There is an amusing scene in the 1990 film Back to the Future III in which time-traveler Marty McFly, exploring his home town in the year 2015, encounters a holographic projection of a shark as part of the marquee at a theater showing Jaws 19. At first taken by surprise, Marty recovers and comments, “The shark still looks fake.”

I must confess that I have a similar reaction to the latest “sequel” in the long-running debate over whether Mormons are or can be Christians, prompted this time around by the conservative TV talk-show host Glenn Beck. Do we really need to discuss this question again? Apparently we do, given the lack of clarity that continues to characterize much of what is said on the subject.

The Christian blogosphere recently lit up following the comments of World Magazine online columnist Andrée Seu in which she spoke of Beck not just as a Christian, but as “a new creation in Christ” who is “red hot” toward God. “I can say without hesitation that I have not heard the essentials of the gospel more clearly and boldly in any church than on his program.” Seu acknowledged that Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and admitted that Mormon doctrine is problematic, but described Beck as a latter-day Apollos who needs a Priscilla and Aquila to help him with his theology.

Never Mind!

Evangelical bloggers were quick to contradict Seu. Justin Taylor, one of the most insightful Christians blogging today, commented on “Andrée Seu’s Tragic Mistake on the Gospel of Glenn Beck.” Taylor warned: “It is easy to be moved by talk of having faith in Jesus, without asking who the person understands Jesus to be…. Despite what mainline evangelicalism has taught for years, the gospel is not ‘I trusted in Jesus and he changed my life.’” Russell Moore, an astute Southern Baptist theologian, argued that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck’s religious rhetoric is a sign that American evangelicals have largely traded the gospel for American civil religion:

“It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”

World Magazine acknowledged Taylor’s blog and offered a retraction, stating, “Our website editing system failed in regard to Andrée’s post about Glenn Beck.” In a separate article, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Marvin Olasky, echoed Moore’s assessment: “Beck is syncretizing Mormon and Christian understanding in the service of a civil religion, but that’s a radically unequal yoking for reasons WORLD has pointed out before.”

One thing that seems to have been overlooked up to now is that Taylor and Moore offer two fundamentally different—and possibly incompatible—diagnoses of the problem. Both argue that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck reveals a lack of discernment and a shallow understanding of the gospel among American evangelicals. Taylor worries that Beck’s evangelical supporters are under the mistaken impression that anyone who claims that Jesus changed his life has accepted the gospel. Moore contends that those same evangelicals have mistaken American civil religion for the gospel. So which is it? Does Beck represent a personal-transformation gospel focused on Jesus as life-changer or a civil-religion gospel focused on a generic theism as the foundation for a stable society? I suppose it is possible to mix the two messages, and perhaps there are elements of both in Beck, but they don’t mesh naturally.

Mormon doctrine in two minutes

The main objection to viewing Beck as an advocate for the gospel is that the theology of the LDS Church, of which Beck is a member, is radically incompatible with the biblical gospel. The divide between biblical teaching and Mormon doctrine is so wide that from an evangelical perspective Mormonism falls outside the circle of acceptable, authentic expressions of the Christian faith. The crucial problems with LDS doctrine that impinge directly on one’s view of Jesus Christ and the gospel include the following unbiblical claims:

  • All human beings preexisted in heaven, where they were the offspring of heavenly parents (God the Father and a “heavenly mother”), before their natural conception here on earth.
  • Our Heavenly Father was a man who became a God—proving that we, too, can become gods.
  • Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of God’s billions of spirit children and the first of those children to become a God.
  • As such, Christ is one of three Gods in the “Godhead,” as is the Holy Spirit, another of God’s spirit sons.
  • Christ is the “Only Begotten,” which means that he is the only human being whom God the Father literally begat in the flesh. God is Jesus’ literal father in the flesh (allowing Jesus to “inherit” some divine powers other humans do not have) and Mary is his literal mother.
  • Christ’s atonement guarantees immortal life in some heavenly kingdom to virtually all human beings, including those who willfully reject Christ.
  • Christ (and God the Father) appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him to join none of the churches because all of them were wrong and their creeds were an abomination.
  • Through Joseph Smith, God restored lost scriptures (e.g., the Book of Mormon) and inspired new ones (Doctrine & Covenants), from which Mormons learn the doctrines that set them apart from the rest of Christianity.
  • Christ organized the only true Church in these latter days with a hierarchical system of “priesthood authority” required to teach or baptize others.
  • Full forgiveness of sins and entrance into the highest heavenly kingdom, where God and Christ live, come to those who become members of the LDS Church, follow its teachings, and participate in its temple rituals, notably baptisms and other rites performed on behalf of the dead.
  • The ultimate goal of the gospel and of LDS religion is to become gods, with the same powers and potential as the Heavenly Father.

You can find full documentation and discussion of these doctrinal problems in the LDS faith on the website of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR), where I am the director of research. In particular, we provide a thorough analysis of the doctrine taught in the LDS Church’s basic manual on doctrine, called Gospel Principles. Frankly, the evidence is overwhelming that the LDS understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ is radically different from that of the Bible.

“Mormons are not Christians”: Do they hear what we hear?

As I have already observed, these differences deal with such basic elements of Christianity that from an evangelical perspective we must conclude that Mormonism falls outside the boundaries of doctrinally authentic, theologically viable Christian faith. The usual shorthand way of making this point is to say that Mormons are not Christians. Unfortunately, what such a statement achieves in simplicity and rhetorical punch it loses in clarity and comprehension. What people hear when they are told that Mormons are not Christians may be any of the following:

1.      “Mormons are not nice people.”
2.       “Mormons are really part of another religion altogether, such as Hinduism.”
3.      “Mormons are another entirely different religion by themselves.”
4.       “Mormons are not saved from eternal condemnation.”

All four of these meanings are problematic.

(1) Many Mormons are very nice people indeed, so this statement is also objectively false, even assuming that it is ever appropriate to use the term Christian to mean a nice person.

(2) It is objectively false to classify Mormonism as part of another world religion, such as Hinduism. Regrettably, some Christians have actually tried to make the case that Mormonism is Hindu. Dave Hunt and Ed Decker, in their notorious book The God Makers (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1984), argued as much:

“Although it uses Christian language to disguise its paganism, Mormonism is less Christian than it is Hindu. The basic dilemma faced by every Mormon is a direct result of its Hindu roots” (60).

The claim that Mormonism has “Hindu roots” is historically false. Mormonism historically arose as a Christian heresy—a religious offshoot of Christianity that still retains a focus on Christ as its central religious figure, albeit reinterpreted in a thoroughly unbiblical way. The LDS religion has no historical or religious connection to Hinduism and rejects basic Hindu concepts (e.g., Mormonism rejects the worship of idols, pantheism, reincarnation, and karma). There are similarities between Hinduism and Mormonism (as there are between any two religions), such as a belief in a plurality of gods, but such comparisons are superficial because the similar-sounding affirmations have completely different meanings in the contexts of the two religious traditions.

(3) Others have argued that Mormonism is sui generis, that is, in a class by itself, sufficiently distinct from Christianity to be classified as a new world religion. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, suggests that instead of viewing Mormonism as a “Christian faith” we should classify it charitably as “the fourth Abrahamic faith.” That is, Land proposes that we view Mormonism as a religion stemming from the Abrahamic tradition alongside Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This way of classifying Mormonism simply will not hold up. There is no more reason to classify Mormonism as a new Abrahamic faith than there is to so classify the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian heresy as large or larger and as diffused throughout the world as Mormonism. Indeed, there are numerous sects of Christianity that distance themselves theologically and religiously from orthodox Christianity while insisting that theirs is the true Christian church; Mormonism is simply one among many such sects. Historical, religious, and theological comparisons demonstrate that the Mormon tradition (including both the LDS Church and its hundred-plus splinter sects) belong in the broader category of “restorationist” Christian movements that view themselves as the instrument of true Christianity today. These include Adventism and its offshoots, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphianism and other forms of so-called Biblical Unitarianism, Oneness Pentecostalism, the Sacred Name groups, The Way International and its offshoots, and the LDS Church and its offshoots, among others.

(4) It may well be argued that LDS doctrine and religion are so far removed from the biblical gospel that most Mormons will not believe the true gospel as long as they remain committed to LDS doctrine. However, this leaves plenty of room for a small fraction of LDS Church members to believe the biblical gospel in defiance or ignorance of their religion’s teachings. In any religion, there are always people who still consider themselves members but who are rethinking their beliefs or who are transitioning out of the religion. Many evangelicals who have come out of the LDS Church found saving faith in Christ before they removed themselves from the LDS membership rolls. Indeed, some retain their LDS membership, hoping eventually to bring their families and friends out with them. One could argue that such individuals are Mormons in name only, but again, there are people along a spectrum of situations from true-blue Mormons through pick-and-choose Mormons to Mormons in name only. The point is that unqualified generalizations about all Mormons are difficult to justify. And of course, we are not competent to judge the souls of other people, although we can make educated guesses as to their faith based on what we can observe.

A more nuanced statement of point (4) would be to say that we should presume that Mormons who accept and follow the LDS understanding of the gospel will be lost unless they repent and accept the biblical gospel (Eph. 2:1-10; Titus 3:4-7). Putting the matter this way recognizes the spiritually destructive effects of the false teachings of the LDS Church, while allowing for the fact that sometimes it is difficult to tell whether or to what extent a particular Mormon actually accepts (or understands) LDS doctrine. If this is the position that evangelicals should take—and I think it is—it becomes problematic to make the generalized, unqualified statement that Mormons are not Christians. That is, it is unlikely that anyone hearing “Mormons are not Christians” will understand this to carry the nuanced meaning “Mormons who follow the LDS understanding of the gospel are presumed lost.” If we want people to hear what we really mean, we must try to articulate our view more accurately, even if it loses some punch.

One might suppose that the problem can be avoided by saying that Mormonism is not Christian—that is, by punting on the question of whether Mormons are Christians and instead asserting only that the religion of Mormonism is itself not Christian. This may be something of an improvement, but the same sorts of problems remain. If Mormonism is not Christian, what is it? It is not part of another religion, nor is it a completely different religion.

Of course, from an evangelical theological perspective it can be even more misleading to say, without qualification, that Mormons are Christians, or that Mormonism is Christian. Such statements would seem erroneously to concede that the LDS Church is a legitimate denomination of Christianity, standing alongside those denominations and independent church bodies that affirm the essentials of the biblical gospel. I’m all for stating matters as generously as we can, but not at the expense of the truth of the gospel.

Considerations such as those just discussed are the reason why, for several years now, I have argued that we should view the question “Are Mormons Christians?” as unproductive at best and misleading at worst. The question assumes that we should give it an unqualified “Yes” or “No” answer, neither of which is fully satisfactory. About three years ago on this very blog I addressed this question at some length, arguing that the answer depends on how one defines the term Christian. (That blog post was lost due to technical issues, so I re-posted it about two years ago with some revisions at IRR’s blog, The Religious Researcher.) If by “Christians” one means all members of all of the religious groups that belong to the world-religions classification of Christianity, then of course in that generic sense Mormons are Christians, along with everyone else who claims to be. If one uses the term to denote persons who have been saved from eternal condemnation through their faith in Jesus Christ, then the best answer we can give is that most Mormons evidently are not Christians in that sense although some may be. Evangelicals would also have to hedge their answer if they were asked “Are Southern Baptists Christians?” or even “Are evangelicals Christians?” since not all Southern Baptists or evangelicals have genuinely come to saving faith in Christ. After all, basic to evangelical doctrine is the conviction that merely accepting evangelical doctrine, or associating oneself with an evangelical denomination, will not save anyone, since it is through personal faith or trust in Christ, not merely doctrinal correctness or the right religious affiliation, that God saves us.

To avoid overreaching, I have proposed that we make qualified statements that are defensible as objective statements of fact concerning the LDS faith. For example, we can state that Mormons are not orthodox Christians, or that LDS theology is heretical. Mormons will, of course, dispute our understanding of what is orthodox and what is heretical, but we can define these terms to convey an objective meaning. For example, we can stipulate that orthodox means in agreement with the major Christian doctrines articulated in the creeds from the first through the fifth centuries, while heretical means deviating from those doctrinal standards. We should, in short, make clear that while we acknowledge that Mormons sincerely regard themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are convinced that the LDS religious tradition is at odds with the essentials of the Christian faith as taught in the Bible.

Back to Beck

The need for a more flexible and nuanced approach to the subject of whether Mormons are Christians is well illustrated with the example of Glenn Beck. Let me state categorically that I have absolutely no inkling or opinion as to the state of Beck’s soul or the genuineness of his faith in Christ. I have never met him, do not follow his program, and do not have enough information on which to base a conclusion. The fact that Beck is LDS is, of course, of great concern and creates a general presumption that he is in need of the biblical gospel of salvation. On the other hand, there does seem to be some evidence that Beck’s personal understanding of the gospel is at least far closer to the evangelical message than one would expect of a typical Mormon. Consider, for example, the assessment of Beck’s soteriology (doctrine of salvation) offered just a few weeks ago by Bill McKeever. McKeever is the director of Mormonism Research Ministry, an evangelical parachurch organization based in the Salt Lake City area, right in the heart of the Mormon culture. McKeever and his associates at MRM are far from “soft” on Mormonism. They regard it as a heretical distortion of Christianity, and they actively seek to help Christians share the true gospel with Mormons. McKeever recently wrote an article for his website on “The Not-So Mormon Soteriology of Glenn Beck” in which he quoted the following remarks made by Beck on his television program on July 13, 2010:

“You cannot earn your way into heaven. You can’t! There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It can’t happen. It’s earned by God’s grace alone, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. This is what Christians believe…. I also am wise enough to know that people will say, yeah, but Glenn Beck is a Mormon, he’s not even a real Christian. You can believe what you want. I will tell you that I am a man who needed the atonement more than most people do. I appreciate the atonement. I accept Jesus as my Savior. I know that I am alive today because I did give all of it to Him because I couldn’t carry it anymore.”

McKeever, who wonders aloud if Beck’s “close relationships with several evangelical Christians are not having a positive effect,” concludes that “it seems apparent that Beck does not agree with traditional Mormon soteriology…. Whether or not he knows he is out of harmony with his church, I cannot say, but if I understand the above correctly, he most certainly is.” McKeever admits that Beck might mean something different from what his words mean to evangelicals, but he finds no reason to suspect that Beck is anything but sincere and straightforward.

The point, again, is not to argue that Beck is or is not a Christian in the sense of someone genuinely redeemed from sin through authentic faith in Jesus Christ. He may be, we may and should hope that he is or will be, and those of us who have opportunity to engage him or other Mormons like him should caringly present the biblical gospel without compromise. The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    238 replies to "ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS 19: Glenn Beck and that Question Again"

    • Steve

      Rob, I appreciate your very thoughtful blog. I certainly hope that Glenn Beck is an authentic, born-again Christian. I watch his show and like him. I do believe that God is working in and through his life. And pray that he will eventually leave LDS and become involved in a church that is truly orthodox and true to the faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints.” I found your blog very informative & thoughtful. Thanks.

    • teleologist

      “You cannot earn your way into heaven. You can’t! There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It can’t happen. It’s earned by God’s grace alone, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. This is what Christians believe…. I also am wise enough to know that people will say, yeah, but Glenn Beck is a Mormon, he’s not even a real Christian. You can believe what you want. I will tell you that I am a man who needed the atonement more than most people do. I appreciate the atonement. I accept Jesus as my Savior. I know that I am alive today because I did give all of it to Him because I couldn’t carry it anymore.”

      I think this has become an even bigger problem that I thought, if someone like McKeever is giving credence to Beck as having a genuine Christian faith. Rob, while I agree with many of the things you said about Mormons, they are still a cult. A cult by definition is a distortion of the god they worship. A Christian cult is a group that distorts the theology proper of Who God is. The other distinctive of a cult is their use of phrases and terms similar to that of their parent beliefs but pour different meanings into them.

      Therefore while Beck may sound similar to Christian soteriology, as long as he maintains that he is a Mormon he can’t mean the same thing, because the god and the faith that he relies on for his salvation is not the God that we Christians worship. As an analogy what if Beck uses all the same words that he does but replaced the word “Jesus” with “Buddha”, will that make him a Christian. Buddhists certainly don’t believe in heaven or salvation by grace. Essentially that is what Beck is doing, he is creating a set of orthodox doctrines around a false god.

      The other problem is that most people like Beck. I like Beck, at least until he started talking so much about god. We want to give him a benefit of the doubt and even hope that a nationally popular celebrity like him would renounce Mormonism and embrace genuine Christian faith. What a coup that would be, right? The problem is that these wishful thinking people is underestimating the person they so admire. Beck is a very smart guy and well read. Why would you expect him not to know what he believes in? Why would you not expect him to not know that as a Mormon that Joseph Smith is their prophet and apostle? Why would you not expect him to know that Jesus was a separate creation from god the father? You can make the argument that many churchgoers in mainline Churches might not know what they believe and why they believe it, but I would give Beck much more credit and intelligence that that. He is suppose to be a man who prides on not accepting anything that anyone tells him but to research it himself and know what he is talking about. If so many people respect him for the information that he presents on the air 5 days a week, why do you presuppose that he has no idea what Mormonism is?

      I would say that until you hear an explicit message from Beck that he has no idea what Mormonism means we should assume he knows exactly what it means to be a Mormon.

      Anyone who has witnessed to Mormons will know that they think they are the true Church and everyone is an apostate. The danger with Beck is that he gives the further appearance that Mormonism is an acceptable branch of Christianity like any other denomination. The danger is not for those who are clear and well grounded in our faith but for those who might be new or searching, and because of Beck might get lured into Mormonism. Whatever good that you think Beck might be doing for this country, I would rather see America be run down to the ground and become a third world country and maintain the purity of the Gospel than to prosper and fall into apostasy.

    • Mark

      While the assertion is made that Beck may not hold to Mormon soteriology it was not stated that he held to Christian soteriology either.

      One of the statements from the LDS apologetics organization, Fair explains, ““By Grace We are Saved. The doctrine here stated is, salvation is freely given and cannot be “earned.” We find the same thought in the Doctrine and Covenants (6:13): “There is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” And the Apostle Paul recognizes the difference between earnings and favors, when he says that the “wages of sin” is death, but the “gift” of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) We can earn death, but we must receive life as a gift, or not at all.” (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume 1, p. 379, edited and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1955)

      And the final sentence in the Fair link states (not the atonement language), “However, works are important and cannot be ignored. But works will not “earn” us the right to be in heaven. Since we accept the Biblical teaching of salvation, we accept the atonement of Christ.

      That article is actually arguing against faith alone, yet touts grace. So it seems the lack of clarity lies in the definitions of words. Words like grace, Jesus, atonement, God, etc. etc.

    • Bill Alnor

      Rob,
      Thoughtful piece on Glenn Beck. I think this is something that we should watch very carefully. It is true that Beck is surrounding himself with good evangelicals, but from time to time overt Mormon doctrine does appear on his show. IMHO, Beck is right with a lot of things he says about politics. But beware of his spiritual advice. Perhaps he does need a Priscilla and Aquilla.

    • From The Balcony

      Thanks for your thoughtful post, Rob. In my early 20s I dabbled in Mormonism (sadly due to poor teaching in the evangelical church I grew up in and because I admired the caliber of people in that world.) However, the one thing that your article fails to include is the way in which the “culture” within the Mormon Church affects each member attending. In my experience, it would be very difficult to be a gospel-driven Christian around your Mormon friends.

      While sometimes Beck may say the right things (and so did many of my Mormon friends), their use of extrabiblical literature as scripture must be recognized as anti-Christian. Within the social culture of the Mormon Church, they have been told they are Christians, yet the evidence is in the words of their “scripture.”

      I’ve heard Beck say things that shows to me he is strongly influenced by the Mormon Church — I’ve even heard him say to go out and do good works. Many statements are just “off.” But they are close enough for the average, uneducated “Christian” today to make assumptions that Beck understands the Christian gospel.

      What is at stake here is the confusion within our own Christian circles. The ignorance of our own Christian community and the lack of sound teaching in our own backyard causes immature Christians to desire to include any “religion” as Christian just because they say they are Christian. If our congregations were taught the gospel each week, so that they could recognize a false religion, this discussion would not be so confusing to so many within our circles.

      My time in Mormonism taught me a lot. Thankfully, it drove me straight into the arms of Jesus — the Jesus who is a part of the Trinity. And the one really good thing it did for me is that it gave me a passion to learn and study the things of God deeply. I’ve ended up in the Reformed camp due to wonderful teachers like Sproul, Horton, Ferguson, Packer…and so many other great teachers — and grateful.

    • Bill McKeever

      Thanks, Rob. As always, a very thoughtful piece. Teleologist said, “I think this has become an even bigger problem that I thought, if someone like McKeever is giving credence to Beck as having a genuine Christian faith.” Actually, I’ve been very careful not to draw that conclusion at this point. As a follow up to an interview I recently had with a Christian publication in CA, I wrote, “Presuming [Beck] is a Christian while he may still hold to the heretical views that have historically prevented the LDS Church from being classified as Christian will not help Beck. Nor will it help evangelism among the Mormon people because Christians will erroneously assume there is no need to challenge their presuppositions.” Teleologist, I think you make a good point when you say, “Beck is a very smart guy and well read. Why would you expect him not to know what he believes in?” I have raised that same question, and for that reason I’ve been encouraging others not to let their wishful thinking cloud their judgment. Still, because I really don’t know what the Holy Spirit may or may not be doing in his life, I want to be cautious before assuming Beck is being outright deceitful.

    • rusty leonard

      Thank you for speaking up. I lived among the Utah Mormons for 6 years. One of the problems with Mormon theology is that it is dynamic because of the “living prophets”. They have the tendency to rewrite their beliefs as needed. One clear example of this was the reversal of the “curse of cain” in 1978. Where the Mormon church discovered they were at an impasse in their proselytizing in regions of the world where there was a high percentage of black and mulatto blood. Since the “revelation” in 1978 that was no longer an issue and their growth in those areas increased.

      The other issue is terminology. Mormons make use of christian theological terms but mean vastly different things. Glen Beck may say he “needed” the “atonement” but atonement to the Mormon mind is universal, given to all. Mormons believe everyone is atoned for simply by being born. Moreover although the Mormons do talk about the cross, (more recently however) the traditional understanding is that atonement took place in the garden of Gethsemane.

      One of the best resources I found for the study of Mormonism is Gerald and Sandra Tanner’s work “Mormonism Shadow or Rality”. Here are links to their website: http://www.utlm.org/
      You can read their book about the “curse of Cain” online here: http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/curseofcain_contents.htm

    • Keat

      More conspiracy…more paranoid threatened preachers. Afraid of losing your flock and the sound of coinage in the temple coffers. Perhaps Beck has no agenda but to better a nation by bringing them to Christ. What Christ? The very Savior of the Bible. The nature of which was not determined by some ancient Council voting for one doctrine as if the wind determined truth. Beck believes Christ to be the son of God…that simple…and salvation is through him alone

    • cherylu

      I’m sorry Keats, but reading through the list of Mormon beliefs given in the ariticle about, it doesn’t sound to me like they believe in the, “The very Savior of the Bible.” Their understanding of God, Jesus, and who He is are vastly different then the orthodox Christian understanding.

      Their understanding of salvation is also vastly different.

      It is just not the same thing at all!

    • From The Balcony

      Rusty – I agree wholeheartedly with you. And BTW – the Tanner’s are a wonderful resource. Very thorough.

      Your point about differences in definitions is something I ran across constantly.

    • Ken Silva

      Bill McKeever said, “for that reason I’ve been encouraging others not to let their wishful thinking cloud their judgment.”

      IMO, this is the wise course to take regarding Glenn Beck.

      In my 20+ years of dealing with evangelizing those in non-Christian cults I do know that people do find salvation sometimes in spite of the cult’s false doctrine.

      That said, the genuine Christian will respond to proper Biblical teaching and the Holy Spirit will lead them out of it.

      Let’s not make judgment by mere appearances with Glenn Beck that we might make a right one.

    • spamlds

      I would disagree that this is a “thoughtful article.” It’s just standard “cut and paste” job from any number of anti-Mormon web sites.

      Although there is certainly latitude to disagree with Glenn Beck’s politics and his religious views, I’d have to say that he has been incredibly effective at peeling back decades of anti-Mormon propaganda. That’s why anti-Mormons and the “counter-cult industry” are in full-scale panic mode. All the time and money they have spent trying to vilify Mormonism isn’t working.

      It’s tough for you folks, being on the same side as Annas and Caiaphas, the Pharisees, the priests, and the scribes who opposed Jesus and the apostles.

      The gospel continues to roll forth. New temples get built and dedicated despite all the protests and zoning commission fights. New meetinghouses pop up all over the world that are not mortgaged, but paid for outright by devoted tithe-payers. Missionaries continue to baptize almost a third of a million people every year.

