Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Love Your Neighbors (LDS)
02/06/2013 - Jeff DownsMy friend John Divito recently (2/4/12) had an article posted on the Gospel Coalition website, dealing with the LDS. Last time I checked, there were 62 comments, which has ended up in a back and forth. Skip the comments, and read the article here.
John is a former Mormon, you can read (a fuller account of) his testimony here.
Removing One's Name From the Rolls of the LDS Church - Vintage
11/12/2012 - James White
Attached to this sheet is a copy of what can be called a ‘representative sample’ of a letter that requests that a person’s name be removed from the rolls of the Mormon Church. Some introductory comments are necessary.
First, there are some folks who leave Mormonism, come to Christ, and have no desire whatsoever to have their names removed from the rolls of the Mormon Church. We know of some folks like that. However, most of the time a person who finds out the great deception they have been under in the Mormon Church have a great desire to have their names removed from the Church’s membership rolls. They can’t handle the idea of still being counted as one of the “Saints.’ However, it has been proven more than once in the past that the Mormon Church does not like to remove anyone’s name from their roll. In the past people have spent great amounts of time, even money, in trying to get their names removed. Others have found that the LDS Church has “excommunicated’ them, even though it was they who requested that their names be removed. Some have suffered loss of friends and loved ones because of the stigma associated with “excommunication.”
In recent years, certain lawsuits have demonstrated that the attached letter should make removal of one’s name a simple, easy process, if done correctly. Certainly there will be some who encounter more resistance than others - however, generally, we have found that following the outline here given will result in action being taken within a month’s time, or even less. The Mormon Church has no right to maintain your membership in an organization that you do not want to be a part of.It is important to include each of the following elements to assure a smooth procedure:
1. Send letter in triplicate, certified mail, return receipt requested. Many people have written letters that the Church denied having received - make sure that doesn’t happen to you! The letter should be sent to three persons - first, to the Bishop of the ward where you are currently assigned. If you don’t know who that would be, contact a local ward and ask. There shouldn’t be any problem in getting the information, even if you have to write to Salt Lake first to get it. The second person is the President of the Stake of which your ward is a part. Once you know what the ward is, there should be no problem tracking this person down, either. Finally, send a copy to the Office of the First Presidency, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
2. Make your intentions clear. This means that they must understand exactly what it is you are saying - you want your name removed from the rolls. Let them know that you do understand what this means in their eyes (see second paragraph of the letter).
3. Give a positive testimony of your salvation in Christ. This letter can be an opportunity of witness, and even if you are confused at this time and have feelings like ‘I’d just like to get this over with,’ you won’t regret having taken the time to share with these men later.
4. Give reasons for rejecting the LDS system. This is for two reasons: 1) they need to know that there are problems in their belief system. Exactly what you bring up will be up to you and your own situation. What most concerned you about LDS teaching? Was there something that God particularly used to open your eyes to the false teachings and deception in Mormonism? Talk about whatever it was that was important to you. 2) This functions to give the Mormon Church what it needs to have a reason to remove your name - "heresy."
5. Lay the groundrules. It is at this point that you must make a decision. The sample letter requests that no representatives of the Church try to contact you to change your mind. We suggest this as the best possible course of action, as many people who wish to leave Mormonism are in a state of flux at this time, and don’t need home teachers and Mormon missionaries banging on their door while they are working on getting into the Word and getting to know the Lord in a personal way. However, at the same time, if you are in touch with a solid, Biblical church, or with a counter-cult ministry that can be of help, you may wish to allow the opportunity for dialogue to have the chance of sharing the gospel with these folks. The decision is yours. Remember, however, that if you are looking for a quick, simple process, it would be best to close off communication immediately at this juncture.
Also, the mention of legal action is not meant for spite - there have been such legal actions, and the Church has come out on the losing end enough times that they aren’t interested in playing around.
6. Sign your name! May sound simple, and it is, but it is important. If you are a parent, and are including the name(s) of your children, make sure they sign as well. The signed names must correspond to the name(s) listed at the beginning of the letter.
If the above procedures are followed, there should be no problem in having your name removed, and that quickly. If there should be a problem, we would like to hear about it. You may wish to contact a Christian lawyer as well, if need be. Be assured of our prayers and support at this time, and if you should need any information, counsel, whatever, just let us know. We would be happy to help.
