Quotes from Andrew Jackson’s latest book

My selected quotes from Andrew Jackson in his latest book, Mormonism Explained (2008)

 

Here is a small sampling.  Jackson likes the use of “Although” and “In fact”.

 

1.  “As a result, within Mormonism the Bible is functionally subordinate and subject to clarification and revision by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price” (13).

 

2.  “Early Mormonism reflected many of the common Christian trends of the times: having an authoritarian prophetic leader and being noncreedal, staunchly Arminian, fervently restorationist, evangelistically driven, end-time-focused, and characterized by isolated communal living” (18-19).

 

3.  “Although, many Mormons take pride in rejecting historical Christian creeds, they have creeds themselves” (190f7).

 

4.  “Although LDS authorities have often denied Joseph Smith’s treasure-hunting, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct and treasure-hunting through the use of divination on March 20, 1826 in Bainbridge, New York” (25).

 

5.  “Mormons believe that April 6 is the birthday of Jesus Christ himself and thus connect the incarnation of Jesus Christ with the birth of the first Mormon church” (29).

 

6.  “It is important to understand that early Mormons were not simply interested in building churches and temples within cities; their vision was to become a church that consisted of a large network of Mormon cities, with the city of Zion as their capital.  Mormons wanted whole cities, not simply a portion of them.  It is no surprise that the Mormon vision of building and dominating cities created significant tension wherever they settled among non-Mormon citizens” (39).

 

7.  “Mormons believe that American Indians are the direct ancestors of the Book of Mormon’s Lamanite people and thus are also direct descendants of Israelites” (191f26).

 

8.  “Numerous Ohio revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants are the direct result of Smith’s revision of the Bible” (40).

 

9.  “Attempting to get a new start, reestablish authority, and obtain badly needed finances, Joseph Smith changed the name of the Mormon Church to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 26, 1838, attributing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-10 to himself instead of Jesus Christ” (46).

 

10.  “Although Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith, they do acclaim his status of preexistent greatness and latter-day calling to a level of superiority that is unprecedented in the history of Christianity” (189f1).

 

11.  “Joseph Smith’s death lead to a bitter succession crisis not unlike what had occurred following the death of Muhammad” (50).

 

12.  “Immediately following the appointment of the new Mormon successor, there was a major split between Brigham Young and Joseph Smith’s wife Emma.  In fact, it seems rather revealing that Young never even visited Emma after Joseph’s death” (51).

 

13.  “The LDS President and Prophet is the single authorized mediator between God and Mormon leaders and members” (78).

 

14.  “Because not a single person, place, or event unique to the Book of Mormon has been proved to have existed, Mormons emphasize that a subjective heart experience—what they call a burning in the bosom—proves the authenticity and truth of the Book of Mormon” (86-87).

 

15.  “In fact, the worldview constructed and promoted by Mormonism mirrors several aspects of ancient paganism, Egyptian and Greek mythology, Hinduism, and New Age, and is foreign and destructive to a biblical Judeo-Christian worldview” (94).

 

16.  “According to Mormonism . . . The human mind or spirit has no beginning and will have no end” (96)

 

17.  “Although Mormonism does not like the word polytheism because it is too closely reflects a pagan worldview, there is not doubt that Latter-day Saints believe in the eternal reality of a plurality of gods” (97).

 

18.  “In fact, the LDS Church describes the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—more as the supreme heavenly presidency of three gods than as the historically and universally accepted Christian doctrine of the eternal triune nature of one God” (113).  

 

19.  “Although in my view Mormons are somewhat contradictory in their own writings, Dr. Craig Blomberg told me that many informed Mormons would unequivocally say that their understanding of deification means that one day we will share perfectly God’s communicable attributes only.  They do not claim we will ever be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent.  They stress that we will always be dependent on and contingent on God.  We will never become beings that anyone else worships.  All worship for all eternity will be reserved for God, through Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost. We must ask, then, why spirit-children of the Father worship Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who are themselves other spirit-children who progressed into gods.  If it occurs today, why wouldn’t it logically occur in the future? (200-201f52).

 

___

 

How is Andrew doing in explaining?

