Mormon Beliefs (accurate?)

Taken from Mormon Beliefs and Doctrines Made Easier (2007) by David J. Ridges:

BEGINNING  In a technical sense, there is no beginning, since we have always existed as intelligence or intelligences–we don’t know what quite what to call it (D&C 93:29).  However, “beginning” often refers to our premortal existence as spirit sons and daughters of our heavenly parents (Job 38:7; D&C 93:21, 23).  It also refers to the initial stages of the earth’s creation (Genesis 1:1).

ELOHIM  As used by members of the Church, this is a name for Heavenly Father.  It is a very sacred name and should be spoken of with reverent care.  The First Presidency taught:  “God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted-title ‘Elohim,’ is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race (MFP 5:26).

GOD AS A SPIRIT  Because John 4:24, as given in the Bible, states that “God is a Spirit,” many Christian religions have developed false teachings about the nature of God.  Joseph Smith corrected this verse to read, “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit.  And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth” (JST, John 4:26).

JEHOVAH  The God of the Old Testament, the God of Israel.  He is the premortal Jesus Christ (Ether 3:14, 16; BD, under “Jehovah”). 

CREATION  The world was created by Jesus Christ, under the direction of the Father (John 1:1-3).  We don’t know how it was made, but we do know that it was created by God.  Genesis chapter 1 has over forty statements testifying to us, in one way or another, that God created it.  All things were made in spirit form before they were created physically (Moses 3:5-7).  We do not know how long it took to create the world, but we know that there were seven time periods involved (Abraham 4:5, 8, 13, 23, 31, 5:2).  The details of creation will be given to us when the Savior comes to rule and reign for the Millennium (D&C 101:32-34).

FALL OF ADAM AND EVE  . . . It has been said that rather than “falling down,” Adam and Eve “fell upward,” meaning that the Fall was a necessary step forward in providing the opportunity for us to progress toward exaltation. . . .

BORN IN SIN  Being born into a world in which there is much of sin and wickedness (Moses 6:55)

CONCEIVED IN SIN  The false notion that when children are born, they are tainted with so-called “original sin” brought upon all people by the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The concept of original sin is false.  Those who teach that children are conceived in sin also teach that infants must be baptized, which is another false doctrine (Moroni 8:9-12).

BRIMSTONE  Molten sulfur, often associated symbolically in the scriptures with fire and the punishments of God upon the wicked (Luke 17:29; Revelation 9:17-21).  There is no such thing as a literal “lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20:10; 2 Nephi 9:16).

DAMNATION  The opposite of salvation.  Being stopped from progressing.  Another name for hell (Matthew 23:33).  Actually, there are many different degrees of “damnation” within the teachings of the true gospel, including perdition, telestial glory, terrestrial glory (I Corinthians 15:39-42; D&C 76), and even the first two categories in celestial glory (D&C 131:1-4), because they all fall short of exaltation on the day of final judgment.

GRACE   . . . It may be helpful to consider the fact that, in some significant ways, we are indeed saved by grace alone.  Using the writings of Paul (Romans 4:16, 5:15; 11:16; Ephesians 2:5, 8 ) in the context of all the scriptures, resurrection is not dependent on works at all.  Everyone will be resurrected (I Corinthians 15:22) through the grace of Christ. . . .

CONVERSION  The process by which an individual accepts and internalizes the witness of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 12:3) that leads to joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and faithful adherence to the laws and commandments of God thereafter.

BORN AGAIN  The process of being made a new person, a different person spiritually, through baptism and living the gospel as directed by the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It can also be defined as the process of being made eligible, by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, to eventually return to the presence of the Father and live with Him forever (John 3:3, 7; Alma 5:49; 7:14; Moses 6:59).

ABRAHAM, SEED OF  A phrase which literally means descendants of Abraham.  Symbolically, it means those who live righteously, keeping the commandments and covenants of the gospel, as did Abraham, and who will earn exaltation, thus becoming gods as Abraham did (see D&C 132:37).  All who are baptized worthily into the the true Church become the “seed of Abraham.”

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT  . . . His posterity would be numerous (see Genesis 17:5-6; Abraham 2:9; 3:14).  This can be fulfilled to some extent in this life but will be fulfilled eternally if we are found worthy to become gods and people our own worlds with countless spirit children of our own.

ELECT  A term used to refer to the members of the Church who are successfully striving to be faithful to the Lord at all costs and, as a result, are on the path toward exaltation (D&C 25:3; 84:33-34).  Even the elect need to be constantly on guard against the devil’s wiles and temptations in order to avoid falling (D&C 20:31-32; JS – M 1:22). 

CHRISTIANITY  . . . In reality, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in Christ much more thoroughly that any others can, because they have the restored gospel.  “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).  