Phoenix 20th Ward
City, State, Zip
Dear Bishop Jones:
This letter is being sent in triplicate to Bishop Jones, State President Robinson, and to the Office of the First Presidency in Salt Lake City. These letters are being sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
I am writing to ask you to remove my name, <give full name as it appears in the signature at close of letter>, from the roles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do this with full understanding of the consequences as taught by the LDS Church. I ask this due to my having found the real Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I have found that Jesus is not the spirit-brother of Lucifer, and just one of many gods, but that He is the eternal God of creation who died on the cross for me. By simple faith He has become my personal Savior, and all my sins have been washed away. I now know that my salvation comes as a free gift of God (Romans 6:23), and that there is absolutely no way that I can earn it, and that even to attempt to do so is to insult the One who offers salvation to me. I have been born again, saved by grace, which is totally inconsistent with the teaching of the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 25:23.
I have also found that the LDS Church has not been honest and open with its people. Joseph Smith was not a true prophet of God, as he violated the Biblical standards of a true prophet as laid down in Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and 18:20-22. He violated the first passage by proclaiming, “...you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you...” (The King Follett Funeral Discourse as recorded in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-348). This is in direct violation of what God has said in Isaiah 43:10: “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” This teaching is causing people to follow after ‘another god’ as Deuteronomy 13:2 said would happen. This alone makes Joseph Smith a false prophet. However, it is quite easy to list a number of false prophecies of Joseph Smith that allow him to qualify under the teaching of Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Some of these would include Doctrine and Covenants section 111, 114, and 124:59-60. The most amazing, however, is the entire Book of Abraham, which is, in reality, the Egyptian Book of Breathings taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, all of which is totally pagan material.
I am taking this action of my own initiative. This is my right as a citizen of the United States. I am not to be excommunicated. No communication from the LDS Church is to contain the word “excommunication," - as I am the one initiating the action. Should the word appear in any of the letters from the LDS Church concerning this matter, legal action would definitely be in order. Also, I am hereby requesting that no elders, home teachers, or any other representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visit my home to attempt to persuade me against this action. I trust my request will be honored.
It is my hope that you, too, Bishop Jones, will come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. He is the ‘way, the truth and the life.’ He is not an organization. Accept Him by faith, and the gift of eternal life can be yours.
I sign my name in witness of this request that my name be removed from the rolls of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
(Signature of full name)
Name and Address
Three Levels of Heaven? - Vintage
11/11/2012 - James White
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints teaches that there are three levels of heaven: the celestial (the highest), the terrestial (the middle), and the telestial (the lowest). The clearest teaching concerning this is found in section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Mormons refer to 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 as Biblical support for this teaching. But did Paul believe in three levels of heaven? Lets examine that.
The King James Version translates this passage as follows:
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”
The Mormon church has latched on to the terms “celestial” and “terrestial” in its teaching of various levels of heaven. The third word, “telestial” is not even an English word, but was created by the imagination of Joseph Smith by combining the first two letters of “terrestial” with the last seven letters of “celestial.” A much clearer translation of the above passage is provided by the New American Standard Bible:
“There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”
No Bible text can be understood outside of the context in which it is found. Such is also the case here. 1 Corinthians 15 is known as the “resurrection chapter.” Paul is here discussing the topic of the resurrection of believers. Notice the two questions he has addressed in this chapter so far; verse 12 addresses those who did not believe in resurrection, and verse 35 asks the question, “with what kind of body do they come?” Paul is still answering this question in verses 40 and 41. What, then, is Paul’s point?
Paul is here discussing the connection between our physical body, and the spiritual body we will have at the resurrection. He maintains that there is definitely a connection between the two, but the future, glorified body will far transcend our current physical body in so many ways. To make his point, he brings in a number of illustrations. One is the seed and the plant (vs. 36-38), another that of the flesh of the animal kingdom (v.39). When we come to the verses under discussion here, we see that he is continuing with the same train of thought here comparing the glory of heavenly bodies with the glory of earthly bodies. This verse simply continues his comparison - there is no reason to believe that all of a sudden he decides to talk about different levels of heaven! The very next verse substantiates this quite well:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
Notice the continued parallelism - perishable, imperishable; dishonor, glory. Since it is therefore obvious that Paul is describing the nature of the resurrection body, and not different levels of heaven, what about the passage at 2 Corinthians 12:2?