      And considering that all this occurs despite the best efforts of anti-Mormons to stop it, it shows how ineffective the opposition is.

    • John Metz

      Rob,

      Can you explain why there is so much apparent ambiguity among evangelicals, even some who are recognized leaders, about where Beck stands? I am somewhat perplexed and disappointed by some of what I see happening.

      I am reminded of a commentator I heard several months ago discussing the so-called hidden gospels. It was a topic that exposed her total lack of understanding of the whole field. The more she spoke, the worse it was. It is the same with Beck. If he stuck to political comments, it would be one thing; but when he speaks of spiritual things, his lack in this area is clearly seen.

    • Michael Dowling

      The question should be is Glenn Beck born again ?
      Or Is God simply using him, right where he is, to alert the nation
      to the complete take over of our civil Govt by godless murderers,
      50 million exterminated babies and counting , and now
      homosexualizing the survivors, starting in kinderrgarten.
      Is any one else preaching Matt 18:6 or comparing the attonement to the cult of liberation theology that is running rapid through African American and liberal churches ?
      My take is that he encountered the real Jesus in his 12 step program and joined the Momon church , as that was is wife’s religion.His testimony of redemption through the blood of Jesus
      is convincing and happened before he became a Mormon ! Mormonism is a non chritain cult but I know people trapped inside that cult that are born again .I was in a Roman catholic cult and got born again. There are Shriners ,ist level Masons, that are christains and decieved by that cults philanthropic deception.
      What I have seen is that Glenn has a call to activate christains to pray. Mom’s arising prayer networks are popping up all over the US. Moms praying together for the deliverence of public school children. Moral citizens are getting involved to overturn the injustices that we have been praying and asking our heavenly father to deliverv this nation from; the sexual perversion of our entire culture ,murder-abortion,homosexualization and indoctrination of public school children into godlessness ,to name a few..God is preapraing this nation for an outpouring of his Holy Spirit; the unchurched non christain is hearing about divine providence ,that there is a God in heaven ,hearts are being softened ,conviction of sin unto salvation will follow..
      I say where are the preachers ? where is the spirit of Elijah on
      the John the baptists preparing the way of the Lord; hiding in there 501 c tax shelters ?. God bless Glen Beck for shaming them and all of us out of our complacancy..

    • C Michael Patton

      Rob, I think you have done a great job of not satiating our need for a black and white look at Glen Beck all the while avoiding the “everyone is ok” tendency that we often want to gravitate toward.

      Traditional Mormon doctrine is certianly not in line with biblical or historical Christianity, but who knows these days what Mormon is in line with traditional Mormon doctrine? It is hard to say. I pray that Glen Beck is not a good Mormon, but a bad one.

      I, personally, even though I have watched countless hours of the Glen Beck show (as well as listening to him on the radio), have never heard him teach anything that sounded Mormon. In fact, if he never said he was a Mormon, I suppose that most of us would assume that he is a very committed Evangelical.

      Not sure if this is good or bad. In some ways it seems to blur the lines between Christianity and Mormonism…this is bad.

    • Rob Bowman

      Mark, you make a good point in quoting what FAIR says about grace and works. LDS apologists often claim that their religion does not teach that one can earn salvation, despite numerous statements by LDS religious leaders saying that one must do so. The problem here is complex but the heart of the problem is that Mormonism affirms two different meanings to “salvation”: a general salvation (immortality in some heavenly kingdom) that cannot be earned (everyone gets it, with or without faith, with or without works) and an individual salvation (eternal life in the celestial kingdom) that is conditioned on our works. It is natural to say that if you must do works to get it then you have to earn it, and again many LDS leaders have said just that; but some Mormons, especially theologians and apologists more sensitive to evangelical criticisms, argue that it doesn’t mean you have to earn it.

      My own view is that we should not criticize Mormonism for teaching salvation by works, because in fact it doesn’t. It teaches exaltation to godhood by works. Salvation in the sense of immortal life in a glorious heavenly kingdom is absolutely free in Mormon theology, and in fact virtually everyone gets it, whether they believe, live a good life, or are wicked unbelievers. In short, the real problem with LDS soteriology is that it is a tweaked version of universalism.

    • Rob Bowman

      I hope we have some thoughtful Mormons post comments here. I have to say that I am disappointed in the two comments from that side that have appeared here so far. The notion that evangelical critics of LDS religion are in a panic because of Beck is just plain silly.

    • Rob Bowman

      John,

      Evangelicals have differing views of Beck in part because Beck himself is difficult to pin down. He’s clearly LDS, but it isn’t clear that his religious views are altogether consistent with LDS theology. Since he’s a political commentator and culture warrior, I don’t want to fault him too much for not being more precise theologically, whatever his views might be.

      It also is a fact that evangelical and LDS beliefs overlap in both cultural/ethical issues and theological issues. Mormons are pro-life, opposed to same-sex marriage, etc.; and theologically they believe, for example, in the physical resurrection of Christ–something a number of leading Episcopal theologians won’t affirm! Naturally, conservative evangelicals, especially those actively involved in the culture wars, are pleased by a lot that someone like Beck says, even though he’s not an evangelical.

      The same issue arises, though the theological divide is not as wide, with regard to someone like Sean Hannity, a Roman Catholic. As a former Catholic, I’m sensitive to the theological problems in Catholicism, but this doesn’t prevent me from recognizing that Hannity has a lot of good things to say, including things he says about Christianity. The difference is that as I see it Catholicism teaches the true God (the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity) and the true doctrine of Christ (the classic doctrine of the Incarnation), so that the object of faith in Catholicism is the same as in evangelical Protestantism. This is regrettably not the case in Mormonism.

    • Josh Mueller

      It would be great if we could all learn to separate people from the issues that they may or may not be promoting. Glenn Beck is first of all a human being before anything else. Whether anyone here likes or hates his message, I’d like you all to imagine sitting across the dinner table from the man. Would you just hammer him to find out what he really believes? And once you do, would you only be interested it in either straightening him out or encouraging him to continue doing what you agree with?

      I’m not saying we can’t strongly disagree on issues and beliefs or shouldn’t debate the proper relationship between faith and politics. But if we define another human being by just categorizing or labelling him or her according to our own bias, we are neither loving this person as ourselves nor will we do any good beyond drawing lines in the sand and making judgments that are going far beyond opinions and preferences. What if the most important thing about Glenn Beck is not what he believes about God but what God believes about him apart from anything he has or hasn’t done? Think about it!

    • Mark

      Rob, thanks for responding. As one who was baptized at 8 yrs old as an RLDS (now Community of Christ), and still has several family members in that religion, I don’t disagree. However, I’d say there are many other problems with LDS theology such as who God is. The very nature of God in LDS theology is not that of Christianity. While similar terms are used it can sometimes be difficult to recognize LDS theology. Yet if we listen closely, as in Beck’s case, with how words like atonement are used it becomes more apparent.

      Not that I am stating anything you don’t know. 🙂

    • teleologist

      Glenn Beck is first of all a human being before anything else. Whether anyone here likes or hates his message, I’d like you all to imagine sitting across the dinner table from the man.

      Josh, I think you misunderstand what some people are saying here. We have no personal animosity toward Beck. This is not personal. I would probably like him personally if I ever get a chance to meet him. I like many of the efforts he is doing socially. Josh, please try to remember what the impetus of this whole conversion was about. It started with the concern that Beck’s talk of god and his association to Christianity but still unabashedly declare that he is a Mormon. Furthermore there have been indications that some very well grounded Christians are beginning to accept his confession as salvific within Christian orthodoxy.

      So while you might think this is some sort of invective hurled at Beck, in reality it is a criticism and warning for Christians and non-believing seekers. The warning is that Mormonism is a cult regardless of how closely Beck’s language resembles orthodoxy Christianity; it will not lead one to salvation in Jesus Christ. This is not about Beck at all. It is all about Christians.

    • Bible Study

      According to Rob’s explanation of what Mormons believe, they are not Christians, if this is true. I have no idea what they believe, but if they believe this, they must also have their own bible, and they most definitely would not be Christian. Their teaching that all go to heaven regardless of faith, is contrary to the Christian bible. The bible tells us in the Lord’s prayer “our father which art in heaven”. Jesus then tells us he is the only way to the father, which is in heaven. Therefore, to get to any heaven, we must have faith in Jesus. In Christianity, not everyone gets to heaven, only those who believe, those who get to the father through Jesus. I know this is obvious to all bible readers who do have understanding of Mormonism, but I just wanted to answer the question presented in this post with my 2 cents, whatever that is worth.

    • Josh Mueller

      @teleologist:

      My point was not personal animosity. And like I said, I have no problem with debating issues like mormonism. I also think I understand very well where you see the danger of evangelicals accepting his God-talk as salvific. Someone who frames orthodoxy (in the sense of true content) as a prerequisite of God that has to be met before He will accept a person, necessarily will have to argue against anything that would not meet these demands.

      Needless to say, I totally disagree with the belief that salvation has anything to do with us meeting demands of God in the first place – which must make me look at least as suspect as Beck himself now since that doesn’t jive with this”orthodox” understanding of salvation.

    • Karen

      I do not know Mr. Beck’s story or how he became a Mormon or was born into it? But I want to say, as a side note, there are a lot of people who are not allowed to go to church, or cannot go to the church they want to go to, probably many people born in cults, and such similar things.
      I sat here reading this, and I thought about Daniel in the Bible. It does seem like his parents experienced revival with Josiah, and therefore, Daniel in captivity, although all was taken away from Daniel, even his name, everything, they could not take away what was in his heart. And His Heart belonged to God.

      Daniel could not do sacrifices or carry out any of the typical practices of Israel, yes? Yet, the Lord was with him. And Daniel could not offer sacrifices for atonement or any such thing. Why did God love him so much?

      Sometimes in the most trying situations or even ignorance, don’t we have to just stand in awe and say, with God all things are possible? Praise the Lord that Glenn Beck said what he did.
      All glory to God.

    • […] It’s been in the news and just won’t and shouldn’t go away. Are Mormons Christians? The question has been raised of late because of Glenn Beck’s rise to prominence in the media. Rob Bowman at Parchment and Pen, a theology blog, has a detailed, easy-to-read summary answer at Are Mormons Christians? […]

    • Steve Martin

      Mormonism IS a cult.

      There may be “real Christians” within Mormonism, but it’s awfully hard to understand how that could happen (because of the wacky, messed up, ‘me centered’ theology that discounts the Trinity) apart form the grace of God.

      There might even be “real Christians” in some of our churches.

      The wheat and the tares grow together. We can’t tell them apart…but God can.

    • Bible Study

      I agree with Steve that there could be “real Christians” within mormonism. The bible says Paul became a Jew to win the Jews, and without law to those without law to gain those without law. We are free in Christ to infiltrate the Mormons if we wish. Just not my cup of tea if you know what i mean.

    • Gary Simmons

      Excellent article.

      And if it turns out that I do get my own planet, I’ll be just fine with that, I guess. As long as this happens regardless of whether I’m Mormon or Evangelical, I’m happy to hedge my bet and stay Evangelical. Oh, and also because of that whole orthodoxy thing.

    • Trea

      Ok…I understand that we cannot judge a person because only God can know the heart. And after reading the reply-posts I can understand why many (including myself) hold out hope for Mr. Beck’s salvation-as we all should for all who are lost. However, something that I feel had not been addressed is Beck’s motives behind his statements. Arguably, his largest followers claim to be of the Christian faith. To claim to be something that has been taught as heresy would mean the loss of many many viewers. So he pulls terms from his Mormon theology that resonates within the Christian community (although these terms hold obviously different meanings across the theology divide) and placated his viewers while still holding true to his Mormon doctrines. Confused? He basically is concealing his “truth” to gain viewership ie. money. The Bible warns us of wolves in sheeps’ clothing. No different than today’s TV evangelists….give them what they want to hear and the money will come pouring in. Mormons (like other cultists) believe the lie of Satan…you shall become like a god. And in my opinion Beck seems to believe he is there. We are stupid stupid sheep…

    • My wife is of a Catholic background, and I am of an evangelical protestant background. When we were dating she began attending the church I was going to. Even after finding out she was Catholic, several derogatory comments about Catholicism were made in her presence by people who knew she was Catholic. The preacher himself even made a remark from the pulpit. It didn’t take long for her to finally be insulted enough that we no longer attend there. The church we attend now is pastored by a long-time missionary friend of mine. who was pleasantly surprised to hear of her experience as a Catholic, which was far different from what he expected. Those at the previous church were so blinded by their bias against anyone Catholic that they didn’t take the time to find out anything about her, but were sure quick to judge her. The same hold principle holds true for Glenn Beck. Many things he has said sound evangelical and biblical. As Karen said, we don’t know how or why he became a Mormon. Nor do we know for sure if he truly understands the difference between Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine, as Mormonism tries so hard to “sound Christian.” It sure seems his beliefs don’t line up with what is considered “mainstream Mormonism.” The bottom line is that it’s not my place to judge Him. His relationship with Christ is just that, HIS relationship. Only Glenn and Jesus know where that relationship truly is. It is not OUR faith that saves us, but the faith of GOD that He put in us that we simply respond to. I do, however, agree with his general plea that America needs to turn back to God. We, as a Nation, need to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. In other words, acknowledge and seek after His truth, put Him first in everything, and seek to live in HIS righteousness, and THEN He promises to heal our land.

    • Micah N

      What’s deeply troubling to me about Beck is completely beside the point from whether or what kind of Mormon he is, but rather about the cult *of personality* he’s got around him; that his Mormonism is an “issue” just points to the underlying issue of the eager desire of so many people to take him on as “their kind of guy.” He parlays down-home religiosity into this cult of personality that is itself a “partisan political movement” (as Russell Moore is quoted above to have suggested) all unto its own (all unto HIS own, that is to say). Not only that, but it is indeed also “at worst” just as Moore suggests, since that’s certainly what Beck is all about.

      It’s also deeply troubling that so many people like him to begin with, and even think that “most people like him”! No, good people, whenever the America we all thought we knew, the democratic constitutional republic, goes down the tubes, it will be replaced by a jingoistic, faux-populist, fascism (you see, he uses the word so much, he’ll kill its meaning so it can never be used on him, even though it manifestly applies to himself), a code of uniformity that loudly trumpets itself as patriotic and God-fearing, led by some charismatic pied-piper demagogue *just like Glenn Beck.* (Understand that nothing I have said should be taken to imply any favor whatsoever toward Obama – it’s Beck’s insistence that he and his “movement” are our “last best hope,” or whatever nonsense, that is exactly the danger. The parallels with 1930s Germany are striking indeed, and show it to be indeed a real danger.)

    • Mark

      One place where Beck really sounds like a Mormon is when he actually claims to be a Mormon. He also admits that Mormon doctrine is different which is one of the things that attracted him to Mormonism. He has also corrected Roman Catholics from what he remembers the Catholic church taught from his Catholic days.

      We don’t know why or how Beck became a Mormon? His conversion story is promoted by LDS sources and stated to be one that will strengthen LDS faith. He admits to reading Bruce McConkie’s Mormon doctrine and how he put the Mormon missionaries through the ringer. You can hear a portion of his An Unlikely Mormon: The Conversion Story of Glenn Beck online. He further explains how he and his wife did their investigation.

      Even if Beck likes arguing with idiots, he’s not one. I’m not sure why people act as if he holds to some unknown faith in which he just likes attach some labels.

    • extremestan

      It’s easier to see that Glenn Beck isn’t a follower of the Gospel by the fact that he is a disingenuous inciter and profiteer than by the fact that he’s a Mormon.

      Also, Marty goes to the future in the 2nd movie, not the 3rd.

    • Greg, Cleveland, Ohio

      There is one, and only one, reason evangelicals are now accepting Glenn Beck and other Mormons: partisan politics. Theology is utterly irrelevant to the political considerations.

    • Amy Jo Garner

      Thanks for the article. I don’t watch Glenn Beck, but I did see an interview with him and his wife some months ago. He became a Mormon because that was the request of his wife; apparently she would not marry him if he did not convert.

      I have no idea how closely he adheres to Mormon doctrine or practices. My primary concern for Christians who follow him is that they seem to have confused the gospel–the Good News of salvation–with a political movement.

    • Terrie Lynn Bittner

      I am a Mormon on a deadline, but, very quickly…

      The Book of Mormon which Mormons use in addition to the Bible, says, “it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.”

      Mormons teach we are saved by grace. What does that mean? Mormons believe grace is a completely free gift which everyone receives. Through grace, we are able to overcome death and live forever–somewhere. Where depends on our actions. Only those who accept Jesus as their Savior live with God, contrary to what was stated in this article. Evangelicals also believe we are saved by acts, since accepting Jesus as our Savior is an act. Through grace we are also able to repent, because the atonement makes that possible. Otherwise, why is repentence even mentioned in the Bible?

      However, the Bible says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21.) It doesn’t get clearer than that. Only evangelicals adopted the post-biblical idea that actions have no impact on our eternal life. The Bible is filled with warnings about the importance of keeping the commandments. They aren’t just suggestions. If you say you accept Jesus as your Savior, but then live a life of sin–not because you’re imperfect but because you don’t care what God taught, are you really a Christian? Our actions are in part a measure of our love and committment. However, doing good all day long won’t save you if it isn’t for the right reasons–the pure love of Christ.

      I think Mormons and evangelicals agree that God’s presence is reserved for those who truly love God and don’t just preach, but do. As the Bible says, even the devils believe in God, and the Pharisees preached, but Jesus didn’t have much respect for them.

      To learn more: Have you Been Saved?
      http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index

    • […] the blog post titled, “ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS?: Glenn Beck and that Question Again” in its […]

    • Mark

      Amy Jo,

      Did you listen to the link I gave about about Beck’s testimony? He tells about his inverstigative reading and many visits with Mormon officials. It wasn’t a matter of simply becoming a Mormon so his wife would marry him.

      This can also been heard in an interview which can be found online where he tells about his wife wanting a family religion. Again, he didn’t just throw down the gaunlet and say “ok, I’ll go ahead and become a Mormon.” He actually associates his breaking into being a talk show host with his conversion. He mentions how God was watching over him.

      There are interviews on his website where he speaks of being a Mormon and he understands the doctrines are different.

    • inAaroncy

      While Bill McKeever may not be “soft” on Mormonism, he may very well be “warm” to American right-wing-ism, which would still likewise colour his assessment of Beck’s soteriology in a more positive light.

      Moreover, Glenn Beck knows his audience: they are orthodox Christians. Beck knows better than to espouse his Mormon doctrine in any robust sense, because he knows that Christians explicitly reject his faith as a heresy. Therefore, Beck knows he cannot talk about his soteriology in any more than a very thin sense about “Jesus” and “the Cross” and “salvation.” McKeever says that he has no reason to suspect that Beck is anything but sincere, but is that really the case? I can think of many: ratings, popularity, money, etc.

      As long as he keeps it a very thin soteriology, ANYONE can agree with it. This is why the Patristic creeds list not only what we AFFIRM, but also what we DENY. If we only talk about what we affirm, then Arians and other heretics would be in. We must also talk about what we DENY.

    • Rob Bowman

      extremestan,

      You’re right about it being BTTF II, not III. I tried to fix this but apparently it was too late to make any edits.

      I don’t happen to see Beck as disingenuous, but that’s apparently a political perspective, which is not my focus here.

    • Seth R.

      Hello Rob. I’ll take a shot at responding to your summary of my faith here. Looking down the list, I didn’t see anything particularly anti-biblical, but I’ll explain that in a bit. Here goes:

      * All human beings preexisted in heaven, where they were the offspring of heavenly parents (God the Father and a “heavenly mother”), before their natural conception here on earth.

      This is not a counter-biblical notion, and I’d argue that even calling in un-biblical is misleading (since most people tend to equate “un-biblical” with “anti-biblical”). Certainly, this Mormon teaching is not anti-biblical, though it is probably extra-biblical.

      Always keep in mind the LDS position – we don’t care if something is explicitly stated in the Bible or not. Since we believe in additional scripture and ongoing revelation, we already operate from the assumption that more will be said than is contained in the Bible. We also (like the Catholics) reject the notion of Biblical sufficiency (which ironically, is itself an extra-biblical notion).

      Thus the Mormon only cares whether his arguments are anti-biblical or not. He is supremely indifferent to whether his arguments are extra-biblical or not. We maintain the Bible as part of our canon, and therefore are concerned with the prospect of that book directly contradicting something we believe, but we are not shy at all about filling in the blanks via continuing revelation where the Bible is silent.

      Also, I would like to clarify what exactly you mean by the word “offspring.” Because Mormon theology allows a wide latitude here.

    • Seth R.

      * Our Heavenly Father was a man who became a God—proving that we, too, can become gods.

      It’s not that simple. There are differing views about the nature of God’s past within the realm of LDS theology.

      One view posits an infinite chain of Gods extending into an infinite past. This is a popular folk doctrine held by many Mormons – but it is not necessarily required by either our canon of scripture, or the statements of modern prophets since Joseph Smith.

      Many modern LDS scholars are positing that Joseph Smith’s famous King Follet sermon (commonly quoted in support of God once being a “sinful mortal man”) is misread – that it does not require God the Father to have EVER been anything less than divine. This new reading of Joseph Smith asserts that he was actually speaking of God the Father having experienced mortality in the same way Jesus Christ himself did – not as a sinful man, but as fully divine. They claim there was never a time when God the Father was not divine.

      I am agnostic on the issue myself, but Evangelicals need to realize that their preferred characterizations of Mormon doctrine are not the only options available to a Mormon who is reading his scriptures, and the statements of modern prophets.

      * Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of God’s billions of spirit children and the first of those children to become a God.

      Again, modern LDS scholarship is positing otherwise. They claim Christ was with the Father from the beginning and always held special and distinct status from the rest of us. This summary statement also leaves it unclear exactly what you mean by the term “spirit children.”

    • Seth R.

      * As such, Christ is one of three Gods in the “Godhead,” as is the Holy Spirit, another of God’s spirit sons.

      Gender of the Holy Ghost is not explicitly stated – merely assumed. Also, this statement ignores the radical and interpenetrating unity shared by all three members of the Godhead. Christ is not consided to be a “separate God” in his own right under LDS theology.

      * Christ is the “Only Begotten,” which means that he is the only human being whom God the Father literally begat in the flesh. God is Jesus’ literal father in the flesh (allowing Jesus to “inherit” some divine powers other humans do not have) and Mary is his literal mother.

      I suppose this is a polite way of alluding to the popular Evangelical accusation lobbed at Mormons that “hey, you guys believe that God had sex with Mary.” Which, for the record, most Mormons do not personally believe. We have no doctrine of how Christ was conceived, except that – like the Bible says – it was done by the Holy Spirit. Other than that clarification, no beefs here.

      * Christ’s atonement guarantees immortal life in some heavenly kingdom to virtually all human beings, including those who willfully reject Christ.

      Sure, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to like the result of rejecting Christ and sinning either. When LDS theology speaks of “hell”, it can mean either a final destination (termed Outer Darkness, and reserved for very few people), or the temporary suffering of the LDS equivalent of purgatory (not an exact match, but conceptually close enough). It is after the temporary state of suffering that those who did not accept Christ eventually wind up in a degree of glory.

    • Seth R.

      * Christ (and God the Father) appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him to join none of the churches because all of them were wrong and their creeds were an abomination.

      True. For an example, I always say “see Five Point Calvinism.”

      * Through Joseph Smith, God restored lost scriptures (e.g., the Book of Mormon) and inspired new ones (Doctrine & Covenants), from which Mormons learn the doctrines that set them apart from the rest of Christianity.

      True, but wrong focus. Our scriptures are supremely indifferent as to what the differences between us and you are. They focus instead on restoring the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any differences from that are your own affair.

      * Christ organized the only true Church in these latter days with a hierarchical system of “priesthood authority” required to teach or baptize others.

      Yes.

      * Full forgiveness of sins and entrance into the highest heavenly kingdom, where God and Christ live, come to those who become members of the LDS Church, follow its teachings, and participate in its temple rituals, notably baptisms and other rites performed on behalf of the dead.

      Full forgiveness of sins is offered to all.

      It’s just that those who choose to accept it will ultimately accept the designated ordinances as token of their repentance and conversion.

      * The ultimate goal of the gospel and of LDS religion is to become gods, with the same powers and potential as the Heavenly Father.

      But not INDEPENDENT of the Father. We believe any glory and power we attain will only be via our unity with the Father, and will be derivative from the Father. We do not believe that we fly off to a separate corner of the galaxy to establish our own independent kingdom.

      I apologize for the multiple posts. Mr. Bowman’s bullet point style kind of suggested the format. I do have more to say here, but figured I’d best leave it here for now.

    • Jared C

      I am a Mormon but not a fan of Beck. Based on what I see, I think Beck’s religion is very squarely within Mormonism and he fairly represents what many mormons believe, i think Rob Bowman’s point though is important:

      The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.