ISAIAH  . . . The Book of Mormon contains about 35 percent of Isaiah’s writings and provides help in understanding them.  For example, I Nephi 20 is the equivalent of Isaiah 48 in the Bible.  However, every verse in I Nephi 20 reads differently than in Isaiah 48. . . .

KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE  . . . Some have wondered why the Church does not use the JST as the official Bible of the Church.  The answer is simple.  Among other things, it is much easier to use the King James Version in missionary work, rather than our own version, because the King James Bible is well accepted among other Christians.  They would be suspicious of a Mormon version of the Bible if used in the initial teaching of the gospel.

INSPIRATION  Inspiration is a form of revelation, which can come from sources such as the Light of Christ (John 1:9) and the Holy Ghost.  Inspiration is sometimes called the “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12; I Nephi 17:45; 85:6).  It can come into our minds (D&C 8:2) as sudden thoughts, ideas, phrases, and so forth.  It can come into our hearts (D&C 8:2) as feelings and general impressions.  Inspiration is properly called revelation, but revelation, as defined in the scriptures, can be more than inspiration because it can be stronger and more direct than inspiration.  For example, dreams, visions, voices, and appearances of angelic beings would be forms of revelation which go beyond the normal definition of inspiration.  Inspiration, as we go about our normal daily pursuits, keeps us in constant contact with heaven.

—–

Are you comfortable with these definitions?

 

36 comments

  1. I’ll address just a few of them. For background, I am NOT a Mormon, and do not believe they believe correctly.

    GOD AS A SPIRIT Because John 4:24, as given in the Bible, states that “God is a Spirit,” many Christian religions have developed false teachings about the nature of God. Joseph Smith corrected this verse to read, “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth” (JST, John 4:26).

    Yeah, since John 4:24 says that, Christians have based their beliefs on what the Bible says. Amazing how Mormons can say that’s wrong. But wait – THEY know the REAL meaning, so they CHANGE the verse to read what they want it to read, EVEN THOUGH original manuscript evidence doesn’t show it to be read that way. And this is accurate, how? You must first prove the LDS scriptures to be inspired, then we’ll talk.

    FALL OF ADAM AND EVE . . . It has been said that rather than “falling down,” Adam and Eve “fell upward,” meaning that the Fall was a necessary step forward in providing the opportunity for us to progress toward exaltation. . . .

    Amazing how no scripture was provided for this one – could it be b/c the Bible speaks nowhere of this, and in fact speaks of it as the original sin which has continually worked its way down to everything now?

    CONCEIVED IN SIN The false notion that when children are born, they are tainted with so-called “original sin” brought upon all people by the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The concept of original sin is false. Those who teach that children are conceived in sin also teach that infants must be baptized, which is another false doctrine (Moroni 8:9-12).

    Never mind, I suppose, that the Bible supports “original sin.” Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:3, Genesis 8:21, and on and on. Throw that out, right? And not sure where the link comes from that a belief in “original sin” also means a belief in infant baptism, b/c that sure isn’t the case. I believe in “original sin”, but not in infant baptism. I think the author is ASSUMING that baptism is necessary for salvation, which I don’t believe other. Know why? B/c Scripture doesn’t say it.

    GRACE . . . It may be helpful to consider the fact that, in some significant ways, we are indeed saved by grace alone. Using the writings of Paul (Romans 4:16, 5:15; 11:16; Ephesians 2:5, 8 ) in the context of all the scriptures, resurrection is not dependent on works at all. Everyone will be resurrected (I Corinthians 15:22) through the grace of Christ. . . .

    Still showing the Mormons don’t understand the “saved by grace through faith” concept. They falsely link “resurrection” as being accomplished by grace, but “salvation” as being accomplished by works. Problem is, the whole of Scripture doesn’t support that. Eph 2:8-9 doesn’t speak of being “resurrected” by faith, but being “saved” by faith.

    CHRISTIANITY . . . In reality, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in Christ much more thoroughly that any others can, because they have the restored gospel. “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

    I would agree – IF it could be proven that the LDS scriptures are inspired. Problem is, they can’t. The truth of Mormonism rises and falls with the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s claims.

    ISAIAH . . . The Book of Mormon contains about 35 percent of Isaiah’s writings and provides help in understanding them. For example, I Nephi 20 is the equivalent of Isaiah 48 in the Bible. However, every verse in I Nephi 20 reads differently than in Isaiah 48. . . .

    Why is that, exactly? Wait, I know – God messed up when He originally inspired Isaiah 48, right? And the Mormons have figured out what He REALLY meant, right?

    KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE . . . Some have wondered why the Church does not use the JST as the official Bible of the Church. The answer is simple. Among other things, it is much easier to use the King James Version in missionary work, rather than our own version, because the King James Bible is well accepted among other Christians. They would be suspicious of a Mormon version of the Bible if used in the initial teaching of the gospel.