This passage reads, in the New American Standard Bible, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” Then, in verse 4 Paul identifies this “third heaven” as “Paradise.” What is the third heaven?
The Bible does describe three heavens. The first heaven is that of the sky above us - the atmosphere of the earth. The second heaven is the abode of the stars and earth - “space” as we know it. The third heaven, however, was always the abode of God Himself, “heaven” as we would use the phrase. This was a common conception in Paul’s time, and was a convenient way of describing things. Hence, Paul was caught up into the presence of God, into the “third heaven.”
The teaching that there is a special place reserved only for people who have completed certain ceremonies and endowments in a temple on earth, who themselves will progress to becoming gods themselves, is completely without support in the Bible, and in fact is flatly and utterly contradicted by the teachings of God’s Word, the Bible.
Min is Not God! - Vintage
11/10/2012 - James White
An Examination of Joseph Smith’s “Explanation” of Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham
In 1835 Michael H. Chandler arrived in Kirtland, Ohio. In his horse-drawn wagon he carried four Egyptian mummies. Along with the mummies were included displays of the papyri rolls found on the mummies themselves. Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was fascinated by Chandler’s exhibit, so much so that his fledgling Church purchased the entire display from Chandler for a large sum of money: $2,400.00. Joseph Smith said:
Soon after this, some of the Saints at Kirtland purchased the mummies and papyrus...and with W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as scribes, commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc...(Documentary History of the Church, 2:236, emphasis added).
It should be remembered that at this time the study of Egyptian was, on a scholarly level, in its infancy. Smith was claiming to be able to translate what was, for all practical purposes, an unknown language. Of course, he had claimed this same ability in translating the Book of Mormon, which was said to have been written in “Reformed Egyptian.” That Smith was indeed claiming to translate in the normal sense of the term can be seen from his own words:
The remainder of this month, I was continually engaged in translating an alphabet to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients (DHC 2:238).
Over the next nine years Smith continued to work on his translation of the Book of Abraham. The work was included in the Pearl of Great Price when it was accepted as Scripture in 1880.
The Book of Abraham is unique amongst the books of LDS Scripture: it is the only book that contains illustrations in the form of three “Facsimiles,” each with an “Explanation” provided by Joseph Smith. Since the actual papyri were thought lost (some of the original papyri were found in 1967 and turned over to the LDS Church), the “Facsimiles” provided the only means of testing Joseph Smith’s translation, and his understanding of the documents that were before him.
In this small tract we cannot discuss all the evidence that now exists regarding the Book of Abraham, the papyri that have been found, and the various explanations put forward by defenders of Joseph Smith. Instead, we wish to look at just one aspect of the Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2 (found on the front of this tract), and even more specifically, one section of this drawing and what it really means.
Represents God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove.
Is this indeed a representation of the one true God sitting upon His throne revealing the grand Key-words of the priesthood? Was Joseph Smith a man ahead of his time, able to decipher Egyptian writings in a time when scholarship was just starting to get a clue on the topic?
The object that Joseph Smith included in the Book of Abraham is, in reality, a “hypocephalus,” a common item of Egyptian funeral literature (all of the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham are drawn from common Egyptian funerary documents). It was placed under the person’s head, and was to aid them in making the journey through the netherworld by bathing their bodies in light. Many examples of this kind of hypocephalus are to be found. One of the many pagan gods pictured in this hypocephalus is shown above as it appears in the current edition of the LDS Scriptures. Egyptologists tell us that this is the god “Min.” Min is an “ithyphallic god,” that is, a sexually aroused male deity, as the picture clearly indicates. Min is the god of the procreative forces of nature. Joseph Smith told us that the Egyptian god Min was in point of fact the one true God.
And what is Min doing? Joseph tells us that he is revealing the grand Key-words of the priesthood, with the sign of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove before him. In reality, he is holding up the “divine flail” in one hand and is being approached by the figure Joseph Smith identified as the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. In point of fact, Joseph’s hypocephalus was damaged at the border so that only the head of the “dove” was visible. So, Joseph had to restore the picture. Did he do so correctly? No, he did not. The figure to the right provides us with the proper scene from another hypocephalus (Leyden AMS 62). The being that is approaching Min is not the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove; it is yet another ithyphallic figure, specifically, a serpent, probably the Egyptian God Nehebka, presenting to Min the wedjat- eye, the symbol of good gifts.
