Saved by ____?

book-of-mormon.jpgOne of the errors of Mormonism is in 2 Nephi 25:23, which reads, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” [emphasis added]

That sounds humble enough.  It makes it appear that we are saved by grace and the sacrifice of Jesus.  It sounds like the Bible, but there is a big difference.  Look more carefully and see what really saves you:

  1. You do all you can, and you are saved by grace.
  2. You don’t do all you can, so you are not saved.

So what is the difference between the two?  It is all about what you do, not about what Jesus did.  In that case, it isn’t grace that saves you, it is your works.

The key word is “after,” and the phrasing is clear.  And after all, Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is the “most perfect book in the world,” so that wording must be accurate, right?  And every Mormon I have talked to acknowledges that the works are required for salvation.

If anyone teaches a method of salvation based on Jesus Plus (e.g., his sacrifice plus your good deeds, or purgatory or whatever else) or Jesus Minus (e.g., “Jesus is one way, but other religions are just as good”) then you have a heresy on your hands.

And while this isn’t the reason that being saved by grace through faith is true, consider which is better news:

  1. Having to rely on your efforts with no assurance of salvation (Mormonism and other works-based religions)
  2. Knowing that Jesus did it all for you and you just need to repent and believe in him (Christianity)

This is the truly good news (take it from someone who has not “done all he can”):

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Yes, I’m familiar with James 2:20 (You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?).  Of course real faith will produce real deeds.  It goes like this:

  • Real faith in the real Jesus = real salvation followed by real works
  • Faith in the wrong Jesus + lots of good deeds done out of pride = still spiritually dead
  • False faith + works = still spiritually dead

Courtesy of Ms. Green, here is a list of requirements to be saved in the LDS view:

Step #1:Have faith in Christ
Step #2:Be repentant
Step #3: Be baptized by the LDS Church
Step #4: Receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from a member of the Melchizedek priesthood
Step #5: Males are ordained into the Melchizedek Priesthood
Step #6: Receive temple endowments
Step #7: Participate in celestial marriage
Step #8: Observe the word of wisdom
Step #9: Sustain the prophet
Step #10: Tithe
Step #11: Attend sacrament meetings
Step #12: Obey the church

Oddly enough, while the LDS church and Christianity preach a different Jesus and a different Gospel, on paper orthodox Christians have more in common with Mormons than with theologically liberal Christians – a high view of scripture, pro-life, pro-family, pro-Jesus is the only way, and more.

But they teach a false, works-based gospel.  I know that many will not escape from there, but I pray that few new people join.

Also see But they are so nice! and Are Mormons really Christians?  Are Christians really Christians?

107 thoughts on “Saved by ____?

  1. You’re misinterpreting who “we” interpret 2nd Nephi 25:23. The heart of it is saying that we are saved by grace NOTWITHSTANDING all we can do. Or in other words, “after all is said and done, or after all we can do (which isn’t much)–we are saved by the grace of Christ.” This is much more in line with LDS teaching and with all the other scriptures in the Book of Mormon, which eloquently states the doctrine of salvation by grace.

    I would guess that there are some Church members who perhaps misunderstood our own doctrine/scriptures and think of the gospel as a gospel of works. They are wrong to do so and have not understood our own doctrine. When through our faith in Him we enter into a covenant relationship with Him through baptism, we turn ourselves over to Him. However, just like a husband and wife who enter into a marriage covenant are expected to be faithful to each other, He expects us to be faithful to Him and love Him more than we love anything or anyone else. Hence the scriptural analogy with Christ as the groom and the Church (and its members) as the bride.

    Paul’s definition of faith I believe includes “faithfulness”. James’ definition of faith is more like “belief”–hence the need to add “faith without works is dead”. They’re just defining faith differently. It’s two sides of the same coin. Both were apostles. Both were right. Both taught that Christ expects us to give him our all–but no matter how much or how little that “all” is–it’s insufficient to save us without the Savior Jesus Christ.

    The Book of Mormon clearly teaches, “Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14). “There can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:12; see also 2 Ne. 9:7; Alma 34:8–16). “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; … he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Ne. 2:6–7). Consequently, “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Ne. 2:8). And so we “rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne. 25:26).

    I quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles:
    “These teachings obviously stand in opposition to the belief or assumption of some mortals (perhaps even some members of our Church) that they have no need of Christ because they can think they can save themselves by their own works.

    “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we testify with the Book of Mormon prophet-king Benjamin that “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

    “For behold … salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17–18).

    And so we say to all, in the words the prophet Moroni wrote as a conclusion to the Book of Mormon:

    “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. …

    “And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:32–33).”

    This is fundamental! This is our doctrine! I’ve personally felt the power The Book of Mormon has to bring us to Christ and rely wholly on His merits, mercy, and grace (and not our own.) By continuing to perpetuate the myth that we believe in salvation by works would be disingenuous and dishonest–the very thing you have excused us of in times past.

  2. As a former treasurer of a small church, I always felt that tithing should be moved higher up the list….

    (ok, ok, I admit I’m kidding, but I seriously did consider telling some people that at the time).

  3. “By continuing to perpetuate the myth that we believe in salvation by works would be disingenuous and dishonest–the very thing you have excused us of in times past.”

    CC,
    According to the .org site of your religion, it says this:
    “After you are judged, you will live in a state of glory. Because everyone’s works and righteous desires vary, heaven includes different kingdoms, or degrees of glory.”

    It then lists the 3 degrees of heaven. It seems to indicate that works does have to do with the place in heaven.

    Granted, it’s not the Christian scenario of heaven or hell, where it’s a binary situation, but it does indicate levels of heaven based on works.

  4. Mormons do not believe that their works save them. I seriously doubt that the Mormons you talked to said they believed their own personal works save them from Hell. Though I believe this is what you may have taken away from the conversation.

    Neil said: I know how to read and I know how to carefully listen to ensure I am understanding what people are saying. Perhaps you aren’t fully understanding Mormon teachings?

    Mormons do good works (as any Christian should) because they love God and want to be obedient to what he asks them to do (as they understand it). Not for a moment do LDS members believe that baptism, confirmation, or temple ordinances save them. Rather they believe that these are things that God has commanded them to do and so they comply just like other Christian denominations comply with what they believe has been commanded of them by God.

    To be to the point, it doesn’t matter how many times you are baptized or by who or what personal good works you do you will always fall short of God. It is only because of Christ’s grace that we can be saved from spiritual and physical death. Without it Mormons believe they are lost just like all other Christians do.

    This argument is has really become cliche (as has the different Jesus argument).

    Neil said: Neither argument is cliche. Mormons try to change history and make it cliche. The “we’re Christians, too” argument is a lie as well, unless you are saying that I am not a Christian. In that case you are mistaken but at least honest about teaching what your holy book says.

    To say that you are talking about the same Jesus is disingenuous.

    It is samantics at its worst. Mormons and other Christians believe in the same Jesus of the New Testament (at least I my impression is that other Christians believe in the Jesus of the NT) and both believe that without Christ’s grace we have no hope.

  5. “a high view of scripture”

    I’m not sure I could properly list that in the things we have in common. The people from the LDS that I’ve spoken to all suggest that the discrepancies between what we see in the Bible (such as monotheism, the Trinity, etc.) and what they believe are due to a failure to properly receive the Word from its inception. What we use today (the Bible) is not a valid representation. What we are SUPPOSED to use is the Book of Mormon, the only VALID Word of God available to us today. The Bible is helpful, but flawed. That’s what they’ve all told me. I would not describe “helpful but flawed” as “a high view of scripture.”

  6. Stan, you said that some LDS people have said: “What we use today (the Bible) is not a valid representation. What we are SUPPOSED to use is the Book of Mormon, the only VALID Word of God available to us today. The Bible is helpful, but flawed”. Unfortunate statement, indeed. And deeply wrong.

    As a Latter-day Saint, I would never say this (nor even remotely consider saying it) because I don’t believe it. Even though this is off topic, I thought I’d let you know that probably the vast majority of Latter-day Saints would agree with me, and not with the LDS that you have talked to.

  7. “You’re misinterpreting who “we” interpret 2nd Nephi 25:23.”

    Actually, I’m not. If this is indeed the “most perfect book in the world,” then the plain language of “after” says it all.

    Christians misinterpret many things as well, so when in doubt we of course want to go to our holy books. But when the Book of Mormon is that clear AND 100% of the Mormons I talk to, including a Bishop, reference works, then I’m going to assume that is the real Mormon position.

  8. CC, I would have had no reason to question what you say you believe. I’m just saying that it doesn’t seem to square up with Mormon doctrine and what I’ve heard from all the other Mormons I know.

    But the more you folks talk in circles and deny the obvious the less convinced I am.

    I’d have a lot more respect if you all would go back to the original plan and boldly state that you thought you were different and that you were right. The disagreements would be clear and easy to debate.

  9. “I’d have a lot more respect if you all would go back to the original plan and boldly state that you thought you were different and that you were right. The disagreements would be clear and easy to debate.”

    I don’t think that’s going to happen, Neil. It seems like they are trying to put a new spin on the lie of their religion at every turn.

    Adding the term “christian” to the title of their religion adds “validity.” They have to use that term to fool “christians” into thinking that Mormonism is Christian. It’s an advertising ploy. That’s why they’d rather be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, rather than the old term Mormon. Mormon has a bad connotation to it. So they are not going to boldly state what it is that they believe, because what they do believe is so opposite of Christianity that it’s bad press.

    The thing is, and I think we’re seeing an example of this here, that a lot of Mormons don’t know what it is their religion believes. My friends really didn’t. I knew more about Mormonism than they did. If those like CC really do, they then are disingenuous at best. They talk in circles that unless a Christian really knows the faith and the difference between it and Mormonism, it’s easy to be confused and led astray. The basic Christian, unfortunately, knows very little of the Bible and sound doctrine like they used to. They are easy targets for Mormon “evangelism.” Like the lie in the garden, it sounds good to our ears.

  10. Had a doorway conversation with two young Mormon elders back in 2005. One was 19 and the other, 21. They were very nice and polite, however, they had their scripted mantra the moment I opened the door.

    I politely listened, and when the younger man was finished I warned them that I had been through this ritual before.

    The last two Mormon missionaries (about 6 years ago) who sat down with me to discuss God, the Bible and Jesus Christ ended up leaving soon after our discussion started. We had to part company because I was successful at pointing out their skewed beliefs that did not jibe with the Bible.

    These two young men said much of the same formulated script as the two gentlemen 6 years before. They said that I should, “pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show me whether or not the Book of Mormon is another revelation” of God. I told them that I do not need to do that because nothing needs to be added to the Bible.

    Turning the tables on them, I then tried to point out that perhaps they should focus on investigating the truth of the Bible and see if the Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth regarding the need NOT to have additional revelation (e.g. the Book of Mormon). They didn’t quite know how to respond to that one.

    I did point out that in order to do so, they would need to be born again. I shared the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night to find out how to enter into the kingdom of heaven. I shared about the need to be born again (John 3) through believing in Jesus Christ. The older young man (wow…21) stated that he had been through this before with several evangelical Christians over the past two years and did not want to argue.

    Was it something I said?

    It is evident that they look for people who are not well versed in the Bible in order to sway them into their way of thinking.

    I have always thought it strange that they don’t encourage people to read the Bible first, then the Book of Mormon. Why is that? They carry the Bible with them into the home, but immediately refer to what the Book of Mormon says.

    I have heard many times how difficult it is to counter-witness to Mormons. The Christian Apologetics classes that I have taken through Biola University has touched upon this issue many times. In fact, Craig Hazen (the director of the “Defending the Faith” Christian Apologetics sessions) recently (in 2005) shared that he personally was able to make some progress with Mormon people with whom he has had a dialogue going…but it has taken 4 years! Wow!

    Doesn’t sound like my 15 min. counter-witnessing attempt at my front door could accomplish much. Perhaps it planted a teeny tiny seed along with the other tiny seeds planted by the other evangelicals that they have met along the way in their travels?

    I pray that they have and that other Christian believers will continue to water those seeds with truth.

  11. I can understand the frustration expressed by Neil and others here. It must be extremely frustrating to belong to a religion (United Methodist Church) which has been on a precipitous decline for the last 50 years. In comparison, the Mormon church is the fastest growing Christian denomination in North America. At the current rate of growth, America will be a Mormon-majority country in less than 50 years. Imagine the peace this will bring!! No longer will people fight and argue over their differences in religion. We will all live together as Americans, united in belief and faith.

    Neil said: Hi Rose – first, my religion is Christianity. The United Methodist Church is a denomination. I sincerely appreciate that you acknowledging that Christianity and Mormonism are two different things. I’ve had a tough time conveying that to some of your brethren here.

    Christianity is growing around the world, and so is Mormonism. But false gospels can grow as well. Islam is large and growing, and it is false. Hinduism is false. But do you consider them true because they are growing? A lie is a lie no matter how many people believe it, and the truth is the truth no matter how few people believe it.

    I doubt the Mormons will keep their pace up. The Internet is their worst enemy, because there are so many sources outlining their disingenuousness (like claiming they are a Christian denomination when there are countless quotes inside their holy book and by their leaders stating otherwise) and false teachings.

  12. Christine,

    That is a good strategy. I have heard that it does take a long time for those who do break free. Part of the reason is the pressure from the church and families and all the things the members lose out on.

    I know one Mormon guy who would quit in a second if his wife wanted to. She almost left when she learned how the Mormons had treated black people, but they talked her out of it.

    Just try to plant some seeds by identifying their gross errors. They won’t convert on the spot, but maybe the Holy Spirit will use that to convict them of the truth.

    If nothing else, you kept them from sharing their message with an unsuspecting person during that time.

  13. Neil,
    My daughter was married to an LDS member (and a member herself) for severall years. During that time I met her in-laws and some othe LDS people. Among these were some ot the finest people I know.

    But as far as i could tell (and we talked about it), the all believed in salavation through works. Perhaps they all misunderstood their church.

  14. Elisa said: “They have to use that term to fool “christians” into thinking that Mormonism is Christian. It’s an advertising ploy. That’s why they’d rather be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, rather than the old term Mormon.”

    Its not that hard to convince people your christian when they see how much you love Christ and try to follow his example (which is what Mormons try to do). The LDS faith really doesn’t have to prove it’s Christian its critics though have to prove it’s not and they are doing a poor job of it. It’s hard to prove something that is so blatantly untrue.

    Neil said: Nope. Words mean things, and the more layers you peel back the more obvious it is that we’re talking about a different God and a different Jesus. You have made up an entity and called it Jesus, but it isn’t the same Jesus.

    Personally when I tell someone what Church I belong to I say the Mormon Church, the LDS or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints title is just way too long. But the LDS Church does have a point; the proper name for the Church is the latter and has been since Joseph Smith. Mormons is more of a nickname. I don’t think it really matters since most people know the two are synonymous.

    Christinewjc said: “We had to part company because I was successful at pointing out their skewed beliefs that did not jibe with the Bible.”