    You’re right. Know why we’re suspicious? B/c it can’t be shown to be the inspired Word of God!

    Are you comfortable with these definitions?

    Do I think the definitions are correct? Absolutely not. Do I think that Mormons believe these definitions? Absolutely.

  2. Yes Todd, I am more or less comfortable with those definitions.

    Brad wrote:

    “The truth of Mormonism rises and falls with the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s claims.”

    Wrong.

    The truth of Mormonism rises and fall with the truthfulness of its DOCTRINE – first and foremost. Not with Joseph Smith. If you want to attack Mormonism, attack the doctrine. Enough with the irrelevant ad hominems already.

  3. Am I comfortable with these? Sure. They sound right to me.

    God as a Spirit – Having a spirit is one aspect of God, but it is not his entire nature. That is clear from other scriptures that read similarly – God is love, God is fire, God is…

    Fall of Adam and Eve – Have you ever considered that if Adam and Eve did not fall, you would not be here today? It was requisite for the plan of God to continue.

    Conceived in sin – While we are born into a world of sin, we will not be held accountable for the sins of Adam and Eve. Those were their sins, not mine. Christ has atoned for them. I will be accountable for my own sins before God, not someone else’s. If I repent and obey God’s command, Christ’s atonement will remit my sins too. And yes, baptism is necessary for salvation – “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

    Grace – being saved by grace through faith means that we have faith. Having faith means that we obey God’s command. Resurrection is only one aspect of God’s grace. We will also be saved by God’s grace, after all we can do to obey him.

    Christianity – can any scriptures be proven? No. If that were the case, we would not need faith anymore, and everyone would become Christian.

    Isaiah – the words of the ancient prophets have been interpreted and translated into multitudes of different forms today. Does that make them wrong?

    KJV – yes, actually, the JST is inspired, because it was done by a prophet of God. The multitudes of “translations” of the Bible that exist today were not done by a prophet of God.

  4. Really, Seth? Other influential Mormons would disagree with you:

    Apostle Hugh B. Brown said: “The First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith constitutes the groundwork of the Church which was later organized. If this First Vision was but a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination, then the Mormon Church is what its detractors declare it to be – a wicked and deliberate imposture (The Abundant Life, 310-11).”

    Who had the purported “vision”? Smith. So if the vision was imagined, then Smith was a liar, thus the “groundwork of the Church”, as Brown puts it, would be based on a lie.

    Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said: “Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let’s not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically.” (“True or False,” New Era, June 1995, Page 64; Excerpted from a CES Symposium address given at Brigham Young University on August 9, 1994.)

    Holland doesn’t list any actual doctrinal teachings from the Book of Mormon that make it vital to Mormon theology. He’s basically saying that it’s a matter of credibility. If the book is not what Smith and the church say it is, then Smith is a fraud and the church is a hoax.

    It’s always funny how Mormons say “attack the doctrine”, but who penned the doctrine, Seth? Smith – yet somehow, he’s “off limits”. It’s ridiculous.

  5. Bryce,

    Good to see you again. We’ve gone round before, and no need to do so further, as we won’t agree. You really do accept the LDS faith as it is spoon-fed to its adherents, yet have not done REAL investigation on your own, to see if what they’re spoon-feeding is correct, outside of what they believe. Until that happens, Bryce, nothing will change.

  6. I’m not exactly sure the reason for this publication, or who the target audience is for this book. There is already the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, as well as the LDS Bible Dictionary and the reference guide “True to the Faith” (2004). I’m perhaps more critical of a popular reference guide because I don’t know exactly what good comes from it. I can’t fully critique these entries since you have not given the whole but only portions (not sure why you chose these portions only Todd), and perhaps some of my criticism would dissolve if I had the full account, so I will refrain somewhat from those portions.

    The entry on Beginning is extremely confusing. We don’t know what to call what? What does this mean? He says there is no beginning and then says there is a beginning. Why doesn’t he limit his entry on Beginning to Beginnings and not non-beginnings? It isn’t clear why he cites Job 38:7 where God asks Job where he was when God laid the foundation of the world, a narrative which has the structure of implying that Job wasn’t there (38:4). His D&C citation is good but it is unclear why this isn’t under a heading of “Premortality.” In addition, this heading reveals the author is making a distinction between intelligence and spirits (a distinction which many scholars persuasively argue that Joseph Smith didn’t make) without informing the reader that he is doing this. This doesn’t making understanding Mormon doctrine easier. He should move this material to other headings and eliminate a confused heading called “Beginnings.”

    Under “Elohim”, is there a reason why he cites MFP? Is this because this isn’t found anywhere else? Is there not a more recent entry or is this the earliest citation we have for this?