25 comments

  1. (No malice or hurtful feelings are intended by this…)

    I don’t know Mr. Jackson and I have not read his book, but maybe I should — I didn’t know I believed all that stuff! (smile)

    Maybe I should ask more non-mormons to explain to me what I believe based on (1) their personal analysis of the words of LDS scholars/apologists and (2) their bias from their own upbringing, background, and current profession. Of course, I could just ask the plumber to fix my computer — maybe I might get lucky. (smile)

    Unfortunately, if Mr. Jackson were to believe and convert to Mormonism, he’d have to quit his current job and find another source of income. (raised eyebrows) Hopefully keeping his current job is not his motivation for writing this book.

    As I think about, I guess that if anyone tried to make statements about what Mormons believe and explain them based on the understanding of man (i.e. arm of the flesh), then this is probably pretty close to how it would come out.

    However, if a person choose to instead look at it from a completely different angle — and exercise faith to believe that God and Jesus Christ actually appeared to the boy Joseph Smith. That he was actually called to be a prophet of God just like the prophets of old. That through Joseph, the Savior restored the kingdom of God with all of the authority and doctrines of salvation. That today, Jesus Christ directs His church through His chosen prophets and apostles using direct revelation. That man’s understanding and thoughts are so limited compared to the enlightenment and understanding that comes from being taught from on high. If you choose to look at it from that angle, then I’ll bet your perspective on the teachings, from where that small list of 19 items was created, will change completely.

    Sincerely, I believe that it ultimately comes down to the angle that a person chooses to look at it. One of the greatest gifts we have is agency and neither God nor Satan can force us to follow their will. We must choose, each one, for ourselves.

    Again, I quote from the late President Hinckley speaking about God and Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph Smith:

    “Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.” (Oct 2001, General Conference)

  2. “However, if a person choose to instead look at it from a completely different angle — and exercise faith to believe that God and Jesus Christ actually appeared to the boy Joseph Smith.”

    Given that the only evidence for this is Smith’s account, why should I, or anyone for that matter, believe this?

    In the Bible, the risen Christ appeared to FIVE HUNDRED people (I Corinthians 15:6)

  3. While I certainly believe the Bible, FrGreg, you’re engaging a double standard. There is no evidence that Christ appeared to “FIVE HUNDRED” people, merely the claim from Paul that he did. That isn’t evidence and the only people who believe it do so based upon faith.

    There is lots of evidence for Smith’s account including the statements of 11 other people who testified that they saw and handled the plates Joseph Smith translated. In fact, that’s more first hand witnesses than there are for the resurrection. I may have missed a few, but I’m aware of Matthew, John, Paul, Peter, and perhaps Jude as the only people who left eyewitness accounts of the Lord’s resurrection. Counting Joseph Smith, that’s 12 to five more eyewitness accounts than the New Testament.

  4. Well, Alma, I’m glad to hear you say you believe the Bible. Therefore, I am sure that you take St. Paul’s statement at face value. Further, besides that, when the Risen Lord appeared, he almost always appeared to several people at once (the only exception being his appearance to St. Paul on the road to Damascus, and, apparently, according to Tradition, to James, his “brother”).

    Of course, there are a couple of problems raised when any Mormon says they believe the Bible, since the Bible explicitly rules out the possibility that the biggest premise upon which Mormonism is based – the “Great Apostacy” – could ever occur: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age,” says Jesus to His Apostles and to the original apostolic Church as a whole: no breaks in time allowed, no breaks possible, no breaks taken. Certainly, yes, “the love of many will grow cold” and many individuals, even groups, have and will apostacize, but there always has and always will be a faithful remnant, members of an organized, visible, historical Church, led by bishops who succeed to the Apostles, and continuous in time from the Apostles “until the end of the age”. Another problem has to do with what the Bible has to say concerning other certain matters, such as the inviolability of the traditions of said Church (II Thessalonians 2:15) and the nature of the Lord’s Supper. (Malachi 1:11, John 6: 51-59, I Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-30, Hebrews 6:4, 13:10.