The single LDS scholar who has written the most on the Book of Abraham, Dr. Hugh Nibley, has written of Min:
As the supreme sex symbol of gods and men, Min behaves with shocking promiscuity, which is hardly relieved by its ritual nature...His sacred plants were aphrodisiacal...and he is everywhere represented as indulging in incestuous relationships with those of his immediate family; he had the most numerous and varied religious entourage of all the gods, consisting mostly of his huge harem...The hymns, or rather chanting of his worshippers were accompanied with lewd dancing and carousing...to the exciting stimulus of a band of sistrum-shaking damsels (Abraham in Egypt, p. 210).
It must be remembered that Joseph Smith said that this figure represented God sitting on His throne! Incredible as it may seem, intelligent, well-read LDS are fully aware of the true nature of the hypocephalus, including the presence of Min and Nehebka (the vast majority of LDS, however, are not). How do they explain this? Mormon Egyptologist Michael Dennis Rhoades said,
Joseph Smith mentions here the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove and God ‘revealing through the heavens the grand key-words of the priesthood.’ The procreative forces, receiving unusual accentuation throughout the representation, may stand for many divine generative powers, not least of which might be conjoined with blessing of the Priesthood in one’s posterity eternally (BYU Studies, Spring 1977, p. 273).
In other words, since the God of Mormonism is sexually active, begetting children in the spirit-world (indeed, God’s power is often described by Mormons as being made of the power of the priesthood and the power of procreation), and Min is obviously sexually active as well, this then is the “connection.”
We believe that Joseph Smith was utterly ignorant of what was represented in the Egyptian papyri that lay before him. Incapable of translating the figures, he made things up as he went along, claiming God’s direction and inspiration as his guide. In the process he demonstrated his own inability as a “prophet, seer and revelator,” for he grossly misidentified each of the items not only in this Facsimile, but in the other two as well.
Joseph Smith’s defenders today seek to find any connection whatsoever between LDS belief and Egyptian religion, even to the point of seeing in the sexually aroused Min a picture of God upon His throne. But to grasp at this straw is to ignore the Biblical testimony to the one true God. Isaiah saw God upon His throne in Isaiah 6:1-10, but instead of an incestuous god, surrounded by lewd dancing girls, the angels surrounded His throne and cried, “Holy, holy, holy.” God describes the gods of Egypt as “idols” that tremble before him (Isaiah 9:1); these false gods will literally be captured by God in His wrath (Jeremiah 43:12). God reveals the worship of these gods to be an abomination that brings His wrath (Jeremiah 44:8), and mentions one Egyptian god by name in speaking of the punishment he will bring against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:25). Those who worship such gods are “defiled” in God’s sight (Ezekiel 20:7-8). The Bible has nothing but contempt for the gods of Egypt, which would include the abominable figure of Min, identified by Joseph Smith as his God.
We will gladly admit that there is a similarity between the pagan god Min and the Mormon doctrine of God developed in the later years of Joseph Smith’s life. What is equally clear is that the God of the Bible is not similar to either Min, nor the LDS God. As God Himself said:
“To whom will you compare me?” Isaiah 40:25
100 Verses for Witnessing to Mormons - Vintage
11/03/2012 - James White"The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 KJV). The ability to utilize the Word of God accurately and correctly in the witnessing situation is a great asset. When dealing with people who already have a faith structure, it is vital.
This booklet outlines 100 verses of Scripture that have proven effective in the witnessing situation with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, the Mormons. This listing of verses is the result of many hundreds of hours of one-on-one and sometimes one-on-twenty witnessing, ranging from people's homes to street corners, Mormon pageants, and even the Temple in Salt Lake City during General Conference. They have been tested under fire, and, when properly used, have proven their worth.
Of course, any verse without a context is a pretext, and you will want to be thoroughly familiar with the context of each of these passages. Still, the ability to quote a verse from memory and skillfully utilize that text in debate is needful to the person who wishes to be truly equipped and prepared. Most conversations between a Christian and a Mormon will be moving far too fast for looking up verses in the concordance of a Bible, and I have found that being able to quote a verse quickly and accurately gives the Christian the advantage of keeping control of the conversation, an occurrence all too rare in most cases.