    This is quite an easy thing to do seeing as how missionaries are so young and are not taught to defend the LDS Church from every critic. There are a few knowledgeable missionaries but most know only the basics of Mormon and Christian theology.

    Christinewjc said: “I have always thought it strange that they don’t encourage people to read the Bible first, then the Book of Mormon. Why is that?”

    Many Christians already read the Bible and are familiar with it. In contrast they have not read the Book of Mormon and are unfamiliar with it. Reading the Bible is a “given”, reading the Book of Mormon is not. That is why LDS missionaries ask them to read it.

    Neil said: Once again we go in circles. The Mormons are just another Christian denomination . . . oh, but wait, how many denominations do you know who try to convert people from one Christian denomination to another? And why all the focus on the “another testament” (so does that make two “New” Testaments or is the BoM the “Really New Testament?” Or do they not even know what “testament” means?

    Chistinewjc said: “Perhaps it planted a teeny tiny seed…”

    I’m sure they are thinking the same thing about their visit with you.

    Neil said: “If nothing else, you kept them from sharing their message with an unsuspecting person during that time.”

    They don’t mind whom they share it with if they are willing to listen. You may hold them up for a short time but if you are combative they will probably just bare their testimony and not come back. They are taught to do this for the very reason you state, people that just want to prove Mormonism wrong only waste their time and distracts from spreading Christ’s gospel (as they see it).

    Neil said: I’m not combative. The last visitors spent over 2 hrs. and commented about how much they appreciated me listening to them and the friendly back and forth conversation we had. I’m really more winsome in person when showing how flawed LDS theology is.

    And I do think I kept them from unsuspecting people during that time.

  15. Neil said: Nope. Words mean things, and the more layers you peel back the more obvious it is that we’re talking about a different God and a different Jesus. You have made up an entity and called it Jesus, but it isn’t the same Jesus.

    [eyes rolling] Ok you win you’ve convinced me that Mormons aren’t Christians. Except there is still that nagging thing about them believing in Christ. Oh well I guess we can ignore that.

    Neil said: That’s just it – you go from ignoring it like you do now and pretending both are the same, to professing the differences when you witness with your extra book. That is the disingenuous I can’t stand. It is not a good work. Your young people may not realize what they are doing. You should.

    Neil said: Once again we go in circles. The Mormons are just another Christian denomination . . . oh, but wait, how many denominations do you know who try to convert people from one Christian denomination to another? And why all the focus on the “another testament” (so does that make two “New” Testaments or is the BoM the “Really New Testament?” Or do they not even know what “testament” means?

    You are apparently good at making circles where none exist. To each his own. I merely answered a question and you went on about another testament and Christians preaching to Christians, why? Investigators are asked to read the Book of Mormon so they can become familiar with it. Approaching Christians is is assumed that they already are familiar with the Bible. Is this a bad assumption?

  16. Jay:
    The burden of proof is on the Mormon Church to give Traditional Christians good reason to believe that Mormonism is just another denomination. The problem is the only arguments Mormons tend to use is we love Christ and follow his morals.

    If it was simply as easy as ” claiming to love Christ and follow his teachings”, perhaps we should accept Muslims, since they to claim a love for Christ and follow his teachings, or Christian Scientist’s as they say we love Christ and follow his teachings, or how about the TV preachers? They claim they loveJesus,and follow him. So whose following Christ? Many various faiths claim this, however their idea’s of following Christ all differ, yet they claim the Bible as a holy book ( interestingly enough, most of these groups throw in their own holy book, and claim its more true then the Bible).

    Now for us to know what Christ’s teachings are, and who he is so that we may love him. God being all knowing would provide us with a gospel message. This gospel message (gal. 1:7-9) is not to be perverted in any way. This message is God inspired as Peter wrote and therefore truth. Truth therefore cannot contradict itself. Yet we have a contradiction in the salvation message and what loving Christ consist’s of in supposedly Christ following groups (Muslims consider Jesus a prophet, and his words as Gods words just as any prophet, I’ve read Muslim commentators that state those muslims who don’t believe the words of Jesus are no Muslims at all).

    So using the gospel of Jesus( the four gospels and the letters of the New Testament) I would like you Jay, or any other Mormon to give those who are Traditional Christians here, compelling arguments as to why we should take Mormon doctrine, from Salvation, to the nature of Jesus and God, to even basic church practices, such as the Aaronic Priesthood as truth perscribed by God.

  17. Brooks,
    We have no need or desire to “prove” anything. So as to your last paragraph–I don’t think that’s going to happen here. You are welcome to investigate those things and continue to have the conversation of specifics at another time a place. But the discussion here is different.

    Now if what you said about Latter-day Saints believing like Muslims that Jesus was simply a great prophet and wonderful moral leader–if that were the extent of our testimony or our witness of Christ, than you would be right in assuming that that does not make us Christian. But few people bear stronger witness that Christ is much, much more than that than the Latter-day Saints. Of the His divineness there is no doubt. We bear witness that Jesus is the Christ–the very Anointed One–and of His Messianic mission. The Book of Mormon confirms the truth of the Bible in this fact.

    Like I told you on my blog, all too often it seems like people on both sides of the spectrum are so convinced that they are right and the other is wrong that all understanding ceases.

    I hope that is not the case here. There have been moments when a little light bulb goes on in my head and I begin to have a sense of what all you people are talking about when you claim we’re being disingenuous with our message. Most Mormons, myself included, are at a loss to understand why some (like Neil) would claim that we’re being disingenuous or duplicitous, or even that we worship a “different Jesus”. It’s has though you actually think that we understand exactly what you mean by that and therefore we should be doing things differently. To me, this claim is what actually comes across as disingenuous–because most Mormons, myself included, can not for the life of us grasp what the heck you’re really saying and why the heck you care so much to shove it in our faces. We’re certainly not intentionally trying to be deceptive–it just seems that we’re talking past each other.

    As long has you’re not trying to convince me of the” error of my ways”, and I’m not trying to convince you of yours–I’d like to really try to understand why the constant claim from evangelicals that Mormons worship a “different Jesus”, and therefore are not Christian. I’d be happy to move on to that question, as long as you can finally see that what you’ve been led to believe about the current topic–salvation by works–is a non-issue and false–and just accept that. :) )

    I’ll be honest, the claim that we are not Christian seems so pointless to most Mormons, because we know that we believe and worship Jesus, and are therefore Christian.

    Now as to the claim of “a different Jesus”–that one is a tab bit more interesting. Because I can see “differences” for sure. I’m fully aware of President Hinckley’s statement that “there is some substance to their claim”. I agreed with him when I heard him say that and I agree with them now. You believe in the God of your tradition. We believe in the God of Modern Revelation.

    So the question I have is: Even though we have differences in our Christian beliefs (ie: You believe in the Trinity where all three are one; I believe in the Godhead where there are three distinct beings that are one in purpose)–does that really mean that one of us can’t be Christian? (I don’t necessarily think so).

    Or perhaps the real question is does that really mean that we’re worshiping a “different Jesus”? Or perhaps we’re just worshiping Jesus differently? I think I tend to lean towards the latter.

  18. Okay,
    I’m not trying to be a brat or anything and say “pay attention to me!” and no one is entitled to respond to anyone in any way, but:

    The post of this was that LDS believe that works save them.

    At least 2 LDS comment saying that it isn’t true.

    I post something from, what I would consider an official site saying that the LDS believe our works depend on the level of salvation in the afterlife. Now, depending on how you look at it, you could say works do or do not save you. According to the site, everyone eventually goes to some level of heaven. It is just good works that take you to the middle or highest heaven.

    I know I’m not entitled to a response, I’m just surprised I haven’t gotten one, since it has to do with an official statement of Mormon doctrine talking about salvation. I really would be curious what Jay or CC think.

  19. “Most Mormons, myself included, are at a loss to understand why some (like Neil) would claim that we’re being disingenuous or duplicitous, or even that we worship a “different Jesus”.”

    Mormons who claim they are worshiping the same Jesus are either misinformed about their own religion, not smart enough to undertstand basic logic, or liars.

    When you compare the Bible and Mormon teachings it couldn’t be more clear that there is a difference between an eternal creator Jesus and the Jesus of Mormonism.

    Insisting that they are Christians while actively evangelizing other Christians means they aren’t really Christians, or they think we aren’t Christians and are too gutless to say so.

    Ms. Green – yes, they are very nice. That has been my experience. I’d rather have a Mormon living out his faith than a Muslim, of course. But I think that some of them are “nice” because they are slaves to their works-based system and some aren’t really that nice at all because they are deceivers.

    Here are some excellent resources on Mormonism – http://www.carm.org/mormon.htm

  20. Wow Neil. It must be nice to see everything in such superlative terms–so black and white. We’re either stupid, or we’re liars. That’s all there is to it.

  21. Since CC didn’t want to answer my question, this is to any follower of LDS: What book do you take to “church” with you? The Bible or the Book of Mormon. If you take one of those 5 in ones, which one do you study from? If you take a Triple Combination, which do you study more from, the BofM, the DC, or the PGP? How much honest study is there from the Bible? Why, in the 5in1 is the Bible broken down into the Old Testament and the New Testament? Is it to make the “Another Testament” flow with the first two?

    These are real and serious questions.

  22. Marcus–I thought you were just kidding. Hence the “no response”. I have what I call the “Quadruple Combination”–containing The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, then the Doctrine & Covenants/Pearl of Great Price, along with such other reference materials such as a Topical Guide, a Bible Dictionary/Encyclopedia, and maps of the Holy Land.

    As a Church collectively we study all 4 of what we call “The Standard Works” on a calendar year basis. We’re encouraged to study all of them on our own personally. They all contain God’s words. Last year in Sunday School we studies the Old Testament. This year we’re studying The Book of Mormon in Sunday School. (It rotates between all four major works).

    In the Church Education System, which includes all the “seminaries” for high school aged youth, a similar rotation is used along with the school year calendar. This year we’re teaching The Old Testament. (I actually teach this class at 6am every weekday morning for the juniors and seniors in my home “ward” or congregation, early enough for us to finish the class before they’re off to school for the day. Next year we’ll be teaching The New Testament. In the next two years after that it will be The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants/Church History. That way, the students cover each of the Standard Works during each of their four years of high school.

    We’re encouraged to study and teach from all of the Standard Works–or “The Scriptures” as we normally call them, as all scripture is “given by inspiration of God” and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The LDS edition of the Standard Works contain all kinds of cross-references to each other. They compliment each other and reinforce each other–and they all testify that “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (preface of the Book of Mormon). Their main purpose is to “more fully persuade [us] to believe in the Lord [our] Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23).

    I personally find great comfort, wisdom, solace, joy, and power as I study the scriptures after praying for the Holy Ghost to enlighten my mind and inspire me as I read–in short, to “teach [me] all things, and bring all things to [my] remembrance” (John 14:26).

    I hope that helps…

  23. So, your definition of “Scriptures” are the four works- the Bible (OT and NT), BofM, PGP, not only the Bible.

    If so, here’s another major difference in Christianity and Mormonism. When a Christian says Scripture, we are only speaking of the Bible with the Old and New Testament. Sola Scriptura. Nothing else do we recognize as God’s Word. We do use commentaries and maps, but they do not hold authority nor do they have the power to change hearts as the Bible does. Mormons claim that the BofM and PGP are inspired word form God and that the Bible isn’t as important as the BofM since they claim that it is flawed.

  24. Brooksrobinson said:

    “The problem is the only arguments Mormons tend to use is we love Christ and follow his morals.

    If it was simply as easy as ” claiming to love Christ and follow his teachings”, perhaps we should accept Muslims, since they to claim a love for Christ and follow his teachings…”

    Actually Mormons profess to not only follow Christ but his teachings (which I guess would include morals). Those of the LDS faith also accept Christ (as depicted in the NT) as their Savior. This is something Muslims do not do (thus they are not and do not consider themselves Christian). The lack of acceptance of Christ as a personal Savior is a huge difference between Christians and non-Christians.

    Brooksrobinson said: “Jay, or any other Mormon to give those who are Traditional Christians here, compelling arguments as to why we should take Mormon doctrine, from Salvation, to the nature of Jesus and God, to even basic church practices, such as the Aaronic Priesthood as truth perscribed by God.”

    I don’t ask you to accept anything that Mormons teach. It is hard for me to see how any of the things you have listed would make Mormons non-Christian.

    The argument that Mormons believe in a different Jesus is such a stretch that it is difficult to accept for any but those that actually believe it. It’s like two people that know Bush. One points out his faults and the other says, “That’s not the Bush I know! You must know a different Bush”. It’s still the same Bush, even though they may have different views about the same person. To actually insist that we believe in two different Jesus’ is to take this example to the extreme, and not a very good argument. Yet it continues to be repeated. Now if people like to keep saying it that’s fine but they should at least recognize how silly it sounds to the rest of us.

    Chance,
    I think I already said this and I’m not sure how to say it without repeating myself, but Mormons believe they are saved by the grace of Christ and not by their own works. Mormons, like other Christians, believe they must obey God’s commandments because we love Him. So if God asks us to be baptized (Mark 16:15-16; 1Peter 3:21; John 3:3-7) we humbly submit to his will. In no way do we believe that being baptized is what saves us or any other work for that matter. These are acts of obedience done out of love for a God who has asked us to do them. Without Christ’s great sacrifice no work we can do will ever save us. That is honestly what Mormons believe. I can’t express it any clearer than that.

    Niel said: “Insisting that they are Christians while actively evangelizing other Christians means they aren’t really Christians, or they think we aren’t Christians and are too gutless to say so.”

    Proselytizing to other Christians in no way means that Mormons aren’t Christian (I’m not sure how you make that leap of logic) nor does it mean that those of the LDS faith think other Christians aren’t Christian. Mormons simply believe that the original truths of Christ gospel were lost and have been restored. They want to share that with other Christians that might not be aware of it.

    Marcus Brody said: “What book do you take to “church” with you? The Bible or the Book of Mormon. If you take one of those 5 in ones, which one do you study from? If you take a Triple Combination, which do you study more from, the BofM, the DC, or the PGP? How much honest study is there from the Bible? Why, in the 5in1 is the Bible broken down into the Old Testament and the New Testament? Is it to make the “Another Testament” flow with the first two?”

    That’s a lot to answer. I think what you are really asking is what scriptures do Mormons study from? The answer is all of them. I can speak from personal experience and a lifetime in the Mormon Church that most members bring at least the Book of Mormon and the Bible to Church with them on a weekly basis because we read from each. The Church rotates its study each year between their books of canonized scripture (i.e. Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price). Emphasis for that year is placed on whichever book is being studied but all of the others are used in that study (e.g. cross references, story parallels). Mormons are encouraged to study the Book of Mormon but they are not discouraged from reading any of the others as well and many do. Mormons spend a year heavy study of the Old Testament and a year of heavy study of the New Testament every four years, at least in Church. Study outside of Church is encouraged but largely left up to the individual. I’m not sure what you’re getting at with your last two questions. As far as I know everyone divides the Bible into the Old and New Testament. I guess I could be wrong on that. Please let me know if I am, it would be interesting to know.