      Based on my understanding of Evangelicalism and Mormonism, Beck may be a Mormon, but he could very well be “saved” in an Evangelical framework since it appears that he does have a faith in Jesus and relies on that faith to save him from his sins. Surprisingly enough, this belief is entirely consistent with being a strong Mormon, although some LDS do not quite believe things this way.

      Evangelicals that believe in the strange caricature of the Mormon cult follower that is often drawn by the counter-cult groups simply won’t ever get who the LDS are, and how close in belief they are.

      I think Evangelicals would be surprised on what they would learn about LDS and themselves by engaging in less confrontational dialogue.

      A good place to start is this blog:

      summatheologica.wordpress.com

      or This: ldstalk.wordpress.com

    • Rob Bowman

      Terrie,

      You wrote, with regard to LDS doctrine: “Only those who accept Jesus as their Savior live with God, contrary to what was stated in this article.” Where did I state otherwise?

      You also wrote: “Only evangelicals adopted the post-biblical idea that actions have no impact on our eternal life. The Bible is filled with warnings about the importance of keeping the commandments. They aren’t just suggestions. If you say you accept Jesus as your Savior, but then live a life of sin–not because you’re imperfect but because you don’t care what God taught, are you really a Christian?”

      There is a lot of confusion to untangle here. Evangelical theology teaches that those who have genuinely accepted Christ as Savior will in fact care about obeying God. Anyone who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t care about obeying God is from our perspective a liar. But the Bible also teaches that our forgiveness and acceptance by God is not based on our obedience (good works) but on Christ’s death in our place (e.g., Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 1:9). Good works are the fruit, not the root, of salvation; they are evidence, not prerequisites, for salvation.

      LDS doctrine, in reality, teaches that everyone gets eternal life even if they don’t believe at all and even if they live despicably wicked lives. It’s just that LDS doctrine doesn’t CALL it “eternal life.” Instead, it makes a semantically tricky distinction between “immortality” (which everyone, including atheists and unrepentant criminals, gets) and “eternal life” (entrance into the celestial kingdom, which only good Mormons get). But biblically, and in terms of what the words mean, immortality is the same thing as immortal life; and immortal life is the same thing as eternal life. You said it yourself: in LDS doctrine everyone will “live forever–somewhere.” There is no difference between living forever and having eternal life. These are synonymous expressions.

      The Bible does emphasize the importance of faith and works, but the consequence for a life of rebellion against God is not the consolation prize of immortal life in a somewhat less glorious heavenly kingdom. The consequence is God’s judgment of righteous wrath resulting in eternal punishment, being consigned to the outer darkness, cast into the lake of fire (Gehenna, or “hell”).

    • Terrie Lynn Bittner

      “Christ’s atonement guarantees immortal life in some heavenly kingdom to virtually all human beings, including those who willfully reject Christ.” This suggests you think Mormon believe we can live with God without believing in Christ. This isn’t true.

      The complication comes from the definitions of heaven and hell. The consequences you discribed for a life of disobedience requires you to be alive, yes? If you’re dead, you won’t know you’re being punished. We do believe there is a place for the wicked, but not everyone who does not accept Jesus as his Savior is wicked–do you not know any good Jewish people? I do. Will God treat a Jew who has lived a valient life obeying the commandments he knew about, serving others, and putting God first the same fate as a rapist? Of course not. The Mormon God is loving and just.

      To a Mormon who loves God, being separated from Him for eternity is a horrible fate. No physical location’s nastiness can be worse than that punishment.

      You are correct that our obedience and good acts can be the result of our love and faith. However, it is possible to do those exact same acts mechanically because you want a reward, and not because you love God. God knows the difference, and the difference matters in what happens later. Mormons believe a true believer will strive every day to live as God taught out of love. It is a manifestation of his faith, and God gave us commandments because He intends us to obey them. There will be consequences for not obeying and not repenting, because no unclean thing can enter into Heaven.

      Being a Christian is more than just saying the right words once. It is, as you know, a lifetime committment requiring actions and belief both. It is largely a semantical argument. I hope you’ll follow the link I offered for a better explanation.

    • Mike

      Rob,

      While it is fair to say that Mormon doctrine is thoroughly non-Protestant (and non-Catholic) it is unfair to say that it is “unbiblical,” or “radically incompatible with the biblical gospel.” I recognize that your understanding of the relevant Biblical verses is different than mine, but that doesn’t make my understanding any less Biblical, only less Protestant. And while I think that your points are an honest representation of your understanding of Mormon doctrine, they are incomplete, and in a few cases inaccurate, and thus misleading.

      I’d like to address each of your points, but I don’t think I can do it in the 2000 characters allotted per post. If you’re not opposed to multiple posts, I’ll make the attempt. Let me know.

    • Rob Bowman

      Terrie, you wrote: “This suggests you think Mormon believe we can live with God without believing in Christ.” No, what I said was simply that Mormons believe people can live SOMEWHERE, in some heavenly kingdom, without believing in Christ. True, they won’t be with God the Father, but they will be living forever, in immortal bodies, in a glorious heavenly kingdom that is much better than where we find ourselves right now. And they can get there without ever putting faith in Christ OR living a decent moral life. That is the LDS doctrine.

      You wrote: “To a Mormon who loves God, being separated from Him for eternity is a horrible fate. No physical location’s nastiness can be worse than that punishment.” Your qualification “physical” is apparently an attempt to gloss over the big picture of LDS doctrine. The telestial and terrestrial kingdoms are kingdoms of glory and are a whole lot better than outer darkness, the fate of the “sons of perdition” in LDS doctrine. Those sons of perdition are the only humans that won’t receive immortality, and not because they were bad people but because they rejected the LDS gospel despite having a “testimony” that it is true. The inhabitants of the telestial kingdom reject Christ in this life AND in the next life, but they still get immortality in a glorious heavenly realm!

    • Jared C

      The inhabitants of the telestial kingdom reject Christ in this life AND in the next life, but they still get immortality in a glorious heavenly realm!

      Only after they have been thrust down to hell and suffer for their sins.

    • Jared C

      Mormons believe that people will suffer proportionately for their unrepented sins. They just don’t believe that this suffering will last for eternity. It could be up to 1000 years of suffering. Which in my view is probably more than enough for most bad things people do in this life.

    • Rob Bowman

      Mike,

      Keep in mind that my “bullet-point” summary was just that, a summary. Had I wanted to argue the point, I would have written a very different post.

      I’m curious to know if you think one could ever assert that a particular belief system that professes to be Christian was “unbiblical.” Can you give me an example of such a belief system, if you don’t think Mormonism qualifies? What exactly would it take? Or is it your view that any professing Christian belief system is just as biblical as any other?

      Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. Religious Group A regards the Bible as a totally reliable and sufficient guide to Christian doctrine; they attempt to base their doctrine on the Bible alone. Religious Group B regards the Bible as textually and/or canonically corrupted in some ways (perhaps omissions, perhaps even alterations). It accepts several other collections of writings as scripture, views them in general as less troubled by alleged corruption, and regards theology as a fluid process subject to the pronouncements of its living prophets. Which of these two groups, hypothetically speaking, is more likely to adhere more closely to a theology consistent with the Bible?

    • Rob Bowman

      Jared C,

      You are correct in stating that people will have to suffer before making it into the telestial kingdom. The fact remains, they get immortal life in a glorious heavenly kingdom after rejecting Christ–TWICE! That puts into quite a different perspective the LDS Church’s claim to teach that people need to believe in Christ for salvation. It turns out that is true only if “salvation” is redefined to mean exaltation to godhood.

    • Mike

      A clarification is in order here. Mormons don’t believe that people who never accept Christ will get into any sort of heaven. We simply accept the following Biblical premises: 1. Christ is Lord of both the living and the dead (Romans 14:9), 2. Every knee shall bow to the Lord and every tongue confess to God (Romans 14:11), 3. “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore” (Romans 14:13), 4. Salvation has also been offered to the dead who once disbelieved (1 Peter 3:19-20; 4:5-6), 5. In heaven there are many mansions, and a place is prepared for each who enter there (John 14:2), 6. There’s such a thing as a better resurrection (Heb. 11:35), 7. There are at least three heavens (2 Cor. 12:2).

      The main point of LDS doctrine is that no one enters into God’s presence until they fully accept Jesus Christ, but that there must be a place prepared for those who have yet to accept him, but who will accept him when either finally given the chance, or after finally recognizing the need. We also recognize that there may be degrees of acceptance. There are those who believe enough to accept his grace, and those who believe enough to not only accept him, but also to follow his commandments.

      But according to the Book of Mormon, even the act of following Christ’s commandments–doing the works he has commanded us to do (for example, going into the world and declaring his name)–is enabled by grace. The Book of Mormon teaches that we neither breathe, nor believe, choose, nor act without being enabled to do so by Christ’s atonement (grace). But refusing to work when not only commanded but enabled to do so is a rejection of grace just as is refusing to choose, or refusing to believe. It represents a lesser degree of acceptance, belief, or faith.

    • Jared C

      The inhabitants of the telestial kingdom reject Christ in this life AND in the next life, but they still get immortality in a glorious heavenly realm!

      On this point again, I think your view of LDS afterlife is a bit limited or simplistic. “reject Christ” here is not an accurate term. LDS believe that every knee shall bow and “every toungue will confess that Jesus is the Christ” including all those who are “thrust down to hell.” Just as when the sun is out, nobody denies that it exists, LDS believe that after the second coming, or at least at judgment, nobody will reject Christ, however some may not receive all he has to offer them.

    • Jared C

      http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/76/70#70

      If you want to be accurate in an understanding of LDS view of hell and the afterlife, this is a must read.

      Those who inherit the telestial kingdom (the lowest kingdom of heaven) are :”they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.”
      They will “suffer the wrath of God” and they will be as”innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore.”

      Specifically they will

      1. Suffer for their sins in hell.
      2. Accept the salvation of Jesus.
      3. Then receive a degree of glory according to God’s grace and the atonement of Jesus.

      http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/88/#33

    • Mike

      It is not Mormon doctrine that the Bible is corrupt. The only claim is that some things that were once taught plainly are either not included in the Bible in its present form, or at least are not as plainly taught and understood. The Catholics, through whom the Bible passed for generations, might say a similar thing of Protestant versions of the Bible, which are missing some of the books included in the Catholic Bible.

      This is not to say that the Protestant Bible is not true, or even that it is missing truths that ought to have been revealed in a public written form, but simply that not all truths manifest therein are as plainly understood as they may have been in other contexts. The Bible itself supports this idea (see e.g. Isaiah 6:9-10; Matt. 13:13-17; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:9-10; 2 Peter 3:16).

      On the other hand, the idea of a closed canon is indeed “unbiblical,” as is the idea of an infallible Bible. So ironically, these claims themselves go beyond the text, and in that sense represent non-adherence, in a strict sense, to the text.

      The development of the Bible itself depended on the notion of an open canon. The New Testament would not exist without that assumption, nor would each of the added apostolic letters, which followed and clarified even the words of Christ himself. So no, I don’t think that one who accepts the possibility of an open canon is necessarily more likely to go astray of the Bible than one who rejects that possibility. I believe, in fact, that it is ongoing revelation that keeps us in line with the revealed word of times past, and prevents us from wresting or distorting it. Just as Peter corrected early misunderstandings of Paul’s words (2 Pet. 3:16), so living apostles may correct misunderstandings of the words of the apostles of old. Indeed, the Bible suggests that many people would go astray in the latter days (e.g. Tim. 4:1-3), but that in the last days, prophecy would return, and even young men would see visions (Acts…

    • Amy Jo Garner

      Mark, did not mean to imply Beck did not thoroughly consider his choice. Only reporting the statements made by him and his wife in that particular interview. I’m not particularly interested in Beck–he’s just another talking TV and radio personality, and I pretty much ignore all of them regardless of their political or religious affiliations!

    • […] In the wake of the whole Glenn Beck thing, Parchment and Pen dusts off the classic question, Are Mormons Christians? […]

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      I’d love to respond to your series of posts, but time limitations will probably keep me from getting to all of them. The articles on the IRR website (http://www.irr.org), especially in my Gospel Principles Scripture Study Guide, will offer biblical arguments in support of my criticisms of LDS theology.

      I had written:

      * All human beings preexisted in heaven, where they were the offspring of heavenly parents (God the Father and a “heavenly mother”), before their natural conception here on earth.

      You replied:

      << This is not a counter-biblical notion, and I’d argue that even calling in un-biblical is misleading (since most people tend to equate “un-biblical” with “anti-biblical”). Certainly, this Mormon teaching is not anti-biblical, though it is probably extra-biblical. >>

      The fact that the Bible doesn’t say “There is no such person as heavenly mother” does not make the affirmation of a heavenly mother biblical. The Bible does say that the LORD (Jehovah) is the only God, that he created the world by himself (e.g., Isaiah 44:24), and many other things that implicitly preclude the notion that God has a consort. A number of LDS apologists admit this but contend that the “Deuteronomists” imposed a monotheistic ideology on the Bible and purged it of most or all traces of ancient Israelite polytheism. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that the Bible, as it stands, is incompatible with the LDS belief in a plurality of Gods (and at least one Goddess).

      You wrote:

      << Always keep in mind the LDS position – we don’t care if something is explicitly stated in the Bible or not. >>

      Well stated. That is the LDS view. Not all Mormons are as frank about it.

      You wrote:

      << Since we believe in additional scripture and ongoing revelation, we already operate from the assumption that more will be said than is contained in the Bible. We also (like the Catholics) reject the notion of Biblical sufficiency (which ironically, is itself an extra-biblical notion). >>

      Not really. See, for example, Mark 7:9-13 (tradition does not have authority equal to Scripture); 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Scripture teaches what we need to know to be adequately equipped to do all the good things God expects of us). Big subject, not enough time at the moment.

      You wrote:

      << Thus the Mormon only cares whether his arguments are anti-biblical or not. He is supremely indifferent to whether his arguments are extra-biblical or not. We maintain the Bible as part of our canon, and therefore are concerned with the prospect of that book directly contradicting something we believe, but we are not shy at all about filling in the blanks via continuing revelation where the Bible is silent. >>

      There are plenty of examples of LDS teachings that directly contradict the Bible. I have already mentioned that the Bible explicitly affirms that Jehovah alone created the universe, whereas Mormonism teaches that a plurality of Gods made the world.

      You wrote:

      << Also, I would like to clarify what exactly you mean by the word “offspring.” Because Mormon theology allows a wide latitude here. >>

      I wasn’t more precise in part because Mormon theology isn’t precise or specific about what was involved in our heavenly parents producing us as their “offspring.” The word is accurate, though, in expressing the LDS view, isn’t it?

    • Rob Bowman

      Jared,

      What you seem to be saying is that the wicked who suffer in hell will AFTER that suffering accept the gospel of Christ. That doesn’t negate my point, which is that they will do so after having rejected Christ in the spirit world. See Gospel Principles (2009 ed.), 272.

    • Bob

      There are some mistakes in the authors (and among many of the reponses here) understanding of Mormon doctrine, but I would agree with terming much of it as “heresy”. But I still must say that Mormons ARE Christians. The reason I say this is because they believe:

      God the Father is supreme (no one will EVER be greater in glory or dominion)

      Jesus Christ is His only son

      Jehovah of the old testament is Jesus of the new (John chapter 1)

      That only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus can you be saved, and even then only by baptism by immersion and through grace (though they do have a hybrid legalistic view that “faith without works is dead”, or as they say it, “We are saved through grace, after all we can do.”)

      To really understand Mormons and why they believe what they do, you have to first realize that they believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, just as Paul was a prophet. A prophets teachings today trump the teachings of old, even if the teachings are in conflict with what’s in the Bible. God can and has changed his mind! And in the case of Mormon doctrine, it is almost always presented as a “higher law” or truth, adding “precept upon precept”, perfecting our understanding of the “truth”.

      For most Mormons, the irony of that is lost on them!

      Unfortunately, they were/are led by a false prophet. Thus their heretical teachings. But in fairness, if Paul were a false prophet, would we still be considered “Christians” given the doctrines we get from his writings/teachings (eating of pork comes to mind)? None of their teachings discount the fact that Jesus is the Savior in any way. Isn’t that the core requirement of being a “Christian”?

      BTW, after 13 years, I left the Mormons upon learning that the Book of Abraham had been found (something they neglected to tell me), and that the translation provided by Joseph Smith was pure BS. That proved to me that ALL of their “scripture” was BS. The truth set me free.

    • Seth R.

      Bob, the Book of Abraham was NOT “found.”

      The book was destroyed in a fire in Chicago. What was “found” was a few tiny scraps of parchment remaining from the 17 foot long scroll Joseph used. These scraps contain some of the pictures contained in the Facsimiles (pictoral illustrations). But that’s it. From the 17 foot long scroll of Joseph Smith, we have only a few scraps of parchment no larger than your hand.

      I’d hardly call that “finding” the “Book of Abraham.”

      It would seem that someone here has been making up their own facts.

    • Seth R.

      Rob, this is merely an instance of Evangelical eisegesis of scripture.

      For instance, Isaiah 44:24

      “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,”

      I fail to see how this is a statement of ontology. First off, “made” does not automatically mean ex nihilo creation. It does not mean that there was God, and he brought absolutely everything else into being out of nothing – so that argument for your lone “god” doesn’t work. Also God “forming us from the womb” doesn’t mean anything either. I “formed” my daughter from the womb too. That doesn’t mean no one else was involved.

      Furthermore, “Eloheim” has both singular and plural connotations in the Old Testament – as is affirmed by countless biblical scholars.

      I’m not sure what Mark 7:9-13 has to do with sola biblia, so maybe you can flesh this idea out some more. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads:

      “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

      Yes, all scripture is breathed out by God – including the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, etc. Good for all the aforementioned stuff too. Again, I don’t see how this works in favor of sola biblia.

      You seem to be making eisegesical leaps of logic here to make these verses much more prohibitive than they actually are.

      You asked for clarification on “offspring.” I think LDS theology is totally consistent with us being either offspring through some birthing process, or offspring through some voluntary adoptive process. In fact, I think the adoption model is much better supported in LDS theology.

      Edit: Incidentally Michael, it’s really cool that your blog automatically links to any scripture we type in the comments. Nice.

    • Bob

      Seth,

      What was found was not only the papyrus, but Joseph Smith’s “primer” on hieroglyphics as well as portions of the BOA “translated” in his own hand, side by side with the specific characters as their source, the order of which matches portions of the papyrus. So in my view, I believe we have the relevant portions he used.

      Also, the figures on the papyrus were incomplete, though they are now understood to be average specimens from the period since we have found more intact specimens. But JS incorrectly “completed” them, making many mistakes in the process.

      Now, we have his supposed “translations” of entire paragraphs from single characters, translations that no other expert on hieroglyphics will support. In fact, NONE of his “translations” are even remotely close to the actual translations. Remember, at the time JS had them, the Rosetta Stone (which I have seen and touched myself in the British Museum) had not yet been discovered.

      I was told that it was perhaps a different dialect, that there was more than one way to translate it, yada yada. I just couldn’t buy that explanation.

      Why did the missionaries, indeed everyone I’ve encountered in the church, not mention that they were not lost in the fire, that they had been rediscovered (even partially intact would be news worthy IMHO). No, the story was always that they were lost. Period. That seemed like a sin of omission at the least, or a cover up at worst, to me.

      Why has every “prophet” since refused to demonstrate their ability to re-translate those papyrus if they have that ability? If the portions discovered are NOT the portions that Joseph Smith translated as you claim, wouldn’t the church be anxious to translate the re-discovered, heretofore untranslated, portions from the Book of Abraham? Imagine the doctrines that could be revealed!

      And why would God use pagan funeral documents to reveal His truth?

      I simply couldn’t believe it. Maybe you can.

    • Seth R.

      Actually recent LDS scholarship has dealt a serious blow to the idea that Joseph Smith used the “primer” in the way you describe. Work has been done dating the document such that it cannot have been used the way you are asserting.

      This is brand-new stuff though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it.

    • teleologist

      I didn’t know this post has turned into a discussion of Mormonism and Christian doctrines. If Rob doesn’t mind I guess I have some questions for Mike.

      It is not Mormon doctrine that the Bible is corrupt. The only claim is that some things that were once taught plainly are either not included in the Bible in its present form, or at least are not as plainly taught and understood. … This is not to say that the Protestant Bible is not true

      ”The Bible has been corrupted by errors of translation and transmission, as well as by deliberate action. (WMT; CJS; 1 Nephi 13:26-29, BOM)”
      It sounds like you’ve just phrased it more euphemistically, but in essence the authorities of the LDS church believe the Bible is corrupt. But there is something that I don’t understand. If the Bible is corrupt, or even euphemistically as you’ve claimed, why are you quoting from the Bible? How do you know what you are quoting is not the part that has been corrupted?
      WMT: What the Mormons Think of Christ, pamphlet published by the LDS church, July 1976
      CJC: The Church as Organized by Christ, pamphlet published by the LDS church, April 1976

      On the other hand, the idea of a closed canon is indeed “unbiblical,” as is the idea of an infallible Bible. So ironically, these claims themselves go beyond the text, and in that sense represent non-adherence, in a strict sense, to the text.

      I think you misunderstand what evangelicals mean by inerrancy. But I am more interested to know what do you think of the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price? Are these texts infallible? Was there anything that was once taught plainly and things not included?

      I would also like to ask all the Mormons who are commenting here a few questions.
      1. Do you believe that God was once a man who became God?
      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?
      3. Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?
      4. Do you believe in an eternal hell?
      5. Do you believe in some sort of Mormon purgatory?

    • Bob

      If you believe the church’s explanations, well, what can I say? I don’t.

      So many things have to be wrong (and conveniently in their favor) in order for them to be right. It just stretches their credibility beyond reason. It took them 50 YEARS to come up with an explanation regarding the primer and it’s inaccuracy? Are you serious? You would rather accept that explanation rather than the obvious truth that JS made it up? That the translations he came up with were pure fantasy? Worse, that he used them to further his own goals? Honestly, what is more likely?

      If you read my initial post, you will see that I am not here to condemn you. In fact, I defended your status as that of a Christian. Truth be told, I really enjoyed my time in the Mormon church. I think the organization of the church and it’s supporting programs is top notch. The missionary effort to foreign nations, Relief Society, disaster aid, etc. I believe Mormons do a great job of “walking the walk”.

      That said, there is religion and there is truth. Religion is the twisting of the truth found in the Bible to create a new way to reach God. Joseph Smith took that to a whole new level when he introduced his “scriptures”. In so doing, he became like the Pharisees and Saddeucees that Jesus condemned, teaching false doctrines and confusing the righteous seekers of truth.

      I won’t lie, it was scary to leave the Mormon church. I did OK for a while but then I got lost. But I finally found my way back to the truth as found in the Bible. Sure, it doesn’t have all that “behind the scenes” allure of the Mormon doctrine, but all that extra crap is really superfluous and unnecessary. As it turns out, the Gospel is quite beautiful and comprehensive in it’s own simplicity. In it’s simplest form:

      Love God
      Love your neighbor
      Jesus is the Christ

      As Christians, we can argue about the rest, but don’t we have bigger fish to fry? Ie- Like a billion Muslims that want us DEAD!

    • Bob

      teleologist:

      What you are looking for comes from the “King Follet Discourse” as delivered by Joseph Smith. King Follet (King was his name, not his title) was a friend of Joesph Smiths and I believe he gave this lecture as part of his eulegy at his funeral, though I could be mistaken.

      http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/sermons_talks_interviews/kingfolletsermon.htm

      Hope this answers you questions without it causing your head to pop off in disbelief!! 😉

    • Mike

      Bob,

      You apparently have only read one-sided sources on the Book of Abraham. I don’t believe the fragments are even part of the long scroll that was described by non-Mormon contemporaries of Joseph and destroyed in the Museum fire. Why? Because Joseph possessed fragments from the beginning that were not part of the large scroll. He described these as containing “epitaphs, etc.” The fragments discovered are indeed, as Joseph described originally, funeral documents (i.e. epitaphs). Thus they only support the idea that Joseph actually could read Egyptian.

      That they contain similar drawings is no surprise, since such drawings are common on Egyptian documents, and most of them vary. That they were used in attempting to learn or practice an Egyptian alphabet is also not surprising. Joseph received his translations by inspiration, but also naturally developed an interest in learning ancient languages for himself. He and his friends undoubtedly practiced or tried to figure out characters for their own interest and learning. They likely wouldn’t have used the long scroll for this practice, since the interpretation (but not necessarily the meaning of the individual characters) was known by revelation. They might have tried to figure out the fragments, however, since there was no revelation given on the meaning of those.

      You might also take some time to look at some of the positive evidence for the Pearl of Great Price. Here are a couple of examples:

      The Book of Abraham describes a vision in which God shows Abraham his creations. This account is not in the Bible, but is verified in the Apocolypse of Abraham, a Jewish document from shortly after the time of Christ. This document wasn’t available in English until long after Joseph Smith’s death. The apocolypse also verifies the BoA account of Abraham witnessing children being sacrificed to idols.