This booklet alone cannot provide you with all the information you need to be properly prepared to enter the battlefield. Study of Mormon doctrine is important, and even more important is the study of the basic Christian doctrines. Hopefully memorizing 100 verses will set you on a life-long course of Scripture memorization that will help you grow in the knowledge of God's Word and in your relationship with Him. I openly acknowledge the great influence of one of the best missionaries to the Mormons, Wally Tope. Though not specifically involved in the production of this work, his book On the Frontlines Witnessing to Mormons provided me with my "basic training" years ago, and that influence can be seen in the Scripture selections found herein.
How Do I Memorize that Many Verses???
Different people memorize in different ways. Don't believe the old excuse that you simply cannot memorize verses - I feel anyone is able to accomplish that task. When you think about it, you memorize a great deal of information every day. How many phone numbers do you know? How many addresses? Most of us, if we sat down and took the time to do it, could create a long list of names and phone numbers and combinations and codes and so on and so on. Hence, you are able to memorize Scripture is you really want to. That is the key - you must desire it with all your heart, and be willing to make the commitment that it takes to get the job done.
Repetition is important in learning. Somehow you must devise a system whereby you are able to review your verses on a daily basis. This is not something that will end after the 100th verse is memorized - it will go on for the rest of your life if you really want to keep the verses fresh in your mind. My system began by keeping a master list of all verses memorized, as well as those being worked on. Once a verse is memorized, it is placed on the list and reviewed each day for ten days, a place for a mark being available for each of the days. When the ten day review is over, it is placed in a category that is reviewed once every week or month.
But how do I memorize the verse? The most effective method I have found involves quotation and writing. Read over the verse three or four times, noting the natural breaks and rhythms. Begin trying to quote from memory, making sure to check your accuracy - you don't want to start off memorizing it incorrectly! Once you can quote it ten times straight, take out a sheet of paper and begin to write it. Check the written verse for correct-ness. Write it again, and check it again. Write it at least 5 times. This seems to really ingrain the verse in the memory. Make sure to review it each day for at least 10 days.
Once you begin to have a fairly extensive list, you may want to upgrade your system. I eventually had to go to a 3 X 5 card system. This is especially handy in reviewing a long list of verses, as it cuts down on having to look up each verse in the Bible. It is also helpful to be able to categorize the verses in general category headings.
There are numerous variations on the above method, and you may not like any of them. No matter how you do it, make it a priority. Without a commitment to following through you will never get the verses down. Believe me, the thrill of being able to answer the attacks of a whole group of Mormon Elders while pushing forward the claims of Christ on their lives is well worth the effort of memorization.
But Which Version Do I Use??
That is a very good question. Most would immediately answer - "why, King James of course!" It is true that since the LDS Church accepts only the KJV, it is the one familiar to most Mormons. However, many Christians today perfer memorizing the Word in a translation that re-presents both modern language and modern textual inform-ation. As many of these verses will mean much to you in your personal life, the choice is up to you. I personally began with the King James Version and switched to the New American Standard at a later time, a situation which presents its own problems, to be sure. If you choose to go with a more modern version, realize that you will need to be able to give a good, quick, concise and accurate explanation of how we get the Bible, including textual history and translation. Most Mormons don't know a thing about the subject whatsoever, and rarely does a Christian have to go very in-depth. But if you use another translation other than the KJV, you will have to give a good reason for it. For the sake of simplicity, I will follow the KJV in quoting the verses, and will point out translation difficulties when they arise.
The Program ...
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17 POINTS OF THE TRUE CHURCH - A Response - Vintage
11/02/2012 - James WhiteThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prints a small card that is normally entitled "Seventeen points of the True Church." At times the front of the card will read "Does it meet the Test?" Whatever the form, many Christians have been handed this card. What of its claims? Are the 17 listed points true? Do the claims made by the LDS Church stand the test of the Bible?