    Under “Damnation”, the author has converted the Telestial and Terrestial “degrees of glory” into multiple hells like Dante’s Divine Comedy. There is no such thing as “degrees of damnation” spoken of in LDS scriptures. Since when does a “kingdom of glory” mean “degree of damnation”? In fact, included in “degrees of damnation”, the author includes the first two “categories” of celestial glory! This author is taking an uber-radical view of damnation which simply is unwarranted by any canon of LDS thought. It is his opinion that anything other than the highest level of the celestial kingdom is hell, but this certainly is not Mormon doctrine. This is supposed to make Mormon belief easier?

    Another example is the entry of the King James Version: Where is the citation for this simple explanation of why LDS don’t use the JST as their official scriptures? This is merely the author’s opinion. While I don’t have the full entry, does the author at least point the reader to other works which give this a full treatment?

    I suppose his entry on “conversion” is adequate but I don’t see that his definition is better than the one in “True to the Faith” which is much richer and drives at the heart of the matter. Conversion isn’t simply joining the church; it is change of one’s very nature. Why are Born Again and Conversion two separate entries? Why not combine them? The reader is left to conclude that for Mormons being Born Again and Conversion are two different things.

    Under “Seed of Abraham” why does he ignore passages in the D&C that actually contain the phrase “seed of Abraham”?

    The “God is a Spirit” entry is too simplistic. The entry fails to appreciate that many bible translations don’t say “God is a spirit” but rather “God is spirit.” Also, the author takes a position on the JST and does not inform the reader of other schools of thought on this matter (the intent and nature of Joseph Smith). This is an apologetic entry and does little to make Mormon belief easier. It doesn’t limit itself to making doctrine easier but it goes beyond the scope of its stated goal to put down false doctrine.

    Along these same lines, I don’t understand why there is a need for entries like Born in Sin, Conceived in Sin, Brimstone. Is that really necessary for a scope of work which is supposed to make Mormon belief easier to understand?

    In fact, under the entry “Born in Sin” the author cites Moses 6:55 which reads “Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin.” And then under Conceived in Sin, the author says “This is a false doctrine.” Says who? The phrase “born in sin” doesn’t appear anywhere in the standard works and I have no idea why he feels this deserves a separate entry, but the phrase “conceived in sin” is found in the Book of Moses and yet he calls this a false doctrine. How is this supposed to make Mormon doctrine easier when the author flagrantly disregards the actual words and language of his own textual tradition?

    His entry, “conceived in sin” has nothing to do with conceiving in sin, but rather it’s an entry where the author is condemning “original sin” and then he cites Moroni 8 which doesn’t say that there is no such thing as a curse of Adam, but rather that Christ has taken away that curse from little children who are not capable of committing sin and infants who are not baptized can be saved. (How can the curse of Adam be a false if Christ is taking this curse away from little children?) This paragraph should be placed under the entry of Baptism or even Infant Baptism. The author should limit his work to Mormon doctrines and not speak on Catholic doctrines.

    I’m not convinced of the need for a book like this where there are better sources of information. I’m not impressed with what I’ve read so far and in my opinion this only confuses Mormon doctrine and leads to doctrinal illiteracy among readers.

  7. You’re right, Brad, we won’t agree, at least not yet. I believe one thing and you believe another. But as long as you continue to promulgate unsound thoughts on LDS topics, I will respond to the discussion. I’m not going to leave it alone, which may be much to your dismay.

    It’s interesting that you seem to consider anyone who adheres to, and actually believes, LDS doctrine to be some sort of half-wit, ignorant, spoon-fed, robot, evidently incapable of individual thinking or reasoning. What in Mormonism, or our history, leads you to believe such an unsupported claim? Why are you allowed to think for yourself but deny me the same position?

    Believe it or not, I have read widely outside Mormon circles. The fact that I continue to return to LDS readings because it speaks truth to my mind and heart does not seem to be acceptable to you. That’s alright, I guess, but it won’t get you very far in interfaith dialogue. Just because something doesn’t make any sense to you doesn’t mean there aren’t others to whom it makes perfect sense. There are more people in this world besides yourself.

  8. Bryce, again, we will disagree, and I do believe that those in the Mormon faith are blind to the facts. I didn’t say they’re not intelligent, just that they’re blinded, as the Bible says.

    Where do I get this? From the fact that much of what Mormons believe, and more importantly WHY they believe them, or the basis they have for their beliefs, is not supported by a proper interpretation of Scripture. But I’ve told you all that before, right?

    I also get it from talking with many now ex-Mormons, all of whom are pretty smart people, who for the life of them can’t understand why they couldn’t see it was wrong when they were still adherents to it, b/c it seems so obvious to them now that it’s not. That’s pretty tough to argue with, if you ask me.

  9. Ok, so we are all blinded. Sounds fair.

    How do you know what a “proper” interpretation of the scriptures is? Like I’ve said before, every single sect of Christiandom has a different interpretation of the scriptures. That is why there are so many sects. If we all believed in the scriptures the same, we’d all be members of the same church. But that is not the case.