    • Bob

      “He described these as containing “epitaphs, etc.” The fragments discovered are indeed, as Joseph described originally, funeral documents (i.e. epitaphs). Thus they only support the idea that Joseph actually could read Egyptian. ”

      Hello? They came with a mummy!!!!! What else would they be???? Yeah, he REALLY went out on a limb with that one, didn’t he????

      I’m sorry, there are SO MANY holes in the credibility of Mormon history that it is simply foolish, IMHO, to believe it. One or 2 points can be explained away and left to faith, fair enough. But there is a mountain of evidence that must be explained away and those explanations taken on faith alone, in the face of concrete evidence to the contrary.

      His failure to prove that he can translate hieroglyphics correctly as demonstrated by his primer

      His various version of the “First Vision” story

      Revisions to the BOM (I have a copy of the first edition, and it IS different)

      Incorrect use of “Old English” in his translations (And why was the BOM and other “scriptures” translated into Old English to begin with, if not to make them sound the same as accepted scripture?)

      Using words before they were historically in use

      And on and on…

      Seriously, there is a LOT out there that, thanks to the Internet, is readily available for review. Arrest records, his “magic trinkets”, Solomon Spaulding and the BOM manuscript, his dealings with the Masons, the changing of the Temple Ceremony (I’ve participated in the before and after versions, so I know what’s changed), the change in treatment of blacks, etc, etc.

      There’s just too much to explain away. Don’t you ever feel like Vera Hart trying to defend President Obama? Exhausted from defending the indefensible???? Sooner or later, isn’t it just obvious that you are being expected to take too much on faith, to believe things in the face of real substantial evidence to the contrary?

      I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    • Mike

      Bob,

      In all cases your “evidences” and your interpretations of them are one-sided. As a former Mormon, who apparently wrestled with your decision to leave the Church, you seem surprisingly unaware of the commonsense answers to these accusations. Either that, or you seem unwilling to acknowledge them.

      Teleologist,

      The pamphlets you cited are not necessarily Mormon doctrine, they are not canonized and it is telling that they appear to be long out of print. Nevertheless, I’m not just phrasing this more euphemistically, rather, you seem to be playing with two different definitions of the word “corrupt.” Some might say that anything that is no long in its original form has been “corrupted” in some sense, as in a language that is modified over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean loss of truth, any more than American English has hampered our ability to communicate with the chaps across the pond. In a few cases we (and they) have embarrassing misunderstandings, but for the most part we understand one another.

      That said, I wouldn’t endorse that description because in my own experience the Bible is true. I haven’t found a fault with it that can’t be reasonably explained, except that parts of it are so difficult to understand (by its own admission) that you either need 1. additional revelation, or 2. the likes of Rob, doing complex exegeses in order to understand it.

      So I’m not really interested in challenging the veracity of the Bible, although I am open to the possibility that some translations better represent the original meaning than others. This should be a non-controversial point and is the meaning behind Article of Faith 8.

    • Seth R.

      “I would also like to ask all the Mormons who are commenting here a few questions.

      1. Do you believe that God was once a man who became God?
      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?
      3. Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?
      4. Do you believe in an eternal hell?
      5. Do you believe in some sort of Mormon purgatory?”

      Well, God’s past is not a clear cut issue within Mormonism. A variety of viewpoints are possible under Mormon scripture. This blog post does a good job of outlining them:

      http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/lds-views-of-gods-past/

      If you want my own personal opinions – I’m a bit of a fan of the infinite chain of gods idea. I don’t really see this view as biblically problematic. As far as I’m concerned, if Lutherans can make “One God” out of three beings, then I can make “One God” out of 300 or 3 million. Same logic works in this instance. In this sense, I believe there is “One God” in whom many lower-case “gods” participate.

      I am agnostic on whether there is an eternal hell or not. The Mormon concept of “Outer Darkness” seems to be the closest candidate – but I am agnostic on whether that state is eternal or not. I believe in a version of “purgatory” – meaning a temporary place of suffering prior to final judgment.

      Those are my own views. In other comments, I’ve tried to allow for a range of Mormon viewpoints.

      Bob, I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate to turn this thread into a full blown debate about the Book of Abraham. You’ve been polite enough, and I don’t really want to pick a fight with you.

      I will just say that FAIR (www.fairlds.org) has done a lot of work in addressing the concerns you bring up and their material is worth checking out if anyone is interested.

    • Seth R.

      Sorry, one last Book of Abraham point:

      One thing that has always struck me about this debate is how critics always attempt to keep the focus on how we got the book, or on the character of the man who provided it.

      The focus is rarely on the actual content of the book.

      For myself, I frankly don’t care if the Book of Abraham came from a drunk garbage collector who wrote it on the back of a bar napkin Friday night.

      What I care about is the theological content, and how much it enlightens us on the existing Abraham literature.

      On these grounds, the book is a runaway success – no matter how you think we got it.

      Just something to keep in mind.

    • Mike

      Teleologist (continued),

      As for the Book of Mormon, it does not challenge the veracity of the Bible, but only claims that some very plain parts of the original text would be lost or removed, which would make the rest more difficult to understand. Rather than undermining the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of the truth of the Bible, and is written for the purpose of turning its readers back to the Bible. It came at a time when, historically, the secularization of the Christian world was in full swing. This secularization has been linked to the “religious wars” of the Reformation, which resulted in part from disagreements about meaning and content of the Bible, and which in turn resulted in a loss of confidence in a unified Christianity. The Reformations (both Protestant and Catholic) were no doubt necessary, but that they had this secularizing effect is a matter of history.

      Enter the Book of Mormon, which reiterates that the Bible is in fact true, although disagreements of interpretation are understandable because of the loss of some plain teachings from the original text. That the Book of Mormon indeed succeeds in its mission to turn its readers to the Bible is supported by this recent poll,

      http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

      in which Mormons outperformed all other groups in knowledge of the Bible and Christianity. Which is sort of ironic for those who claim we aren’t Christians.

      As for your other questions…

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      You wrote:

      “Rob, this is merely an instance of Evangelical eisegesis of scripture.”

      We shall see. You continued:

      “For instance, Isaiah 44:24 ‘Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,’ I fail to see how this is a statement of ontology. First off, “made” does not automatically mean ex nihilo creation. It does not mean that there was God, and he brought absolutely everything else into being out of nothing – so that argument for your lone “god” doesn’t work.”

      Huh? I didn’t bring up creation ex nihilo. All I said was that Jehovah did all the creating, whatever was involved in that activity. That point isn’t affected by the issue of whether creation was ex nihilo or ex materia. In Isaiah 44:24, Jehovah explicitly claims that he made the heavens and the earth by himself. How is simply repeating that statement in slightly different words “evangelical eisegesis”?

      You wrote:

      “Also God ‘forming us from the womb’ doesn’t mean anything either. I ‘formed’ my daughter from the womb too. That doesn’t mean no one else was involved.”

      But you don’t deny that anyone else was involved. Jehovah expressly denies that anyone else was involved.

      You wrote:

      “Furthermore, ‘Eloheim’ has both singular and plural connotations in the Old Testament – as is affirmed by countless biblical scholars.”

      Virtually all biblical scholars agree on this issue against the amateur exegesis (or, to use your term, eisegesis) of Joseph Smith. ELOHIM is a plural *form* but always has a singular *meaning* when used with singular verbs, adjectives, or pronouns. For example, in Genesis 1:1, the subject noun ELOHIM has a singular verb BARA’ (third person masculine singular), so that ELOHIM must be translated “God,” not “gods.” Again, virtually everyone who has any sort of claim whatsoever to be a Hebrew scholar will agree on this point. But Joseph claimed, erroneously, that ELOHIM in Genesis 1 should be translated “Gods” throughout. Oops.

      In any case, I was referring to Isaiah 44:24, which uses the name Jehovah (YHWH), so the meaning of ELOHIM is irrelevant to the point I made from that text.

      You wrote:

      “I’m not sure what Mark 7:9-13 has to do with sola biblia, so maybe you can flesh this idea out some more.”

      I’m sure I explained it. Jesus there subordinates tradition to Scripture. That isn’t the entirety of the case for sola scriptura, but it’s a key element of it. And it was sola scriptura, not “sola biblia,” that I was defending. I do happen to think that the Bible is the only true Scripture, but that’s a different question.

      You wrote:

      “You asked for clarification on ‘offspring.'”

      No, actually, I didn’t. All I asked for is an answer to whether you consider the term “offspring” accurate or not. You commented:

      “I think LDS theology is totally consistent with us being either offspring through some birthing process, or offspring through some voluntary adoptive process. In fact, I think the adoption model is much better supported in LDS theology.”

      Sorry, but I can’t agree. LDS theology affirms that all human beings are the “literal” offspring of those heavenly parents, “begotten” by them. “All men and women are LITERALLY the sons and daughters of God. ‘Man, as a spirit, was BEGOTTEN and BORN of heavenly parents….” (Gospel Principles [2009], quoting Joseph F. Smith, 9, my emphasis). I know of no basis whatsoever in LDS theology for an adoption model.

    • Mike

      Teleologist (continued):

      1. Do you believe that God was once a man who became God?

      The Bible teaches that the Creator of heaven and earth became a man, and grew in wisdom and stature as a man, albeit a perfect one, and then returned to Heaven to share his Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21). This teaching was considered controversial, even blasphemous by other theists of the time.

      But we have the Creator (Jesus Christ) referring to a Father who gave him his glory in the beginning (John 17), and whom he called “my Father and your Father, my God and your God (John 20:17). And Because the Bible also teaches that Christ only did what he had seen the Father do (John 5:19), Joseph Smith drew the logical conclusion that the Father had similarly descended and experienced mortality in like manner. This teaching, though well accepted among Mormons, is not considered canonical.

      But it is a far cry from suggesting that God popped into existence first as a man and then grew to Godhood. No, this view simply takes the experience of Christ as pre-mortal God who descended to earth to experience mortality, and ultimately become a resurrected, embodied God, and extends this pattern to the One that Christ calls Father, and whom he claimed was his model in every respect.

      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?

      The Bible teaches that Christ gives to his followers the same glory given him of the Father (John 17), and that they are thus invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father. Those who overcome are also invited to share a throne with the Son and the Father (Revelation 3:21). Mormon prophets have affirmed this Biblical teaching, but none have equated us with either the Son or the Father in perfection and glory. There is a gulf between us and the Father, created by our sinfulness, which can only be bridged by Christ. We are and always will be dependent on Christ for our oneness with Him and the…

    • Mike

      Teleologist (continued),

      …Father.

      3. Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?

      Trinitarians believe (if I’m not mistaken) that there is one God with three personalities. Or three persons in the Godhead who share one “being” (whatever that means).

      Mormons also believe that there are three persons (personalities) in the Godhead that (by choice) share a will, or purpose, rather than a “being.” These three are one God in the sense of oneness described by Christ in John 17. Christ also invites us into that same oneness and glory, which implies that as we submit our will to him, we can share in his godliness–which in my view makes one God of many, rather than many gods of one (as our doctrine is too often misinterpreted to mean by both Mormons and non-Mormons).

      4. Do you believe in an eternal hell?

      Yes, but what exactly that means I do not claim to know. Does it mean that an individual will suffer forever, if through either ignorance or rebellion he once rejected (or never found) Christ in this brief mortal existence? (I think not, or the justice of God, as well as his mercy, could be called into question). Or does it mean that hell is eternally fixed in opposition to heaven? And/or does it mean that so long as salvation is rejected–even to eternity–those who reject salvation will remain in hell?

    • Seth R.

      I say adoption because it is the only thing consistent with LDS notions of both free will and the eternal existence of human beings. Especially in light of Joseph Smith’s notion that spirit bodies are eternal, and not just “intelligences” as many LDS believe. It also meshes well with the adoptive language contained in the New Testament.

      Note, I said consistent with SCRIPTURE – not the current Gospel Principles manual. There’s quite a difference in my mind. I view the manual as a useful study aid – not an independent source of binding doctrine.

      In any case, I don’t consider an adoptive process to be inconsistent with being the “literal” sons and daughters of God anyway.

      If I were to go out and adopt a child today, she would “LITERALLY” be my child.

      Problem solved.

      As for the word “begotten” or “born” – Jesus uses the same language when speaking to Nicodemus. It is obviously not talking about some sort of biological birth in this context. Evangelicals use the terms “begotten” and “born” in a figurative sense all the time – so this situation of an Evangelical scholar taking a Mormon to task over not taking those words more biologically seems just a bit odd to me.

      Mormons speak of being “born of water” or “born of the spirit” all the time. We speak of the act of conversion as being “begotten” of God. This is hardly something new for us.

    • teleologst

      Mike,

      The pamphlets you cited are not necessarily Mormon doctrine, they are not canonized and it is telling that they appear to be long out of print.

      So WMT and CJS are not canonized but who published it? Did the publisher have the sanction of the officials of the Church? Did the Mormon President and apostles denounce the errors in these pamphlets? Does your current President and apostles denounce the past leaders for allowing this erroneous teaching to be printed?

      Nevertheless, I’m not just phrasing this more euphemistically, rather, you seem to be playing with two different definitions of the word “corrupt.”

      I am not an expert at playing with redefining words. But I assume you accept the BOM as canon right? In 1 Nephi 13:26-29

      26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
      27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.
      28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.
      29 And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

      Maybe it is just me but the plain and straight forward understanding of that description seems to define the word corrupt. It is possible that I might have a problem with understanding the word corrupt but let’s look at a few dictionary definitions.
      1. alter from the original
      2. Containing errors or alterations, as a text: a corrupt translation
      3. to alter from the original or correct form or version
      4. to make alterations, usu. errors, in the original or correct version of (a text, language, or the like)
      5. To change the original form of (a text, for example)

      Some might say that anything that is no long in its original form has been “corrupted” in some sense … This doesn’t necessarily mean loss of truth

      True, and some might even call it abominable. I personally don’t think there is such a thing as abominable truth, do you?

      That said, I wouldn’t endorse that description because in my own experience the Bible is true.

      So you disagree with the BOM and Joseph Smith.

      Which brings me back to my original questions, which books do you consider as canon, the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price? Are these texts infallible?

      I would also like to hear your comments on these questions.
      1. Do you believe that God was once a man who became God?
      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?
      3. Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?
      4. Do you believe in an eternal hell?
      5. Do you believe in some sort of Mormon purgatory?

    • Seth R.

      As for Mark 7:9-13, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that verse is talking about some categorical subordination of tradition to the Bible. First off, what Jesus is rejecting here is the FALSE traditions the Pharisees ADDED to the law as given to Moses. So really all he is putting down here is false tradition – not tradition in general.

      Secondly, your argument here merely begs the question. For Mormons (and Catholics, I think) the tradition IS scriptural. It IS from God. So you are left arguing a distinction without a difference at least in a Mormon context (I could be getting the Catholic position wrong).

      Sorry for misunderstanding your argument on Isaiah 44:24. I’ll get back to you on that later.

    • Steve Martin

      Mormons believe that God was once just a man.

      And that they too, can work their way up to become a god.

      That was (is) the essence of sin. Becoming a god unto yourself.

      I think Mormonism is utterly ridiculous and of the devil. It is responsible for leading people away from the work of the Living God on the cross (notice there are NO crosses on their buildings)…and into a religious project of self-justification.

      St. Paul warned the likes of Joseph Smith, et al…”If an angel of light appears to you with another gospel, let him be damned.”

    • Seth R.

      Steve the quote from LDS prophet Lorenzo Snow goes thus:

      “As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.”

      Nothing in there requires that God was ever “just” a man. Like I said, many Mormon scholars believe that God experienced mortality in the same way Jesus did – as a perfect and divine person.

      As for becoming like God, read this article and then get back to me on whether this desire is still sinful in your book:

      http://www.antiochian.org/node/16916

    • Steve Martin

      Seth,

      Thanks for the link.

      Being conformed to Christ is not our work. It is Christ’s work. he does it ALL.

      That is what is so un-Christian about the whole Mormon religious, ladder climbing/perfection project thing.

      The focus is backwards. The focus ought be on what Christ has done, is doing, and will yet do…for us. And not on what we do.
      What WE DO was the problem from the begining.

      When Christ Jesus said, “It is finished” from the cross, He meant it.

      But people just love ‘religion’ (that which we do to elevate ourselves, or get right with God).

      Mormonism is just another man-made religion that emphasizes the self and what WE DO.

      Yes, Christ Jesus has done it ALL. He would like for us to trust in that fact, and then live.

    • Seth R.

      Rob, I checked out the Biblelexicon website on Isaiah 44:24. You can see for yourself here:

      http://biblelexicon.org/isaiah/44-24.htm

      I paid particular attention to the words “by Myself” and “alone.” Neither one seems to have quite the exclusive force in Hebrew that you give to them here.

      In the case of “by myself” the Hebrew word “badad” is defined as “to be separate” “isolated” – which simply doesn’t have the same sort of absolute sense to it as you are arguing.

      In the case of “alone” the definition is simply stated “from”, explained here:

      http://strongsnumbers.com/hebrew/4480.htm

      Again, I’m not really seeing the exclusive force here. Your argument seems to proceed more from colloquial English usage than the original Hebrew intent of the text.

    • Seth R.

      Steve, obviously you would like me to DO something differently than what I am already doing right now – if I wish to be saved.

      So wouldn’t that make you just as focused on DOING something on the human end as I am?

    • Steve Martin

      No…actually I do not want you to do anything.

      The fact is that no one can do anything to be saved.

      In fact, in the doing process, a lot of people can get themselves unsaved (St. Paul to the Galatians)

      That IS the problem.

    • Seth R.

      Rob, Michael Heiser has also tackled the meaning of the word “alone” that you highlight in Isaiah 44:24. He doesn’t feel it has the exclusive sense that you give it either:

      “Second, מִלְבַדּֽוֹ and other related forms ( לְבַד ,לְבַדּוֹ ) need not mean “alone” in some exclusive sense. That is, a single person in a group could be highlighted or focused upon. 1 Kgs 18:1-6 is an example. The passage deals with the end of the three-year drought and famine during the career of Elijah. After meeting with Elijah, Ahab calls Obadiah, the steward of his house, and together they set upon a course of action to find grass to save their remaining horses and mules. Verse 6a) then reads: ׃ אַחְאָב הָלַךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶחָד לְבַדּוֹ וְעֹבַדְיָהוּ הָלַךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ־אֶחָד לְבַדּוֹ (“Ahab went one way by himself [ לְבַדּוֹ ], and Obadiah went another way by himself [ .(”[לְבַדּוֹ While it may be possible to suggest that Obadiah literally went through the land completely unaccompanied in his search, it is preposterous to say that the king of Israel went completely alone to look for grass—without bodyguards or servants. The point is that לְבַדּוֹ (and by extension מִלְבַדּֽוֹ ) need not refer to complete isolation or solitary presence. Another example is Psalm 51:4 [Hebrew, v. 6], which reads in part: לְךָ לְבַדְּךָ חָטָאתִי (“against you, you alone, I have sinned”). God was not the only person against whom David had sinned. He had sinned against his wife and certainly Uriah. This is obviously heightened rhetoric designed to highlight the One who had been primarily offended. It was God against whom David’s offense was incomparable.”

      You can read the full article here:

      http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/MonotheismProblem.pdf

    • Seth R.

      Then why are you even talking to me Steve?

      If I don’t have to DO anything to be saved, then I guess I’ve got nothing to worry about, right?

      I can just keep attending LDS Sacrament Meeting, continue attending the LDS temple, and keep on doing just like I have been, and Jesus will take care of it.

      Right?

    • Steve Martin

      The day that Mormons teach and preach that Mormons do NOT have to do anything to get to Heaven, but rely on the finished work of Christ…will be a great day.

      If you believe that now, you are the 1st Mormon of many (over a hundred) that I have spoken with, that believes as much.

      It’s all about the cross…not us.

    • Ms. Jack

      Concerning the length of the Book of Abraham scroll: Chris Carroll Smith and Andrew W. Cook have an article coming out in the Winter 2010 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought arguing that there can be no more than 56 cm of papyrus missing from the Scroll of Hôr. That article has been pre-released here. From their conclusion:

      “In recognition of the unlikelihood that there ever was a Book of Abraham source text on the inner section of the Hôr scroll, various alternative theories have been put forth to the effect that: (a) the Document of Breathing served as a mnemonic device for the Book of Abraham, (b) the Breathing text served as a catalyst (rather than source text) for the Book of Abraham, (c) the Document of Breathing is a corrupted version of the Book of Abraham, which Smith restored to its pristine state, or (d) the Book of Abraham is simply an imaginative mistranslation of the hieratic script. The ultimate success of any existing or future theory will depend on its ability to account for all of the evidence, including the fact that there was simply no room on the papyrus for anything besides the Breathing text.”

      Chris notes on his blog that there are at least two other papers by LDS scholars in the works right now addressing arguments on the length of the Scroll of Hôr; I don’t believe they’ve been released yet.

    • Seth R.

      “The day that Mormons teach and preach”

      In short, the day that Mormons start DOING something different than what they are DOING now, they can be saved.

      Got it Steve.

    • Steve Martin

      I never said anybody was or wasn’t saved. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

      I’m saying that the focus on the self, and ascending to different levels of righteousness, or whatever…is not Christian. it is just run of the mill religion which you can find all over the place.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      I’ve already answered four of your five questions. As for the last one (do you believe in purgatory), I’m not sure what you mean, except that we do accept the Biblical notion that salvation is offered even to the dead (1 Pet. 3:18-20; 1 Pet. 4:6; 1 Cor. 15:29).

      You wrote: Did the Mormon President and apostles denounce the errors in these pamphlets? Does your current President and apostles denounce the past leaders for allowing this erroneous teaching to be printed?

      My response: Denunciation is not necessary since the problem is in the possibility of a misinterpretation of the word “corrupt” by the reader, and not in an erroneous use of the word itself.

      Why do you focus on these obscure pamphlets and not on the doctrinal sources I’ve described. As I noted above, Joseph Smith (Article of Faith 8) did not suggest that the Bible was corrupt. On the contrary, he said, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

      At the time, there were many versions of the Bible, in many languages, but only one version of the Book of Mormon. JS was simply suggesting the possibility that all versions of the Bible might not be equal, not that the Bible itself was corrupt.

      Today, with many translations of the Book of Mormon and other LDS works, the same caveat could apply. For example, a Muslim friend of mine took a look at an Arabic Book of Mormon and her opinion was that the translation might be improved to better convey the meaning. Perhaps she is right.

      As for the Book of Mormon, I noted above that it does not question the veracity of the Bible in its current form. It only claims that the gospel, or the book containing the gospel (the Bible), was more understandable in its earlier form, prior to passing through uninspired hands.

      Similarly, Reformers claimed that the gospel had been misunderstood, and even argued about what did or did not belong.

    • Seth R.

      Jack, is that 56cm of length, or of thickness? You can fit and awful lot of parchment in 56cm of thickness.

    • Seth R.

      Steve, that religion which has no interface with the self can have no real human meaning.

      In any case, we place the focus on Jesus as well in our teachings. We simply define our acceptance of him in terms of covenant performance.

      See also the “New Perspective on Paul.”

    • Mike

      Steve,

      Apparently you missed a post I left above. I’ll paste the relevant paragraph here:

      According to the Book of Mormon, even the act of following Christ’s commandments–doing the works he has commanded us to do (for example, going into the world and declaring his name)–is enabled by grace. The Book of Mormon teaches that we neither breathe, nor believe, choose, nor act without being enabled to do so by Christ’s atonement (grace). But refusing to work when not only commanded but enabled to do so is a rejection of grace just as is refusing to choose, or refusing to believe. It represents a lesser degree of acceptance, belief, or faith.

    • Steve Martin

      Christianity says ‘done’, religion says ‘do’.

      Sure, we do good works (who doesn’t), but not as any benchmark of our faith or obedience. That is for the religionists.

      I’ve always found the secret ceremonies, and different levels of church membership (in LDS) very troubling.

      Christianity ought not be like that.

      I think I’ll stick to the ‘old perspective on Paul’, in which he is recognized as the greatest apostle. God took a great religionist (Pharisee) and man him into a man of faith, not trusting in anything at all that he does, but rather in the Word of God (Christ crucified). There it is again…the cross.

    • Mike

      I believe other sources estimate that we have at best from 1/5 to 1/3 of the material Joseph originally had in parchments. In my opinion it is impossible to know what he originally had. But non-Mormon witnesses verified the existence of a long, beautifully preserved scroll along with several fragments.

      BTW Bob, I didn’t say that Joseph’s interpretation of the fragments as epitaphs proved that he could read Egyptian, only that it lent support to the notion. You asked what else he might claim they were, accompanying mummies as they did? Well, the Book of Abraham of course.

      The main point is that he didn’t claim that the fragments were the Book of Abraham, as modern critics claim. Rather, he said they were epitaphs, which they are.

