Radical Inclusivism
Here you will find a “no holds barred” approach to the church. People can be a part of this type of church irregardless of their confession or practice. It is the church of the open door where toleration is the primary virtue.

3. Heterodoxism
A church organization not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards of Christianity.

4. Radical Imbalance
This can be the focus on one scripture or being overly driven by one doctrine, rather than balancing the doctrines (i.e. Calvinism Vs. Arminianism)

These podcasts are very provocative. They are very harsh, casting light and uncovering shadows. It is a great wake-up call for any of us who might find ourselves worshiping in radically Exclusive or Inclusive organizations that do not balance thier doctrines from the Bible.

Any organization that claims to be "the one true church" -- do not walk, run the other direction! Run into the arms of Jesus.

Of course, Christ's "church" is the worldwide body of believers... Ephesians 1:22-23

Monday, September 24, 2007

LDS Member Ousted for Questioning the LDS Church

It is a very sad situation, when the rank-and-file LDS members are told not to listen to the very people who may be able to provide objective truths about what the LDS church IS, compared to what it CLAIMS to be.

In THIS STORY a life-long member of the LDS Church questions the claims of his church, and he is ousted.

It truly makes you wonder how the church can react this way when one of the church prophets, George A. Smith, said this:

If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.
Author: George A. Smith
Source: Journal Of Discourses
Volume: 14
Chapter: 4
Page: 217

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