    Yes, it is tough to argue with ex-Mormons who disavow everything they used to hold very dear and precious. Of course, it is only after they leave the church that everything becomes so clear. Tell me, how are these people capable of so much rational thought after they left the church when they weren’t capable of it while they were still a part of it?

  10. You’ve been talking to ex-Mormons?

    That explains a lot.

    By the way, I never denied that a lot of Mormons, influential and otherwise, claim that things stand or fall on Joseph Smith.

    That still doesn’t mean you get to pass a verdict on the religion based on his life.

  11. Aquinas, David Ridges is a former CES employee who’s served in miscellaneous LDS leadership positions. Currently, he’s executive secretary for the Sunday School general presidency of the Church.

    I got his book as a gift. It’s basically, a stripped-down, just-the-basics, treatment of Mormon doctrine along the lines of what Bruce R. McConkie did. It’s a Deseret Book kind of project, geared toward a Mormon audience.

    Personally, I find the book non-controversial for Mormon audiences. It’s a useful pulse on what the general membership currently believes, but it’s not very in-depth. I like McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” better. Although it’s more controversial, I’ve found McConkie tends to provide a bit more scriptural meat to the subject as well.

  12. “I also get it from talking with many now ex-Mormons, all of whom are pretty smart people, who for the life of them can’t understand why they couldn’t see it was wrong when they were still adherents to it, b/c it seems so obvious to them now that it’s not.”

    I’ve talked to these people too Brad. I dialogue with ex-Mormons on a daily basis.

    My experience is that they usually think Evangelicals (and Christians generally) are full of crap too. So I’m not sure you’re helping your cause any by citing them as particular authorities.

  13. Sorry Aquinas. I did a closer reading on your post and actually looked up the entries in question.

    You’re right. Ridge’s book is rather lacking on more than a couple fronts. His position in leadership makes this even more problematic, since it makes it more likely that he will be taken as an authority on these matters.

    That’s just sloppy.

  14. So you guys do see lots of problems?

    Who is going to educate Deseret and Southeastern Idaho LDS?

    Ridges has got a lot of books being pumped out.

    Which Area Authority do I need to talk to? 🙂

  15. To be clear Todd, I don’t necessarily see problems with the belief structures outlined in the book. I just think it was an unfortunate attempt for a book that pretends to being, in some sense, a portrayal of LDS orthodoxy.

  16. How do you know what a “proper” interpretation of the scriptures is? Like I’ve said before, every single sect of Christiandom has a different interpretation of the scriptures. That is why there are so many sects. If we all believed in the scriptures the same, we’d all be members of the same church. But that is not the case.

    The point? Just b/c there are many different interpretations, which I don’t dispute, doesn’t mean they are all RIGHT. How do we know which one is right, then? If you say the “witness of the Holy Spirit”, then I can say mine is right, b/c He has witnessed to me that the interpretation I hold to is correct. Wouldn’t you also say the same thing? But that can’t be, b/c opposite interpretations of the SAME statements cannot be true! So, Bryce, how do we know?

    Yes, it is tough to argue with ex-Mormons who disavow everything they used to hold very dear and precious. Of course, it is only after they leave the church that everything becomes so clear. Tell me, how are these people capable of so much rational thought after they left the church when they weren’t capable of it while they were still a part of it?

    B/c of the very fact that they were in the church, and still influenced by its teachings. I know you believe this to be impossible, Bryce, but I’ve talked to too many who are non-believing, but afraid to leave, for fear of being ostracized. In fact, one couple I know who just recently left, the woman is really struggling b/c none of her Mormon “friends” are nice to her any more, since she’s left. Others I’ve talked to (mostly men, who don’t believe, but their wives still do), have said that if they bring it up to their wives (about their doubts about the LDS church), that their wives have point-blank threatened to leave them and move with the kids. Is that the “love” and “acceptance” and “tolerance” that the LDS church teaches? I think not.

    Once these people stepped outside of their Mormon circles, and truly took a hard look at the beliefs, where they came from, what they’re based on, etc…, it became (painfully) clear to them that it wasn’t true. But, while caught up in the Mormon church, they were unwilling (and unable) to do so. You can deny it all you want, but if you do, you call a lot of people liars, Bryce.

  17. You’ve been talking to ex-Mormons?

    That explains a lot.

    Really, Seth? Why? Are they now “anti”, as well? It would seem as if they’d at least know what they’re talking about, having been a member and left, but maybe you feel differently.

    By the way, I never denied that a lot of Mormons, influential and otherwise, claim that things stand or fall on Joseph Smith.

    I never said you did.

    That still doesn’t mean you get to pass a verdict on the religion based on his life.