    • Steve Martin

      Mike,

      I totally disagree with Mormon theology.

      The bible says that “all our righteous deeds are filthy rags.”

      The sort of ladder climbing/self improvement project that the LDS is on, leads one either to despair (if they are honest), or to pride ans self-righteousness.

      Jesus’ parable of the scumbag tax collector and the Pharisee illustrate this very well.

      “To one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. To one who does not work but trusts in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned to him as righteousness.” Romans 4: 4,5

      This is very different than Mormonism.

      I’ll stick with Paul, and not a bunch of made up eligious figures out of Joseph Smith’s head.

    • Steve Martin

      that’s ‘religious’

      …of course

    • Mike

      Steve,

      If you’re going to reject the necessity of “do,” even as a manifestation of the acceptance of grace, you’re going to have to ignore much of the Bible. Most notably, James. You’re also going to have to ignore the words of Christ himself, who said, “keep my commandments.”

    • Seth R.

      Steve, the Book of Mormon says that all religious deeds are insufficient as well.

      In fact, one of the keynote speeches is in the Book of Mosiah by King Benjamin where he makes it clear that we are eternally indebted to God and “less than the dust.” As for good works, he points out that as soon as you do anything good, God rewards you for it immediately, are you are just as indebted to him as you were before – making no headway whatsoever.

      So we actually have a pretty strong grace theology of our own. We view the various sacraments of our religious observance as tokens of an inner commitment. That is the prime meaning of them – whatever other mystical properties we may also ascribe to them.

    • Steve Martin

      I will put the book of James on the back burner. Paul’s writings, and the gospels are the one’s to concentrate on. There, God’s grace is front and center, and not the law (which St. Paul reminds us is the “ministry of death”)

      You guys can have all the secret stuff, and the extrabiblical writing and the religious ladder climbing project and the crossless “churches”.

      I’ll stick with Christ and His cross.

      Thanks.

    • Ms. Jack

      #95 Seth ~ Length.

    • Bob

      Seth,

      I’m not debating the book of Abraham, I simply stated my experience and conclusions. For me, the evidence is more than sufficient to prove it a fraud. That being the case, I believe the same applies to the BOA as does the BOM. Namely, if it is true, then JS was a prophet and the church is true. If not, JS was a fraud, and the church is false. Obviously, I concluded the latter is the most likely, based on the evidence. You are free to believe what you will.

    • Bob

      Seth,

      I just want to add that despite my conclusions, I still believe that Mormons are Christians in the most basic sense of the term. Any ill feelings I have for the Mormon church is directed towards the church leadership at the highest levels, as they are most likely the ones conspiring to continue the fraud. The average lay member is simply a victim of that fraud, though I don’t presume to judge the outcome of their salvation because of it. I leave that up to God.

      I simply pray that you and those like you will be led out of the church to embrace the Gospel in it’s true form, as found in the Bible. There is life after Mormonism, I promise you that. You just have to value the truth more than anything, and have the courage to accept it, wherever it takes you.

    • Seth R.

      Yes, everyone wants to offer pity for all the “victims” out there.

      Evangelicals want to pity the victimized Mormons. Mormons pity the victimized and misguided Evangelicals. And the atheists pity the whole lot of us.

      So congratulations to us all for being smarter than the other team.

    • Keat

      Bob and Seth have both proven that the Bible is the word of God. It is the recounting of past Prophets, revelation, events and finally the ancient church of Christ as established by the Savior himself with his disciples… Apostles and Bishops.

      A book, however, does not a church make. That takes Prophets, authority and revelation….otherwise all that Christianity would entail would be a great debate about the interpretation of past scripture and piecemeal theology. Without the Church itself we would have an endless number of Catholic Councils that were called to determine the truth by the debate of men and the count of hands. This is a precarious way to determine truth. Where was Christ during these crucial expressions of doctrine? By vote and debate, the vary nature of God was determined. Who inherited the endless debated doctrines? Protestants? The debate continues today. Look at the titles of Pen & Parchment blogs:

      (the great trinity debate challenge)
      (why women cannot be pastors)
      the scandal of the evangelical mind)
      (misconceptions of calvinism)
      ….just to list a few!

      The Chaos continues while they exclude Prophets and revelation and new scripture and the very Savior of which they proclaim.
      Gosh…why not give prayer a try?

    • teleologst

      Mike,

      Joseph Smith drew the logical conclusion that the Father had similarly descended and experienced mortality in like manner.

      You can’t be serious that it is logical to assume the same incarnation for the Father? This is pure fictional fabrication by Joseph Smith. Is this the kind of prophet that the entire Mormon faith is hanging their hats on? A can’t imagine a serious prophet of God would ever seek to mischaracterize God this way. A false prophet might but not a prophet of God.

      But the problem is worst than that isn’t it? Smith didn’t just make a erroneous conclusion, he went much further than that.

      Joseph Smith said God was once a man.
      “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form — like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man….it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see….and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).

      If you want to believe Smith that is your choice but all I am trying to point out is that Mormonism is based on blasphemous teaching by a false prophet as far as Christians are concerned.

      Seth to the same question,

      if Lutherans can make “One God” out of three beings, then I can make “One God” out of 300 or 3 million. Same logic works in this instance. In this sense, I believe there is “One God” in whom many lower-case “gods” participate.

      Again Seth is free to believe whatever he wishes but it is obvious that like many Mormon apostles and prophets, you are a polytheist or demigod polytheist. In any case, your Mormonism is antithetical to our monotheism.

      Mike,

      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?

      The Bible teaches that Christ gives to his followers the same glory given him of the Father (John 17), and that they are thus invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father. … We are and always will be dependent on Christ for our oneness with Him and the Father

      I will dispense with the exegesis of that verse in John 17 except just to say that it is a far cry from glory to becoming gods, isn’t it? I sense that you are hesitant to say that you yourself will become a god, but rather chose to say that you will be one with Christ and the father instead. Unfortunately your Mormon apostles and prophets are less timid and humble.

      Joseph Smith: “God himself…is a man like unto one of yourselves…God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth…You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves” (Times and Seasons, vol.5, pp.613-614); “Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you…To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God ” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.346-347).

      Brigham Young taught: “He [God] …was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being…It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God was once been a finite being” (Journal of Discourses, vol.7, p.333); “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself” (Journal of Discourses, vol.3, p.93).

      So once again Mormonism is blasphemous and anti-Christianity as far as Christians are concerned.

      3. Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?

      These three are one God in the sense of oneness described by Christ in John 17. Christ also invites us into that same oneness and glory, which implies that as we submit our will to him, we can share in his godliness–which in my view makes one God of many, rather than many gods of one (as our doctrine is too often misinterpreted to mean by both Mormons and non-Mormons).

      So your view is that you will not become a separate god but rather be part of the one god that you now worship. Nevertheless you will be god. From the time since the beginning of the abominable (according to Joseph Smith) Church, no Christians have ever believed that we would become gods in any way shape or form, because there is just no evidence of that in the Bible. So once again Mormonism is blasphemous and anti-Christianity as far as Christians are concerned.

      Let me try to conclude but trying to bring this somewhat back to the OP. As the Mormon comments here have shown, no matter how close their terms are to orthodox Christianity, they mean completely different things. Therefore there should be no question that when Beck calls people to worship, it is based on a false religious belief as far as Christians are concerned. I am not trying to convince the Mormons here why they believe in a false religion, only God can do that. But my impression with Mormons is that while Christians are constantly trying to differentiate and distance us from Mormonism, the Mormons are constantly trying to show how similar they are with Christians. I would suggest Mormons should embrace the fact that they have a different religion than Christians and just declare that Christians are worshiping a false God and we need to repent and worship many gods and hope that we can become gods ourselves some day.

    • Seth R.

      teleologist,

      Did you read the article on theosis (written by an Eastern Orthodox author) that I linked to above?

      The idea of men becoming like God is as old as Christianity itself, and well-supported in the New Testament.

      As for your charge of polytheism – same to you guys.

      You believe in three – count em – three beings. Which basically makes you just as polytheist as we are.

      Yes, I’m aware that trinitarians use a lot of fancy theological footwork to get around this uncomfortable fact, but I just fail to see why the same logic cannot be equally used by Mormons.

      Cheers.

    • Mormon Guy

      Wow. Hot buttons on all sides. I have a good friend who recently tried to convince me that Muslims were the true Christians. And maybe the Jews are true Christians, since they await the coming of Christ and all the prophecies of His coming came through Jewish prophets.

      Asking the question, “Are Mormons Christians” seems unfair to those on both sides of the issue. Good Mormons believe in Christ, trust in Him, teach about Him, and typify the attributes of a “good Christian.” At the same time, Mormon theological doctrine, especially as concerning the nature of God, Christ, and the purpose of life, is markedly different from Orthodox doctrine as established in 1st- through 5th-century post-apostolic councils. With only that information present, there will always be a way for either side to ‘prove’ themselves right – and the other wrong, without actually accomplishing anything.

      And so, in order to answer the question fully, at least in my viewpoint, we follow the twofold counsel giving by Christ Himself – “By their fruits ye shall know them” and “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given Him.”

      I know a lot of Mormons who are good people – and the actions of the Mormon church, especially as regards to standing up for basic moral principles as outlined in the Bible, is impressive whatever your belief system. Prop 8? As a whole, according to the research I’ve happened upon, Mormons live longer lives, are happy in their faith, suffer from a lower rate of divorce, and are excellent citizens. Even people who struggle with massive personal issues – like being attracted to the same sex – can find peace in the Mormon religion (www.gaymormonguy.blogspot.com).

      On the other issue, the true source of who is and is not a “saved” Christian is Christ Himself. And so the only real way to know (interesting, since Mormon missionaries teach this) is to ask Him.

    • Bob

      Seth,

      I didn’t say I pitied you for being a victim of fraud, I said I’d pray for you, as all Christians should pray for one another, to find the truth.

      Read my original post. I came here to say that in my experience, Mormons are Christians. Period. Do they have messed up ideas from the orthodox point of view? Sure. But not when it comes to Jesus being the Savior, and that was the question.

      I didn’t come here to evangelize. I did enough of that in Japan and South Carolina on my mission. You and others evangelized ME, trying to convince me that the BOA is true. I didn’t seek you out.

      What I see going on here is PRECISELY the reason I don’t try to evangelize other Christians. It ends up a big pissing contest over doctrine, one trying to prove he is smarter and more wise than the other, citing obscure references in some scholarly work.

      Please.

      If that is what it takes to prove the “truth”, then you are ALL way off in left field because the Bible should be enough, as God intended. Not to mention the fact that this is why there are so many Christian denominations to begin with. Satan must be laughing, watching us bicker amongst ourselves! Are we not brothers in Christ? Where does it say that we must have a perfect understanding of God in order to receive grace and forgiveness? I thought we just had to confess that Jesus is the Christ and to accept his gift of atonement? Isn’t that what He meant when He said that His yoke was easy and His burden light? Isn’t that what He meant when He said the truth will set you free?

      Jeez, no wonder you people are so aggressive. You must be frustrated from playing “whack-a-mole”, trying to hit all the requirements you’ve built up for yourselves to attain salvation.

      As I said before, I believe we have bigger fish to fry with the many people in the world who have not yet accepted Christ as their Savior. You can fight amongst yourselves if you wish. I’m sure Jesus is proud of you…

    • Seth R.

      Out of curiosity Bob, what mission in Japan were you?

      I was in the Japan Fukuoka Mission back in 1994.

    • Bob

      Tokyo North, 90~92
      Columbia, SC for a couple months at the end.

    • Seth R.

      Ah. You just missed the “Ammon Project” then…

    • Bob

      No clue what that is.

    • teleologst

      Seth,

      The idea of men becoming like God is as old as Christianity itself, and well-supported in the New Testament.

      You are correct, there has always been cults and heretics attempting to corrupt Christianity. But the Apostle Paul has already warned us about this, “7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Gal 1:7-8

      Yes, I’m aware that trinitarians use a lot of fancy theological footwork to get around this uncomfortable fact

      I don’t know what you are talking about. We have never tried to get around this. This is clearly stated in the Bible and unlike Mormons we don’t try to add to it or conjure something up like a million demigods in one godhead just so that it make sense to your mind. But it is not my intention to demonstrate the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity. It has been debated ad infinitum and if you don’t see it now you won’t unless the Holy Spirit opens your eyes.

      No, what I am curious about is that you obviously know that Christians are monotheists and yet you constantly tried to tell us we are saying God is a polytheistic god. I don’t know about you but I actually know what I believe and what I am saying. So my point is this why don’t you just accept the fact that Mormonism like all other religions are separate and antithetical to Christianity? I don’t have a problem of saying the Christianity is antithetical to every other religion including Mormonism.

      Frankly I would appreciate and respect the Mormons a bit more in your evangelism if you just tell people what you really believe i.e., they need to worship Jesus Christ as just one god among many. And if they do everything right according to the Mormon Church they might become gods themselves one day. When your missionaries go out proselytizing, just tell people what they are really believing. There must be a lot of people who would be happy to know that god was once a man like us who exalted into godhood and we can do the same. I think it is kind of important for people to know what sort of god they believe in, don’t you?

    • Bob

      teleologst:

      If I may…

      Mormons believe that although there are other God’s out there, we are subject to only one God, which has the form of the trinity.

      Basically, it’s a family thing. They believe that we are the physical incarnation of our God’s spirit children. We are and ever shall be subject to Him and Him alone.

      Based on a few Bible scriptures and expounded on by JS, they came up with the idea that eventually, after a long process taking who knows how long, we can become like God, just as a child has the capacity to become like his father.

      This is also how they explain God’s “Glory” and how it increases. Since God is perfect and knows everything, it is by creating spirit children and having them mature into full fledged Gods that God increases His glory, by virtue of an increase of righteous children. Which is also why no matter what, we can NEVER surpass God.

      BTW, this was also Satan’s crime. He offered to be the Savior, but wanted the glory for himself. In other words, he wanted us to be subject to him instead of God. Needless to say, that didn’t go over so well, and the war in heaven ensued.

    • Seth R.

      Bob, it was a project where the pattern of proselyting for missionaries in Japan was completely overhauled. Sort of an experimental pilot program.

      teleologist,

      We worship One God.

      That makes us monotheists.

      Simple enough.

    • teleologst

      Bob, I appreciate your desire to have some modicum of theological comity. I don’t like the denominational fractures we have either. However, in the case of Mormonism the line is clear.

      Your version of Mormonism is not what is held by JS and many of their leaders. You’ve highlighted what might be the confusion within the Mormon ranks but are any of their views Biblical? You don’t need to consider any further than Seth, who is an unequivocal polytheist. And Mike who gives a similar view to yours about god that man can some day merge and be one with god if they submit their will. Is this some sort of Buddhist nirvana? Frankly I don’t even know what it means to worship Jesus or God in the Mormon context. Are you going to worship the one that you will one day become?

      Look, as Augustine said we must have unity in the essentials. Who God is, is an essential. If Mormons want to believe in a quasi-polytheistic god that’s fine, but at least acknowledge the LDS Church and their apostles and prophets are all heretical false teachers, even to their own standards, because they fully believe that their god was once a man like they are, making them in a way equal with their god.

    • teleologst

      That makes us monotheists.

      Simple enough.

      It has been simple for me from the beginning. As I have been saying Mormons use the same terms and words but mean different things.

      then I can make “One God” out of 300 or 3 million. Same logic works in this instance. In this sense, I believe there is “One God” in whom many lower-case “gods” participate.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      You seem to be getting increasingly acrimonious, and in the process increasingly misrepresenting what I and others have said. This unwillingness or inability to correctly characterize our posts diminishes my confidence in your ability to correctly characterize the Bible.

      As far as I can tell, no Mormon in this discussion has yet tried to make Mormonism look more like your version of Christianity. We’ve been trying to honestly point out the differences as well as the similarities. But the real point of my posts at least is not to show conformity or dissonance with your version of Christianity, but to show that the Mormon doctrines you consider false or even blasphemous are consistent with the Bible, or at least a reasonable interpretation of it.

      Steve, who I’m sure you would consider a Christian, wants to put James on the back “burner.” He keeps referring not to the Bible, but to Paul. Paul is where it’s at, he says. But the Bible is not the gospel of Paul. Paul must be reconciled with the rest of the Bible.

      And the fact that man is fallen, and there is a gulf between us and God, must be reconciled with the Biblical doctrine that Christ has bridge this gap. Christ, not me or Buddha, has offered us oneness with him EVEN AS he is one with the Father. It is only the Trinitarian view that would make this seem like “merging” with God in essence. The Biblical view allows us as well as Christ to retain an individual being as well as personality, while conforming our will to the Father’s–thus becoming one in the sense of unity of will or purpose.

      You protested that inheriting the same “glory” does not mean godhood, but what does it mean when Christ said, “ye are gods,” and Paul said, “ye are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” and Christ himself invited those who overcome (not simply those who believe) to sit with him in his throne, EVEN AS he sits with the Father in his throne.

      These are biblical, not uniquely…

    • Mike

      Teleologist (cont.),

      Joseph Smith is accused of blasphemy for suggesting that the Father experienced mortality in a similar manner as Christ, and for accepting the Biblical doctrine that we are in fact formed in the image and likeness of God.

      Christ was accused of blasphemy for saying that he was the Son of God, and did only the things he had seen his Father do. He defended the claim by reminding his accusers that their own scriptures call them gods (OT: elohim, NT: theoi) and children of God.

      I make a similar defense of the same Biblical doctrines, as they can rationally and reasonably be understood, and you make a similar accusation of blasphemy.

      Take care that you’re not kicking against the pricks.

    • Bob

      Teleologist:

      What I’ve tried to is clarify the basic doctrine for you as someone who taught it as a missionary and attended the temple. This is the doctrine as understood by the average member. Seth and Mike have done a VERY poor job of explaining it from that perspective, IMHO. They’ve gone straight to calculus when they haven’t even explained fractions!

      Honestly, you seem to be so hell bent on finding differences, that you aren’t hearing what their actual beliefs are. Believe me when I say that you do not understand them in the slightest. You aren’t even in the ballpark!!! You are hearing what YOU want to hear, not what they are actually saying. Part of that can be blamed on the medium, part on their explanations, and part on your preconceived notions. You seem to assume the worst, and miss out many places where you are actually in agreement. Almost to the point where you are telling THEM what they believe, and refusing to believe them when they say they don’t believe that.

      If you really understood them, I don’t think they would freak you out so much. I’m not saying you would accept them, but I think you might at least see how they took a scripture from the Bible, and ran with it.

      When you fully understand their doctrine, it actually makes a lot of sense and is very logical. It answers so many questions that most people wonder about. If it was true, it would be quite wonderful.

      Sadly, they were the rantings of an opportunist and con man.

    • Seth R.

      Part of the problem is that the Evangelical movement at large has allowed a highly marginalized fringe faction of Evangelicals to monopolize all communication with Mormons.

      Usually the types of Evangelical who even bother to notice Mormonism at all exhibit the following:

      1. a heavy degree of biblical literalness (according to their own agenda, of course) – six day creationists, die hard versions of the inerrancy doctrine – far more so than the majority of Evangelicals in the United States

      2. the vast majority are die-hard Five Point Calivinists, and

      3. you also get ex-Mormons – usually much more bitter and angry than Bob (who has behaved himself relatively well in my experience) – they allow their own personal resentments to poison every thought they have about Mormonism.

      These comprise most of the people involved in the Evangelical counter-cult faction. And the way you hear them talk – you’d think they were the only valid form of Christianity around (in fact, many of them do think they are the only “real” Christians – with Catholics, Anglicans, Open Theists, and even Arminians all being part of “false Christianity”).

      It is truly unfortunate that such a fringe, radical, minority group has been allowed to hog the dialogue with Mormonism. I’ve found that generally speaking, Arminians, Open Theists, Social Trinitarians, mainline Evangelicals, and even Catholics yield much more civil conversations. Much more productive – but usually sabotaged by these wild-eyed zealots emerging from the darkest, and most morally repulsive corners of the Calvinist tradition.

      It almost tempts me to suggest that Evangelicals enact a rule that Five Point Calvinists are no longer allowed to talk to Mormons, and that all further contact be handled primarily by the Arminian branch.

      It would probably advance the dialogue light-years, if you could ever enforce it, of course…

    • teleologist

      Mike,

      You seem to be getting increasingly acrimonious, and in the process increasingly misrepresenting what I and others have said.

      If it makes you feel superior playing the victim by characterizing my comments this way, go for it.

      This unwillingness or inability to correctly characterize our posts diminishes my confidence in your ability to correctly characterize the Bible.

      Really? Can you give me an example of how I was unwilling to correctly characterize your posts?

      As far as I can tell, no Mormon in this discussion has yet tried to make Mormonism look more like your version of Christianity.

      My version of Christianity? What is my version of Christianity? The last time I checked I do not have my own version of Christianity. JS has his version of Christianity, it is called Mormonism. But let me clarify what I said. I said it was my impression, and I chose this word carefully, the Mormons are constantly trying to show how similar they are with Christians. Why did I say that? It is my experience with Mormons including the ones here that claim your view of grace is the same as ours. Your god is the same as ours except your view of him is different because of how you interpret the scriptures. It is no different than when Protestants and Catholics disagree on some interpretations. Mormons also claim that they can believe the same gospel as evangelicals. I am at least honest enough to say that Christians and Mormons believe in a different God. Are you willing to say the same?

      But the real point of my posts at least is not to show conformity or dissonance with your version of Christianity, but to show that the Mormon doctrines you consider false or even blasphemous are consistent with the Bible

      This is precisely the problem. While you are trying to find some sort of synergy between Mormon doctrines to Biblbical Christianity, I’ve been trying to tell you that they are utterly incompatible and I suggest Mormons face that fact, it has not and never will be compatible with Biblical Christianity. We are radically different on the essentials of who God is. And your doctrine of salvation is a form of grace and universalism light. And because we radically differ on the essentials then everything else is irrelevant. You also accept wolves as your apostles and prophets who blaspheme against God. I know you tried to watered-down the quotes I shown of their blaspheming but I don’t see any unbiased person reading those words from your prophets and apostles would see it as anything other than blaspheming God.

      Christ, not me or Buddha, has offered us oneness with him EVEN AS he is one with the Father.

      If this is a response to my comment about your view of oneness like that of nirvana, let me remind you what you said.

      2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?

      The Bible teaches that Christ gives to his followers the same glory given him of the Father (John 17), and that they are thus invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father. Those who overcome are also invited to share a throne with the Son and the Father (Revelation 3:21). Mormon prophets have affirmed this Biblical teaching, but none have equated us with either the Son or the Father in perfection and glory. There is a gulf between us and the Father, created by our sinfulness, which can only be bridged by Christ. We are and always will be dependent on Christ for our oneness with Him and the Father

      This was your response to my second question about your apostles and prophets saying they can become gods. Your response was to explain what they meant about god and how they would become gods. You then explained Mormons are “invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father.”

      Now are you saying this oneness is not the same as being god? If that is true then you are saying your apostles and teachers are heretics. If you are saying this oneness is the same as being god then you are also a heretic as far as Christianity is concerned. If you are saying this oneness is not the same as god then you are also saying that Jesus Christ is not God. You are again a heretic as far as Christianity is concerned. I am only using your words and your apostles and prophets words.

      You protested that inheriting the same “glory” does not mean godhood, but what does it mean when Christ said, “ye are gods,” and Paul said, “ye are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,”

      Frankly, I can’t even discuss the finer points of exegesis with you because I do not believe you are saved and believe in the same God that I do. Beyond that, what is the purpose of you bringing this point up? Is it not to explain why your apostles and prophets think that god was once a man like them and was exalted to godhood and some day they will be exalted to the same status as the god you now worship? Isn’t it true you are bringing this up to justify that your apostles and prophets don’t really mean god in the everlasting, self-existent, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent sense. Fortunately we can read exactly what your apostles and prophets said and they mean god in the same sense as the god they were worshiping. If they mean what you want them to mean don’t you think they would have said so?

      So I don’t need you to tell me what your apostles and prophets mean because can read what they said. In your case, I can understand why you might want to change what they said because if they actually meant what they said, the LDS Church is wrong and you are believing a lie.

    • teleologist

      Honestly, you seem to be so hell bent on finding differences, that you aren’t hearing what their actual beliefs are.

      Really Bob? Maybe you can explain to me how this quote can possibly compatible with Biblical Christianity.

      then I can make “One God” out of 300 or 3 million. Same logic works in this instance. In this sense, I believe there is “One God” in whom many lower-case “gods” participate.

      Bob,

      Believe me when I say that you do not understand them in the slightest. You aren’t even in the ballpark!!!

      Really? Maybe you explain where Mike seems to fail at how their apostles and prophets can debase God and exalt themselves to God’s level.

      Joseph Smith: “God himself…is a man like unto one of yourselves…God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth…You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves” (Times and Seasons, vol.5, pp.613-614); “Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you…To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God ” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.346-347).