    As far the “eleven witnesses” to the BoM are concerned, their testimony is not without its problems. For example, Martin Harris later denied that the three witnesses ever saw the plates with their “physical eyes”, having seen them, he said, with their “spiritual eye” or “eye of faith”. Further, it is known that the initial statements given by both sets of witnesses were not in their own words, but were prepared by Smith for them to sign.

    However, the issue of the source of the BoM is only indirectly connected to that of Smith’s “first vision” which is what is under discussion here, and for that, all we have is Smith’s word. And, given that this vision proclaims the great apostacy, its contents are immediately in conflict with the Bible. So, for one who “believes the Bible,” even if Smith really had this experience, it could not have been what he stated it was, a vision of God the Father and Christ.

  5. “no breaks in time allowed, no breaks possible, no breaks taken.”

    Except the Bible passages in question DO NOT require that reading Greg.

    Nice try though.

  6. Fr. Greg,

    Actually, since Joseph’s first vision, the Savior and others (including Peter, James, and John) have appeared to more than just Joseph Smith and to more than one at a time (i.e. restoration of the Priesthood, Kirtland Temple, D&C 110, etc.)

    Based on what you read in the Bible, you are forming your own opinion (i.e. arm of the flesh) of how the Savior operates when he decides to appear to mortal men.

    How do you know that “what you think” is really what the Savior actually meant when he said to his Apostles ““I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” — how many times did the Savior speak in parables and of greater things that the people didn’t understand including his own apostles?

    It is evident from the Bible, that man’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts.

    I believe that with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility and greater condemnation. I believe that the Savior teaches us line upon line, little by little. As we exercise faith and show that we are willing to accept and follow, he will give us more.

    Why did he explain the meanings of the parables to his apostles? They had committed to follow him and give up their own lives — they were given the greater light and had the greater responsibility. As they exercised their faith, they were given even more.

    If after receiving this greater light and knowledge, we turn against it, greater will be the condemnation.

    Why do the scriptures tell us that “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Matt. 12: 31-32, Mark 3: 29; Luke 12: 10) — the Holy Ghost is the most pure way that truth and understanding is received (spirit to spirit) — yes this is even greater than seeing with our mortal eyes!

    I believe this shows the great love that the Savior and our Heavenly Father has for us. There would be greater condemnation for mortals that did not have the faith sufficient to carry with them the greater knowledge and understanding.

    We are all imperfect beings, but yet the Savior still needs us to perform his work. He calls imperfect beings to be his prophets, apostles, and leaders. This does not excuse them, but helps us realize why we cannot trust in man or the arm of the flesh — that is why the witness of the Holy Ghost is so important. Men will fall as they have fallen in times past (i.e. Judas, David, etc.), but God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost cannot and must be the rock upon which we are built. (Helaman 5:12)

  7. Matt 28:20:

    “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    You have to be reading an awful lot into the text to be making the sort of blanket assertions from it that you are Greg.

    Was Jesus only talking about being with his disciples who were listening to him “always?” And what does he mean by “age?” Or was he simply saying that his influence would always be with mankind from now until the end of the world?

    Because if that’s all he meant, then the statement is totally consistent with Mormon doctrine of the Great Apostasy. We happen to believe that all men have access to the “light of Christ” inside or outside the Church.

    Just the mere fact that Christ promises to be with humanity until the end, has nothing, I repeat – nothing, to do with whether His Church would survive intact or not – or whether Priesthood authority would be unbroken and continuous.

    Now… Matt 16:18

    “and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

    Again, you’ve overgeneralized a meaning that is not required by the text.

    This verse can be read multiple ways, and your way – this church is now established and shall never experience an interruption – is merely one reading.

    Another possible reading is that Christ is simply saying:

    “When my church is established, it will be established on Priesthood authority. And if it is established on Priesthood authority, it will not fall.”

    Which is completely and utterly consistent with the possibility that the Church would fall if it ever lost that authority.

    What makes you so certain that Christ wasn’t merely describing the conditions under which his Church would be invulnerable, but was not saying it would last, unbroken, henceforth and forever?

    Next point – who says that Jesus isn’t just talking about an ultimate end result, rather than a state of Church affairs at every stage of history?

    Ask yourself – did the US army ultimately prevail against Hitler?

