Would it be proper for me to write an October 95 theses questioning the very words of the LDS First Presidency and the Apostles?
You can find on my blog last year’s October 95 theses.
Sitting here tonight, I rather find it difficult to sit still. I would like to take 95 statements made by these leading Authorities of the Intermountain West in 2007 or 2008 (lifting the statements from either Conference or Deseret book so that you all can readily explore full contexts for yourselves) and evaluate them under the light of the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ’s statements in biblical authority.
Don’t you think it would be healthy for the Intermountain West to experience some exciting religious shakeup?
Of course, where this election year’s politicians tantalize you with the “new” (really, is anything new?), I desire for you to look back and consider things forgotten – hammered and hammered and hammered veracity of old.
What do you say?
I just got back from the “priesthood” session of the general conference, and it was the first time I have been in a mormon church since we were saved by Christ out of mormonism. I was just struck by the utter lostness and lack of an Gospel message from the speakers. Looking at the speakers from a Christian perspective now, instead of a mormon perspective, it is glaring how self-centered the talks are, and how man centered the theology is.
I didn’t much care for the talks from the two Seventies. Uchtdorf and Eyring were good. But I’m still not sure I even agree with the Seventies’ talks.
So what exactly is meant by the term “biblical authority”? Where does this “authority” come from? Self-ordination? A college degree?
Why has there always been so much contention over what the “Bible” says?
It would seem to be because the “private” interpretation of the scriptures by those who are not special witnesses or called as “holy men” of God. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Throughout the scriptures, God has established a pattern of how prophecy and scripture is given — not by the “will of man”, but by those he has called and given the authority to be His witnesses and speak in His name.
Certainly every man must receive personal revelation for himself from the Holy Ghost as to how the teachings of the scriptures apply to his life so that he can understand the mysteries. However, the “authority” to interpret and give scripture comes by way of this pattern that God has established.
Why wouldn’t God call special witnesses as prophets and apostles today and speak through them? With all the contention and confusion regarding the interpretation of scripture, even today, where is the real “biblical authority”?
What if? What if God has actually called a prophet and 12 special witnesses as he has done in the past –would their 95 statements be in agreement with man’s interpretation and limited understanding of the Bible or would they be agreement with His complete doctrine that He established in the first place?
Rob, I don’t think the living LDS apostles in 2008 have any conclusive or unified idea on many of my biblical questions that I would like to pose to them.
For instance, penal substitutionary atonement.
Who with “authority” in 2008 will speak frankly among them?
Todd, I would say that they have spoken with clarity and unity on this topic of the Atonement. Have you studied what they have taught about the Atonement? (You can visit http://www.lds.org and click the “Search” link and use the “Advanced options” to search for the topic of “Atonement” from the Church Presidents, First Presidency, and Quorum of the Twelve over the past X years”)
However, I think the bigger issue is whether or not we are willing to believe and accept that what they have taught is actually from God. Are we willing to accept the answer even though it might something that is completely different than what we (man, arm of the flesh) thought it should or could be? (2 Nephi 9:28-29,42, Jer 17:5, 2 Nephi 4:34, D&C 1:19)
After 40 years of living, learning, and experiences, are we (me included) still teachable? Are we willing to let God take out our stony heart and replace it a heart of flesh so that He can write upon it? (Ezek 11:19, 2 Cor 3:2-3)
Again I ask, why can’t God call authorized living apostles and prophets to proclaim his doctrine and make known those things that have been corrupted and lost by the arm of the flesh?
My declaration is that he has called living prophets and apostles in our day.
I desire for you to look back and consider things forgotten – hammered and hammered and hammered veracity of old
Todd, this is what Mormons challenge you to do. For instance, what do you make of the temple?
I think that the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ would fare very well under your challenge to measure their words against the Bible (not extra-biblical philosophization, mind you, but the actual words of the Bible) and especially by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible.
However, the Bible is just a book, a collection of writings each with complicated and individual provenance. God intends his followers to benefit from the guidance available through direct revelation to his chosen servants, so long as they do not reject such guidance.
You have so far not given any compelling reason why a Mormon should choose your congregation over helping build God’s Kingdom on Earth through the work of the Church of Jesus Christ. Complexities relating to the extra-Biblical Trinity don’t do the trick as LDS notions of the Godhead are rooted in the New Testament. Syllogisms don’t do the trick, especially if they are coupled with preaching about Biblical sufficiency and infallibility — if the Bible is infallible, why do you need to speak Greek, perform syllogisms, and be familiar with fourth-century creedal philosophy to come to a true understanding of the nature of God. This surely excludes billions of people who have never had and never will have such opportunities.
But I forget myself. One of the best talks from this Conference was from Elder Hales, an Apostle, who challenged us to meet our antagonists with meekness. He reinforced that Bible bashing is unproductive and causes the Spirit to withdraw (because it is based in the spirit of contention). That is something that I particularly have to work on.
Did you guys learn anything new this weekend about God?
Elder Hales talk calling us to be more Christlike in conversing with our critics seemed almost directly aimed at me.
I’ve been getting a bit snotty on other Evangelical blogs lately. So it was a needed correction.
Most of the talks challenged us to emulate the teachings of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.
No one gave a sermon about the fourth-century Trinity, however, if that’s what you mean.
Todd, are you asking if I learned something new about who God is? or about what God wants me to do and be focused on?
The nature and character of God has been affirmed over and over again, but especially in the last couple of General Conferences. Here’s just a couple of talks to list:
Elder Hales (Apr 2008) – Gaining a Testimony of God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost
Elder Holland (Oct 2007) – The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
President Hinckley (Apr 2007) – The Things of which I know
Elder Ballard (Apr 2007) – The Miracle of the Bible
At this conference, I was moved by President Packer’s talk regarding the need to follow the example of Christ and turn the other cheek even though wrongly persecuted. I also recognized specific emphasis on the need for our will to be one with God’s.
“Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes and faithfulness of her citizens…. If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, ward and stakes, we must rise to (a Zion standard). It will be necessary to become unified in one heart and one mind, to become … a holy people and to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen. Zion will come only as they happen.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
Todd, when Latter-day Saints talk about Zion or the Word of Wisdom or Tithing, we are talking about God and Jesus Christ. If not for our knowledge of and belief in them, we wouldn’t be instructing each other about the revelations that they have given us and the purposes they have in mind for us.