    Sure it does. No “verdict” is being passed, based on the relative “good” or “bad” of his life. It is passed on the basis of the claims he made concerning the vision and the BOM, out of which Mormonism is based. Heck, even LDS prophets and scholars agree with that (look again at the quotes above) – don’t you?

    My experience is that they [ex-Mormons] usually think Evangelicals (and Christians generally) are full of crap too. So I’m not sure you’re helping your cause any by citing them as particular authorities.

    That’s certainly not my experience with them. The ones I talk to end up joining, and being active members in, Christian (and more predominantly, Evangelical) churches. I think it would be safe to say that you’re experiences seem to vary widely from my experiences, so I suppose I could also say that you’re not helping your cause either by quoting your side, since my “side” clearly shows something different.

  18. Brad, I almost never, ever go to ex-members to find out about ANY religion.

    They are far too biased and emotionally wrapped-up in it for an objective look. And I equally apply that to the many, many ex-Protestant Mormons I have heard talk about the blindness, emptiness, and spiritually unsatisfying nature of being a Protestant, or a Catholic. I always take their accounts with a grain of salt. I’d suggest evangelicals do so as well with ex-Mormons.

    Anyway, I’d say that the atheist faction within the ex-Mormon online community is by far, the most dominant. It seems that once you are able to undermine someone’s faith in LDS particulars, it’s only a short hop, skip and a jump to undermine Christianity in general.

    And I will repeat it – just because many Mormons (and even influential Mormon leaders) have indulged in the ad hominem fallacy of Mormonism = Joseph Smith does not make it correct.

    Even if Joseph Smith were a proven fraud and liar (which he is not, by the way) you would STILL be obligated to observe the religious concepts he taught and see whether they are true or not.

    We don’t ask what sort of person Isaac Newton was when we are teaching a bunch of 10th graders his laws of motion do we?

    Likewise, you need not ask what sort of person Joseph Smith was when looking at his teachings on God and scripture.

    Do you throw out half of Psalms because David slept with Bathsheba? Or do you ignore everything Solomon said due to his later failings?

    Evangelicals need to STOP using the intellectual crutch of attacking Joseph Smith. It’s a sorry excuse for theological argument and simply reveals people who are too lazy to actually bother with real theological argument. Attacking a man is easy. Too easy. But there are no shortcuts.

    Either disprove the theology and actual religion, or hold your piece.

    Joseph Smith’s personal life has almost nothing to do with the truth or falsity of Mormonism.

  19. To Todd’s credit, he rarely bothers much with ad hominem stuff here. He typically limits his criticisms to the actual theology and beliefs of Mormonism and how those things are shown in the lives of LDS people.

    I’d suggest you follow his example.

  20. Brad, I almost never, ever go to ex-members to find out about ANY religion.

    I don’t go to them to find out about Mormonism – I already know about it. I go to them to find out why they left, and what finally convinced them it’s not true. No better person to ask.

    They are far too biased and emotionally wrapped-up in it for an objective look.

    Of course, I’d apply that to current Mormons – remember my statement about “being blinded”?

    And I equally apply that to the many, many ex-Protestant Mormons I have heard talk about the blindness, emptiness, and spiritually unsatisfying nature of being a Protestant, or a Catholic. I always take their accounts with a grain of salt. I’d suggest evangelicals do so as well with ex-Mormons.

    As you say, they’re not objective though, right?

    Anyway, I’d say that the atheist faction within the ex-Mormon online community is by far, the most dominant. It seems that once you are able to undermine someone’s faith in LDS particulars, it’s only a short hop, skip and a jump to undermine Christianity in general.

    Feel free to have your opinion, Seth. Depends on the circles you frequent online, too. But your statement about undermining Christianity being pretty easy after undermining LDS is telling. Since both believe very differently about common ideas, they’re really not as closely related as you think.

    And I will repeat it – just because many Mormons (and even influential Mormon leaders) have indulged in the ad hominem fallacy of Mormonism = Joseph Smith does not make it correct.

    Boy, if even leaders high up in the hierarchy of your church think that it does, but you don’t, seems there’s a big difference of opinion, Seth. Who’s right – you, or the influential leaders?

    Even if Joseph Smith were a proven fraud and liar (which he is not, by the way) you would STILL be obligated to observe the religious concepts he taught and see whether they are true or not.

    Seth, the fact that you don’t believe Smith is a proven fraud and liar means only one of 2 things. Either you haven’t researched it well enough to know, or you have, but refuse to accept what is fact. Either way, you’re wrong as to your statement. And I am not obligated, nor are you or anyone else, to observe ANYTHING that Smith taught, UNLESS they are true and inspired of God. And since that is not the case, that ends it for me.

    We don’t ask what sort of person Isaac Newton was when we are teaching a bunch of 10th graders his laws of motion do we?