    Now, would you have thought so during the Battle of the Bulge (where the Nazis beat the Americans and pushed them back)?

    Why can’t the passages in Matthew be merely talking about the ultimate and final triumph of Christ’s Church?

    What makes you so sure that they describe an unbroken line that would never experience a setback. We don’t need an unbroken line for the gates of hell to “not prevail.” Viewing what Christ says in the bigger picture, a statement about the gates of hell not prevailing is entirely consistent with an temporary setback such as the Great Apostasy.

    You are reading these verses through the lens of your own preconceptions. What you are doing is very similar to what Mormons do with 1 Cor. 15:29 (baptism for the dead) – taking a single verse, and reading it as proof of your own specialized position, when in fact, it is open to varied readings.

  8. Rob, no reasonable, non-biased person, of whatever religion persuasion, is going to read Matthew 16:18 or Matthew 28:20 as parable.

    Further, lest I give the wrong impression, the indefectibility and efficacy of the origional Apostolic Church is the result of nothing other than the work of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ’s gift to said Church. It is the Holy Spirit which animates everything that Church does as Church and which sanctifies its members, “leading them into all truth” and “bringing to mind all that I have taught you”. However, this is not done in a vacuum; given human frailty and sinfulness, there must external standards (and relationships; this is, after all, a communal process, for the Church is, first and foremost, communion) by which one may discern the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  9. Seth, I am reading with the Tradition, and there was no other understanding of these verses (as with so much else) until the Reformation.

    Further, while we don’t use the term, it is clear that the Apostles possessed what you call “priesthood authority” (as instituted by Christ, apparently in stages, with Matthew 16:18, Matthew 18:18, Matthew 28:20, at the Last Supper, and John 20:22-23 and then constituted – “actualized”, by the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) and, from a very early extra-biblical work (The Letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, c. AD 96), passed that authority on to the first bishops who in turn passed it on to their successors in the episcopal office, generation after generation, and who also, from the beginning, delegate some of that authority to the presbyters.(This is also implied in the New Testament: the Apostles select Matthias to replace Judas. St. Paul ordains Timothy and Titus to carry on his work. The Apostles institute the order of deacons and ordain the first deacons.)

    As far as baptism for the dead goes, the major problem is that there is absolutely no other mention of it, either in the rest of the Bible, or in subsequent writings, until the advent of the LDS. This is manifestly not the case concerning apostolic/episcopal authority and the Church which is built upon it, “Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone”.

    Certainly, the Church has experienced “set backs” and will certainly do so in the future. But a set back is not the same thing as complete apostacy and/or the complete disappearance of apostolic authority.

  10. Greg, I hope you’ll forgive me for interjecting a bit of Mormon scripture in here, but the LDS already have a well-known process by which Priesthood authority can be lost, and is lost in Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-42:

    34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
    35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
    36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
    38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
    39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
    40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

    This scripture, while you may not consider it binding, makes it quite plain to me that Apostasy is very-much possible on a personal level. If it be possible on a personal level, we must admit the possibility that it can happen on a Church-wide basis as well. Even if Priesthood was properly given to the apostles and properly exercised by them, we have no such guarantees of their successors.

    Surely you are not suggesting that mere Priesthood ceremony makes people or institutions impervious to error?

    If not, then we must admit the possibility of error. And if error is possible, we must also admit the possibility of serious and utter error.

  11. Interesting, Seth. Would this apply all the way up the ladder, to the President himself? If that were the case, how would it be determined that the President had apostacized, or, less seriously, had fallen into error? Could he then be removed from his office?

    Of course individual error and apostacy are possible, and that goes for individual clergy and even, groups of clergy: even, at times, a majority. For example, in the Fourth Century, at one point, a very large number, if not the majority, of bishops were Arians. A little later, St. John Chrysostom famously said, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops”. As an Orthodox Christian, I find today that a large segment of the Church, that which is under the Pope, is in error (but not apostate).