    Elisa said: “we are only speaking of the Bible with the Old and New Testament. Sola Scriptura … the Bible isn’t as important as the BofM since they claim that it is flawed.”

    But the Bible itself points to extra-biblical authoritative scripture. What about the prophecy that Christ would be a Nazarene? Where is that found in the Bible? Where is this written? Why is it pointed out as authoritative if the Bible is the one source of God’s word?

    Mormons don’t think the Bible is less important than the Book of Mormon and this would be an incorrect interpretation of Mormon belief. Mormons do not believe the Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible. The Bible is extremely important. While it is not a perfect document (btw neither is the Book of Mormon) it contains the word of God. I think I can speak for all Mormons when I say I would be extremely saddened if we did not have the Bible.

  25. “Chance,
    I think I already said this and I’m not sure how to say it without repeating myself, but Mormons believe they are saved by the grace of Christ and not by their own works. Mormons, like other Christians, believe they must obey God’s commandments because we love Him. So if God asks us to be baptized (Mark 16:15-16; 1Peter 3:21; John 3:3-7) we humbly submit to his will. In no way do we believe that being baptized is what saves us or any other work for that matter. These are acts of obedience done out of love for a God who has asked us to do them. Without Christ’s great sacrifice no work we can do will ever save us. That is honestly what Mormons believe. I can’t express it any clearer than that.”

    No prob, I was just curious, in light of the doctrine of the 3 heavens.

    Just to make sure I understand,
    To get to the Celestial kingdom, you need faith in Christ.

    The terrestrial kingdom is for those who don’t have faith in Christ but live a good life.

    The telestial kingdom is for everyone else.

    Does that sound correct? I’m going off the official .org site.

    Also, again sorry if somebody has covered this, but to make sure I understand… According to the .org site the Bible was somehow corrupted shortly after Jesus Christ’s life on earth, and the purpose of the Joseph Smith Translation (and maybe the BoM) was to correct those corruptions as well.

    I know not every LDS believes the same, but does this sound about right concerning the official doctrine?

  26. Oh my lorddy. this blog is like 20 different preachings all in one. and from like 1 million different standpoints.

    But i would like to extend a Thank You and some brownie points to you who wrote this post. It’s amazing what God can reveal to you by just observing the rediculous standings of another man’s religion.

    I once had some Mormon boys on bicycles stop by my house and give me a Mormon “book” and it tore it up and put it in the sewer. Not to be mean, but to prevent anything that is against God’s pure and Holy word of the Bible from entering my house. My parents were not home, and I have never told anyone about it, but the boys were very polite, and actually kinda cute. I was very dissappointed that some little mormon girl would be the only one allowed to marry those boys.

    For it is BY GRACE and GRACE alone that we are saved. Amen. It’s how i live my life, walking in the Grace that God so freely gave to me. : )

    Have a Wonderful Day, and feel free to stop by my blog.

  27. Jay,

    The reason that I asked my last two questions is because it appears that the Bible (as seen from the point of view of traditional Christianity) is one book, with two parts. The way that I have sometimes seen the Bible portrayed in LDS books is not listed as the Bible, but listed as the Old Testament and the New Testament. That is entirely odd to have them listed that way, rather than just saying “Holy Bible” It appears to me that to have them listed that way is just a play on the title of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; which is meant to imply “Old, New, Another….” I just find it odd. (Now, to be certain, I have seen the LDS Quadruple Combo, which has it listed as just “Bible”)

    What it really, really boils down to is that you MUST look at the testimony of Joseph Smith and see if he was reliable. There are too many questions concerning his character to believe him on this big thing. e.g. Looking at a stone in a hat to find buried treasure??? and the whole Book of Abraham fiasco. If it has been found that he didn’t translate the book of Abraham with any scholarly accuracy, why would or should we believe him about the Book of Mormon? Again, that last question is a real question.

  28. Ephesians 2:8-9 blows this out of the water. We’re saved by God’s sovereign choice (GRACE) through FAITH (not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, not because of our works, so we cannot boast.

    John 6:65 says, “…This is why I told you that no one CAN come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” The word CAN implies ability. Jesus is saying that unless the father grants it, no one is saved. Period.

    http://davidtjordan.wordpress.com/2008/02/26/my-best-life-now-the-im-basically-good-theology/

    ~David

  29. Wow Neil, I’m very impressed with this post. Not that it’s news to me, but I don’t like the mormons parading their beliefs as Christian.

    I love the following:

    A lie is a lie no matter how many people believe it, and the truth is the truth no matter how few people believe it.

    Ain’t that the truth? :)
    Oh and I hadn’t thought of this:

    The Mormons are just another Christian denomination . . . oh, but wait, how many denominations do you know who try to convert people from one Christian denomination to another?

    I should start thinking more. ;) Once again, excellent post.

  30. I’m not sure if this is what you were going for, but it kind of sounds as if the Mormon way involves hard work (and therefore is bad) while the Christian way involves Jesus doing all the heavy lifting…and therefore is good.

    Neil said: Hi Vitamin book – I wouldn’t characterize it quite that way. The fact that Mormonism teaches a works-based salvation isn’t what makes it wrong, it just happens to be wrong. The fact that Christianity has Jesus doing all the lifting (not just the heavy lifting) is true, and it just happens to be a great thing for us. But the fact that it is great for us isn’t what makes it true.

    Hope that helps.

  31. Chance said: “Just to make sure I understand,
    To get to the Celestial kingdom, you need faith in Christ.

    The terrestrial kingdom is for those who don’t have faith in Christ but live a good life.

    The telestial kingdom is for everyone else.

    Does that sound correct? I’m going off the official .org site.

    Also, again sorry if somebody has covered this, but to make sure I understand… According to the .org site the Bible was somehow corrupted shortly after Jesus Christ’s life on earth, and the purpose of the Joseph Smith Translation (and maybe the BoM) was to correct those corruptions as well.

    I know not every LDS believes the same, but does this sound about right concerning the official doctrine?”

    I think you are slightly off on who will go where ( I don’t even feel comfortable making that kind of call). However, if you read Doctrine and Covenants 76 it lists the different degrees of glory (i.e. Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial) and who ends up there. It has more detail than what you have written and will clear up any misconception about what Mormons believe on the subject since it is their canonized scripture. You can find it here: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/76

    I’m not sure if anyone knows how, when or where the errors in the Bible (I know that will irritate a lot of people here, sorry) appeared. I don’t think they all happened after Jesus but over a long period of time.

    Neil said: That is a different topic. The original writings of the Bible are not in error. I’ve seen Mormons go in circles with that as well. I realize that is a convenient way out when people point to the many errors in the BoM and other LDS writings, but it simply isn’t true about the Bible. The art and science of textual criticism make it very clear that we know what the originals said. Even critics agree with that – they just don’t think the originals were inspired.

    This is an extremely important point and you have it wrong (and so does the LDS if that is what they teach).

    bethanygignac said: “It’s amazing what God can reveal to you by just observing the rediculous standings of another man’s religion.

    Amen, except I probably wouldn’t use the word ridiculous, it’s disrespectful and doesn’t make you sound very Christian.

    “I once had some Mormon boys on bicycles stop by my house and give me a Mormon “book” and it tore it up and put it in the sewer.

    I was very dissappointed that some little mormon girl would be the only one allowed to marry those boys.”

    You tore it up? Why? What did you think would happen if you read it? It’s just a book right? If someone gave me a Koran I would keep it and read it. If nothing else it would give me insight into the way they think and what they believe. I may not agree with them but I would then understand them a little better.

    btw Mormon “boys” do marry girls that are not Mormon. It is discouraged but is not uncommon.

    Bro. Rick said: “Now, to be certain, I have seen the LDS Quadruple Combo, which has it listed as just ‘Bible’.”

    This is how I have always heard the Old and New Testament referred to in the LDS Church. However, I understand what you are saying about the play on words. I agree that “Another testament of Christ” is probably meant to conjure up visions of the Bible.

    “Looking at a stone in a hat to find buried treasure??? and the whole Book of Abraham fiasco. If it has been found that he didn’t translate the book of Abraham with any scholarly accuracy, why would or should we believe him about the Book of Mormon?”

    I don’t blame you a bit for being skeptical. I think any truth seeker should be. To be honest I have my own questions about these things. However, there is so much in the LDS faith that is beautifully unique and that harmonizes much better with the Bible that orthodox Christianity. Thank you for your sincere questions and tone, I really have appreciated it.

  32. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that Mormons believe that that Christ’s grace is like the cherry on top of the sundae of our works. It’s really the other way around. Christ indeed does all the heavy lifting. Our works–not His, are like the cherry.

    Neil, don’t you see the damage that this post is doing by misleading unsuspecting persons to have a false idea of what Mormons believe? Perhaps this misrepresentation is intentional?

    Moreover, why anyone would trust you as an authority on what Mormons believe is beyond me.

  33. CC, give me a break. This isn’t news to most people who follow the LDS. You act like I just came up with this on my own. More deception.

    All your comments are here for anyone to read. They can watch how you shifted from your “Aw shucks, I don’t really know anything, but . . .” approach to your detailed defenses of Mormon theology, not to mention glancing at your website to see that this isn’t some part time thing for you. There would be nothing wrong with that, except that you presented yourself otherwise.

    Deception is not a good work.

  34. Neil said: Hi Vitamin book – I wouldn’t characterize it quite that way. The fact that Mormonism teaches a works-based salvation isn’t what makes it wrong, it just happens to be wrong. The fact that Christianity has Jesus doing all the lifting (not just the heavy lifting) is true, and it just happens to be a great thing for us. But the fact that it is great for us isn’t what makes it true.

    Hope that helps.

    So what does make it true?

  35. Christianity is based on history and evidence. We believe that the original texts of the Bible were fully accurate and reliable, as demonstrated by fulfilled prophecies, archeology, historical documents, reliable witnesses, and more. The way the world is matches what Jesus taught. The evidence points out that he really lived, died and rose again, thus validating his claims to be God.

    That’s a snippet, but that’s what I meant when we believe it is true and we think it is Good News, but that we don’t think the fact that it is good news is what makes it true.

  36. Neil said: “The original writings of the Bible are not in error… I realize that is a convenient way out when people point to the many errors in the BoM and other LDS writings, but it simply isn’t true about the Bible.”

    I would like to believe what you say is true but I’m convinced otherwise when I read the Bible itself. The process of corruption continues to day as the Bible undergoes new translations and versions (Teen Bible, Street Bible, etc.). Each time this is done a little more of the truth is lost. You can imagine what this tampering does over time.

  37. CC,
    You and the other Mormons by telling us what they believe is showing us all the falsehood of Mormonism and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt how non-Christian it is. It can not hold up under the scrutiny of the Bible. Mormonism by its own doctrine and by its own disciples has shown us all how false it really is. You are seeing the problems that your religion has.

    Being Christian and knowing our Lord through His Word, we can not give your religion the validation that you so strongly desire. It is not Christian. Your religion does not believe the basics of Christianity that Christians believe. That’s been shown here by the writings of Mormons themselves.

    So don’t blame Neil.

  38. Elisa, that’s the biggest bunch of hocus pocus I’ve ever heard.

    Neil, please tell me when I’ve ever come across as “aw shucks I just don’t know”. I’ve been very honest about those things we don’t know (and have even speculated) and the things we do.

    Neil said: Fair enough – I didn’t characterize that well, so I retract the comment and apologize. I’m mainly focused on what I see as the disconnect between the “we’re the same / but you need to join our church” contrast from the LDS.

  39. Part of the problems here seem to be that the Mormons don’t see the sinfulness of sin, or any other group that basis their salvation on works. Even after we are born-again and made a new creation, with His righteousness, our works are still unacceptable because of our sin. In other words, we still need HIS righteousness to make our works acceptable. Thinking that my works add anything to my salvation is the problem. They don’t add a bit to it. Yes, I do works because He has prepared them for me to do, but I don’t boast in them. Go back and look at Ephesians 2:8-10. Don’t leave out verse 10. Therefore when I do anything good, there is no boasting in it, resting in it, because He prepared that work for me before the foundations of the world.

    If I try to offer it to God for reward, or acceptance, it’s rejected, because even our works after salvation has comes, are tainted with sin.

    This is why works-based systems are so heinous. They teach that we are acceptable to the Father based on something we have done. We are accepted based on works, but not our works, the works of Christ.

    The other problem with Mormonism that has not been expresses is that it is another system of morality. Christianity is not a system of morality. Any two-bit preacher can erect a system of morality, do’s and don’ts with God. And we can conform to them. The problem is that those systems damn us.

    What we need to understand is that the gospel is such that we are brought to God with nothing at all to offer. The gospel isn’t looking to turn us into morality keepers, but looking to convert our souls. Since the basic doctrine of Mormonism is that we must do all these things, than the true gospel is not preached… a gospel showing us our worthlessness before God and a true NEED to be saved by another, nothing in and of ourselves.

  40. According to the Joseph Smith translation, this is Romans 4:16:

    The note on 4:16 says
    “Both faith and works, through grace, are necessary for salvation. ”

    The Joseph Smith Translation states:
    16 Therefore ye are justified of faith and works, through grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to them only who are of the law, but to them also who are of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.”

    NIV translation:
    Romans 4:16 “16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”

  41. “Neil said: “The original writings of the Bible are not in error… I realize that is a convenient way out when people point to the many errors in the BoM and other LDS writings, but it simply isn’t true about the Bible.”

    I would like to believe what you say is true but I’m convinced otherwise when I read the Bible itself. The process of corruption continues to day as the Bible undergoes new translations and versions (Teen Bible, Street Bible, etc.). Each time this is done a little more of the truth is lost. You can imagine what this tampering does over time.”

    Thanks for the softball ;-). This is a crucially important topic, because you presented a pervasive myth that is pretty easy to disprove. And it shows how the Mormon claims of contamination are demonstrably false, because they don’t understand how the texts were transmitted. In order for the corruption myth to be true, the very first copy of the original would have had to have major corruption and no more copies of the original could have been made. But that is an outrageous claim to make.

    How many translations has the Bible gone through? One. Just one time from the original language to the language and version of your Bible. The original writings were copied many times, but the Bible you hold was only translated once.

    Many people – including some Christians – are quick to say that the Bible has been translated and changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t know what the original writings said. For example, I once saw a video clip where Deepak Chopra (alleged religious expert) claimed that the King James was the 13th iteration of the Bible.

    But contrary to that myth, the books of the Bible have only been translated once and the copying process was very robust, dependable and verifiable.

    For example, Paul wrote in Greek, and we have Greek manuscripts to make translations from. That is one translation.

    Conventional wisdom: Tranlations from one language to another to another . . .

    Greek original ==> Latin translation ==> other translations ==> King James version ==> New International Version, etc.

    What actually happened: Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> Latin version

    Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> King James version

    Greek original ==> copies of Greek original ==> New International Version

    Note that even liberal textual critics such as Bart Ehrman will concede that we know what the originals said. (They just don’t think it was inspired by God, but that is a different discussion).