    Newton didn’t claim to have a revelation from God, and start a new religion, either. And if you don’t believe some of what he said is corect, jump off a building, and see what happens when some of the laws he posed take effect.

    Likewise, you need not ask what sort of person Joseph Smith was when looking at his teachings on God and scripture.

    The fact that you’re an attorney, yet still make such an illogical link between Newton and Smith as to the veracity of their statements, is scary, and ought to be doubly scary to your employer, Seth.

    Do you throw out half of Psalms because David slept with Bathsheba? Or do you ignore everything Solomon said due to his later failings?

    No – but nothing they SAID in their writings in the Bible (as inspired by God), go against anything ELSE in the Bible, either! Therefore, as inspired writers, their words and statements hold true. In Deuteronomy, God didn’t say to look at a prophet’s character to determine if he is truly a prophet – he said to look at what the man SAID, and if it wasn’t true, then you know he’s not a prophet. Nothing David or Solomon said, as inspired by God in their writings, was untrue or didn’t come to pass. The same can’t be said for Smith.

    Evangelicals need to STOP using the intellectual crutch of attacking Joseph Smith. It’s a sorry excuse for theological argument and simply reveals people who are too lazy to actually bother with real theological argument. Attacking a man is easy. Too easy. But there are no shortcuts.

    Same flawed argument you’ve been using all along – you are an attorney, aren’t you? Amazing. It’s not a crutch to attack Smith, it’s where the attack SHOULD happen, b/c Mormonism doesn’t come about without him, as it is he who claims to have had the vision from God, who claims to have translated the plates, to have written the BOM, etc… Where else do you want the focus to be, Seth? The “real theological argument” DOES lie with the truthfulness of what Smith wrote and prophesied. For Mormons to say “stop” is a sorry excuse to try and get the focus off of Smith, who doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and who’s claimed works don’t, either. Now that’s lazy.

    Either disprove the theology and actual religion, or hold your piece.

    Just b/c you don’t believe it hasn’t been disproven, doesn’t mean it hasn’t. It just means you haven’t accepted it, Seth. Remember the “blindness”, and what you referred to as the inability to be “objective”?

    Joseph Smith’s personal life has almost nothing to do with the truth or falsity of Mormonism.

    It’s not just about Smith’s personal life, but his personal life gives a good reflection of his character, and his state of mind, and when combined with what is known about Smith, through historical evidence and court records, combined with what he writes about the Mormon religion and the fact that much of it can be, and has been, discredited, it just doesn’t add up. And since the Mormon faith originates with HIS work, then yes, he has EVERYTHING to do with Mormonism.

  21. You still haven’t addressed anything I said Brad.

    You’re whole argument boils down to:

    “You’re wrong because I don’t believe you. This must mean you’re stupid. You’re illogical because I don’t agree with you. I pity your employer. Because you’re a Mormon, you’re blinded. And my only measure of truth is whether it’s in the Bible or not. I don’t need to use my brain beyond that.”

    Nice.

  22. You still haven’t addressed anything I said Brad.

    Actually, Seth, I addressed everything you said directly. You may not agree with it, but I addressed it. That’s what the bold is for, to point out what you said, and my response.

    You’re whole argument boils down to:

    “You’re wrong because I don’t believe you.”

    No – you (and all Mormons) are wrong, b/c Joseph Smith is not to be believed, therefore the BOM is not to be believed, therefore Mormonism is not to be believed. Has nothing to do with what YOU think about it.

    This must mean you’re stupid.

    One, I never said stupid. Two, what I implied is that your logic is bad, b/c you’re trying to use an argument to support another, when the arguments aren’t alike (e.g. Newton and Smith). What I further implied is that I would hope for better scholarship from an attorney, who I would think would be accustomed to making logical, rather than illogical links.

    You’re illogical because I don’t agree with you.

    Doesn’t make sense, Seth. You’re not illogical b/c I happen to disagree with you, you’re illogical b/c your thought pattern is trying to connect 2 different ideas to prove a similar point, which doesn’t work. It’s not that “you’re illogical b/c I don’t agree with you”; rather, it’s more like “I don’t agree with you b/c you’re illogical.”

    I pity your employer.

    Again, back to my assumption that you would be accustomed to making logical links in your line of work, and if so, that your employer would expect them, and that if what you’re providing here is indicative of what you provide them, they might need to re-think. Of course, I could be wrong, and maybe you’re not used to making logical links…

    Because you’re a Mormon, you’re blinded.

    I do agree with this one wholeheartedly.

    And my only measure of truth is whether it’s in the Bible or not. I don’t need to use my brain beyond that.”