This article will examine, briefly, the claims made by this little card. It is not intended to be an in-depth doctrinal treatise on each point, as the card hardly attempts to be, either. Instead, it is meant to give the Christian reader more background into just what the Mormon Church is claiming, and how this does not in any way reflect the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles as recorded in the Word of God, the Bible. We will follow the outline of the card itself. (Some cards list more or fewer points. This card seems to be the most prevalent).
#1. Christ organized the Church. Ephesians 4:11-14. This is true. However, we might ask our Mormon friends, since Ephesians 4:11 lists evangelists and pastors, where are these "offices" in the LDS Church? Since "apostles" in the original Greek language refers simply to a "sent one," does it not make sense to understand this to refer to missionaries, the very ones who, like Paul and Apollos, spread the word concerning Christ throughout the entire known world? Should we not also point out that the very same book here quoted (Ephesians) also says in chapter 3, verse 21, that God would receive glory "in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end"? How does this square with the Mormon teaching that the Church of Jesus Christ disappeared after only a few years?
#2. The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:23. Exactly how Ephesians 5:23 relates to this is difficult to say. At any rate, the point normally made by Mormons in regard to this is that the name on the letterhead of your church must include the phrase "Jesus Christ." Just how official names are involved in saving someone is again not clear. Biblically, the Church is called the Church of Christ. It is also called the Body of Christ. Does that mean we should make sure the phrase "Body of Christ" is on our letterheads, also? Or is it more consistent to see that the Church as it is expressed universally is the Church of Christ, and the local assembly takes the name that would best describe it - such as the Church at Rome, the Church of the Thessalonians, the Church at Philippi? The Bible nowhere commands us to attach a specific name to our local congregation. Christians are Christians whether they worship in the same building and in the exact same manner or not.
#3. The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets. Ephesians 2:19-20. This, again, is true, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, the LDS Church takes it too far. The Mormons take this to mean that the true church must have official positions entitled "Apostle" and "Prophet," which, of course, they have. This is not what Ephesians 2:19-20 teaches. First, the context includes verses 21 and 22, and these must be read also. The text actually says that the church is built on a foundation. Stop there. The word "built" as translated in the King James Version translates the Greek participle epoikodomethentes, which, properly syntaxed is translated "having been built." It is an aorist passive participle. It refers to a past action, one that (in this case) has been completed. To say that today we must continue to build the foundation of apostles and prophets is to misunderstand the text. Next, we would like to point out that the Bible identifies Jesus Christ as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). The Church is built upon this foundation, and is continually growing unto an "holy temple in the Lord." The question must be asked, how many times does one lay a foundation? If one is continually laying a foundation, how will the house be built? The answer is obvious. The Mormon Church is still trying to lay a foundation that was laid two thousand years ago. Since this is so, it is obvious to see that in this passage Paul is referring to something other than a continuing office of apostle and Prophet.
The phrase "of the apostles and prophets" is in a genitive construction that can easily give the sense that the foundation of the apostles and prophets is Jesus Christ Himself. This would be completely consistent with Paul's use of themelios (foundation) in other letters. Again we see how examining the actual text of the Bible we can avoid errors such as the kind propagated by the Mormon Church.
One final thing. In the lists of "offices" in the church (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:28), the apostles" are placed before the "prophets." Aside from the fact that there were obviously many "prophets" in the Church (rather than the one of the LDS Church), it is clear that the Mormon hierarchy of Prophet then Apostles is backwards, at least Biblically speaking. It is also plain to see that "apostles" (literally, "sent ones") and "prophets" functioned quite differently than the LDS Church believes they did.
#4. The true church must have the same organization as Christ's Church. Ephesians 4:11-14. This point overlaps with the discussion given above. We have already pointed out that the organization the Mormon Church has forced upon the Bible is not an accurate understanding of just how the ancient church was organized. As examples of this have already been brought up, we will move on to the next point. ...
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Many Gods, Many Lords - Vintage
11/02/2012 - James White
"As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
The above passage opens a discussion by the Apostle Paul on the sensitive topic of behavior among believers, and the matter of each person's conscience. He is answering a question that must have been included in a letter sent to him by the congregation at Corinth. Idols were a very common sight in Corinth, as in most ancient cities of the time. Some of the believers, having been involved in idol worship, could not with a clear conscience partake of meat that they knew had been sacrificed to idols. This was a serious problem, as just about every bit of the meat supply in the city may have been involved in such practices.