    More here – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2006/12/04/how-many-times-was-your-bible-been-translated/

    and here

    http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/the-telephone-game-and-the-new-testament/

  42. Neil,

    That’s quite true. I’d be much more impressed if Mormons claimed the Bible was corrupted because of the selection process — some books went in, and others rejected. That has much more evidence both historically and archaeologically. The selection of books in the Bible were heavily influenced by culture and the prevailing politics.

  43. “The selection of books in the Bible were heavily influenced by culture and the prevailing politics.”

    Another DaVinci Code School graduate, I see. I recommend A General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix.

  44. No, UNC Chapel Hill. I recommend Bart Erhman’s “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why”. It’s a very enlightening read.

    Neil said: I’ll blog on Erhman’s errors sometime. Short version: Ironically, despite his misleading title, he concedes that we know what the originals said for all important doctrines. He just thinks that if they were inspired that copyist errors wouldn’t be possible (as if God would zap you for a typo?).

  45. Hi Neil,
    Great work on text criticism. I think the most enlightening information is the book by Metzger on the most troubling variations in all the manuscripts we have. Even if you look at those 50 variations, which are typically difficult passages to translate to begin with, not one of them would change a single doctrine of the faith. That has always been encouraging to me.

    Blessings and great work.

  46. It is samantics at its worst. Mormons and other Christians believe in the same Jesus of the New Testament (at least I my impression is that other Christians believe in the Jesus of the NT) and both believe that without Christ’s grace we have no hope.”

    Why do you continue to deny that you worship a different Jesus?

    Mormons worship a Jesus who was “firstborn” as in “created”, which means he didn’t always exist. According to them, he was born in Jerusalem.

    Christians worship Jesus the “firstborn” as in preiminence – Who is preexisting and eternally the first Son before all others who by his grace are welcomed into the family of God as adopted sons and daughters. According to the Bible, He was born in Bethlehem.

    According to Mormonism, Jesus had a spirit brother named Lucifer.

    According to the Bible, Jesus’ only brothers were half-brothers who were born on earth to Mary.

    I would have more respect for Mormon beliefs if it was admitted that it is not Christianity. When I hear “we’re Christians”, I see that as dishonest. Also, why do I see so many LDS commercials that appear to be all about the Bible and Jesus up front, but in reality, that’s just bait to get people interested. Why not start the commercials out by saying “The Bible isn’t enough. Learn the rest of the story through the Book of Mormon”. That would be a more honest approach in presenting your religion to others.

  47. Ms. Green,
    Why the inability to agree to disagree? Why can’t I share my testimony, and you share yours, and though we may be different, why can’t we respect each other’s view? And find the commonality rather than the divisiveness? We can still disagree without being disagreeable.

    I would venture to say that I am the world’s authority on what I believe. You are not.

    I quote from Stephen Robinson: “When non-Mormons attempt to impose doctrines on the Latter-day Saints or interpret them for us, the resulting fictions generally fall into one of three categories: outright fabrications, distortions of genuine LDS doctrines into unrecognizable forms, or the representation of anomalies within the LDS tradition as mainline or official LDS teaching.” (“Are Mormons Christian?”)

    I’m not trying to minimize our differences. But it’s not your job to criticize them either. I’m not afraid to share distinctive LDS beliefs about Jesus and His redemptive mission. But nor am I afraid to explore commonalities.

    I believe that I am a Christian because I accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, try to follow his moral commands as best as possible, as well as his teachings about who he is. This is actually at the heart of what I believe. But I am not saying that I am “just like you”. I am Christian no doubt, but different.

    Now of course if Latter-day Saints believed only that Jesus was simply a great prophet and wonderful moral leader–if that were the extent of our testimony or our witness of Christ, than they would be right in assuming that that does not make us Christian. But few people bear stronger witness that Christ is much, much more than that than do the Latter-day Saints. Of His divineness there is no doubt. We bear witness that Jesus is the Christ–the very Anointed One–and of His Messianic mission. The Book of Mormon confirms the truth of the Bible in this fundamental fact. So to be very honest, the claim that we are not Christian seems so pointless to most Mormons, because we know that we believe in and worship Jesus, and are therefore Christian.

    But the claim of “a different Jesus”–that one is a tab bit more interesting. Because there are “differences” in our belief for sure. We believe in the Christ of the Bible, but not the Christ of post-biblical councils and creeds. I was there in person and remember when President Hinckley said:

    “As a Church we have many critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient traditions, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes from the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke to them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision of the Almighty Redeemer of the world glorifying our understanding, but unequivocating in the knowledge it brought.” (April 2002 General Conference)

    Can it be put any more simply? You believe in the God of the historical tradition. We believe in the God of Modern Revelation. Yes, this is a difference. No one has ever claimed “we’re the same”. Either Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ standing next to him in the air, or he did not. If he did, then that was the most significant event to occur since the Resurrection of Christ. He learned more about God in that short moment than all the “learned” of ages past combined.

    You’re obviously convinced that did not happen. So what? Don’t get so worked up about it that you spend your time blogging about Mormons instead of the greatness of your own beliefs. Who freaking cares how we share our message? That’s between us and God. Don’t take such personal offense to it. Because if it is true, and I know it is, then you could be learning a lot more in addition to your existing knowledge. None of it is contradictory to the Bible. It’s only contradictory to the post-biblical councils and creeds that you cling so hard to. And it it’s not contradictory to the Bible (maybe to your interpretation of it) than we shouldn’t be excluded from “Christianity”. It’s pointless to argue this–you’re not going to get anywhere. We’ll go on believing what it is we believe notwithstanding all your complaining.

    Even though we have differences in our Christian beliefs, (ie: Evangelicals believe in the Trinity where all three are one; I believe in the Godhead where there are three distinct beings that are one in purpose) does that really mean that one of us can’t be Christian? I don’t necessarily think so. Or rather, do those differences really mean that we’re worshiping a “different Jesus”? I think the better answer is that perhaps we’re just worshiping Jesus differently.

    So let me believe what I believe and I’ll let you believe what you believe. “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (11th Article of Faith)

  48. Don’t get so worked up about it that you spend your time blogging about Mormons instead of the greatness of your own beliefs. Who freaking cares how we share our message?”

    With all due respect, CC, my few posts have been short and to the point. Compare that to your very lengthy and agitated response to my last post. I would say that you are the one getting worked up. I am simply pointing out the the Jesus Mormons worship is not the same Jesus Christians worship.

    As for Joseph Smith seeing God, that also contradicts Scripture, which says that no man has seen God – and that God is a Spirit, not flesh and blood. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God was flesh and blood. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

    Why the inability to agree to disagree? Why can’t I share my testimony, and you share yours, and though we may be different, why can’t we respect each other’s view? And find the commonality rather than the divisiveness? We can still disagree without being disagreeable.”

    I thought that was what we were doing here at Neil’s place – sharing our testimonies and agreeing to disagree. I have gone back over my posts and I don’t believe any of them can be shown to be rude or impolite. I am simply comparing Mormon teachings with Scripture and pointing out the differences. I don’t call that being divisive. I do respect you and your view, but I disagree with you. I’m saying that according to Scripture, Mormon teachings are in error and contradict the Bible. No one here has proven this to be wrong.

  49. Clean Cut,
    The problem is that you think it’s just a matter of opinion for which we differ. NO! Not at all. Eternal salvation is in view here. It is stupid to sit back and think that we can just sort of casually disagree to such issues. When the salvation of men and women are at stake, then it if vital that we are clear on what we teach and preach. This is why we reject your doctrine, and do so vehemently, because it leads to damnation since it does not depict the living and true Savior, or God.

    So if you want to sit back and casually lead your family and friends down a path that leads to hell, OK. But to try and lead us down that road and wonder why we do take strong stands, that’s foolish.

    From what I have read here, your doctrine has been soundly refuted , but you continue to hold to it. That is fine for you. But nuts to expect us to agree to disagree as if we were talking about the color of the clouds.

  50. CC, the “worshiping Jesus differently” may seem like a nice sound bite but it falls apart quickly. Getting it wrong on monotheism vs. polytheism is a bigger deal than that, especially because it doesn’t just stop at three Gods for the LDS as you seem to imply.

    Your religion teaches that we become Gods. That is in opposition to the Bible, which clearly teaches that there is one God before, now and forever.

    “Why the inability to agree to disagree? Why can’t I share my testimony, and you share yours, and though we may be different, why can’t we respect each other’s view? And find the commonality rather than the divisiveness? We can still disagree without being disagreeable.”

    I can’t see where you come off criticizing Ms. Green. No one prevented you from sharing your testimony. You’ve done it at length here. She treated you with respect, and she was in no way disagreeable.

    “I would venture to say that I am the world’s authority on what I believe. You are not.”

    You’ve mentioned that before and no one is disputing it. What is up for discussion is what the Mormon church was founded on and continues to teach. You may think you are the world’s authority on that but some of us have read and studied it fairly extensively as well, and the words of your holy books, founders and leaders simply don’t match up with the Bible.

    And the “we love the Bible / but it was corrupted and still has mistakes from countless changes” line of reasoning goes in circles yet again and is easy to disprove.

  51. Chance, on May 20th, 2008 at 4:30 pm Said:

    According to the Joseph Smith translation, this is Romans 4:16:

    The note on 4:16 says
    “Both faith and works, through grace, are necessary for salvation. ”

    LDS followers, go back up and look at Chance’s post. Everyone seemed to ignore it. I think it is worth looking at and talking about.

    That brings us back to the reliability of Joseph Smith. It was your prophet/president that said that the whole of the Mormon faith rests on Joseph Smith (or something to that effect). So, what about the “looking at a rock in a hat” and the book of Abraham translation? Jay said that these are problems, but that “there is so much in the LDS faith that is beautifully unique and that harmonizes much better with the Bible that orthodox Christianity”. Jay, are you saying that despite the problems you have with the origin of Mormonism and the reliability of the founder, you chose to believe it anyway because it makes you feel good? I certainly don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please expound upon this for me.

    I would have a problem with it because the whole origin of Mormonism contradicts the Bible so much.

  52. CC said,

    “None of it [The Book of Mormon] is contradictory to the Bible. It’s only contradictory to the post-biblical councils and creeds that you cling so hard to.”

    Just to clarify, are you saying there is no contradiction between the BoM and the Bible as we [non-Mormons] know it, or there is no contradiction between the BoM and the Joseph Smith Translation? Because I would say there is contradictions between the BoM and the Bible as I know it.

  53. Elisa said: “Being Christian and knowing our Lord through His Word, we can not give your religion the validation that you so strongly desire.”

    Mormons don’t need validation from anyone but God. To think that the LDS faith needs validation from other Christians is a somewhat arrogant assumption. LDS member know they are Christian and it doesn’t really matter if some other Christians think they are not.

    Neil said: Really? Because they seem to be working overtime to convey they “Mormons are Christians” message here and in their marketing literature.

    Timothy said: “Yes, I do works because He has prepared them for me to do, but I don’t boast in them.”

    In what ways do Mormons boast of their works? I’m not too clear on that. I don’t really see too many LDS members walking down the street saying, “I’m baptized and your not.” What exactly are you talking about?

    They teach that we are acceptable to the Father based on something we have done.”

    Mormons teach we are acceptable to the father by accepting his son as our Savior and doing works which he asks us to do, humbly, out of love for Him.

    “It is stupid to sit back and think that we can just sort of casually disagree to such issues. When the salvation of men and women are at stake”

    I agree, but there does have to come a point when you recognize that the person you are having a conversation with is unwilling to change and just accept that.

    Neil said: Yes, that is why we don’t just address these comments to you. We want to prevent others from making a mistake.

    Niel said: “In order for the corruption myth to be true, the very first copy of the original would have had to have major corruption and no more copies of the original could have been made. But that is an outrageous claim to make.”

    And how long after Christ died were the first original copies of the Books of the New Testament written, 100, 200, 300 years? If they got everything 100% right I would be very impressed, that’s some memory!

    Neil said: Your comments about the Bible are mistaken, though I appreciate that you aren’t pretending to esteem and proclaim its truths as some Mormons do.

    See When was the New Testament written? for an overview of when the New Testament was written. One can make a strong case that it was within 40 years or so of Jesus’ resurrection, with much of it written much closer. Even liberal critical scholars concede that Paul wrote most of the letters attributed to him before he died in Rome in the mid-60′s.

    And even the most liberal critical scholars will say the NT was written within 100 years, so I don’t know where you came up with 200 or 300 years – especially since it was 1800 years later for Smith.

    What is even funnier is that you are the ones claiming continual revelation, so the dating should be irrelevant for you!

    With somone like Joseph Smith on your side and his “translation of Abraham” I’m surprised you would criticize the Bible even if your dating assertions were true – http://www.carm.org/lds/ldspapyri.htm

    Mike said: “I’d be much more impressed if Mormons claimed the Bible was corrupted because of the selection process — some books went in, and others rejected.”

    We argue that too.

    Neil said: And we’re just arguing that the original selection process was right and that the BoM doesn’t meet the criteria.

    “Getting it wrong on monotheism vs. polytheism is a bigger deal than that, especially because it doesn’t just stop at three Gods for the LDS as you seem to imply.”

    There is only one God that LDS members worship, even if they believe there are many gods other than God the Father.

    Neil said: Thanks for conceding that the LDS believes that there are many other gods. This is in direct contrast to the Bible, and one of the many reasons it is deceptive to say that Mormons are Christians.

    Ms. Green: “Why do you continue to deny that you worship a different Jesus?”

    Because my conscience won’t let me contradict my belief in my Savior Jesus Christ. I will not deny him even though you or anyone else asks me to and I hope you wouldn’t either.

    “I would have more respect for Mormon beliefs if it was admitted that it is not Christianity.”

    I guess you will just have to disrespect LDS member then. They will not deny their ties to the Christ and Savior to us all.

    “When I hear “we’re Christians”, I see that as dishonest.”

    I’m sorry you feel that way, but LDS members feel that trying to cast them as some pagan religion outside of Christianity is dishonest. If you think that people, as a whole, really believe Mormons to be non-Christian, next time you are at Borders Book Store go to the Christian section and see if you find Mormon literature. Everyone accepts Mormons as Christian, but those that have some agenda or feel threatened by them.

    Neil said: Gee, if pagan bookstores lump LDS books in with Christian literature, I guess that settles it. I didn’t know they were inspired ;-) .

    “As for Joseph Smith seeing God, that also contradicts Scripture, which says that no man has seen God – and that God is a Spirit, not flesh and blood. Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God was flesh and blood. ‘God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ John 4:24”

    You forgot John 1:18 that says “No man hath seen God at any time…”

    The only problem with these verses is that the Bible itself contradicts them. Several people have seen God.

    Exodus 24:9-11 “And they saw the God of Israel.”

    Genesis 32:24-30. “for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

    John 6:46 says, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father”

    Genesis 12:7 “And the Lord appeared unto Abram,”

    Acts 7:56 “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”

    Exodus 33:11 “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend.”

    Numbers 12:5-8 “The righteous are promised; “And they shall see his face.”

    “I’m saying that according to Scripture, Mormon teachings are in error and contradict the Bible. No one here has proven this to be wrong.”