    I agree mostly with the first part, but never said, nor do I believe, the second part. In fact, it’s our brains that even allow us to understand what we can about God’s Word. I do believe that if the Bible says it (and, more importantly, we have properly interpreted what the Bible says), it is true – not just for me (b/c I believe it), but also absolutely true for anyone (whether they believe it or not). What I believe isn’t true simply b/c I have faith that it is – what a terrible basis that would be, b/c ANYONE can have faith in ANYTHING, but it doesn’t make EVERYTHING true. Rather, I have faith in what I believe, BECAUSE it is true. Big difference.

    Nice.

    I thought so.

  23. Many reasons, Seth – I believe the Bible for many reasons.

    I know where you’re going… and none of it will change any facts about Mormonism, Seth. It’s apples to oranges.

  24. I believe what I believe for many reasons too.

    And you’d better address them all if you want to get anywhere near discrediting them.

  25. One wonders what this “iron-clad” proof you’ve got on Joseph is Brad. Although I doubt any of it’s going to be news to me. I’ve been delving into the controversies of the Mormon Church for about five years now and I rarely hear new arguments anymore.

    But go ahead. Surprise me.

    Incidentally, like David, Joseph Smith didn’t really teach anything at odds with preceding scripture either. Mormonism is actually not contrary to the Bible. There’s stuff in Mormonism that is not found in the Bible, sure. But nothing really contrary to it.

    I suppose you’ll say this is more evidence of “blindness” on my part.

    Right back atcha.

    Your refusal to give Mormonism the benefit of the doubt is likewise evidence of your own personal blindness and prejudices.

    So there we are, I guess.

  26. Seth: Incidentally, like David, Joseph Smith didn’t really teach anything at odds with preceding scripture either. Mormonism is actually not contrary to the Bible. There’s stuff in Mormonism that is not found in the Bible, sure. But nothing really contrary to it.,

    This statement puzzles me, especially when LDS tell me there are contradictions in the Bible.

    Do people tell me that, because of the early missionary training or BYU instruction they received? Do they assert this because of some of the books they read from Deseret or agnostics like Bart Ehrman or other biblical critics anchored in higher textual criticism?

    Has Joseph Smith ever preached a sermon about all the problems, inaccuracies, or apostasy tampering with the Bible to back up all the changes he has made to the Scripture?

    I would be interested.

  27. People are too careless with their words in these instances Todd. And the urge to make dramatic points sometimes charges our words more than they need to be.

    I don’t think there are really outright contradictions in the Bible. But I do think there are tensions – which most Christian scholars of any stripe would readily acknowledge. There are tensions between the account of the Gospel of John and the other Gospels. But that doesn’t mean those tensions cannot be overcome by a focus on the bigger picture of what the Bible is trying to say.

    The reason I harp on those tensions so much when talking to you is because it is often within those tensions that the controversies between Mormons and Evangelicals lie. My point in arguing here has never been to discredit the Bible as containing God’s word.

    If I have been so careless as to do so, then I would beg your pardon. LDS really have very little doctrinal foundation for declaring this passage or that passage entirely invalid.

  28. Incidentally, I don’t find the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible to be inconsistent with the overall sweep and message of the Bible either.

  29. #30 – Sincerely, I do very much so, Seth. I study these biblical phrases. I can easily, throughout a week, meditate on a paragraph, asking the Spirit to show me every angle that my puny brain can understand.

    Then I turn to the JST after study and preaching. In some of the most beautiful parts of those phrases, Joseph has torn the interlocking fabric and pattern.

    ____

    What do you think of the post by this LDS author?

    http://www.2think.org/hii/bible_cr.shtml

  30. That author goes somewhere I never saw a ton of use in going. I do agree with him however, that it would do for evangelical critics of Mormonism to be a little bit more reflective about their own sore spots before gleefully pointing out the mote in their adversary’s eyes. A bit of humility, objectivity and acknowledgment of one’s own weaknesses goes a long way, but is too often lacking in some evangelical critics I have encountered.

    I would ask however Todd, how much of the “fabric and interlocking pattern” is due to the scripture, and how much is due to the mental framework we bring to the text?

    True objectivity is such a hard thing.

  31. Seth, when Joseph crossed out biblical words and added his words, he did not show open objectivity to the text.

    But yes, the Spirit needs to make adjustments to my “mental framework” every day. And He does it with the Word constantly.

    I am so prone to wander from the God I love.

  32. Most scholars would agree that the Bible was writen by inspiration. Does that mean it cannot be tainted or changed over serveral hundred years? Maybe by inspiration someone can set it strait again.

  33. Seth, you’re right, it will always be a case of “back atcha.” You may be familiar with the arguments and proof that is used (and whether you acknowledge it or not, it does refute Mormonism), I don’t doubt that. But that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, just b/c you don’t believe them.

    Do I believe you’re blinded? Yes. Do you believe I’m blinded? Probably. I can live with that, knowing that I’ve tried to tell you otherwise. Therein ends my Christian duty. And we will all find out after we die, Seth.

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