      Brigham Young taught: “He [God] …was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being…It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God was once been a finite being” (Journal of Discourses, vol.7, p.333); “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself” (Journal of Discourses, vol.3, p.93).

    • teleologist

      Seth, are you a science fiction fan, because that was a pretty fringe piece of fiction you wrote.

    • Ken Mason

      Let’s see now. You admit to not listening or watching Beck. All you know is apparently what you read and hear from others. That indicates to me that you appear to be passing judgment on Beck. I’d be careful doing that as it illustrates the real problem today and that is to many are judging someone based on others word. Are we are followers of Jesus Christ taught not to judge? Isn’t God the only one who will judge? Don’t fall into the trap set by naysayers who are bent on destroying God’s church in America. You are biting the hand of the messenger who is delivering the message to millions each day. How many people do you reach on a daily basis? Far fewer than Beck I am sure. Do you not believe that having someone on national radio talking about the Gospel to millions and bringing hearts and minds together for Jesus to be a wonderful thing? Could it be God has chosen one like Beck to spread His word? I do not hear Mormon doctrin being discussed I hear God’s word being spread. So why shoot the messenger? As for Russell; I read his piece in the Baptist Messenger and it disgusted me. His pompous arrogant attitude is the problem today not the solution. I too don’t he knows anything about Beck other than what he has read or heard yet he sits in judgement of Becks heart because Beck is/was an Mormon. Even the Mormon Church is angry with him! That to me is A good sign. I’d suggest we embrace his call to faith in Jesus Christ. If he brings just one heart to Christ, allows one person to be saved then I’d say he has done great work. The mere fact that the third largest audience in talk radio is hearing God’s word and how it can change our lives is amazing. In fact it is spreading. Yesterday evening San Franciso talk show host Michael Savage talked about a guardian angel sent from God to rescue him from an altercation on the city streets. Savage admitted that while he has times when he wonders of God’ existence he truly believed that God sent this angel to save him…

    • Bob

      teleologist

      I’ve done my best to try to clarify what Mormon doctrine actually is for you. You simply don’t want to hear it. You retort with other statements and writings that only confuse the issue, not clarify it. In many cases, JS was speaking in hyperbole, but you take it literally.

      As I said, you are too busy trying to tell them what THEY believe based on YOUR interpretation, without actually hearing the TRUE interpretation from their standpoint. This serves no purpose. I can only conclude that you are not interested in actually understanding them, but only in proving that they are not Christian. To what end? Are you trying to convince them they are wrong (by twisting their beliefs) so they will abandon their beliefs (as interpreted by you)? If so, I say, Good luck!

      Most of their beliefs ARE based on Biblical scripture. It becomes a matter of interpretation. It’s one thing to say that their interpretation is wrong, and quite another to say that it’s not Biblical. It IS Biblical, according to their interpretation of it.

      “Else Why are they baptized for the dead, if the dead not rise at all” – their basis for proxy baptism for the dead.

      “Be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” – In their interpretation, God gives no commandment without providing a way to achieve it. God is perfect. If God is perfect and we are commanded to be perfect, then that equates to being LIKE GOD. How do you take away any of His attributes and have Him still remain perfect/God?

      “One with the father” – they interpret this to mean ONE IN PURPOSE! God the Father, Jesus and the HG ALL have to same PURPOSE – ie- to bring to pass the eternal life of man. The goal is for us to eventually become “like god”, and to do what they believe He is doing: ie- have spirit children and help them work out their own salvation for their own eternal life.

      You may not agree with their interpretation of these Biblical passages, but that IS where they…

    • Rob Bowman

      Mike (in regard to comment #58),

      It seems to me that it is LDS doctrine that the Bible was corrupted, and not merely by omission (though that is often emphasized) but also by other alterations. President Benson stated:

      “Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation.”—Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign (CR), Nov. 1986, 4.

      The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains the LDS view of the Bible as follows (107):

      “In addition to difficulties associated with translating from ancient to modern languages, other scriptures also declare that some parts of the original biblical text have been lost or corrupted (e.g., 1 Ne. 13:28-29; D&C 6:26-27; 93:6-18). Joseph Smith commented on the Bible’s incompleteness: ‘It was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled’ (TPJS, pp. 10-11). He later said, ‘Much instruction has been given to man since the beginning which we do not possess now…. We have what we have, and the Bible contains what it does contain’ (TPJS, p. 61). The Prophet Joseph further stated, ‘I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors’ (TPJS, p. 327). Thus, the elements of mistranslation, incompleteness, and other errors weaken the Bible; but the spirit of its messages still reveals enough of God’s word to fulfill his appointed purposes. Joseph Smith summarized thus: ‘Through the kind providence of our Father a portion of His word which He delivered to His ancient saints, has fallen into our hands [and] is presented to us with a promise of a reward if obeyed, and with a penalty if disobeyed’ (TPJS, p. 61). Latter-day Saints have continued to trust in the general accuracy of the biblical texts even though they know that that text may not always be correct. Thus, they study and revere the Bible, especially in the context of other scriptures and modern revelation, which have much to say about the Bible and how it is to be interpreted, and as they study they ponder and pray that they may receive inspiration from God and come to understand the Bible’s messages as they need to be applied in their lives (cf. Moro. 10:3-5).”

      The above discussion emphasizes omissions but acknowledges that from the LDS perspective there are also “elements of mistranslation…and other errors.” The assertion that Mormons “trust in the general accuracy of the biblical texts even though they know that that text may not always be correct” is a bit like saying “we trust that this water is in general drinkable although we know that it is sometimes poisoned.” The point appears to be something like this: “We wish to be known as affirming the reliability of what the Bible says, but we reserve the right to appeal to possible corruptions wherever the biblical text seems to conflict with LDS doctrine.” How often a Mormon will appeal to possible mistranslations or other corruptions will depend on the individual Mormon.

      If we accept the traditional view that the Joseph Smith Translation was largely a project of restoring the original text of the Bible, we have in the JST a guide from Joseph himself as to what was wrong with the Bible. Robert Millet once wrote:

      “On 2 July 1833 the Prophet wrote to the leaders of the Church in Missouri and indicated that he and his scribe had just completed their translation of the Bible.1 In fact, Joseph worked with the text for the next eleven years of his life, editing, correcting, refining that which had come to him by revelation. In total, over 3,410 verses from the KJV were altered through corrections, additions, and an occasional deletion. There is no question in my mind but that in many cases these changes represent a restoration of ancient texts that had been corrupted or lost before the compilation of the Bible.” Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholar Series, 122.

      Ironically, while Mormons sometimes argue that they view the text of the (surviving) portions of the Bible as reliable, many Mormons argue that the Bible was subjected to a massive alteration by a conspiracy of “Deuteronomists” who rewrote the Bible to reflect a monotheistic ideology in place of a more primitive Israelite polytheism. One thing is for sure: you can’t have it both ways!

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth R. (in regard to comment #81),

      Could you please cite one LDS general authority or LDS Church publication that affirms your suggestion that the heavenly parents “adopted” their preexistent spirit children? Or is this the personal theological construct of Seth R.?

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth (in regard to comment #82),

      I have no problem with tradition per se. I agree that Jesus was criticizing false tradition, not all tradition. But that’s my point: some tradition is false. That is not something Jesus would ever have said about Scripture, and in fact he affirmed the truth of all Scripture (e.g., Matt. 5:17-18; 22:29; John 10:35). Hence, Scripture has a quality of truth-reliability that tradition does not have.

      Although you assert that “the tradition IS scriptural,” I have no idea what tradition you mean. I am unaware of any LDS doctrine of a tradition that is “scriptural” other than what is found in the scriptures themselves.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth (in regard to comments #86 and #89),

      The lexical source you cited (http://biblelexicon.org/isaiah/44-24.htm) is an amateurish website that simply provides information from the Hebrew dictionary at the back of Strong’s concordance. That dictionary is not a reliable source of lexical information; it typically gives “root meanings” or etymological information, which may be helpful but does not amount to a reliable guide to the actual meanings of words in contexts.

      The expressions “by myself” and “alone” in Isaiah 44:24 clearly mean that Jehovah was the sole maker of the universe. I didn’t claim that he was “alone” in the sense of not having any other beings in existence at the time he made the physical world; the language allows for that idea (which is all that Heiser, for example, is saying, in regard to the meaning of such language in other texts). I asserted that he was the sole maker of the universe. In addition to the statement in Isaiah 44:24, there is the fact that the Bible repeatedly attributes creation to Jehovah, the LORD God, and never attributes the creation of the world to anyone else.

    • Bob

      The Articles of Faith
      of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

      1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

      2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

      3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

      4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

      5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

      6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

      7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

      8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

      9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

      10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

      11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    • Bob

      12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

      13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

      Joseph Smith

    • Bob

      “8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

      Note that it says of the Bible, “as far as it is translated correctly”, but no such disclaimer exists for the Book of Mormon. This is because they believe the Book of Mormon has only been translated once, and that was by Joseph Smith himself, by the power of God. So it is a “perfect” record, if you will.

      Ironically, there were quite a few revisions to the Book of Mormon after it was first published, some of which were significant. Most of these are blamed on the type setter, but that argument fails when one looks at the actual written manuscripts provided to the printer. In fact, when you look at the hand written manuscripts, it becomes more evident that JS modified the story as he went along.

      Like you said Rob, you can’t have it both ways.

    • Seth R.

      Actually Bob, the Book of Mormon contains its own disclaimers for those who are paying close enough attention.

      Ether 12:23-27

      Here the prophet Moroni expresses dismay to the Lord at human limitations in writing the book of Ether. He mourns that he and his people are so weak in writing, and how their written words are utterly incapable of expressing the true power of their spoken words. He fears that the Gentiles will mock at the words he has written, because of their weakness.

      At this point the voice of God declares those who mock “fools” and states his grace is sufficient that those who are truly humble and teachable will take no advantage of Moroni’s weakness.

      1 Nephi 19:5-7

      Here the prophet Nephi outlines different records he created to document the history of his people. The larger plates for the political, religious and social history, and the smaller plates to contain only that which is of spiritual worth. The key passages are in verses 6 and 7:

      6 Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.
      7 For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.

      So we have a pretty clear admission from Nephi himself right here of possible errors in the text. And again the same warning to everyone here not to take advantage of these errors and find yourself mocking the things of God.

    • Seth R.

      Finally, we get the last words of the prophet Mormon himself – the one who compiled the record now known as the “Book of Mormon.” Mormon 9:30-34:

      30 Behold, I speak unto you as though I spake from the dead; for I know that ye shall have my words.
      31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.
      32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
      33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
      34 But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.

      Taken together, from these passages, it is clear that Mormonism has no doctrine of inerrancy – not for the Bible, and not for the Book of Mormon either.

      But we do have repeated stern warnings not to blow off the words of God merely for the weakness of the instruments he chooses for his divine purposes.

    • Seth R.

      Rob, in your comment 136, I might have more to say on the subject, but for now I’ll just note that Heiser was making the argument that “alone” can just as easily mark distinctiveness and incomparability – not necessarily that Jehovah was the only being with a hand in creation.

      If you want to say that Jehovah had an incomparable and unsurpassed role in the creation, sure – Mormons are definitely on board with that.

    • Seth R.

      Rob in Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus is talking about the original uncorrupted version of the Law (or “scripture” as you infer). He is not automatically making a statement about your present canonized Bible, nor was he making a categorical statement about the scriptures as the Jews of his day had them either. To assert such is to merely engage in question-begging.

      Matthew 22:29 is no help at all in this debate. Because it leaves entirely open the question of WHY the Jews knew not the scriptures.

      Could it be because they had a corrupted version of the scriptures?

      Quite possibly.

      John 10:35 is no help to you either because it merely speaks of a specific passage (and incidentally, a problematic passage for Evangelicals in debating with Mormons), not the entire modern canon.

      Sure there are various instances of Jesus approvingly quoting Old Testament passages. But this does not even come close to being a convincing argument for inerrancy of the whole Old Testament. Or the New Testament.

    • teleologist

      I’ve done my best to try to clarify what Mormon doctrine actually is for you. You simply don’t want to hear it. You retort with other statements and writings that only confuse the issue, not clarify it. In many cases, JS was speaking in hyperbole, but you take it literally.

      Bob, with all due respect you have not explained any of the essential questions that I’ve raise against Mormonism. Maybe the Mormon teaching is more ingrained in you than you think, which explain why you think Mormons holding to their beliefs can still be Christians.

      I would ask you again where have you explain the problems that I’ve raised up against Mormon doctrines? Did I raised any questions on baptizing of the dead or about be perfect? As a matter of fact I think I explicitly said that there is no point in discussing any exegesis with a Mormon because I do not believe that they are saved.

      The basic problem is that until they get the God issue right there is no salvation. You can say until your face turn blue the you believe in Jesus Christ alone for you salvation, but if you meant Jesus Christ as a space alien from Alpha Centauri then no I don’t think you can be saved. Your best effort at clarifying the Mormon doctrine of god was to tell me that JS is speaking in a hyperbole? Am I am just suppose to take your word for it. Obviously it is just my biased interpretation right? Because I was never a Mormon so I can’t possible understand anything that I read from them. I should just turn my brain off an accept anything you tell me? Well, maybe I need a little bit more then just you saying those words from JS were just a hyperbole. Hermeneutically how is it a hyperbole? Can you explain that in the context of what he was writing? What about the other apostles and prophets that follow after him saying the same thing, are they also hyperboles?

      Did you even tried to explain Seth’s statement that he believe that the one god can be made up of 3 million gods? If you think I am not listening to what they are saying, maybe you are so busy trying to defend you past that you are not listening to what I am saying.

      I can only conclude that you are not interested in actually understanding them, but only in proving that they are not Christian. To what end? Are you trying to convince them they are wrong (by twisting their beliefs) so they will abandon their beliefs (as interpreted by you)? If so, I say, Good luck!

      Prove? I am not trying to prove anything? All I’ve been doing was to state the God that I believe in is completely different than the god that the Mormons believe in, that is all. My sense is they don’t want to admit that and now you seem to be saying the same thing as the Mormons that we believe in the same God. Again you and the Mormons have not shown an iota of evidence, given what they have said, how the Mormon god is the same God that we believe in the Bible.

    • Seth R.

      Funny Steve, it’s possible to read that passage in Alma as declaring righteous works to be the natural result of the work of Christ’s grace, but your author here seems to miss that option.

      Just another Evangelical seeing only what he WANTS to see in a scriptural passage. Not news at all.

    • Bob

      Seth,

      I’m not referring to error within the BOM itself, I’m referring to the errors of translation by JS, or, God Himself, since that is who’s power it was translated by according to JS. I’m not even going to bother trying to explain them here. A Google search for “Book of Mormon revisions” will bring up PLENTY of references dealing with this issue. Over 3000 “revisions” since the original publication have been documented.

    • teleologist

      The Articles of Faith
      of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

      1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

      Maybe you were in a cult too long so you still can’t change your mindset the words mean different things in a cult. Do you think there is any significance to what they mean when they use a certain word?

      Mormon Definitions
      God, the Eternal Father
      I can make “One God” out of 300 or 3 million. Same logic works in this instance. In this sense, I believe there is “One God” in whom many lower-case “gods”

      “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form — like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man….it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see….and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).

      He [God] …was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being…It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God was once been a finite being” (Journal of Discourses, vol.7, p.333); “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like himself” (Journal of Discourses, vol.3, p.93).

      “there are more gods than there are particles of matter” (Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.345).

      His Son, Jesus Christ
      Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and Sinner! When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the archangel, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS! About whom holy men have written and spoken—he is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later…. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family [Adam]; and when he took a tabernacle [body], it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.

      Now remember from this time forth, and forever that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost…. “If the son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City, UT: np., 1967), vol. 1, pp. 50-51

    • Seth R.

      teleologist,

      How many times are you going to change the subject here?

      Because it seems like your standard operating procedure is to change the subject to a new criticism of Mormonism every time you are losing the argument.

      Which of course, is nothing new. I encounter the same tactics on a lot of fundie Evangelical blogs whenever Mormonism is a topic.

    • Seth R.

      Bob, I’m well aware of the changes to the text – the vast majority of which were mere typos either by Joseph Smith, his scribe or the typesetter.

      To these changes, I say – so what? Does being a prophet of God mean that you will now have perfect spelling and grammar?

      I must have missed the memo on that one.

      Of the substantive changes in content – all of those happened in the 1980s when the LDS Church finally obtained copies of Joseph’s original draft manuscripts from the RLDS Church (a breakaway faction of the movement Joseph Smith founded). Those documents allowed the LDS Church to make alterations to the text to make it CLOSER to the original translation Joseph made.

      Again, not a big problem, if you ask me.

    • Bob

      teleologist,

      I’m trying to help you understand Mormon doctrine NOT because I believe it, but because I UNDERSTAND it, from THEIR perspective. But if you won’t believe what I’m telling you the average Mormon believes, what is the point in continuing the discussion? If you are so obsessed with what JS taught, even if the average member doesn’t have that understanding or belief, why don’t you take it up with him? Oh yeah, because he’s DEAD!

      The entire Old Testament is basically one story after another explaining how God revealed His character to mankind. The law and ordinances made absolutely no sense to those people, yet they were saved out of their obedience and trust in God. It was only after Jesus came and explained it that they finally understood. Even the apostles struggled with understanding what Jesus was teaching them.

      And who’s to say God has finished revealing everything there is to know about Himself? Is it really out of the realm of possibility that when Jesus returns, He could explain more about the universe and the nature of God than has already been revealed? Could He not say, “Oh, and here is your God Uncle Bernie. We didn’t want to tell you about Him because we could already see how confused you were just trying to understand the 3 of Us. Besides, you aren’t subject to Him anyway. He has His own Universe in the 35th dimension.”?

      If I say God is an alien, is that blasphemy? Yet, God is not from this Earth, and therefor by definition MUST be an alien.

      BTW, Catholics believe the bread and wine LITERALLY become the body and blood of Christ. Are they cannibals? Can they be saved with that understanding? Just curious.

      And why do you even CARE what Mormons believe? What are you trying to accomplish with all of this? Why don’t you go try to convert some Muslims. I think we’d ALL agree that THEY aren’t saved, right?

    • Bob

      “To these changes, I say – so what? Does being a prophet of God mean that you will now have perfect spelling and grammar?”

      Sorry Seth, you can’t have it both ways. There are many stories that talk about how precise God was in the translation process. No, it was made clear that God did not allow JS to make any mistakes, that’s why it was such a perfect record.

      And there are a LOT of other mistakes, such as using words that hadn’t been invented yet. Revealing the name of Jesus before it had been revealed (he had to really make a quick adjustment to fix that one). There’s much more, but you can search that out for yourself.

      Like I said, you can dismiss this or that. But after a while, I found myself saying, OK, this is getting ridiculous. Eventually it just became a mountain of evidence that had to be dismissed with increasingly implausible explanations, all them in the church’s favor.

      I was happy in the church, and I was very sad to find out it was a fraud. But in the end, the truth is what matters most of all. And I still say, no matter what these other yahoo’s think of you, I believe you ARE a Christian, even if you have a messed up view of things 😉

      Love God
      Love Your Neighbor
      Jesus IS the Christ

      Amen

    • Seth R.

      Bob, you are merely passing along popular LDS folk doctrine. Folk doctrine that I do not subscribe to.

      Rob, the adoptive model of divine parentage is not uniquely mine alone. Apostle Orson Pratt agreed with me too. Here’s a quote:

      “Here let me bring for the satisfaction of the Saints, the testimony of the vision given to our Prophet and Revelator Joseph Smith, and Sidney Rigdon, on the 16th day of February, 1832 . . . Notice this last expression, “the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God,” (meaning the different worlds that have been created and made.) Notice, this does not say, that God, whom we serve and worship, was actually the Father Himself, in His own person, of all these sons and daughters of the different worlds; but they “are begotten sons and daughters unto God;” that is, begotten by those who are made like Him, after His image, and in His likeness; they begat sons and daughters, and begat them unto God, to inhabit these different worlds we have been speaking of.”
      —Orson Pratt, August 29, 1852. Journal of Discourses 1:57

      I might have some more for you later, but rest assured – I didn’t just make this up.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      You wrote:

      “Rob, in your comment 136, I might have more to say on the subject, but for now I’ll just note that Heiser was making the argument that ‘alone’ can just as easily mark distinctiveness and incomparability – not necessarily that Jehovah was the only being with a hand in creation.”

      That wasn’t Heiser’s point. Where does he make this statement with regard to the meaning of Isaiah 44:24 or any other biblical text that speaks about creation?

      It’s true that Heiser and some other scholars maintain that some of the “only” language of the Bible in reference to Jehovah as the only God is speaking of his incomparability, but this isn’t a carte blanche to be used in any text where words like “only” or “alone” or “by myself” appear.

      You wrote:

      “If you want to say that Jehovah had an incomparable and unsurpassed role in the creation, sure – Mormons are definitely on board with that.”

      Really? Jehovah’s role in creation is unsurpassed — and thus not even surpassed by the role of Heavenly Father? Remember, in LDS theology, Jehovah is the name of the preexistent Jesus Christ, not the name of the Father.

      I’m afraid this is no way out for the LDS doctrine of creation.

    • Seth R.

      So you say, but you haven’t provided a good reason why the Isaiah passage cannot be simply referring to Jehovah’s incomparability, and not his ontological status of being alone.

      Since God the Father delegated the creation of the world to Jehovah, yes – his role was unsurpassed. There is no reason to take an teleologically absolutist reading on any of these passages.

      You keep trying to smuggle ontology into the equation – but such Greek philosophical notions have no established place in either the Bible or uniquely LDS scripture.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      You wrote:

      “Rob in Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus is talking about the original uncorrupted version of the Law (or ‘scripture’ as you infer). He is not automatically making a statement about your present canonized Bible, nor was he making a categorical statement about the scriptures as the Jews of his day had them either. To assert such is to merely engage in question-begging.”

      I’m afraid you are engaging in “Mormon eisegesis” here. Jesus makes no qualification or says anything that would suggest that he was speaking in reference to a hypothetical “original uncorrupted version” as distinguished from the existing OT scripture of his own day. This is an idea you are reading into the text, and indeed one that is alien to the text. When Jesus says, “not one jot or tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished,” this statement would be meaningless and irrelevant if “the Law” at that moment was a corrupted text from which a significant amount of material had been lost or altered in some way. Indeed, if the LDS view of the OT is correct, a great deal had already been lost from the Law–and yet Jesus claims not the smallest letter or stroke of the Law would pass away until all of it was accomplished. In context, Jesus’ point is that what he is about to say with regard to the application of the Law (5:21-48) is not to be construed as in any way challenging the authority of the Law. He is criticizing Pharisaic interpretations of the Law, not the Law itself.

      You wrote:

      “Matthew 22:29 is no help at all in this debate. Because it leaves entirely open the question of WHY the Jews knew not the scriptures.

      Could it be because they had a corrupted version of the scriptures?”

      Seth, you’re smarter than this. Jesus wasn’t disputing with “the Jews,” but with one particular party or sect of Judaism. In this passage, Jesus is criticizing the Sadducees, who disputed the canonical authority of all of the books of the OT outside the five books of the Pentateuch (Law, Torah). Their position on Scripture contrasts with that of the Pharisees, who accepted the same books in their Jewish Scripture as Protestants do today. Jesus could have challenged them on this point — he held to the same canon of old-covenant Scripture as the Pharisees — but instead he challenged their *understanding* of the Scriptures. Meeting them on their own ground with regard to the extent of the canon of Scripture, he backed up his position by quoting from the Torah (specifically Exodus 3), even though he could have quoted from other texts in (for example) Psalms or Daniel.

      You wrote:

      “John 10:35 is no help to you either because it merely speaks of a specific passage (and incidentally, a problematic passage for Evangelicals in debating with Mormons), not the entire modern canon.”

      Jesus’ statement “and the Scripture cannot be broken” is a general principle that he is applying to the Psalm, not an assertion that whereas other scriptures might be broken this one happens to be a good one! That is a very creative but contextually implausible reading of the passage.

      You wrote:

      “Sure there are various instances of Jesus approvingly quoting Old Testament passages. But this does not even come close to being a convincing argument for inerrancy of the whole Old Testament. Or the New Testament.”

      Since the NT didn’t exist yet, no one would reasonably expect Jesus’ statements about Scripture to refer expressly to those future writings. So that is a red herring that has nothing to do with the issue here. in the four Gospels, Jesus makes various statements about the authority and truth of Scripture, all of them unqualifiedly positive, and never, ever says anything to question or detract from the truth or reliability of anything in the OT. All of the evidence we have from the Gospels and from Jesus’ first-century Christian followers shows that he viewed Scripture as the unerringly reliable word of God. The burden of proof is on you to provide some evidence to the contrary.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      You can leave the big words in your dictionary and focus on the issue. They aren’t making your argument any clearer or more cogent.