    I don’t doubt that any Mormon could fail to convince you of something you are so adamantly opposed to in the first place. However, I am satisfied that many of the arguments that have been made are convincing to those that honestly look at the Bible and are willing to be objective seekers of truth. I have learned a lot from the discussions I’ve had here. Some things I realize I need to study more and some things that have been said have convinced me that orthodox Christianity while overall is good it is not something I choose to believe in. In the end as I’m sure all would agree there is no “proving” that God exists or that this or that religion is true. Only individuals can convince themselves that it is true, have faith and believe.

    Neil said: That is also in opposition to Christianity. The Bible encourages us to reason and it offers evidence for the resurrection. We aren’t told to take it on blind faith or trust some “burning in the bosom.”

    Thanks to everyone that has engaged me in conversation. I hold no ill feeling toward you and I wish you the best. I feel that any discussion where I can walk away having learned about someone else’s sincere beliefs and feel respect for them is a good one. God bless.

  54. Jay:

    “Mormons don’t need validation from anyone but God.”

    Gods validation is what he had men write in the Word. Which is how we are supposed to test if something is validated by God or not.

    “Because my conscience won’t let me contradict my belief in my Savior Jesus Christ.”

    Then you deny the scriptures for your conscience’s sake.

    “but LDS members feel that trying to cast them as some pagan religion outside of Christianity is dishonest”

    Mormonism is a pagan religion outside the Christian Church. It believes in many existing gods (pagan polytheism) and it does not reflect the scriptures given to us to bring us truth about our Savior.

    “The only problem with these verses is that the Bible itself contradicts them. Several people have seen God.”

    False, no one has seen God face to face. People have seen his manifestation into Angelic forms,bushes and clouds etc., his image projected in Jesus, and in Moses’ case, his back. But no man has seen God as he is, on his thrown, face to face. He also most certainly does not describe himself as flesh and bones either.

    “And how long after Christ died were the first original copies of the Books of the New Testament written, 100, 200, 300 years?”

    Try 20years. Not to mention some of Paul’s letters were written prior to the gospels and state there was a gospel prior to the 4 we have. Paul writes that he received a gospel (from Peter), and passed it along. If this is the case, and since Paul was converted within a couple of years after the resurrection. This would mean there was some sort of gospel message that was known right after Christ’s resurrection.

    It is also interesting to note, this gospel message contained Jesus as being the very being as God the Father, because in his writings when he flat out says this, he doesn’t explain this, as if its some sort of new thing he came up with. In other words, the churches by late 40′s early 50′s had already been worshiping Jesus as the same being as God the Father. Considering the Apostles (Paul included) were alive then, the Mormon argument of “the church became apostate after the apostles and taught doctrines such as the trinity,” fails to hold up to itself. Therefore the unifying belief of Mere Christianity (as CS Lewis coined), the same belief that unifies me with Catholics, Orthodoxy, and the other non-cultist denominations of Protestantism, has been the same belief taught by the Apostles right after Christ.
    Be honest friend.

    In Christ,
    Brooks Robinson

  55. “Just to clarify, are you saying there is no contradiction between the BoM and the Bible as we [non-Mormons] know it, or there is no contradiction between the BoM and the Joseph Smith Translation? Because I would say there is contradictions between the BoM and the Bible as I know it.”

    I addressed this question to CC, but any other LDS is welcome to answer it.

  56. Hey Chance, that’s right. The scriptures compliment each other. They do not contradict each other. Obviously some scriptures, if isolated, might seem to teach something contradictory upon first glance.

    Neil said: You are wildly mistaken. The Bible couldn’t be more clear that Christianity is monotheistic. Mormonism is polytheistic. That’s just one of its many errors.

    But in context, looking at the whole picture, and weighed against the truth as found elsewhere–it all comes together in one great whole. One of the impressive things about the Restoration is how well it brings together various aspects of the scriptures.

    As for the Joseph Smith translation, the Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph “to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written.

    Neil said: That is a lie. We know what the originals said. The words were not lost, so there was nothing to restore. And the book of Abraham, among other things, shows what a fraud Smith was.

    These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding….Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world.

    Neil said: I’ll grant you that!

    In this sense, the word translation is used in a broader and different way than usual, for Joseph’s translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another.” (see http://scriptures.lds.org/en/jst/contents)

    Neil said: That means nothing. We know what the original Greek said, so Smith’s couldn’t have been “more revelation” than that. It is obvious that Smith added in his works-based theology (you know, the one you keep denying exists) to the text.

  57. This might be more than any of you care to read, but it is applicable to the discussion. The lengthy excerpt is from Stephen Robinson’s “Are Mormons Christian?”:

    “If by “the doctrine of the Trinity” one means the New Testament teaching that there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost, all three of whom are fully divine, then the Latter-day Saints believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. It is as simple as that…However, if by “the doctrine of the Trinity” one means the doctrine formulated by the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon and elaborated upon by subsequent theologians and councils–that God is three coequal persons in one substance or essence–then Latter-day Saints do not believe it. They do not believe it, because it is not biblical.”

    Neil said: That is demonstrably false, which is why the LDS is a cult.

    “It is absurdly contradictory to say on the one hand, as some critics of the Latter-day Saints do, that the Bible alone is sufficient for salvation (the doctrine of sola scriptura), and then to add that one must also believe the creeds in addition to the Bible in order to even be a Christian.”

    Neil said: Straw man. The creeds agree with the Bible, the Bible agrees with the creeds. The BoM does not.

    “Thus the Latter-day Saints simply prefer to do without such conciliar “summaries” and to stick to the scriptures themselves. The un-summarized Bible is fine just as it is; bring forward any creed composed entirely of scriptural passages and the Latter-day Saints will heartily affirm every word.”

    Neil said: Hmmm . . . that’s not what I’ve been hearing from Mormons here. They say the Bible has been corrupted.

    “…Even today the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity is not understood in exactly the same way by all orthodox Christians…This may seem like a small detail to nontheologians, but it is a dispute over the very nature of God, and it is serious enough to have separated the theologies of the East and West for nine hundred years. Latter-day Saints believe in the biblical Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but we are accused of being non-Christians because our concept of their nature differs from that of other Christians…”

    “Ultimately, being Christian is less a matter of perceiving God in the same Nicene or Chalcedonian terms as other Christians do, and more a matter of perceiving God in the same biblical terms as the first Christians did. Did the atonement of Christ save first century Corinthians and Galatians, even though they did not conceive of God in Nicene terms? Of course it did. And if that is true, then the atonement of Christ can and will save faithful Latter-day Saints who accept the New Testament witness yet do not conceive of God in Nicene terms.”

    Neil said: But that isn’t the problem, is it?

    And what about that scripture in John 4:24 that teaches very clearly that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”? “The Latter-day Saints do not dispute this passage at all, unless it is interpreted as limiting God to being “merely” a spirit. For even trinitarians must interpret John 4:24 in a way that allows for the corporeality of the resurrected Christ.”

    “Is it possible to have faith in everything the New Testament says about Jesus Christ and still not be a Christian? Just how adequate, how competent, is the unadorned biblical proclamation? Will the atonement of Christ be effective for someone who believes every single word of the New Testament, but believes God the Father could have a tangible body like his Son? Even though the New Testament is silent on the issue, will such an opinion cancel the efficacy of Christ’s atonement in that person’s life? Are we to believe that those who worship a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost perceived as homoousios (Greek for “of the same substance”) will enjoy eternal bliss, while those who worship a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost perceived as homoiousios (Greek for “of like substance”) will, as heretics, be denied the blessings of salvation, even though neither word can be found in the teachings of Jesus or his Apostles, or be found anywhere in scripture?”

    “Those critics who deny Christianity to the Latter-day Saints for not accepting the doctrines of the councils imply that the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles were incomplete and inadequate for salvation until supplemented and defined by the church fathers—the “new, improved” Christianity of the fourth and fifth centuries. Latter-day Saints see this rejection of the primitive biblical Christianity in favor of the expanded philosophical Christianity of later times as ‘making the word of God [the New Testament] of none effect through your [philosophical] tradition’ (see Mark 7:13).”

    Neil said: That isn’t true at all. What is comical about that quote is that Mormons claim special revelation to Joseph Smith, who has been disproven left and right, yet they deny it to the 4th/5th century Christians. If Mr. Smith got special revelation, why not other Christians?

    “The Latter-day Saints accept unequivocally all the biblical teachings on the nature of God, but they reject the extrabiblical elaborations of the councils and creeds.

    Neil said: But they accept the extrabibical fictions of Joseph Smith?!

    A doctrinal exclusion applied to the Latter-day Saints for rejecting the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity is invalid because that doctrine was not taught in the Bible or in the early Christian church. It is not found in the teachings of the Apostolic Fathers or those of the Greek Apologists. Even today Eastern and Western orthodoxies still disagree strongly over both the precise nature of God and the exact wordings of the major creed of Christianity (the “filioque” dispute). If in order to be a true Christian one must conceive of the Christian God in precisely the terms of Nicene orthodoxy, then all Christians who lived before the fifth century, and all those on at least one side of the “filioque” dispute since the eighth century, must be excluded as Christians as well as the Latter-day Saints.” Moreover, it is contradictory for Protestants to insist on the doctrine of “sola scriptura”—that the Bible alone is sufficient for salvation—in one context, and then to turn around and add nonscriptural requirements for salvation, like acceptance of councils and creeds, in other contexts.”

    Neil said: First, they are scriptural. Second, we are pointing back to scripture, not creeds. CC is once again answering a question that hasn’t been asked and avoiding the questions that have been asked.

    “Latter-day Saints agree that God the Father is spirit in the highest sense of the word, but they deny that this limits him to incorporeality. God is a spirit in the person of the Holy Ghost, but in the person of the Son, God has a tangible body. On the grounds of modern revelation Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father also has a tangible body, but they grant that this cannot be proved or disproved from the Bible. Still, given their philosophical assumptions it is the orthodox who must, without biblical warrant, dismiss the biblical anthropomorphisms applied to God as merely figurative, while the Latter-day Saints accept them at face value. The anthropomorphic view of God is compatible with biblical imagery, but conflicts with the Greek philosophical definition of God. If conceiving of God in anthropomorphic terms, as the Latter-day Saints do, excludes one from being a Christian, then most Christians, both ancient and modern, must also be excluded, for most are guilty in some degree of conceiving of God in anthropomorphic biblical terms rather than in the abstract terms of philosophical theology. Moreover, since the Bible itself describes God in anthropomorphic language, even if such descriptions are understood merely as helpful symbolism or allegory, it cannot be seriously argued that perceiving God in anthropomorphic terms is an un-Christian practice.”

  58. Admittedly, some unique LDS beliefs are not found in the Bible. That does not mean that they run contrary to the Bible—just that they’re not there.

    Neil said: They wouldn’t necessarily have to run counter to the Bible, but it turns out that they do run counter to the Bible.

    Some beliefs come on the basis of modern revelation. (It’s pretty well know that Latter-day Saints have an expanded canon of scripture compared to the rest of the Christian world.)

    Again, to quote Robinson:
    “Some critics of the Latter-day Saints maintain that since Mormons have a different canon than the Christian canon, since they add books of scripture to the Christian Bible, Mormons cannot be Christians.

    “The Bible doesn’t forbid a departure from the Christian canon either by addition or subtraction. (The commandment found in Deuteronomy 4:1-2 applied only to the book of Deuteronomy, and likewise the Revelation 22:18-19 refers only to the book of Revelation—not the entire Bible. Although the naïve reader of the Bible might logically assume it does since it comes at the end of the Bible, but most scholars agree that Revelation wasn’t written last—only included last when the Bible as we know it was compiled).

    “In fact, every one of the Old Testament prophets “added” to the words of his predecessors. Any student of the Bible knows that various authors of the Bible “added to” or “took away from” words of other prophets. So the issue in this case is clearly not whether one adds to the canon of scripture—all the biblical Apostles and prophets did that (without ceasing to be Christians I might add)—but whether the one who does so has been authorized and commanded by God.

    “It is not necessary to prove here that the scriptures received by Joseph Smith are genuine. The question is not whether Joseph Smith, like the New Testament authors, added to the Christian canon, but whether Joseph Smith, like the New Testament authors, had apostolic authority. If he did, then what he added to the biblical scriptures is Christian. Now, one could object that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and did not hold apostolic authority, but that is still abandoning the canonical or Biblical exclusion and retreating to a different argument.

    “One hidden motivation behind the canonical exclusion is the firm conviction among most non-Mormons that there will never be any more Apostles and prophets. If that conviction were true, then it would follow that there could be no additional scriptures, for no one would have the apostolic authority to write them. Latter-day Saints simply deny that the conviction is true, for no biblical warrant can be found for it.”

    Neil said: One big straw man. Nobody light a match.

  59. CC – yes, that was more than I cared to read. You are offering lots of Mormon propaganda that doesn’t even address the questions that have been raised. How about sticking to those for now?

    There is ample evidence – from the Bible, and even archeological – that Jesus was worshiped as God.

    And of course, none of what you posted has anything to address the Mormon polytheism that runs directly counter to scripture. It was basically straw man arguments about creeds. I see that you keep repeating that dodge (“we believe the Bible, not the creeds”). It just so happens that the creeds agree with the Bible. And as Jay noted, the alleged belief in the Bible is really pretty shallow and disingenuous, at least with some Mormons.

  60. Oh, I’ll get to the Polytheism claim Neil. But first, address this. Believe me, it’s no straw man. This is an argument that has been used already by people in this discussion.

    Last lengthy quote by Stephen Robinson:

    Neil said: Nope, the previous was the last one. You’ve offered enough logical fallacies for today and have continued to dodge fair questions.

  61. The Bible as we know it in the modern period is a product of the Christian church, rather than the other way around. Since it is clear that there were Christians before the New Testament was written, it cannot be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. Latter-day Saints reject this and all other enthusiastic claims about the Bible that cannot be found in the Bible.

    Neil said: Another straw man. No one said you have to have the Bible to be a Christian (see the criminal on the cross). But if your religion teaches the opposite of the Bible on many important points it is not a Christian denomination. If your religion lies about the Bible then it is not a Christian religion. And, once again, your founders and leaders claimed until recently that they were the one true church and we were apostates – http://www.carm.org/lds/attack.htm .

  62. Followers of LDS,

    If Joseph Smith made such grave errors in the translation of the Book of Abraham, why would he have not made the same gross errors in translating the Book of Mormon?

    I’d really like to know.

  63. Clean Cut:

    “The Bible as we know it in the modern period is a product of the Christian church, rather than the other way around.”

    Whats your proof of this? We have in our possession, 5600 Greek manuscripts that date less then 100years of the originals. The first 2 centuries of Church fathers in their writings could alone construct the whole New Testament. Bruce Metzger, the renowned Biblical scholar has said what we have of the Bible today, is 99.5% textually error free from the originals. So when you make claims like this, you better be able to back this claim with compelling arguments and proof, and not because your Church elder told you this.