    So these promises, then, are not made to individual persons, even individual bishops, but to the Church as a whole (Catholic =”according to the whole”). Thus, the Orthodox POV is that the synodical structure of the Church, and of the episcopate, is inherently more important than any single episcopal office of primacy (as with the Roman Catholic Pope). We see this at work in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. The Apostles are charged with determining and teaching the Faith, but the Church as a whole, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, must “receive” the teaching. This is why some Councils (meetings of bishops) are considered authoritative and others are not.

  12. Fr. Greg,

    Are 100% confident that you completely understand what the Savior meant in Matthew 16 and 28?

    There is no possibility that when he said “I am with you always” that he wasn’t referring to “you” as just those apostles? or that maybe those apostles had received the gift to be in the Savior’s presence always either in this life or the next?

    There is no possibility that when he said “I will build my Church” that he wasn’t referring to the Kingdom of God that would prevail eventually in the end? That there couldn’t be a falling away before the end came?

    It is obvious from the scriptures that regardless of whether the Savior was speaking a specific parable or not, that the people (especially the Jews) did not understand what he was teaching them. This even included the apostles at times.

    “Given human frailty and sinfulness, there must be external standards (relationships)” — actually that relationship must be between our spirit and the Holy Ghost. Any relationship between any person(s) or man-made standard(s) will not be enough to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary.

    In fact, Paul taught the this exact principle in the 2nd chapter of Corinthians — to understand the things of God, we must understand by the Spirit, not by the natural man.

  13. From Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Message of the Restoration”, General Conference, April 2007:

    President Hinckley has said concerning the Restoration: “After many generations had walked the earth—so many of them in conflict, hatred, darkness, and evil—there arrived the great, new day of the Restoration. This glorious gospel was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph. The dawn of the dispensation of the fulness of times rose upon the world. All of the good, the beautiful, the divine of all previous dispensations was restored in this most remarkable season” (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 83).

    Our message is unique. We declare to the world that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. We declare with boldness that the keys of the priesthood have been restored to man, with the power to seal on earth and in the heavens. The saving ordinances pronounced by the Lord as requirements for entering into eternal life with Him can now be performed with binding authority by those who worthily exercise the power of His holy priesthood. We declare to the world that this is the day referred to by biblical prophets as the latter days. It is the final time, before the coming of Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the earth.

    We invite all to listen to the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from us. Then you can compare the glorious message with what you may hear from others, and you can determine which is from God and which is from man.

    My witness to you is that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, established in the latter days. In the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.

  14. Again, Rob, the Church as a whole is animated – given life – by the Holy Spirit. This is not simpy a question of “manmade standards” or random relationships. We go as far as to say that the Church is the extension -in time and space – of the Incarnation because the Church is “Christ’s Body”, again made so by the Holy Spirit. And, yes, when Christ says “Church” he doesn’t mean “Kingdom” and vice-versa.

    A recent post on my blog concerns an Evangelical writing a positive article about “theosis” in Orthodoxy and in Wesleyanism. A young man, with whom I have recently become acqainted – not yet a member of our Church -had this to say about Protestantism in general, and it applies even moreso to the LDS (which is, after all, itself a child of the Reformation, like it or not). I have inserted some comments:

    “I think that the central problem with the Reformation and its descendant movements lies in its treatment of the apostolic faith, as if it were something separate from the life of the Church that could be ripped out of ancient times and brought to the present day through sheer force of intellect [or of “new revelation]. It’s so telling that all of the elements of a full Christian life from East to West are present, regardless of doctrinal emphases, in those churches that bear an organic connection to the apostolic Church. [Gee, you’d think he’d been reading me for a long time. He hasn’t been.]

    “Copts, Roman Catholics, Assyrians, Byzantines are all taught that fasting [along with prayer and “almsgiving”] is valuable. All have a notion of sacramental grace. All believe in the genuine presence of Christ in the Eucharist. All believe that faith in Christ is the key, but that it ultimately has a transformative impact. It’s only when someone comes in and says,”Generations of these people have gotten it wrong, but here, look, I’ve figured it out and now I’m going to rebuild the church” that the balance is lost and what passes for Christianity becomes some caricature of the ancient church.”

    Since the Reformation, many, many, many people, including Mormons, have been trying to reinvent the ecclesiastical wheel. It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. There is only one Church, although divided she may be.