      Your argument essentially leaves us with the conclusion that God the Father did not perform the work of creation; that his role was insignificant compared to that of Jesus Christ. That is not only patently unbiblical, it is not even Mormon. Even LDS doctrine credits the Father with planning and designing creation, which hardly makes his role insignificant compared to Christ’s. Furthermore, you have the obvious problem that Genesis 1 credits Elohim with creating the world and everything in it. Since LDS theology identifies Elohim as the Father and Jehovah as the Son, you’ve got another problem here.

    • teleologist

      Seth,

      How many times are you going to change the subject here?

      I’ll bite. How many times did I change the subject? Can you list each instance that I change the subject, what I said originally and then the comment where I changed to a different subject? Or maybe is this your Mormon ad hominem tactic when you are losing the argument?

    • Mike

      Bob,

      I don’t think I’ve been going straight to calculus. I understand that the average member might not talk about these issues the way I do, but it is likely because they aren’t used to explicitly linking these doctrines to their Biblical roots, which is what I’ve been doing. Joseph’s pattern from day one was that when he encountered a Biblical verse that he didn’t fully understand, or that the rest of Christianity left unexplained, he would pray about it. Many of the doctrines found in the Doctrine and Covenants were developed in this way: Studying and praying about Biblical doctrines that the rest of Christianity either left unexplained or inadequately explained. One misperception (by both Mormons and others) is that Joseph got these doctrines out of “thin air” or from unsolicited revelations. Rather, they were most often received in answer to some specific question, and often these questions were about biblical doctrines.

      You might also think that I’m going straight to calculus because I prefer not to play in the branches as Mormon-Evangelical conversations usually do, but to go to the root of the disagreement. For example, grace/works debates will be endless until we go to the root of the differences and similarities, understanding what we mean by grace and works and from whence these meanings are derived before arguing that the other side is throwing one of them out and disregarding the scriptures. The same is true of nature of God debates. I find that most Mormons haven’t taken the time to understand the Trinity, as for example Rob has described it. Similarly, most evangelicals, I think, really don’t understand what Mormonism does and does NOT say about God’s nature and our relationship to him. Until we get beyond a kindergarten understanding, our discussions will simply go in circles and no real understanding will result. Still, I don’t see my explanations as complex (quite the reverse), but as addressing the (rather simple) heart of…

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      You asked: “Can you give me an example of how I was unwilling to correctly characterize your posts?”

      You then quoted me: “But the real point of my posts at least is not to show conformity or dissonance with your version of Christianity, but to show that the Mormon doctrines you consider false or even blasphemous are consistent with the Bible”

      You then said: “This is precisely the problem. While you are trying to find some sort of synergy between Mormon doctrines to Biblbical Christianity…”

      My response: There it is. You seem to be having difficulty differentiating the Bible itself from your sort (not your personal sort, but the sort you subscribe to) of Christianity. I didn’t say our beliefs were consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” (as I think you mean). I said they were consistent with the BIBLE.

      You then said: “Your response was to explain what they meant about god and how they would become gods. You then explained Mormons are “invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father.”

      My response: You seem to be using this as evidence that I was really describing some sort of Nirvana. I’m not, these are the words of Christ, not mine (John 17:22, KJV). So if Christ equates our oneness with him to his oneness with the Father, what does that mean to you? To Trinitarians in general? And by the way, I also didn’t say that “Mormons are invited…” I might have said “we,” but I meant we as believers. My “we” included you.

      Since Christ has invited us into his oneness, the only thing that can stop us from becoming one with him and the Father, is disbelief in either him or his offer.

    • Mike

      Rob,

      I’m open to the possibility that there are errors in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Conference talks, Gospel Principle manuals, etc.

      So far, though, I haven’t found any substantial ones. There are things in all of these texts that are worded in ways that might be difficult to understand, but with an open mind, and looking at the larger body of text–the context of the whole–I haven’t found any irreconcilable contradictions within or between them.

      If we interpret things in a narrow way, however, without taking into account the whole context of each book, any and all of these books can seem to have contradictions, both within and between them.

      For example, Steve’s desire to put the book of James on the back burner (if he does, the words of Christ will have to go with it), mirrors his apparent desire for Mormons to put the Book of Mormon simply on the burner. But once the writings of James (and the words of Christ) are reconciled with the writings of Paul, the Book of Mormon is also reconciled with Paul.

    • Mike

      Rob,

      Mormon doctrine on the creation can be reconciled with Isaiah 44:24 insofar as 1 Corinthians 8:6 can be reconciled with it, John 17:22, Genesis 1:26, Matt 27:46, Luke 22:42, and John 20:17.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      Seth’s comment about so many millions of beings comprising one God is not necessarily the way most Mormon’s would describe our doctrine, but it IS compatible, I think, both with Mormon doctrine and with John 17:21-23. This, of course, means that our belief is compatible with the Bible, as Bob has been trying to explain (bless his heart). Note, however, that this does NOT mean that our belief is necessarily compatible with YOUR belief.

      Mike

    • Mike

      Bob,

      The question is not about the number of revisions, but about the meaning of the text. There is nothing about continuing revelation that says texts cannot be updated or revised to clarify meanings as the finite and fallible languages and understandings of human beings change (quite the contrary). There are also many versions of the Bible. The question is not how many thousands of changes a new version of the Bible requires, but whether the originally intended meaning is retained or perhaps even clarified as human languages and understandings change.

    • mbaker

      There is a difference based upon speculation regarding the facts presented, i.e. the best conclusion based upon that, and a speculation based entirely upon supposition.

      For instance, there were those who will compare Jesus and Joseph Smith vis a vis being a man, and both saying they had the true word of God on this earth. However, there was a big difference. Joseph Smith did not perform miracles, or die on the cross, resurrect folks from the dead, and be resurrected from the dead himself. He simply preached a vision he had, which thus far has been unproven.

      Now I ask, all other things aside, who would you trust, the word of God who has no mention of Joseph Smith or no proof that he was right, or 2000 years of eye witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ was/is the only begotten son of God?

      Glen Beck, I believe is sincere, because other than his religion, I truly admire him for his indepth politcal research. It is my understanding from what I’ve heard him say at least that he could not marry his wife, who is a devout Mormon without converting to Mormonisn himself. Have you never asked yourself if he isn’t a Mormon merely to save his marriage and family, or does he really believe their teachings?

      My husband is a former Mormon, who after studying both sides, converted to envangelical Christianity. He, like me, admires Beck for his factual research into things political but we cannot understand why after studying both sides of the religious issue, Beck still remains a Mormon. While we both believe Beck’s larger message that we need to turn to God individually, we are wondering which God he is talking about, the God of Morminism or the God of the Bible.

      I’m sure you’re not unaware there is a Mormon prohecy that a Mormon will someday be President of the United States. One wonders if this is so widely believed in that religion , why Beck didn’t support George Romney in the last election, who believes as he does, but Beck instead says he is a liberatarian?

    • Mike

      Bob,

      I don’t think the translation process was either as simple or as inflexible as you (and some Mormon folklore) seem to be suggesting. In fact, it seems that at least sometimes the process relied in part on the translator’s limited linguistic ability to study things out enough to come up with a “close enough” word to convey the correct meaning, and his spiritual ability to discern the Lord’s acceptance or non-acceptance of that word or meaning (see e.g. Doctrine & Covenants section 9:8).

      Additionally, as the Book of Mormon itself suggests, any translation of the meanings (other than perhaps pure Hebrew, or in an unknown pre-Babel language) are likely to be less perfect than the originally intended meanings–including the language in which the book was originally written.

      You also seem to forget that both Joseph and Mormon (who abridged the record), could have allowed their own hindsight to interfere with capturing the text precisely as it was originally written. For example, both knew the name of Christ as they were reading the parts of the text that were written prior to Christ’s name being revealed. It would be easy to inadvertently substitute “Jesus” for whatever reformed Egyptian word that means “Messiah,” and then later realize the mistake (which is only linguistic, the intended meaning of the text is not altered, the person is the same) and correct it.

      The unqualified statement “we believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” also does not depend of the perfection of the translation, but upon the meaning conveyed by the Book. Similarly, the statement “as long as it is translated correctly” does not invalidate the fact that “good enough” translations of the Bible also convey the proper meanings of the word of God. It also doesn’t invalidate whole versions, even if specific translations of specific verses may not convey the correct meaning. Again, this really shouldn’t be a controversial point.

    • Seth R.

      mbaker,

      There is no LDS prophecy of an LDS President. I think you might be confusing this with the so-called “White Horse Prophecy.”

      teleologist,

      Well your most recent attempt was when you brought up the whole Adam-God thing – completely out of nowhere. In fact, the topic was so abrupt, in invited the conclusion that you had simply lost the previous argument, and were now attempting to throw in new material and hope no one noticed.

    • Seth R.

      Rob,

      “Even LDS doctrine credits the Father with planning and designing creation, which hardly makes his role insignificant compared to Christ’s.”

      What exactly in my comments ever suggested otherwise? Like I said – you keep trying to make that particular scripture passage about who is definitionally better than whom. I don’t think it is about that. It’s a verse praising Jehovah. We’re on board with that. No need to bring any neo-Platonist angst to the table – we don’t need to determine in this scripture passage who has the biggest teleological stick.

      “When Jesus says, “not one jot or tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished,” this statement would be meaningless and irrelevant if “the Law” at that moment was a corrupted text from which a significant amount of material had been lost or altered in some way.”

      Why? I don’t see your reasoning here.

    • teleologist

      Mike,

      First of all the example that you gave does not demonstrate that I was mischaracterizing (unwilling to correctly characterize) your posts. At best what it shows is that we have a communication problem. How is it a miscommunication? As a Christian there is only one kind of Christianity, that is, Biblical Christianity. Christians view the Word of God as infallible and authoritative. The Word of God is our final court of arbitration. So when you said Mormon doctrines are consistent with the Bible, that is synonymous with Christianity and therefore with my beliefs. Christians have no other view of God other than what is stated in the Bible. This was precisely the reason why I said Mormons seem to a propensity to make Mormonism consistent/compatible, pick your adjective, to the Bible/Christians.

      Second, that quote with “conformity or dissonance” came 2 quotes later. I was addressing a different point but made the emphasis back to my first quote. So I would appreciate it if you would not jump to the conclusion that I was deliberately mischaracterizing what you’ve posted.

      I didn’t say our beliefs were consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” (as I think you mean). I said they were consistent with the BIBLE.

      Excellent, I am hearten by this statement. This has always been my goal in this lengthy thread and that is, for Mormons to acknowledge that Mormonism is not consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity”. I am fine with Mormons saying that they are consistent with their view of the Bible or if you like call it “Biblical Mormonism”. The key here is not the Bible, rather it is difference/inconsistent. We might be reading the same Bible but we have a radically different view of the nature of God. Therefore Mormons are not saved under Biblical Christianity.

      You seem to be using this as evidence that I was really describing some sort of Nirvana. I’m not, these are the words of Christ, not mine (John 17:22, KJV).

      Given what you said above, I could probably end this conversation right here because I am satisfied with that conclusion. But let me just clarify what I said. I didn’t mean to imply that you thought what you said was some sort of Nirvana. It was my characterization from what you said about your view of your god and the ultimate state of Mormons. Why did I characterize what you said that way? Let me remind you what you said.

      teleologist: 2. Did any Mormon apostles and prophets claim that God was once a man who became God and we can also become Gods?

      This was my question to you. There really should be only 2 answers to this question. The Biblical view is that the Mormon authorities are heretics there is no way, shape, form or any possible way that God is an exalted man and man likewise exalt as God. Period! The other answer is whatever vacillating concocted explanation of how god doesn’t mean god or is god but… So what was your answer?

      Mike: The Bible teaches that Christ gives to his followers the same glory given him of the Father (John 17), and that they are thus invited into the same oneness EVEN AS he is one with the Father. …

      Before I get to my explanation on the nirvana thing, let me break my own rule a bit and digress here to comment on your use of John 17. You whip out John 17 to justify your use of oneness and thereby your Mormon authorities for saying man can be exalted as gods. This is precise why Christians view Mormons as a cult (I am using this term in a technical and not derogatory way) who twists the Bible to blaspheme against God. This is serious matter even Mormons must acknowledge this because in your own way you (Mormons) must have a reverence for your gods too, right? This is an affront to the God that we worship. In the OT thousands of people were slaughtered for stuff like this. The question was man exalting as God. Your answer was not to refute your Mormon authorities but instead you said you are invited into the same oneness? I don’t really care what kind of oneness this is and people with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would know that whatever the Lord Jesus Christ said, it could not have been that man will exalt to be God and be one with God as God. You might argue that Jesus wants us to be one in spirit, love, mind, brotherhood, joy or any number of things but as God? John the beloved Apostle would have flipped out if he understood what the Lord meant was that we would be exalted to God as one God. Peter wouldn’t even let Jesus wash his feet do you really think that he would have accepted that as exaltation to Godhood?

      But maybe you might say people in the Bible often don’t understand what was written in it right? Except with the Apostles they were speaking face to face with the Lord and asked questions about things like leaven and bread, do you really think they would not have made sure what the Lord was talking about? Exaltation to Godhood is slightly more dramatic than just leaven and bread don’t you think? Anyway, continuing with your answers.

      In your response to “Do you believe there is only one God or many gods?”, you responded.

      Mike: Mormons also believe that there are three persons (personalities) in the Godhead that (by choice) share a will, or purpose, rather than a “being.” These three are one God in the sense of oneness described by Christ in John 17. Christ also invites us into that same oneness and glory, which implies that as we submit our will to him, we can share in his godliness–which in my view makes one God of many, rather than many gods of one (as our doctrine is too often misinterpreted to mean by both Mormons and non-Mormons).

      So you said the father, Jesus, holy spirit are in the godhead and share a will, they are god in the sense of oneness, Christ invited us into that same oneness by submitting our will to him. Obviously I object to your convoluted notion of mixing oneness and godhead and making god. Anyway I am not interested in belaboring that point any more, but the reason I said this resemble some sort of nirvana is because the goal of Buddhist is to reaches enlightenment. To put it simply to reach enlightenment one must merge into this state in some shape or form. This bears striking resemblance to your description of submitting your will in order to attain this oneness with your godhead. Again I am not trying to mischaracterize what you said.

      Let me conclude by thanking you for furthering our conversion by your acknowledgement that Mormonism is not consistent with “Biblical Christianity” or “Evangelical Protestant Christianity” contrary to what some Christians have been saying. And I am not just speaking about the Christians posting on this blog. As Seth have pointed out many Christians (or should I say his favorite victims) do not know how Mormons have a radically different meaning when you use the same words that we do, like God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and salvation.

    • Seth R.

      “He is criticizing Pharisaic interpretations of the Law, not the Law itself.”

      And where in Christ’s day would you have found a complete and accurate copy of this Law? Who where the keepers of the written word in Christ’s day? And what did he have to say about them?

      And it really doesn’t matter which faction Jesus was debating with in Matt 22:29, because it doesn’t alter my point at all. And your argument doesn’t really provide any good reason for why the Old Testament (or five books of Moses if you like) could not have been corrupted – other than the nice fact that Jesus quoted a SMALL portion of the text approvingly. You’re adding words and trivia here, but the argument remains unchanged.

      “Jesus’ statement “and the Scripture cannot be broken” is a general principle that he is applying to the Psalm, not an assertion that whereas other scriptures might be broken this one happens to be a good one! That is a very creative but contextually implausible reading of the passage.”

      And you give no particular reason for why this reading is implausible. All you’re really doing is saying “no, you’re wrong.”

    • Seth R.

      “in the four Gospels, Jesus makes various statements about the authority and truth of Scripture, all of them unqualifiedly positive, and never, ever says anything to question or detract from the truth or reliability of anything in the OT.”

      Which adds nothing to our discussion, because we still haven’t established what “scripture” meant to Jesus in the first place, which scriptures he was talking about, and whether his statements have any applicability to some hypothetical body of canon at all. You have read all these passages in an extremely question-begging sort of way. None of these passages establish inerrancy at all – unless you are already reading from a set of assumptions shared by people who already subscribe to this extra-biblical notion.

      As such, I see no particular reason to concede the high ground to you and accept your “burden of proof.” You have done little here to make a case for inerrancy. But now you want me to simply acknowledge it as the default position, and argue around it? I see no reason to do that. You’re not going to credibly win this debate simply by changing the parameters on the fly.

    • teleologist

      Seth,

      Well your most recent attempt was when you brought up the whole Adam-God thing – completely out of nowhere. In fact, the topic was so abrupt, in invited the conclusion that you had simply lost the previous argument, and were now attempting to throw in new material and hope no one noticed.

      I guess you were so anxious to throw some ad hominem you didn’t think in what context I quoted that, did you? Go back read the entire comment and do what I told you to do. Point to the sentences where I was talking about one thing and then to the sentences where I change the subject to deflect an argument. Don’t be lazy do the work. Or more likely you don’t know what you are talking about.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      I still find your understanding of Evangelical Protestant Christianity as the only Biblical Christianity problematic. So my point wasn’t to concede that Mormonism is inconsistent with biblical christianity writ large, but only with your version of biblical christianity, as I said. The Catholic church has done it’s homework, they have their biblical scholars as well. And half a billion Catholics might take issue with you coopting biblical christianity. Many people have died over this difference as well (unfortunately, since we know Christ’s disciples by whether they have love one for another).

      Biblical Christianity in the purest sense means Christianity as practiced at the time of Christ, and I maintain that Mormonism is consistent with that sort of Christianity. So I won’t be trying to make my Christianity seem consistent with the Christianity you practice today, but only with that practiced in the Bible

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      I haven’t wrested anything by citing John 17. I’ve simply cited it as something I believe and take at face value, not adding in any caveats like “oneness of spirit only,” or “oneness of love, but not godliness.” You’re the one adding in things that aren’t there. Christ said “EVEN AS” he is one with the Father. I’m going to believe him. He’s not leaving anything out. This is not my “blasphemous” claim. It is his claim. And yes, people thought he was blasphemous for the very same reasons.

      You cannot assume that you know what John did or didn’t understand by “oneness.” Indeed, it appears that he understood it to mean something very like I’ve suggested, since he quoted Christ in Revelation as suggesting that it involves not only a oneness of “spirit,” or “love,” but also the sharing of a throne (singular). Paul also seems to have understood when he said that being heirs of God involves being “glorified together” (Romans 8:17), and ultimately being “conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). This is the highest possible meaning of exaltation. Anything else that Mormons might associate with exaltation cannot compare to this Biblical promise. What more could I say than what Paul, John, and Christ have said?

      Again, I’m not twisting their words, but simply accepting them at face value. Anything you add or take away from that promise is your addition or subtraction, not mine. And yet you call me a blasphemer. Again, be careful that you do not kick against the pricks. Paul had to learn that lesson the hard way. He too thought Christians were blasphemers for making God seem like a man, and a man seem like God.

      No thinking Mormon imagines that s/he can exalt him or herself. We simply accept Christ’s promise, in awe, no less than Peter when Christ washed his feet. We too marvel that we might “have part with him” and be clean “every whit” (John 13:8,10).

    • Mike

      Teleologist (cont.),

      And Peter, like John and Paul, came to finally accept the magnitude of Christ’s promise. Wrote he, “According to his divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…hath called us to glory…whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4, KJV).

      So the oneness Christ described Peter takes to include the divine nature, and ALL things that pertain unto godliness. I hope you don’t call him a blasphemer as well.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      While Brigham’s non-canonical musings might have seemed to suggest that Adam was God, etc. This is not Mormon doctrine, and the notion has been soundly refuted. Whoever might also imagine that Mormons believe anything untoward about the conception can also rest easy that either Brigham was misunderstood, overindulging in hyperbole, imprecise in his meaning, or simply mistaken. Official doctrine is that Adam is a man no more or less than the rest of us, created by God (see e.g., Mormon 9:11-12), but a prophet and patriarch. And Christ was indeed born of a virgin (1 Nephi 11:20; Alma 7:10).

      Rob,

      As for Seth’s notion of adoption rather than literal begetting of spirits, it does seem compatible with what Joseph Smith apparently believed, that spirits are uncreated (although physical bodies are created or organized to house those spirits). As far as I know, there is not consensus, however, on what Joseph really believed about the origins of spirits, some holding that he did not necessarily believe that spirits existed eternally as personalities, but as an essence from which individual spirits were created.

      But I think there is an important sense in which accepting God’s will for us, and trusting fully in him, is the most relevant, and true meaning of being “begotten,” or “born” of God–whether as spirits or as mortal beings. The most important aspect, I think, of Mormon doctrine about a pre-mortal existence is that we accepted Christ as our Savior then, while present with him in his glory, and we must accept him again here in mortality, this time on faith.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth,

      First, you argue that “only” and “by myself” in Isaiah 44:24 do not mean “only” or “by myself,” but only that Jehovah’s role in creation was “incomparable and unsurpassed.” Hence, in comment #143, you wrote: “If you want to say that Jehovah had an incomparable and unsurpassed role in the creation, sure – Mormons are definitely on board with that.”

      I then pointed out that this poses a theological problem for LDS theology, which affirms that Jehovah’s father, Elohim (“Heavenly Father”), receives the primary credit for creation as the one who planned it and who authorized and directed Jehovah to do the work. So now you respond (#169):

      “What exactly in my comments ever suggested otherwise? Like I said – you keep trying to make that particular scripture passage about who is definitionally better than whom. I don’t think it is about that. It’s a verse praising Jehovah. We’re on board with that.”

      So “only” and “by myself” don’t mean “only” and “by myself,” they mean “incomparable” and “unsurpassed.” In turn, “incomparable” and “unsurpassed” don’t mean “incomparable” and “unsurpassed,” they mean praiseworthy.

      Humpty Dumpty had nothing on you:

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”

    • cherylu

      mbaker,

      Did you notice that you posted a comment obviously meant for this thread that somehow ended up on a Calvinism thread?

      I would sure like to know how that happens here sometimes. It isn’t the first time I have seen something like this.

    • mbaker

      Cheryl,

      Thanks, and yes, I did.

      I’m reposting it on this thread. Hopefully they can delete the one on the Calvinism thread.

    • mbaker

      Seth,

      http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/whitehorseprophecy.htm

      As you know Sandra Tanner was a Mormon until she left the church, and began Utah Lighthouse Ministries. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see the specific quotes from Brigham Young, circa 1840 and the rest of the leadership up to the present day, including the denials by some of the Mormon leadership regarding the White Horse Prophecy. One has to wonder in light of these things if Beck thinks he may be one of the saviors of the Constitution spoken about here.

      There was also the “Grease Spot” Prophecy made December 16, 1843 and the ‘Potsherd’ prophecy made May 18, 1843 regarding the U.S. GOVERNMENT BEING OVERTHROWN, made by Joseph Smith himself.

      It seems to me that the White Horse Prophecy and the others are a case in contradiction. Perhaps that’s why modern day Mormon leaders are quick to deny the first one. These are some of the reasons evangelical Christians who do know about these things are just as uneasy about Beck’s sudden rise to fame and his following as they are about uber-political extremists in the Christian right and left.

    • mbaker

      Glen Beck claims he believes in personal salvation, yet not in general salvation.

      Yet, according to Ed Decker, who has the Saints Alive in Jesus website and also verified by my husband, both of whom are ex-Mormons and now Christians, the Mormon church teaches the following:

      “Mormonism teaches that Jesus suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, providing PERSONAL salvation (which may mean exaltation to godhood) conditional upon our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel. His death on the cross provided a GENERAL salvation, whereby all mankind is resurrected to be judged for our works, using the secret keys, hand grips and passwords learned only in the Mormon temple by worthy Mormons.”

      Yet his statement in the article above says he believed Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and it was act of grace not works. I think if Beck honestly believes that our sins were atoned for on the cross, then he should come out and say how his belief differs from that taught by the LDS. He’s a stickler for truth otherwise, but to me at least this is somewhat misleading to the folks who follow him and know nothing about Mormonism.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth R.,

      When Jesus used such expressions as “the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 5:17), he was using language that would be understood in his Jewish culture to refer to that body of literature that Christians call the Old Testament. There isn’t any doubt about this among biblical scholars or historians. Anyone familiar with Jewish literature and culture of the period can see this. You would like us to believe that Jesus never said anything about the whole body of Scripture and that such statements as Matthew 22:29 and John 10:35 are only referring to the specific OT text that Jesus happened to have in mind. This line of argument won’t hold up in view of such passages as Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 24:25-27, 44.

    • Rob Bowman

      mbaker,

      Ed Decker’s statement is somewhat misleading as a description of the LDS view of salvation. In Mormonism there is a general salvation that everyone gets and that provides not only resurrection but immortality in some glorious heavenly kingdom. The individual salvation is only for faithful temple-going Mormons who satisfy all of the LDS Church criteria for exaltation, not just the rigmarole of the temple ceremonies.