  64. References quoted by CC to somehow show a contradiction concerning “seeing” God are either Christophanies or reference seeing God in a form – but not a bodily form. For instance, God sometimes was represented in the Shekinah Cloud of Glory.

    No where does the Bible say that God the Father took on the form of a man. Jesus Christ did that.

  65. This isn’t a fallacy Neil. Don’t be affraid of it:

    Neil said: Don’t confuse irritation with fear. You are the one who won’t answer the simple questions presented and just fill up my comments section with one set of non-sequitor Mormon propoganda quotes after another. How about saving those for your blog instead of doing a copy/paste job here?

    Welcome to the world of moderation, reserved for mischievous commenters.

    I’ll dissect this one just for grins so you can’t run off with martyr status.

    “Another motivation behind the canonical exclusion is the conviction of the excluders that the Bible alone is enough, that the present canon is so perfect, so complete, that it cannot possibly be improved upon. This is an extreme form of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, which insists that the Bible is perfect and without error, that it is complete, and that it answers all theological questions with clarity. With such perfection in the Bible, inerrantists argue, any further scriptural revelation would be superfluous and redundant. Often Latter-day Saints are confronted with some version of the following inerrantist logic:
    1. All religious truth is found in the Bible.

    Neil said: All truth is God’s truth. The Bible is indeed complete and without error, though the Mormons here have a disingenuous way of saying “We love the Bible! (it is has lots of mistakes, was written 300 years after the fact, etc.) We love the Bible!”

    2. The revelations of Jospeh Smith are not found in the Bible.
    3. Therefore the revelations of Joseph Smith are not religious truth.

    Neil said: The revelations of Joseph Smith of Joseph Smith aren’t religious truth unless they agree with the Bible (they don’t) and they aren’t religious truth because he was a false prophet (Book of Abraham, among others).

    But to this I would add the following:

    4. Premise number 1 is not found in the Bible, either.
    5. Therefore premise number 1 is not religious truth.
    6. And if premise number 1 is not religious truth, then neither is conclusion 3, which is based upon it.

    Neil said: Thanks for responding to an argument not made.

    Extreme inerrantists will hotly dispute premise number 4; nevertheless it is true. There is not a single passage in the Bible that mentions the Bible—“Bible” is not a biblical word.

    Neil said: Yes, but there are a “few” verses referring to God’s word and the criteria for it. And Joseph Smith fails to meet the criteria.

    “The greatest weakness of the extreme inerrantist position is that it accepts as its fundamental working principles propositions which are not themselves found in the Bible—for example, “the Bible is sufficient for salvation,” “the Bible is inerrant,” “the Bible answers all our religious questions,” “the Bible gives us authority to speak and act for God,” or “there will never be any more scriptures from God than the Bible.” None of these propositions are themselves biblical, yet they are accepted as fundamental religious principles by people who claim to reject all nonbiblical religious principles.”

    Neil said: All of which answers nothing about the proof that Joseph Smith is a false prophet and how LDS theology is incompatible with Christianity. Different God, different Jesus, different Heaven / Hell, different salvation (grace vs. works), etc.

    You are free to follow your religion. Just be honest and admit that it is different than Christianity. You won’t be able to draft behind us anymore, but you’ll have more credibility.

  66. What bothers me here, is why is CC so bent on being called a Christian? He has been disproven at every level,yet still insists on the title.

    I think perhaps it is because he knows fundamentally that Mormonism is false, and wants to latch onto the coat tails of the truth. If there is any truth to this at all, then he should go ahead and discard that which is false, and trust in Christ alone.

  67. Neil said: “Mormons here have a disingenuous way of saying ‘We love the Bible! (it is has lots of mistakes, was written 300 years after the fact, etc.) We love the Bible!’”

    No, you’re not understanding what we’ve expressed. Nothing that we claim about the Bible (and by the way, you’re exaggerating those claims) change the sacredness of God’s word–nor the love and respect and inspiration I feel every-time I read from the Bible. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Neil said: I must have been confused by the LDS commenters saying that it had been corrupted, wasn’t written for 100-300 years after the fact, needed to be corrected by Joseph Smith, etc. I can really feel the love.

    Neil: The revelations of Joseph Smith aren’t religious truth unless they agree with the Bible (they don’t) and they aren’t religious truth because he was a false prophet (Book of Abraham, among others).

    Actually, I thought I’d already told you that the Revelations do agree with the Bible. That’s the miraculous thing about it! They might not agree with your interpretation of it–but who’s to say you’re interpreting it right.

    Neil said: Uh, yeah, you keep saying that but the facts don’t support it. Postmodern phrases like that don’t mean much.

    You say Joseph was a false prophet. I disagree. The Bible does tell us how to distinguish true and false prophets. I’ve done the test. But you have the right to believe what you believe and so do I. We’ll leave it at that.

    The Book of Abraham is also inspired. It might not have been translated by conventional means–but God is able to do his work however he seems fit to do so.

    Neil said: Choose carefully the hill you will (metaphorically) die on – http://www.carm.org/lds/ldspapyri.htm

    Neil said: “Thanks for responding to an argument not made.”

    Neil–I sense your frustration. You’ve sensed mine too. But not even you can deny that even though it wasn’t what you wanted me to address the moment, nevertheless it’s a true and logical statement. It’s about having a level playing field here.

    Neil said: “Yes, but there are a “few” verses referring to God’s word and the criteria for it. And Joseph Smith fails to meet the criteria.”

    You must acknowledge that what you have said here not an objective statement. As for the “few verses”–the passage appealed to most often by extreme inerrantists is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” But this passage, as used by inerrantists for their claims, merely begs the question, for it does not mention the Bible or describe what books should be in the Bible; it merely states that “all scripture” is “profitable”. Indeed the Latter-day would agree heartily that all scripture is profitable, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    Neil said: First, spare me the extreme inerrantists bitm since “extreme” is a redundancy designed to make us look like . . . well . . . extremists. Unless you don’t believe 2 Timothy is scripture then it does apply. “All scripture” is given by inspiration by God (“God breathed”). So if the Bible is scripture (it is, isn’t it?) then it is God-breathed. At least that what Christians have believed historically.

    Christians see that those books disagree with the Bible – our alleged common ground – so we dismiss them.

    You forgot the book of Abraham in your list ;-).

    The passage in 2 Timothy offers NO criteria for determining what the canon of scripture ought to include. And even if it did, it does not say that the canon is closed or that the canon of scripture is sufficient, inerrant, or incapable of improvement; it merely states that all scripture is profitable.

    Neil said: Again, unless you are claiming that the Bible isn’t scripture, then anything contradicting the Bible would not be scripture (i.e., Mormon writings with polytheism, a different Heaven / Hell, different Jesus, different means of salvation).

    Any religious propositions as important as “all religious truth is found in the Bible” or “the Bible alone is sufficient” or “there can never be additions to the Bible” to be self-consistent, ought to be set forth in the Bible in clear, unmistakable terms, yet they are entirely missing.

    Neil said: Someone might debate you on the canon and timing issues, but they are irrelevant to this discussion. Completely irrelevant. Again, if you say the Bible is scripture then the Mormon writings are not. They can’t both be right. And if you say the Bible has been corrupted, as some of your peers have falsely claimed, then the burden of proof is on you.

    Neil said: All of which answers nothing about the proof that Joseph Smith is a false prophet and how LDS theology is incompatible with Christianity. Different God, different Jesus, different Heaven / Hell, different salvation (grace vs. works), etc.
    You are free to follow your religion. Just be honest and admit that it is different than Christianity. You won’t be able to draft behind us anymore, but you’ll have more credibility.

    I’m baffled that you insist that “we” aren’t being honest. We are openly acknowledging these differences AND how they don’t exclude us from Christianity. (Now I haven’t address everything yet—but I can if you really want to take the time.) Therefore, “being honest” leads me to declare my faith as “Christian” in its very sense—that’s who I am at my core. I’m not particulary interested in having you accept me as such, because that wouldn’t change anything anyway. But I do take the time here to attempt to clarify misconceptions and to explain why all the arguments you all use to “prove” we’re not Christian simply run into problems and don’t ultimately hold up. Furthermore, I should be allowed to define myself, not have you define me.

    Neil said: No problem. Define yourself however you like. You’ve brought that up several times but I’m not sure why. We aren’t surprised that you aren’t changing religions. We’re just laying out the facts fo the unbiased people to see, and to educate Christians on how to counter the false claims of LDS visitors. We’ve noticed how the LDS people bring their Bibles and claim to believe it but switch to the BoM. They do everything possible to sound “Christian” and leave out obvious differences like the part where God was a man who became God, that we were premortal beings, the polytheism, the salvation by works, etc.

  68. Stan: “The people from the LDS that I’ve spoken to all suggest that the discrepancies between what we see in the Bible (such as monotheism, the Trinity, etc.) and what they believe are due to a failure to properly receive the Word from its inception. What we use today (the Bible) is not a valid representation.”

    Clean Cut: “As a Latter-day Saint, I would never say this.”

    Clean Cut: “The Bible as we know it in the modern period is a product of the Christian church, rather than the other way around.”

    You just did.

  69. Stan,
    To this day Christians disagree on which book are the word of God–that is, which books belong in a “Christian” Bible. During the Christian era there has been a variety of disagreements over which books should be part of the New Testament canon. Moreover, Catholics have added (or have Protestants deleted?) a large collection of books found in the ancient Greek manuscripts of the early Christian church and used by some Christians for centuries. The truth is that traditional Christendom has never been unanimous on the issues of canon and the Bible. If the modern churches can strongly disagree among themselves as to what the canon of scripture is, and yet continue to accept each other as Christians, then it is logically inconstant and manifestly unfair to deny the Latter-day Saints the same privilege.

    Neil said: I think you are vastly overstating the case with respect to the disagreements on what books belong. And even if there was disagreement on the apocrypha, for example (which was written B.C.) it is not that strong and it in no way follows that the book of Mormon is a coin flip with respect to canonicity (is that a word?).

  70. Neil, just out of curiosity, how can you say that the councils and creeds are “scriptural”? The men there did not have apostolic authority to add to scripture.

    Neil said: I didn’t mean they qualified as scripture, I just meant that they agreed with scripture. I may not have been clear enough on that.

    And I mean that in a generic sense; it would depend on which line of which creed one was referring to. I’ve just seen a lot of the straw man where Mormons disagree with some creeds but not the Bible, but as best I can tell the parts of the creeds you object to are in the Bible as well.

  71. Neil, it’s awfully hard to have a conversation when my words sit endlessly in “moderation” stage.

    Neil said: Thanks for the blogging tip, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take ;-). Seriously, I actually did some real work today and am just getting caught up.

  72. “Timothy, why would that “bother” you? Even if it were true, why does it “bother” you?”

    I think I can speak for my husband; he’s out cleaning the truck:
    CC what you are saying about Mormonism being Christian is false. What you say about God is false. What you say about Jesus is false. What you say about the Bible is false. Timothy is called by God to defend the faith and protect His sheep from wolves like you who preach a lie and lead others into sin and damnation.

  73. Does anyone else agree that Elisa is being a tad bit extreme and/or fanatical? Or is that a pretty fair representation of evangelicals? (I’m not even clear if the majority of people here are Methodists or Baptists or something different).

    On the other topic of polytheism. I’d like to share my thoughts about that.

    Again, I believe that not all that God has said is in the Bible. There is a whole perspective that only Latter-day Saints understand, that being “saved” is not the ultimate goal. Exaltation–the kind of life God lives–is the ultimate goal. We want to posses similar attributes of goodness and godliness and love that He possesses. But even that wouldn’t be possible except through the grace of Christ.

    Neil said: We understand what you are claiming, but you have yet to back up why the Bible is wrong and why the BoM, the Book of Abraham, etc. are right.

    Comparing “being saved” to getting on a train, it’s seems to be enough for some Christians to just get on the train–to be “saved”–but Latter-day Saints want to ride the train all the way to the end of the tracks. As the “offspring” of God (Acts 17:29, see also Psalms 82:6), we want to be “joint heirs” (Romans 8:17) and become like Him. He wants us to become like Him too–we are his work and glory! “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

    I didn’t yet bring that up lest someone accuse me of believing that we will become God. That is not true. No one will ever replace Him. I do, however, believe that we can become “gods” (which is fully biblical)–but not in the realm of being worshiped.

    Neil said: That is not Biblical.

    It just makes sense that God’s children would grow up to be like Him. Like Boyd K. Packer said in his “The Pattern of our Parentage” talk–little chickens don’t grow up to become watchdogs. Each grows up after the order of its own kind–following the pattern of our parentage. This is probably one of the best talks to represent what “Mormons believe” and why we believe it in terms of becoming like God.
    (http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=3bf405481ae6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____)

    Neil said: It is all un-Biblical. See Isaiah 43-45, among others.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Neil said: No, there is not an excerpt here. I deleted it. I mean, why not just copy and paste the whole Book of Mormon? We can all go to your site if you like and you’ve provided links before. Please give the copy/paste job a rest.

  74. CC,
    I don’t feel like you are addressing the central points of the matter, or why we disagree with the Book of Mormon.

    You continually state that Christians cling to the Nicene, or other, creeds, and, it seems ( I don’t want to put words in your mouth), that you think we disagree with Mormonism simply because of these creeds.

    But that is not the case, yes I think we agree with the creeds, but our foundation is really in the Bible. We agree with the Nicene statement on the Trinity because that reflects how we interpret the Bible. If you want to have effective arguments, you have to drop the whole “we agree with Mormonism because of the creeds”. That’s simply not true, yes, the creed simply happens to go along with the understanding of the Bible. I didn’t know about the Nicene creed till I was in my 20s.

    You also never really seem to address our belief in the Bible as it was originally written. I would think that whether or not the Bible was correctly kept all these years would be the central point in the debate. And it should be. There are contradictions between Smith and the BoM, vs. the Bible as we understand it. That being said, the success of the arguments hinges on coming up with reasonable arguments that the Bible as we know it has indeed been corrupted.

    Do you understand the position we are in? We are told to disagree with any gospel or message that contradicts the Bible. We can’t just dismiss some of the teachings of the Bible simply because someone comes along and says that the Bible was copied inaccurately. In other words, if I’m walking along the street and some random person comes along and says, “Hey, the Bible was written incorrectly, here is the true gospel”… if that’s all it took, we could have thousands of people all claiming access to the true source of the gospel. If they have no compelling reason other than “God told them the real version”, well, Christians have to have something more than that.

    And the thing is, there may be some arguments that it was indeed the case, that the Bible was corrupted, that Joseph Smith had several witnesses, but in these hundreds of comments, I have seen nothing concerning that.

    Also, you state that we dismiss Mormonism simply because we belief that the Bible is closed and that we dismiss that God has any modern things to reveal to us. That may be the case, but we don’t even have to resort to that argument because we believe those things contradict the Bible. The Bible has been corrupted? Well that takes us back to the central point of the argument of whether or not the Bible has been corrupted. But that argument for the most part has been ignored.