  15. Fr. Greg,

    Down the winding path we go… (smile)

    From my perspective, the Mormons didn’t reinvent anything. God restored that which was lost. Joseph Smith didn’t just “figure it out” and then invent the Mormon church. God chose him and told him to restore the doctrines and authority that was lost. President Monson today doesn’t invent the doctrine of the Mormon church, it is given to him directly from the Savior.

  16. “Could he then be removed from his office?”

    There is a scripture passage in the Doctrine and Covenants which outlines how to do this very thing.

  17. Rob:

    And you know this, how…?

    A restoration of that which is lost” requires that something (in this case, everything) had been lost. It had not been lost throughout the world; it was only largely missing (temporarily) from upstate New York, Northern Ohio, NE Missouri, Western Illinois, and finally, Utah. I find that extremely interesting: the early LDS community never found itself in a place where there was any substantial Orthodox or RC presence.

    You’ll note that in my commentary, I collated “new revelation” with “force of intellect”.

  18. D&C 107 lays out the authority structure of the LDS Church.

    Verses 30-32 speak of quorums – the Twelve Apostles are one quorum, the First Presidency is another, and combined quorums of the Seventy are a third. All are equal in authority (correct me if I’m wrong anyone). Here’s the passage:

    30 The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;
    31 Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.
    32 And in case that any decision of these quorums is made in unrighteousness, it may be brought before a general assembly of the several quorums, which constitute the spiritual authorities of the church; otherwise there can be no appeal from their decision.

    I would put heavy emphasis on verse 32, which gives the possibility that the General Authorities, acting as quorums, might possibly make an unrighteous decision.

    Now we get to verses 79-84. Keep in mind that the “President of the High Priesthood” means the president of the Melchizedek Priesthood – or in other words, the current prophet and president of the Church. Here’s the process for disciplining the prophet:

    79 And the Presidency of the council of the High Priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors; and thus the Presidency of the High Priesthood and its counselors shall have power to decide upon testimony according to the laws of the church.
    80 And after this decision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord; for this is the highest council of the church of God, and a final decision upon controversies in spiritual matters.
    81 There is not any person belonging to the church who is exempt from this council of the church.
    82 And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;
    83 And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.
    84 Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness.

    Note in verse 81 that it says NONE are exempt from the laws of the Church. Follow that with a procedure for judging transgression of a prophet and I’d say the meaning here is pretty darn clear.

    Of course, you will never hear these passages explained or emphasized in a typical LDS ward. I’ve never heard it in decades of active Church service. I was rather surprised when an LDS blogger pointed them out to me about 4 years ago. But even if the LDS membership are unaware of these verses and Church teaching ignores them, they remain there. And they are pretty plain to read.

  19. 1. “As a result, within Mormonism the Bible is functionally subordinate and subject to clarification and revision by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price” (13).

    —I’d be willing to accept that if he’s willing to accept that within “traditional” Christianity the Bible is funtionally
    subordinate and subject to clarification and revision b y the ancient and modern creeds.

    2. “Early Mormonism reflected many of the common Christian trends of the times: having an authoritarian prophetic leader and being noncreedal, staunchly Arminian, fervently restorationist, evangelistically driven, end-time-focused, and characterized by isolated communal living” (18-19).

    —True enough.

    3. “Although, many Mormons take pride in rejecting historical Christian creeds, they have creeds themselves” (190f7).

    —True enough.

    4. “Although LDS authorities have often denied Joseph Smith’s treasure-hunting, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct and treasure-hunting through the use of divination on March 20, 1826 in Bainbridge, New York” (25).

    —Actually, while I don’t deny his treasure-hunting, I don’t think he was found guilty. I’m no historian, however.

    5. “Mormons believe that April 6 is the birthday of Jesus Christ himself and thus connect the incarnation of Jesus Christ with the birth of the first Mormon church” (29).

    —Many people believe that. However, there is no official doctrine to the effect that April 6 is Jesus’ birthday. I’d say “Many Mormons believe that April 6….”