Paul addresses the problem by first saying that idols "are nothing in the world." An idol has no power over the Christian. It has no reality other than the demonic power that would cause someone to worship it. There was no real Diana, or Jupiter, or any of the other false gods of the era. He then puts forth the fact that though things or people may be called gods, to the Christian there is only one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (obviously connecting them in a supernatural way.) In the process, Paul says that "there are gods many and lords many." Obviously what he meant by this is that there are many false gods and false lords being worshiped by non-believers, but these are simply idols. One can make a god out of almost anything - as one person put it, some people get up in the morning and shave their god in the mirror, others get into their god and drive to work, others sit in front of their god for hours each night and watch it.
The fact that Paul is alluding to false gods is brought out more clearly in more modern translations:
"For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,..."(New American Standard Bible)
"For even if there are so-called gods, whether in in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords),..." (New International Version)
The Bible clearly says that "all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens." (Psalm 96:5). In context, then, Paul is not saying that he believed in polytheism, the belief in many gods, but rather that he was a monotheist - he believed in only one God.
In light of the clear Biblical position on this, it is amazing to read the words of the Mormon "prophet" Joseph Smith in regards to this verse: "You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 371.) Which would you rather believe - God's Word, or a false prophet?
The Evolution of Mormon Theology - Vintage
11/01/2012 - James White
Is the teaching of the LDS Church today consistent with that of the early 1830’s? If the Mormon Church’s claim to be the “only true church on earth today” is to be believed, one would expect consistency in teaching from the beginning until today. However, based on the earliest works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (then “The Church of Christ”), the answer to the above question is an emphatic no. Since the first version of the Book of Mormon was published (1830), an evolution of theological thought can be clearly traced.
On page 186 of the original Book of Mormon (B.of M.), in the book of Mosiah (15:4-5), we find an example of the relationship of Jesus Christ and God the Father, from the original Mormon perspective.
...thus becoming the Father and Son: and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of Heaven and of Earth; and thus the flesh becoming subject to the spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God,... (emphasis ours).
This verse teaches two fundamental concepts that were present in Joseph Smith’s original theological ideas: monotheism (the belief in one God), and the spiritual nature of God the Father. We also note that Joseph Smith attempted to emulate the doctrine of the Trinity in this passage and in the process produced a view that is not only contrary to modern LDS teaching, but to the actual Christian doctrine of the Trinity as well.
Another example is found on page 544 (Ether 3:14) of the same version quoted earlier, which states:
Behold, I am he which was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son (emphasis ours).
A third example is found in the book of Alma, page 253 of the first version, which asks,
...Is there more than one God? And he answereth No. Now Zeezrom saith unto him again: How knowest thou these things? And he saith An angel hath made them known to me (Alma 11:28b-31).
From these examples, it is clear that at the time the Book of Mormon was first published, Joseph Smith believed that God the Father and God the Son were different manifestations of a single God. Even the Preface to the B.of M., written by the three witnesses concludes by stating:
And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
When combined, these examples undeniably show a monotheistic belief on the part of Joseph Smith which differs greatly from the polytheistic (a belief in many gods) concepts he developed later in his life. For the Book of Mormon, there is only one God, not three, or many more.
A departure from the monotheistic view established with the B.of M. can be traced to the 1851 version of the Pearl of Great Price. By placing parallel passages in the books of Moses and Abraham side by side, an evolution of thought is clearly demonstrated within the Pearl of Great Price itself.
|And I God said: let there be there light; and there was light....||And (the Gods) said: Let there light; and there was light...|
|And I, God, called the dry land Earth;....||And the Gods pronounced the earth dry,....|
|And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind,...||And the Gods organized the of the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind,....|
|And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden....||And the Gods planted a garden in Eden,....|
|Moses 2:3,10, 25, 3:8||Book of Abraham4:3,10,25,5:8|
The emphasis in these passages is ours, highlighting the departure from a single God to the current view of multiple Gods.
In 1835 a series of lectures was published that was contained within the same volume as the original “Doctrines and Covenants.” In the preface of the work we read the following:
The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of Lectures as delivered before a Theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them into the following work....There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving any thing purporting to be articles of religious faith, in consequence of there being so many now extant; but if men believe a system, and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly, the more intelligibly they can present it, the better.