    True, faith has a place here, a big place. But I also believe God gave us the ability to reason to bring to the table. My reason shows that the Bible makes sense, that it is a complete story. That when it comes to us and God, we have absolutely nothing to offer. You say that the BoM doesn’t contradict that; I believe it does. My reason says not to believe in any random prophet that claims to have divine revelation about the true source of the Bible. I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I’m not saying you have no reason, I’m just saying that faith is important, but you better make sure there’s a reason for what you have faith in.

  75. Recently a fellow LDS blogger wrote about this too:

    “Like many members of the church, I believe that humankind is of the same species as God; that our Heavenly Parents are like us only on a higher level of development. To me, the doctrine is one of the most awe-inspiring and exciting aspects of Mormon theology.

    Neil said: Thanks for finally sharing some candid assessments of what Mormons really believe. This statement is patently non-Christian.

    “I have heard enough slams of Mormon theology on this issue, as well as plenty bashing the idea of the Trinity in Mormon circles. Unfortunately, I have to admit I have scoffed at the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in the past. I was amazed (to say the least) when I first read the Anathasian creed – unsure at how people could, or would even want to, believe in “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.” However, what does one’s belief about the substance or shape of God have to do with the purpose of religion?

    Neil said: His last sentence speaks volumes in its ignorance and postmodern flavor. What could be more important than understanding who it is you are worshiping?

    “I also do not think “appealing to the Bible” is useful in settling the matter of the nature of God and humankind. While I may quote a scripture like Psalms 82:6: “We shall be even gods, if we shall deserve to be among those of whom He declared, ‘I have said, Ye are gods.” Someone might retort, “that is misinterpreting the scripture, it actually means ______.” Then they may quote from Deuteronomy: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.” Debate over which belief is Biblical will not achieve much in the way understanding or respect.

    Neil said: That is a self-refuting conclusion. Think about it. If we can’t debate over the Bible – which, about 50% of the time, the Mormons say they really love and take seriously – then why on earth would I consider a single word this guy says?

    By the way, the verse in question is really not hard to understand. They were referred to as “gods” because they were God’s reprsentatives in executing judgment. All you have to do is finished the next verse to realize the Bible wasn’t saying the men were really gods: “you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” Not very God-like, is that?

    “If one believes in the Trinity, derives motivation from that doctrine to live his religion more fully, and if I get the same from believing in a Mormon concept of God as I do, why does it matter that we do not agree? Does one of the many Christian conceptualizations of God inspire more visits “to the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” or keep one “unspotted from the world?”

    Neil said: It matters because we have different definitions of God, Jesus, Heaven/Hell, how we are saved, etc.

    “I think one of the keys to this is giving up on the idea of debating for the purpose of trying to win. Understanding each other is much more important, especially on a site like this. There is a lot we can learn from each other, and through my association with a Catholic friend I have come to respect and understand better Christians who believe differently about God than I do.

    Neil said: Respectful debates are important, because it shows that we think there is real truth to get at.

    “In the spirit of understanding and inquiry:

    What do you believe about God?
    Where does your belief come from?
    What scripture(s) or teachings best describe you belief?
    In what ways are your beliefs about God manifested in your life?
    Which is more important: the personal characteristics of God, or what God looks like?”

  76. The Bible isn’t wrong. Your rigid interpretation of it is what is wrong.

    Neil said: Now I’m confused . . . your last comment said we couldn’t understand it at all, now you are saying I’m wrong? And if my wrong interpretation is “rigid,” what would that make your “right” interpretation – flexible? And if yours is flexible then why should I believe it?

    Plural Terms:

    There are many other verses of scripture, at least an equal number in the Bible, that speak in plural terms of “lords” and “gods.” The first chapter of Genesis states:

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26; italics added.)

    Such references are found from Genesis to Revelation. (See Rev. 1:6.)

    Neil said: Yes, that could be the royal “we” or it could be the Trinity, couldn’t it?

    The strongest one was given by Christ Himself when He quoted that very clear verse from the Eighty-second Psalm:

    “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? [See Ps. 82:6.]

    “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

    “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:34–36; italics added.)

    Neil said: You mean the italics weren’t in the original? ;-) I addressed that verse in the last comment. Also, from my Bible software: “Since the inerrant Bible called their judges “gods,” the Jews could not logically accuse Him of blasphemy for calling Himself God’s Son since He was under divine orders (set apart) and on God’s mission (sent into the world).”

    Also, note Jesus’ comment that “scripture cannot be broken,” another verse that Mormonism denies (or is that one of the verses that got corrupted?).

    The acceptance of this truth does not mean accepting the multiple gods of mythology nor the polytheism of the pagans, which was so roundly condemned by Isaiah and the other prophets.

    There is one God, the Father of all. This we accept as fundamental doctrine.

    Neil said: You just got through saying there were multiple gods.

    There is only one Redeemer, Mediator, Savior. This we know.

    There is one Holy Ghost, a personage of spirit, who completes the Godhead.

    I have emphasized the word one, in each sentence, but I have used it three times. Three is plural.

    Paul used the plural many and the singular one in the same verse:

    “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.” (1 Cor. 8:5–6.)

    Neil said: Yes, many false gods are called gods, but they aren’t Gods.

    Anyone who believes and teaches of God the Father, and accepts the divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, teaches a plurality of Gods.

    Neil said: No, we actually have a name for that: The Trinity – http://www.carm.org/doctrine/trinity.htm .

  77. “Trinity” is not a biblical word.

    Neil said: I am very surprised that you used that argument. Is your claim really that if a word doesn’t appear in the Bible then it can’t accurately describe something in the Bible?

  78. The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Eloheim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him.

    Neil said: Yes, we know, you’ll say lots of nice things about the Father and of course we agree (we’re just talking about the real Father, not the one who was a man who became God . . . though we’re unclear on who made your original man, then).

    But why are you mentioning this? Is this a non-sequitor? Because the fact that you praise him does not diminish the error in your claim that we become Gods.

    There is only one Christ, one Redeemer. We accept the divinity of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. We accept the promise that we may become joint heirs with Him. Paul wrote to the Romans:

    “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

    “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17.)

    There are those who mock our beliefs in the most uncharitable ways. And we will bear what they do with long-suffering, for it does not change truth. And in their own way they move our work along a little faster. We will send our missionaries abroad to teach that we are the literal sons and daughters of God.

    Neil said: I think we’ve laid out the errors in your beliefs rather charitably. Go back to the original posts. I think people do get frustrated with your circles and contradictions, though. You can skip the martyr status, though, I save that for the true persecuted church around the world.

    We will strive with every exertion to teach what Christ taught, to live as He lived, to endure as He endured.

    “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” Christ, our Redeemer, our Elder Brother, asked, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” And then He answered, “Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Ne. 27:27.)

    Neil said: Yes, Christians seek to emulate Christ as well. But this doesn’t advance your argument that we become Gods.

  79. Big difference between Gods with a captial G and gods with a lower case g. I mention this lest someone accuse me of believing that we will become God. No one will ever replace Him. I do, however, believe that we can become “gods” to a degree–but not in the realm of being worshiped. It just makes sense that God’s children would grow up to be like Him. Like President Packer said in his “The Pattern of our Parentage” talk–little chickens don’t grow up to become watchdogs. Each grows up after the order of its own kind–following the pattern of our parentage.

    Neil said: Little chickens grow up to be big chickens.

  80. CC asked:

    “Does anyone else agree that Elisa is being a tad bit extreme and/or fanatical?”

    Not a bit. I think she very simply & correctly summed up the truth about the Mormon position. Mormonism is pure & simple a cult. Call yourselves whatever you want. The truth stands.

    Neil: This blog thread should be saved & published. It is an outstanding example of why Mormonism cannot stand up to questions & reason – mostly in their own words.

  81. Thanks WOZ.
    I love my Savior. I’m just trying to point these guys back to Christ and away from the cult/false religion they are in.

    I think Timothy hit the nail on the head WAY back up there some place. They do not realize the gravity of sin and the Person they have sinned against. There is absolutely NOTHING that we can do to atone for even the smallest of sin against so great a God as HE. No amount of work we can do can atone for sinning against an eternal being. That requires an eternal punishment- for just one sin.

    Then, I think about the enormous amount of sins I commit each day. There’s nothing I can do. No list of works. No 12 step program. I even sin in my thoughts the moment after I ask for forgiveness for the last sin I committed. Even the good things I do for Him are tainted by sin. That’s a huge weight.
    Now, these guys are saying that I need to do these:
    “Step #1:Have faith in Christ
    Step #2:Be repentant
    Step #3: Be baptized by the LDS Church
    Step #4: Receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from a member of the Melchizedek priesthood
    Step #5: Males are ordained into the Melchizedek Priesthood
    Step #6: Receive temple endowments
    Step #7: Participate in celestial marriage
    Step #8: Observe the word of wisdom
    Step #9: Sustain the prophet
    Step #10: Tithe
    Step #11: Attend sacrament meetings
    Step #12: Obey the church”

    What happens tomorrow when I cuss as I stub my toe? Or when I get mad at my husband and disrespect him in front of my boys? Or when I tell a “little white lie” to get out of doing something I do want to do? Or park my lazy self on the couch because “my back hurts” rather than emptying the dryer? There’s no way I can do any of these on the list. With the number of sins, just think of how many time I’m going to have to go through the list. I’m doomed. Literally.

    The ONLY thing, the absolute ONLY thing I can do, and that’s not even of myself, but is the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart, is to have faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. He is the perfect, spotless Lamb that was sacrificed for all these sins: the adultery, the blasphemy of unbelief, the hatred, the coveting, the idolatry, gluttony, slothfulness, the filthiness of my life and all the other ones that I will commit. It is His work of a perfect, sinless life, His obedience to the Father, (All of which we should have done, but because of sin we can’t) His suffering in life, and that horrifying death on the Cross- HIS WORK- that made the atonement for my sins. I was dead and He made me live. One Day, He’s going to stand in front of my accuser as he goes through the long, long, long list of offenses against God and call me His, though I deserve the torments of Hell.

    So, when I think of the awesomeness, the extreme sacrifice, of what Christ has done for me and I contemplate the enormity of the evil I have done, “grateful” is so incomplete of a term. I love my Savior. And I know the counterfeit, once being claimed by it. I can’t sit idly by and not say something when some one lies about Jesus.

    If I am extreme, if I am fanatical, what a Extreme Savior to be fanatical about!!

  82. “I do, however, believe that we can become “gods” to a degree–but not in the realm of being worshiped.”-Clean Cut

    “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”- LDS President Snow.

    “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself”-Brigham Young

  83. Thanks for those quotes, Brooks. Once again CC has either crafted his own brand of Mormonism or is unfamiliar with what his leaders really believe(d).

  84. The “grace vs. works” controversy has been raging since Martin Luther’s time and perhaps since the era of Peter and Paul. Roman Catholics today tend to believe that salvation requires certain works, while the Protestants’ most often-quoted scripture is:
    “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

    Where do Latter-day Saints fit in?
    As many Protestants have explained, salvation to them means they are saved from hell and automatically guaranteed a spot in heaven, based only on their confession of a belief in Jesus Christ. One of their most popular justifications for such a belief is the alleged “conversion” of the thief on the cross. They believe that if they die at any given moment after they have accepted Jesus Christ, they will be guaranteed everlasting life with Christ in heaven.

    Neil said: Hi Stephanie, thanks for stopping by.

    That is true, though there are many other passages as well to support that.

    Latter-day Saints believe that through Christ’s atonement and his resurrection, ALL will live again, be resurrected and have immortality. As stated in 1 Cor. 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” So, if being saved means being resurrected and thus having immortality, the answer is yes. Immortality comes entirely through the grace of God and His son, Jesus Christ. Such immortality or “saved” condition is automatically received by all mankind, regardless of how we live or whether we profess a belief in Christ.

    Neil said: This is why it is so important to read verses in context. If one keeps reading after v. 22, you’ll find this in verse 23: “But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” So you are partially right: only those who belong to him are saved, though all will face judgment.

    However, we also believe what the Lord taught in Matthew 19:16-25. In this scripture we have the account of the rich man asking the Lord what he must do to have eternal life. The Lord responded by listing commandments to obey, then told him to sell all he had and follow the Savior. He did not tell him that he need only confess a belief in the Savior.

    Neil said: I think you missed the point. The rich young ruler hadn’t really followed all those commands, and his god was money. Jesus was pointing out that the man must put Christ first. He wasn’t saying the young man didn’t need him for eternal life, He was showing that he did.

    The Lord plainly taught in the Sermon on the Mount that, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21-22). Therefore, in order to enter Heaven, one must obtain the grace of God and also DO the will of the Father.

    Neil said: Again, I think you are misunderstanding this. If you follow him you will do his will (although not perfectly). Let me ask you this: Are you doing the will of the Father perfectly? If not, how can Jesus save you? Have you really done “all you can do?”

    The Lord also told Nicodemus (John 3:3-7) two other requirements for salvation: the birth of water (baptism) and of the Spirit (receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost). In Matthew 24:13, the Lord declares that in order to be saved one must also endure to the end. For Latter-day Saints, obtaining salvation is therefore BOTH an event AND a process. It appears that most Protestants believe it to be only an event.

    Neil said: Most commentators I’ve read don’t consider the “birth of water” to be baptism.

    You do sound a bit like Catholics. We believe in justification (made right with God / saved) at a point in time and sanctification (made holy) as a process.

    If we equate the term “salvation” with the term “eternal life,” then we are saved by grace (a gift from God) if we have done God’s will, which means being obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. When the ordinances are changed or dismissed as unnecessary by some of our critics, such as in the case of baptism and bestowal of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, eternal life with the Lord isn’t available to such until these ordinances are properly performed, either in person or vicariously. A basic tenet of our faith states, “We believe that through the Atonement (grace) of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience (works) to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

    Neil said: I appreciate your honesty and noting how this differs from Christianity. Your last line clearly teaches salvation by your works, which was the point of my post.

    Perhaps the single best LDS scripture that illustrates our belief in the role of grace as part of the process of being saved is found in 2 Nephi 25:23, where Nephi wrote:
    “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    Neil said: Uh, yeah . . . that was the verse I referenced in my post.

    WE DO NOT EXALT OURSELVES. We don’t save ourselves. We don’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Even repentance would have no saving power if Christ had not paid for our sins. As King Benjamin, an important Book of Mormon prophet taught, we must “believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).
    However, once we accept Jesus Christ’s atonement, we are under obligation to do his will, which is different from doing the dead words of the Mosaic Law that Paul warned about in Ephesians. If we do Christ’s will, we will have eternal life in heaven (the Celestial Kingdom) through his grace.

    Neil said: You seem to be contradicting yourself. If your point was that you did good works in response to Jesus saving you that would be like orthodox Christianity. But you keep saying that you do the works to be saved. Getting things out of order is a serious problem.

    Although most Protestants think that Paul wrote only about being “saved by grace,” which he mentions 21 times, he also stressed the importance of good works and deeds over eighty times.

    Neil said: Yes, we agree that good works are important. If we really love Jesus then we’ll want to live our lives as He said to. But teaching that salvation is based on works is a false Gospel.