    6. “It is important to understand that early Mormons were not simply interested in building churches and temples within cities; their vision was to become a church that consisted of a large network of Mormon cities, with the city of Zion as their capital. Mormons wanted whole cities, not simply a portion of them. It is no surprise that the Mormon vision of building and dominating cities created significant tension wherever they settled among non-Mormon citizens” (39).

    —Very true. However, this statement seems to imply that non-Mormons weren’t welcomed in Mormon cities. That is simply not true and history shows that.

    7. “Mormons believe that American Indians are the direct ancestors of the Book of Mormon’s Lamanite people and thus are also direct descendants of Israelites” (191f26).

    —American Indians are the ANCESTORS of the Lamanites? What?

    8. “Numerous Ohio revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants are the direct result of Smith’s revision of the Bible” (40).

    –True.

    9. “Attempting to get a new start, reestablish authority, and obtain badly needed finances, Joseph Smith changed the name of the Mormon Church to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 26, 1838, attributing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-10 to himself instead of Jesus Christ” (46).

    —I’m pretty sure he’s not a mind reader who can say “why” Joseph Smith did this or that or the other. That’s one of the biggest weaknesses of some historians. They pretend to know the motives behind actions when they often can’t know that.

    10. “Although Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith, they do acclaim his status of preexistent greatness and latter-day calling to a level of superiority that is unprecedented in the history of Christianity” (189f1).

    —Is he really trying to suggest that Mormons esteem Joseph Smith more than Catholics do the saints or Mary? That’s ludicrous. We don’t offer prayers to him. We don’t venerate relics of him.

    11. “Joseph Smith’s death lead to a bitter succession crisis not unlike what had occurred following the death of Muhammad” (50).

    —Way overstated. There was no war or bloodshed. The vast majority were united and followed the twelve.

    12. “Immediately following the appointment of the new Mormon successor, there was a major split between Brigham Young and Joseph Smith’s wife Emma. In fact, it seems rather revealing that Young never even visited Emma after Joseph’s death” (51).

    –Brigham Young didn’t handle that as well as he should have.

    13. “The LDS President and Prophet is the single authorized mediator between God and Mormon leaders and members” (78).

    –Nope.

    14. “Because not a single person, place, or event unique to the Book of Mormon has been proved to have existed, Mormons emphasize that a subjective heart experience—what they call a burning in the bosom—proves the authenticity and truth of the Book of Mormon” (86-87).

    –Right. And “traditional” Christians believe the Bible is true because there is absolute proof that Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for our sins, and that he resurrected….

    15. “In fact, the worldview constructed and promoted by Mormonism mirrors several aspects of ancient paganism, Egyptian and Greek mythology, Hinduism, and New Age, and is foreign and destructive to a biblical Judeo-Christian worldview” (94).

    —That is almost laughable. It is such a sweeping statement of rubbish that it would take volumes to clarify.

    16. “According to Mormonism . . . The human mind or spirit has no beginning and will have no end” (96)

    –Correct.

    17. “Although Mormonism does not like the word polytheism because it is too closely reflects a pagan worldview, there is not doubt that Latter-day Saints believe in the eternal reality of a plurality of gods” (97).

    —Believe in a plurality of gods, yes. Worship, no.

    18. “In fact, the LDS Church describes the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—more as the supreme heavenly presidency of three gods than as the historically and universally accepted Christian doctrine of the eternal triune nature of one God” (113).

    –Depends on how you look at it.

    19. “Although in my view Mormons are somewhat contradictory in their own writings, Dr. Craig Blomberg told me that many informed Mormons would unequivocally say that their understanding of deification means that one day we will share perfectly God’s communicable attributes only. They do not claim we will ever be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They stress that we will always be dependent on and contingent on God. We will never become beings that anyone else worships. All worship for all eternity will be reserved for God, through Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost. We must ask, then, why spirit-children of the Father worship Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who are themselves other spirit-children who progressed into gods. If it occurs today, why wouldn’t it logically occur in the future? (200-201f52).

    –Legit question. I reject that only certain attributes of good are “communicable.” I don’t think that is the majority view in the church.

  20. And Rob, I think LDS strip away the full power of what Jesus is saying there in Matthew 16:18.

    I visited the place in Israel where he gave that utterance around two thousand years ago.

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