The “Theological class” spoken of in the quote referred to a class of Elders in Kirtland, Ohio. The “articles of religious faith” refers to the “Lectures on Faith.” The preface concludes with the endorsements of Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and F.G. Williams. Represented in those “Lectures on Faith” are the following attributes of God the Father:
God the Father is a personage of Spirit:
-They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: (Lecture Fifth, page 53).
God the Father is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient and without beginning of days:
We here observe that God is the only supreme governor, and independent being, in whom all fulness and perfection dwells; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; (Lecture Second, page 12) .
The “Lectures on Faith” were removed in the 1921 edition of Doctrines and Covenants. The reasoning behind the removal is not consistent with the endorsements that supported the lectures prior to that point in time such as,
...that the lectures were judiciously arranged and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine;... (1835, Doctrines and Covenants, page 256)
Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?
A. It does. (1835, Doctrines and Covenants, page 58)
It becomes quite apparent that the “founding fathers” considered the “Lectures on Faith” to be theologically true, concise in its presentation and “profitable for doctrine.”
So when did the doctrines in these important areas change to present day LDS beliefs? In the middle to late 1830’s Joseph Smith’s beliefs about God changed tremendously. He developed the concept that “God was once a man.” This great swing in belief created a ripple affect in the Mormon concept of the attributes of God. To demonstrate this, specific citations from LDS sources relevant to individual attributes of God will be quoted, even though they may not be the earliest writings of those views.
God the Father is a personage of flesh, not spirit:
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God, who holds this world in its orbit, and upholds all things by his power; if you were to see him to-day, you would see him in all the person, image and very form as a man;... (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp.613-14, 1844
God is not omniscient:
We are now, or may be, as perfect in our sphere as God and Angels are in theirs, but the greatest intelligence in existence (God) can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 93,1852).
God is not omnipotent:
God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end (Wiltord Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 120, 1857).
God has not always been God:
He is our Father- the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted Being (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333,1859).
So where does one turn to determine the very character of God? Does one stand with the beliefs of the LDS Church in the early 1830’s, or does one stand with the attributes of God as presented by the current church doctrine? And if God were to have chosen Joseph Smith to be a prophet, why would that prophet teach such utterly contradictory concepts of God within the space of less than twenty years?
In response to the question of where one finds true information about who God really is, we would direct your attention not to a human organization, but to the revelation of God in the Bible. First of all, God doesn’t change. For I am the Lord, I change not; (Malachi 3:6). God has always been God. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God (Psalm 90:2). God is spirit, and is not limited to a physical body like human beings. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is omniscient (all knowing). In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). God is omnipotent (all powerful). But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased (Psalm 115:3). God is omnipresent (unlimited by time and space). Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24). God the Father is identified as God. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God, our Father... (1 Corinthians 1:3). Jesus Christ is identified as God. In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). God the Father and God the Son share the one being that is God. Believest thou not that I (Jesus) am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (John 14:10). The Holy Spirit (Ghost) is God. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the price of the land ? . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:3-4). There is only one being of God, but three persons who share that one being. God’s being, since it is infinite and eternal, can be shared by three persons (not in the sense of a physical person, but in the sense of a thinking, willing entity). l am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:5-6).
Why is it important to know who God is? Because Jesus said, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). To believe in a false God is to engage in idolatry and to risk losing your soul.
Since Mormonism is Back in the News...Again
08/24/2012 - James White
Recorded this last year in Australia. Hope it helps.
The Mormonism 101 Series Repost
04/24/2012 - James WhiteHere are the links to the series titled "Mormonism 101" that I posted 5 years ago. I hope these articles will be helpful to those dealing with this issue today as well.
Mormonism 101: Badly Needed in our Culture Today
Mormonism 101: The First Vision Continued
Mormonism 101: More on the LDS Scripture's View of God
Mormonism 101 Continued
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#1)
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#2)
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#3)
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements: The King Follett Discourse (#4)
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (More)
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (Final)
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#1)
- Special - Jesus and Lucifer: Spirit Brothers?
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#2)
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#3)
Mormonism 101: Third Level Statements (#4)
Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#1)
Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#2)
Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#3)
Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements (#4)
Mormonism 101: Fourth Level Statements--Final You Graduated!