    Regardless of whether or not other “Christians” think Mormons can “prove” that they are Christian or not, I KNOW that He knows that I’m a Christian. Because He knows that I KNOW that I need him and that I rely on Him, and that He’s my ONLY hope.

    Neil said: But you just pointed out all the differences we have! And as I have pointed out separately, your definition of God, Jesus, Heaven/Hell, the methods of salvation, etc. are different than what the Bible teaches. Joseph Smith was a false prophet and his writings should not be trusted. Please reconsider what you have been taught about Mormonism ( http://www.carm.org/mormon.htm ) and consider orthodox Christianity.

  85. Stephanie:

    Mormon’s always cling on the divisions and denominations of Christianity. However, it is a minority that actually cling to those divisions, distancing themselves from the other denominations. Many denominations work together to build stronger communities and to build stronger relationships with other denominations. Many denominations share exactly the same faith statement. Some might have a few differences, but those usually don’t get in the way.

    Catholicism is a whole other animal. Catholicism is considered a cult by many Christian’s, and we believe that there will be Catholics in heaven. Catholicism over the years is fading, as far as emphasis on the Bible is concerned. It has become more of a religion instead of a relationship. However, what keeps them out of most of the cult books, is the fact that they at least acknowledge Jesus as God, not some lower god, and recognize that its faith in that Jesus that saves you.

    If you are a Mormon that recognizes that Jesus is more then just a savior figure, acknowledging that he is the image of YHWH, he is begotten of YHWH, he is YHWH. Then I firmly believe you will be in heaven(Romans 10 confessing him as Lord and Savior). However, since that belief is contrary to Mormon doctrine, it is rare to find.

  86. Neil, you seem to have put a lot of stock into carm.org. It’s hardly the fair, unbiased, and accurate site you’d expect an expert to be quoting/learning from. Although, I must admit, it’s perfect if you have an pre-conceived agenda.
    Though you might want to check out the fair, unbiased, and very informative “lightplanet” for any major religion, including “Christianity’s” link on Mormonism.
    http://lightplanet.com/

    Neil said: CC, I just use CARM out of convenience. There are plenty of other sites pointing out the flaws of Mormonism and why it is not authentic Christianity.

    And of course, you haven’t demonstrated why the site isn’t accurate. That’s just an assertion on your part. They have online debates and a radio show. You might want to participate in those and explain to them where they have it wrong.

  87. Clean Cut:

    After examining both sites I find them pretty much identical. The only difference is CARM points out where Mormonism contradicts the Bible, where as the site you link is just information to the religion. lightplanet does seem pretty useful and full of information.

  88. Clean Cut,

    You said, “If we equate the term “salvation” with the term “eternal life,” then we are saved by grace (a gift from God) if we have done God’s will, which means being obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. When the ordinances are changed or dismissed as unnecessary by some of our critics, such as in the case of baptism and bestowal of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, eternal life with the Lord isn’t available to such until these ordinances are properly performed, either in person or vicariously. A basic tenet of our faith states, ‘We believe that through the Atonement (grace) of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience (works) to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.‘”

    Just so I am clear on this, does this mean that Jesus’ death on the cross simply “opened the door” for us to be able to be saved by our own obedience to the “principles and ordinances”? If so, then this is definitely different from biblical salvation. In the Bible we find that our salvation comes about because God draws us (John 6:44), God saves us (1st Timothy 1:15), and God keeps us saved (Philippians 1:6).

    Now, there are verses that seem to say that keeping ourselves saved depends on us obeying commandments, etc (John 15:10; 1st John 2:3). But when we read these verses in their full context, and when we compare Scripture with Scripture, what they really tell us is that we keep His commandments, we do the works, we love one another because we are saved–not to keep ourselves saved. Because “He who began the good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Ghost will give us tghe love, the faith, the strength we need to keep His commandments, to love one another, to do good works, etc.

    If our salvation depended on us foolish, fallen humans being perfectly obedient to every “jot and tittle” of the Law, no one would ever be saved. Because no one could ever keep any set of laws and ordinances and principles perfectly.

  89. Clean Cut,
    Thank you for sharing your views, but what is so irritating about this whole comment thread is that several times you accuse Neil and others of being disingenuous, for putting views in your mouth that aren’t really there. And yes, it is important for us to realize that not all Mormons believe all the same things, and that it is important to check that presentation of Mormon beliefs are not simply anti-Mormon propaganda.

    However, many of the things that Neil or the commenters originally stated have been confirmed by other Mormon visitors, the Book of Mormon, and LDS church leaders. And if you don’t agree with everything they say, that’s fine, but why not just say that, instead of acting outraged that we believe such a thing. Either you truly did not know those beliefs were present, or I would have to assume something negative about your motives.

    I can understand why people, myself included, have a hard time believing you are being honest with us. You have never once cleared up the message about the LDS belief on salvation yourself, when that is the original point of the post. I would grant that the LDS message is a little more complicated, so I think you would want to clear it up a bit. You never do clear up, at least that I have found, just exactly how the Bible has been corrupted. I don’t know if you ever said the BoM disagrees with a truly corrupted version of the Bible, our interpretation of a not-quite-right Bible, or what.

    You criticize us for giving inaccurate portrayals concerning your beliefs, but you never properly give us illumination into the exact nature of those beliefs. I just don’t think you are shooting straight with us. Either thought or you better equip yourself on LDS doctrine more before you tell us how dishonest we are.

  90. Chance,
    First things first. I’m not outraged. This has indeed been a very interesting experience for me, and I’m very sure my words have fallen short. There are times that I have assumed that there was greater understanding on both of our parts, and that simply has not been the case. So what has happened is we seem to be talking past each other and focussing more on the words than the feeling or heart of what is trying to be said.

    I felt I had shared what was necessary in my first response to this post. But as I’m starting to come to a better understanding of many of the beliefs of those posting here on this matter, I must concede that “the LDS message is a little more complicated”–as you put it.

    In fact, a fellow LDS blogger mentioned something very similar to that on my own blog.

    In response I clarified that I never said we don’t have to do any works–that’s obviously false. My whole premise was who’s works should we rely on for salvation? That’s obviously Christ. It’s His merits (works), mercy, and grace that we rely on–not our own. However much we bring to the table, whether a dollar, fifty cents, a quarter, dime, or penny–it falls far short of the perfection required to enter the kingdom. God can’t tolerate even a tiny bit of sin. Thus, we rejoice in the message of Redemption that comes only through Christ and his infinite atonement.

    Sometimes I think of it as a mathematical equation in which I am a negative number and Christ is a positive infinite number. What is a negative number plus a positive infinity sign? A positive infinity, of course. (-x + infinity=a positive infinity). So we teach of coming unto Christ and forming a covenant relationship with him through baptism (by Priesthood authority, of course) so that when we are judged, we are not judged individually, but judged as one with Christ. In other words, we are made perfect in Christ. Our faith in Him leads us unto repentance.

    A “works based gospel” that our critics accuse us of seems to denote that we can practically save ourselves once we’ve finished checking off all the “boxes” of obedience. Again–blatantly false.

    Granted, he has still made it very clear that we must enter into covenants and ordinances with Him–that covenant relationship with the Savior is fundamental. And he expects much more than belief in Him–He expects faithfulness to Him. Both Paul and James made that clear, though with alternate definitions of “faith”.

    We do works BECAUSE of our faith in Christ and BECAUSE of our love for Him–he has already blessed us with grace beyond measure–not in order to merit his grace to ultimately be “saved”. Nobody merits or deserves his grace–that’s what is so marvelous about the gospel, or good news, of Christ.

    Then there’s the whole perspective that only Latter-day Saints understand, that being “saved” is not the ultimate goal. Exaltation–the kind of life God lives–is the ultimate goal. But even that wouldn’t be possible except through Christ.

    Comparing “salvation” to getting on a train, it seems to be enough for some Christians to just get on the train–to be “saved”–but we want to ride the train all the way to the end of the tracks. As the “offspring” of God, we want to be “joint heirs” and become like Him. He wants us to become like Him too–we are his work and glory! (Moses 1:39). Now that is grace indeed!

    So we also do works in order to become like Him–to close the gap–and to posses the same attributes of goodness and godliness and love. Our critics seem to want to jump to false conclusions and read into that far more than is even taught in Church. Mostly, I feel people rush to judgment based on their own limited understanding instead of setting aside judgement in order to reach a more full understanding.

    Neil said: With all due respect, I think virtually all the commenters here have gone to great lengths to gain an accurate understanding of the Mormon view of salvation. And I think it is quite possible that we have a better understanding of it than you do.

    As for how that all fits into the Degrees of Glory that are likened in the Bible unto the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and reinforced by modern revelation–I don’t really have anything to add to that right here. I’m not particularly concerned about it either, because I’ve already been promised the Celestial Kingdom because of my covenant relationship with Christ–on the conditions that I continue to keep the covenant–being willing to follow Him as best I can.

    When Latter-day Saints take the Sacrament each Sunday to renew our baptismal covenant with Christ, we promise that we are “willing” to keep His commandments, not that we actually keep all His commandments. I would be a hypocrite if I promised to always keep His commandments. (“If ye love me, keep my commandments”) But I can in good faith say that I am definitely willing to do so! My heart is in the right place. I truly hunger and thirst after righteousness. I strive to love Christ more than anyone or anything else.

    My faith cannot be simply explained nor dismissed on a blog. There’s so much more than what just scratches the surface. But that hasn’t stopped me from at least trying to have a conversation.

    One of my favorite scriptures is 2nd Nephi 31:20:
    “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life”

  91. Just in the interest of full disclosure, the question that a fellow LDS blogger asked me was:

    “So when you say that nobody deserve’s his grace, does that mean that his grace is universal – regardless of our behavior or choices? Thus all will be saved? I guess my point is to say that things are really not so simple sometimes. When we Mormons are asked:

    Are we saved by grace?
    Are we saved by works?

    Simple yes or no answers do not give the whole story. The plan of salvation as we understand it is a lot more complex than how others understand it.”

    My response was:

    “I understand what you’re saying about not having simple yes or no answers. Of course, to be able to answer the question you have to first understand if we’re talking about universal salvation from physical death, which would be “yes”, or universal salvation from spiritual death, which would be conditional. (Of course, that’s another discussion unto itself, ie: faith, repentance, baptism–the first principles and ordinances of the gospel).

    I would imagine that this isn’t a clearly understood point by a majority of Christians today–and perhaps even among many of our own.”

    As for the salvation by grace or works–that’s a bad question. It’s not one against the other, but “both”–they’re two sides of the same coin. If anyone believes that they can be saved by one without the other, then we would disagree. Even Neil I believe has mentioned that a life of good works will naturally follow being consumed by the grace of Christ. In other words, not every one that says “Lord, Lord” will get into the kingdom, but he that “doeth” the will of the Father–or at least gives our best. That’s “all we can do”.

    Neil said: I think the distinction is whether you are saved by grace to do good works (Christianity) or saved by grace and works (Mormonism and others).

    The Bible is very clear on this. In fact it seems so obvious to me that I can’t understand how there can be so many different interpretations. (FYI: The phrase that we are saved “by grace alone” doesn’t exist anywhere in the Bible).

    Neil said: I don’t follow that argument. The words aren’t used in that exact order but the message is clear in passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and others.

    Both faith and works play a role. When Paul says that by “faith alone” we are saved–he’s right, but its also clear that his definition of faith is not “belief alone” but “faithfulness”.

    Just as a marriage covenant requires faithfulness to each other, so the gospel covenant requires faithfulness. Sure, I might not make the bed all the time, and I might forget to put the toilet seat down–I might even say a curse word once in awhile. But that doesn’t end the marriage covenant. In otherwords, I don’t have to be perfect alone, I just have to be faithful to my covenant relationship with Christ–loving him more than anyone or anything else. Mercifully, there’s always the blessing of repentance.

    Neil said: I think we agree that we aren’t perfect this side of Heaven.

    I openly acknowledge that we seem to have a different understanding. I still don’t think we understand each other completely–but the “both” answer is clearly not a simple one either, for it doesn’t give the whole story or much a an explanation.

  92. One last thing that Chance asked me to clear up was just exactly how the Bible has been corrupted. Thank you for asking the question. It needs to be answered. My response is based off of my New Testament class with Stephen Robinson while I studied at BYU several years ago. He was a master teacher and his areas of expertise were Biblical Studies (New Testament, Christian Origins, History of Christianity), as well as LDS studies. He reads Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, and Coptic—so he’s done his homework.

    Based off that class I learned some things about the Bible I didn’t know previously—some of which I will now use to try to answer the question and clear up any misunderstanding.

    Our present New Testament dates back to about 367 A.D. when the books of scripture were organized. Sometime between 50 A.D. and 100/175 A.D. some “plain and precious” things were taken out. They were NOT edited or altered (corrupted?). They were just lost. Comparing the books of scripture to a file cabinet—some files were just taken out and lost completely. They weren’t edited—just lost. (For example, 1st Corinthians 5:9—that epistle was lost. Try to picture a letter to Loudicious, or a letter .5 to the Corinthians, versus the first letter that we know of.)

    Neil said: But where is the evidence that these belonged in the Bible to begin with? If God wanted these in the Bible do you seriously think they would have been lost? Is the claim that 100% of Paul’s post-conversion letters and writings must appear in the Bible?

    Also, how does any of that indicate that what Joseph Smith offered was in any way what had allegedly been missing?

    We ought to be thankful the monks preserved that which we have. That which we have (our present Bible) is largely correct—and apostolic.
    By the way, Robinson also taught that the JST didn’t “restore”—it brought Joseph’s commentary and perhaps insights that the original author didn’t have.

    Back to topic: The second century church Hellanized the Bible. (They tried to make it fit into Greek theory). Now there are 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament. No two are alike. And there is no such thing as “the original Greek”, only scholarly reconstructions of what we think Paul must have written.

    Neil said: That is simply wrong. Even skeptical scholars concede that we know what the originals said for all doctrines and 99.5% of verses. The art and science of textual criticism have made the question of “What did the originals say?” unnecessary.

    Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, and Greek as a second language. (One side note that I find interesting is that the word always translated “carpenter” in Greek means “architect, builder, contractor”. The Greek “Tecton” (not sure if its spelled right) means builder. Thus, the “Builder” of the Universe was a builder by profession. (Jesus would have worked in wood and stone).

    Neil said: Thanks for the factoid. That’s an interesting coincidence – my pastor just mentioned Tekton this morning and the definition you noted. I hadn’t heard that before (I am assuming that is the correct spelling given a site by the name of tektonics.com, but you may be right).

    But the Bible as we know it today is largely correct. The truer LDS understanding is that there were completely lost books–like a file was just deleted from the computer and never was included in the Bible that we have today. Now perhaps there are a few things that got changed up in the translations and in the copying of the original scripts, but the truth is we can’t know for sure how much or how many, no matter what other LDS people try to tell you. So I thank God that we have what we have in the Holy Bible, as well as the further “plain and precious” things contained in the Book of Mormon.

    Neil said: Again, I see no evidence for the claim that God allowed something to be lost that He wanted in the Bible. It is not his style.

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