      Generally speaking, Decker is not a reliable guide to LDS religion, so I would suggest turning to other evangelical sources for fairer, more accurate analysis and criticism of LDS doctrine. These would include Utah Lighthouse Ministry (http://www.utlm.org), Mormonism Research Ministry (http://www.mrm.org), and the Institute for Religious Research (http://www.irr.org). I am the director of research at the last-named organization. Also, when we try to show what it is that the LDS Church teaches, we should cite its own primary sources and not just what non-LDS sources (even excellent ones) say. The religion’s two official websites are http://www.mormon.org and http://www.lds.org. The LDS.org site includes access to the LDS scriptures as well as Gospel Principles, its manual on the basic teachings of the LDS Church. The IRR website includes an introductory bibliography on Mormonism that includes LDS as well as non-LDS sources: http://tinyurl.com/2blraga.

    • Rob Bowman

      Seth R.,

      In regard to your comment #128, I am not a young-earth creationist, nor am I an ex-Mormon. I am broadly Reformed or Calvinist in my soteriology, but I wouldn’t fit the description of being “die hard” (since I rarely bring up the “five points” issues, for example). I view Arminianism, Anglicanism, and even Catholicism as Christian movements (although I have severe criticisms of many aspects of Catholic theology). So I don’t fit your caricature of the type of evangelicals you claim dominate discussions with Mormons.

      I must say, your animosity and prejudice against Calvinists is most illuminating. You describe them as “a fringe, radical, minority group” whose members are “wild-eyed zealots” whose views are so “morally repulsive” that you would prefer other evangelicals not allow Calvinists to talk to Mormons. Imagine an “anti-Mormon” saying such things about Mormons!

      Are you aware of the fact that Richard Mouw, an evangelical whom Mormons have widely cited as taking a more generous approach to discussions with Mormons, is a Calvinist? And are you aware of the fact that Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, two of the most strident critics of Mormonism you’ll ever encounter, are not Calvinists? Hunt, in fact, is as virulently anti-Calvinist as you are.

    • mbaker

      Thanks for the info, Rob. I referred to Ed because my husband an ex Mormon turned Christian believes he is sometimes more right than some of the other apologist sites because he came out of the Mormon church himself. Sometimes a former ‘insider’s’ opinion is a little more believable to other Mormon’s considering coming out as well.

      We also like Lane Thuet for the same reason, and my husband knows Sandra Tanner, and did her late husband and we support her ministry financially. I agree the other sites you mentioned are also good ones.

      While I understand your more nuanced explanation, you must also understand that being virtually the only two Christians in a huge family of Mormons we hear a lot that many people don’t. And Ed’s rendition about the difference between personal salvation and the general one is much closer to what they believe than you might think.

    • cherylu

      mbaker,

      I want to thank you for the perspectives you have shared here as someone that has been a part of a large Mormon family and whose husband is an ex Mormon himself.

      I certainly find it valuable to hear the perspectives of those that have come out of any movement. Insiders and those still surrounded by vocal memebers of any group in question certainly have a lot of valuable insights to offer the rest of us, IMO.

    • mbaker

      From the Mormon’s teachings on personal salvation:

      “Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he bore the incalculable weight of the sins of all who ever had or ever would repent” (Apostle Bruce McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 337).”

      Mormon leaders have taught that Christ’s atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane. They have drawn this teaching from two passages: Mosiah 3:7 in the Book of Mormon, and D&C 19:15-19.

      President Ezra Taft Benson: “It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so that all could repent and come to Him” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 14).

      “… it was in Gethsemane that ‘he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come to him’” (Bruce McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 127-28, 224).”

      “Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? … In reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 774).

    • James

      Concerning Isaiah 44:24…

      (1) Rob B. has not yet managed to satisfactorily explain away the points raised by Heiser. Heiser describes a situation in which King Ahab does something (searches) *by himself*, but it is obvious that King Ahab did not actually do it by himself. Likewise, Isaiah describes a situation in which Jehovah does something (creates) *by himself*, but it is obvious that Jehovah did not actually do it by himself. The analogy is sound, the parallel is firm, and the passage about King Ahab works in favor of the LDS argument.

      (2) Bowman is also not considering the wider context of Isaiah. This is a polemic against competing gods. We have to consider what question Isaiah is trying to answer. The question is not “how many gods were involved in the creation?”. The question is “Which god was involved in the creation?”. The answer is Jehovah. Jehovah is the god who created the world, and none of the competing gods were involved.

      (3) In the LDS view (and in the ancient Israelite view) Jehovah reigned over a heavenly court of divine beings who aided him in carrying out his purposes. If we approach the Old Testament with this model, we see that right at the very beginning of Genesis it is confirmed that man is created in “our” image and “our” likeness. Further passages describe personified Wisdom aiding God in the creation. In sum, the point is not that Jehovah did all the work all by himself without any aid or support whatsoever. The point is that Jehovah is the God responsible for creation, and not any of the gods of the ANE who competed for men’s hearts.

      (4) A Latter-day Saint would be perfectly comfortable stating that “Jesus created the world by himself” so long as we keep in mind what question is being answered (ie. Among the many competing gods, which ones participated in creation?)

    • James

      As an aside, it is not true that in Mormonism Jehovah=Jesus and Elohim=God the Father in all contexts. Those designations are simplifications designed for specific contexts. LDS are not ignorant of the fact that “elohim” is merely the Hebrew word for “God(s)”. So Rob is not warranted in pushing the idea that LDS must accept that “Jehovah” in Isaiah 44:24 refers only to Jesus Christ, the second member of the Godhead.

    • teleologist

      I don’t see how any Mormon could have any credibility in the exposition of anything in the Bible, when they readily accept their apostles, prophets and Presidents saying that god was once a man who became god and we can become gods ourselves.

      Joseph Smith said God was once a man.
      “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man … We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).

      “When our Father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives , with him. … He is MICHAEL, the archangel, THE ANCIENT OF DAYS! About whom holy men have written and spoken—he is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City, UT: np., 1967), vol. 1, pp. 50-51

      Expounding Scripture with a Mormon is like pouring light into a black hole, their minds are darkened.
      “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23, KJV)

    • Tim Foster

      Instead of trying to figure out if Mormon people are “Christian” or not, why not just talk about the faith itself and use Biblical terms?

      “The Mormon religion encourages its followers to ‘devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons'” (1 Tim 4:1-3)

      Once we understand that, everything else falls in place.

      There! See – that was easy. 🙂

      (For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would believe the Book of Mormon. Maybe it’s just my appreciation for archaeology. Let’s see…. Amazon shows 115 hits for “mormon archaeology” and over 2,000 for “Biblical archaeology”. And you can rest assured that the majority of the hits for the former were written to debunk Mormonism. Show me anything in a museum that remotely resembles anything mentioned in the “ancient” books Joseph Smith championed, and I’ll gladly post a public apology (don’t hold your breath).)

    • mark s

      “Black hole”? Wow. Simmer down with the hate and insults (and please no explanation of how it’s not an insult, but rather some factual observation).

      The bible is a collection of scriptural texts. There is nothing in the bible that says the bible is an all-inclusive collection of scriptural texts. So, the LDS acceptance of other scripture in no way contradicts the bible. I think the bible actually supports this. If you think otherwise, ok, that’s your interpretation. And that’s my point. LDS beliefs may contradict your interpretation of the bible, but they do not contradict the bible. My interpretation contradicts your interpretation, and vice versa, but neither contradicts the bible. We could argue each other until the day we die, but it will always come down to “Your interpretation is wrong because…”. “No yours is wrong because…”. Fun stuff.

    • Jared C

      The problem with the Evangelical position is that they are constantly overstating their case.

      Most Christians do not see the Bible as the only source of authority. (Including evangelicals if you throw in the Nicene Creed)

      But somehow many Evangelicals start to think that they have such a knock down argument that everyone that doesn’t is not worth talking to?

      Mormons have strong, reasoned arguments supporting a great many of their doctrines that are completely supportable by the Bible. I would agree that theirs is not the only position that the text would support but from a more objective viewpoint these come down to a reasonable disagreement.

      On top of all this, many Mormons think and feel and act for all practical purposes a lot like many Evangelicals. Glenn Beck may be an example. Its all a lot more complicated than Teleliogist and other seem to want to put it.

      I do like what Rob says: ‘

      The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.

      If you want to understand people like Glenn Beck or any other Mormon you have to come off the black/white paradigm and see them as full human beings, not just caricatures based on your own pre-conceived ideas of what it means to be Mormon.

      I am confident that most Evangelicals would disagree with the stereotypes that get thrown around in Mormon and…

    • teleologist

      mark s

      “Black hole”? Wow. Simmer down with the hate and insults (and please no explanation of how it’s not an insult, but rather some factual observation).

      Typical, it must be convenient for you to attack those who are critical of your beliefs as hate and insulting. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think everything is meant as an insult. You response actually proves my analogy about “expounding Scripture with a Mormon is like pouring light into a black hole, their minds are darkened”. Did you understand the reason I made that analogy? It would appear that you didn’t. Please reread what I wrote and think about what I said instead of casting me as a scapegoat (hate and insult) for your Mormon flaws.

    • teleologist

      But somehow many Evangelicals start to think that they have such a knock down argument that everyone that doesn’t is not worth talking to?

      Mormons have strong, reasoned arguments supporting a great many of their doctrines that are completely supportable by the Bible.

      It is outrageous that many of these arrogant Evangelicals actually dare to have confidence in what they believe, unlike Mormons who have “strong, reasoned arguments” but don’t actually have confidence in what they believe because they would never say an Evangelical is wrong and they are right.

    • mark s

      Teologist, I did not attack you. I requested you simmer down with the hate and insults. And it was not in response to your critcism of my beliefs, but rather to the way in which you expressed yourself in comparing me to a black hole full of darkness. That reads as hateful and insulting to me. I could equally make the same statement about evangelicals and cite a scripture to support myself, but I would prefer to think more lovingly of others.

      There are certainly kinder ways to convey that you think my beliefs are wrong, such as “I think mormons don’t understand the scriptures.” My response to which would be that I don’t think evangelicals understand the scriptures. Of course, that was basically the gist of my previous post. “I’m right, you’re wrong.” “No I’m right, you’re wrong.” Repeat infinitely…

      I fail to see how I could have cast you as a scapegoat:
      1 – I do not believe lds doctrine to be flawed – I know I know, black hole 😉 – so I don’t need a scapegoat for it.
      2 – My thinking that you came across as hateful and insulting (or at least snide) has no bearing on your doctrinal beliefs or mine.

    • mark s

      Teologist – “So when you said Mormon doctrines are consistent with the Bible, that is synonymous with Christianity and therefore with my beliefs.”

      I think I understand you. Your belief of what a Christian is comes from your belief of what the Bible teaches. Part of your belief is that the Bible teaches that to be a Christian you must believe in the one true God (I agree), and Mormons’ understanding as to the nature of God is so vastly different than your understanding that you conclude Mormons do not worship the true God at all. Hence, you do not believe that Mormons are christian.

      As completely flawed as you may expect I hold your beliefs to be, I respect your right to hold them and to share them. I just don’t think most Christians share your belief because they understand the scriptures differently than do you. For most it is not a mater of your educating them so that they can know the truth as you understand it. Rather, they reject as extreme your interpretation of what it means to be a Christian.

    • Jared C

      “It is outrageous that many of these arrogant Evangelicals actually dare to have confidence in what they believe, unlike Mormons who have “strong, reasoned arguments” but don’t actually have confidence in what they believe because they would never say an Evangelical is wrong and they are right.”

      Teleologist, i don’t know where you have been but it certainly has not been learning about any other religion but Evangelicalism.

      Most of the Christian world, including the LDS, says you are wrong and they are right on some significant issue.

      And they say it pretty clearly, all the time.

    • teleologist

      mark s,

      Teologist, I did not attack you.

      Would you please simmer down with your hate and insult? When you did not respond substantively to my black hole analogy but rather attribute my comment as hateful that was insulting to me.

      Maybe you were so fixated with hate that you obviously did not understand my analogy of the black hole. I am assuming you at least know what a black hole is, right? A black hole is a physical phenomenon that has an event horizon where not even light can escape and any light shining on it would just get sucked in without any reflection. This analogy is applicable to Mormonism in the sense that the Bible is clear on Who God is. The idea of a self existent, from everlasting to everlasting monotheistic God is unambiguously and unequivocally manifested in the Bible. Even skeptics and atheists would concur this is what the Bible describes even though they personally reject this God.

      Only Mormons would pervert the nature of God and made Him into a finite being that exalted to a god and blasphemously elevate Man to the point of becoming god. If you do not recognize this then you are truly a black hole and no amount of light will illuminate your darkened mind. If you don’t believe this then again you are a black hole for not denouncing Mormonism due to your apostles, prophets and Presidents as heretics for perverting the Bible. My point again is that since you don’t understand this fundamental point in the Bible, there is no point in discussing anything else in the Bible with you because It would be darken to you.

      There are certainly kinder ways to convey that you think my beliefs are wrong, such as “I think mormons don’t understand the scriptures.”

      This is a given because Mormons have demonstrated this to be true. No my point was not merely that Mormons are wrong, but your minds are truly darkened due to the reason I gave above. To borrow a phrase from Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men”, you don’t want to hear the truth because you can’t handle the truth. Maybe there is a kinder way to tell you that your mind is darkened but I am not sure how.

      I fail to see how I could have cast you as a scapegoat

      When one is faced with criticism, it is easier to just attack those giving the criticism as hateful and insulting thereby brushing off their criticism instead of giving it serious consideration. You have completely brushed off my substantive criticism and even now have not addressed it but rather spend all your time attacking me personally, which is a scapegoat.

      I just don’t think most Christians share your belief because they understand the scriptures differently than do you. For most it is not a mater of your educating them so that they can know the truth as you understand it. Rather, they reject as extreme your interpretation of what it means to be a Christian.

      First, Christianity is not a popularity contest. I really don’t care how many Christians believe as I do. But you are delusional if you don’t think that the majority of Christians believe there is One God in Three Persons. He is self-existent from everlasting to everlasting. He was never exalted to God from a fleshly existence. And Man will never become gods.

    • teleologist

      Most of the Christian world, including the LDS, says you are wrong and they are right on some significant issue.

      Jared C, please quote me on what I said that you think is wrong?

    • James

      Teleologist,

      Perhaps the reason Mark did not reply “substantively” to your black hole analogy was because your black hole analogy was not substantive enough to be worth the effort.

      James

    • teleologist

      Perhaps the reason Mark did not reply “substantively” to your black hole analogy was because your black hole analogy was not substantive enough to be worth the effort.

      James, are you a Mormon? When I said substantive what do you think I was referring to, the black hole analogy or the LDS doctrines?

    • James

      teleologist,

      Your statement was, “When you did not respond substantively to my black hole analogy but rather attribute my comment as hateful that was insulting to me.”

      There is no other way to read this other than that you were chiding mark for not responding substantively to your black hole analogy. My opinion is that your black hole analogy is not substantive, and so does not warrant a substantive response.

      I am a Mormon.

      I have a general comment about the way this discussion is going. I suspect that there is some Evangelical out there somewhere who is way smarter than me and who could run circles around me in a debate. I bet he could clean my clock on every point of doctrine. But what will affect me much more is the way he treats me during our debate. If he demonstrates that my religion is false but does so in a way that communicates his love and respect for me, I’m going to be much more interested in seriously listening to him.

      I’m sure you can guess that the opposite is true if he cleans my clock but does so in a confrontational, abrasive, and insulting manner. He very well might clean my clock, and it is possible that I’ll rethink Mormonism, but it is very probable that I’m not going to have any interest in taking his beliefs seriously. For better or worse, we are representatives of our respective faiths when we are slugging it out here on the internet. If you leave a sour taste in my mouth, you are not gaining a convert. That isn’t how evangelism is done.

      Take it from a devout Mormon….the best way to convert a Mormon out of Mormonism and into orthodox Christianity is with gentleness, respect, and love. If you give us reason to distrust you you have failed.

      James

    • mark s

      teleo, again I say it: WOW! But this time with an exclamation mark, and in all upper case even. I’ve stayed courteous and respectful, and you have not even tried to do so.

      Your confrontational, in-your-face style is quite offputting and far from Christlike. Unfortunately, there are too many of this type of Evangelical, they somehow have no clue that they are offensive and contentious, but simply think they are RIGHT and that is enough.

      It really seems like you need to reevaluate your attitude. In fact, I suggest (tongue in cheek here) you stop worrying about the God we Mormons worship being the wrong one, because if you think that your own actions (and words) are a manifestation of your having accepted Christ, perhaps you have accepted the wrong Christ. The One I follow teaches love and compassion. And if you think that is what you are showing, please refer to the previous paragraph above.

      You said, “This analogy is applicable to Mormonism in the sense that the Bible is clear on Who God is”.

      Again, it is clear to you ONE way, but it is clear to me ANOTHER way. Your “the Bible says” approach just doesn’t hold any water when I disagree with what you think “the Bible says”. At this point, you would then be apt to challenge me to PROVE what you have been incorrect about in the Bible. Again, I cannot prove you are correct anymore than you can prove I am incorrect. I can prove it in my mind, and you can prove it in your mind; but I cannot prove it in your mind (it’s already made up), and you cannot prove it in my mind (it’s already made up). Which reminds me, why did I post on this blog to begin with? Oh, yeah–I was a bit shocked at your black hole comment. I guess I should have left it at that.

      Cheers!

    • teleologist

      There is no other way to read this other than that you were chiding mark for not responding substantively to your black hole analogy.

      James, there is another way to read this if you did not take my words out of context. What did I wrote right after that?

      you obviously did not understand my analogy of the black hole.This analogy is applicable to Mormonism in the sense that the Bible is clear on Who God is. The idea of a self existent, from everlasting to everlasting monotheistic God is unambiguously and unequivocally manifested in the Bible. Even skeptics and atheists would concur this is what the Bible describes even though they personally reject this God.

      I was not expecting Mark to dissect how the black hole is or is not a well crafted analogy. What I expected Mark to do was to respond substantively to the LDS doctrines that are an affront to God.

      I will be the first to admit that I am not the more graceful speaker and I am often too blunt. However, I did not intend any disrespect to anyone and I don’t think I have. On the other hand I also did not hold back on what I really thought the state of Mormonism is in. If someone can so warped what the Bible said about the Nature of God and Man, I think their mind is darkened. I could try to sugar-coat it but it would not quite as accurately express how I think.

      Now as I said, it was not my intention to disrespect anyone and I did not meant for this to get personal. But James, please help me out, why have you and the Mormons here made this into a personal and personality issue instead of responding to the substance of the problem which is your LDS doctrines, apostles, prophets and Presidents?

      While it is true that I hope all Mormons would repent and accept orthodox Christianity and be saved. My objective has not been trying to evangelize anyone. I just want Mormons to acknowledge and defend their LDS doctrines as stated by their apostles and prophets or denounce the LDS Church. If you choose to defend your LDS doctrines as stated by your apostles and prophets then that would be sufficient to establish that Mormons and Christians believe in a different God. This has always been the objective of my comments in this thread.

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      You seem to be basing your entire argument on part of a quote from a non-canonized funeral speech taken out of its own context as well as out of the whole of Mormon doctrine. Yes Joseph claimed that God dwelt on an earth, the part you’ve left out (or underemphasized), however, and the most important part of the point Joseph made is the following:

      “God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth THE SAME AS JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF DID, and I will show it from the Bible.”

      He’s not drawing the analogy to US here, but to Jesus Christ. He never suggests that God was a sinner, like us, but that he once dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ. If this idea diminishes the Father, then it also diminishes the Son to say that he came in the flesh.

      Mormon doctrine is that Jesus Christ was a God before he dwelt in the flesh, and that he has always been one with the Father in the sense that he himself describes in John 17 and in Gethsemane, a oneness of will or purpose. If God experienced mortality the same way Jesus did, as Joseph suggested, then God also experienced mortality as a God who became flesh, and he must have remained sinless throughout his mortal experience.

      This shouldn’t be a horrifying doctrine to a Trinitarian who believes that the Father and Son are one in being or essence. If so, then in a very real sense the Father experienced mortality with the Son anyway.

      And as Joseph said, he got the idea from the Bible, where Jesus says that he only does what he has seen the Father do (John 5:19, KJV)–indicating, by the way, that he did in fact exist from eternity as well as the Father, if he was able to witness the Father go through a mortal experience.

      Now, before you call me a black hole, note that Mormons aren’t obligated to believe that the Father went through a mortal experience. It is doctrinal, however, that he has a tangible, glorified body. This doctrine, again, shouldn’t diminish him any more that it diminishes…

    • teleologist

      James, rethinking what you said, I would like to apologize to all the Mormons who were offended by what I said. Although it was not my intention to offend anyone I only wanted to speak the truth. I understand how you might be offended. I am sorry.

    • Mike

      Teleologist (cont.)

      After all, the Bible indicates that the Son is like the Father in every respect.

      So your real concern must be with the idea that we can become gods. I’ve explained quite clearly how this is also a Biblical notion. And nowhere in Mormon scripture is it taught more explicitly or often than it is taught in the Bible. I’ve given you several verses that suggest that through Christ we become heirs of God (Romans 8:17), that we are already called gods–even in our fallen state (John 10:33-36), that those who believe in Christ will become one with him EVEN AS he is one with the Father–even to the point of being made perfect in one (John 17:21-23), and that those who overcome will sit with him in his throne EVEN AS he also overcame and sits with the Father in HIS throne (Revelation 3:21). HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES (verse 22).

      These are Biblical doctrines, and each time I mention them, you simply say that you won’t discuss them because I’m either unsaved or a black hole. But I”M not making these claims, JESUS IS, nor have I ventured to interpret them. I’m simply stating them exactly as they are found in the Bible. So why do you seem to be denying or ignoring the words of Christ himself? Why won’t you even venture to explain what they mean in your theology? Why have there been NO adequate explanations given for them, that don’t require complex extra-biblical theorizing which diminishes their simple, straightforward meaning?

    • Jared C

      Teleologist

      The idea of a self existent, from everlasting to everlasting monotheistic God is unambiguously and unequivocally manifested in the Bible.

      Muslims do not see this, so it can’t be unambiguous and unequivocal.

      The fact that God has a Son indicates that Christians believe (at least) two persons are God.

      The Nicene creed says as much.

      Traditional Christians believe that that the fact that three persons are actually only one God in substance is a mystery, that cannot be explained.

      So it seems the black hole may be the power of the trinity doctrine to explain what is going on.

      But Mormons should be able to accept this because, surprise, they don’t have the words to really define the nature of God either.

      Why can’t you forgive Mormons for having their own mystery that they can’t explain? ;). . . I trust that God enough grace to do so, if Evangelicals don’t.

    • teleologist

      Mike,

      You seem to be basing your entire argument on part of a quote from a non-canonized funeral speech taken out of its own context as well as out of the whole of Mormon doctrine.

      No this is not the only quote that I am basing my argument on, but let’s just focus on this one point first and we can get to the other apostles, prophets and the LDS view of Jesus later. This is the quote that we are working from.

      God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens…I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form — like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man….it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see….and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).

      First, it shouldn’t matter if this is canon or non-canon speech. The fact that the founder of your LDS faith can actually say and meant something like this should disqualify him as having anything to do with Christianity.

      He’s not drawing the analogy to US here, but to Jesus Christ.

      Of course he is. JS said “God himself was once as we are now” and he was once a man like us. That means US not Jesus.

      by the way, that he did in fact exist from eternity as well as the Father

      That is not what JS said. He refute the idea that God was God from all eternity.

      And no I am not going to call you a black hole. That is only analogous as it relates to the Bible. 🙂

    • Mike

      By the way, if you read the entire sermon (King Follett), Joseph Smith acknowledges that God is self-existent from eternity. He just adds that he believes our spirits are also self-existent. If so, then we did indeed enter into a relationship with the Father by adoption in the spirit world, just as we enter into a relationship with the Son by adoption in the mortal world (referring to a previous exchange, I think, on this thread).

      That said, this is not to place us on an equal footing with God. To be co-eternal with God is NOT to be equal in power, might, glory, intelligence, etc. And the Pearl of Great Price verifies that God is more intelligent than us all. We needed him to be our Father because we could not progress (be saved) without him, just as we need the Son in order to progress (be saved) in our next phase of existence.

      Again, however, there are plenty of Mormons in good standing who don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that we are all self-existent Spirits. Some believe that we were created as spirits as well as in the flesh.

      But this all goes beyond official doctrine. The simple doctrines are as I’ve explained, The Father has a glorified, immortal body, just as does the Son. In our mortal existence we are created in their image. We can eventually join with them in their kingdom, and become like them, except that we can only arrive there through submission to Christ’s grace/commandments (or at-one-ment).

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      Later in the speech Joseph said, “We say that God himself is a self-existing God. Who told you so? It is correct enough, but how did it get into your heads?”

      So in the same sermon JS acknowledges that God is a self-existing GOD (meaning a God from eternity). So how do we reconcile this with what he said elsewhere? It’s simple really when you read the part I quoted earlier, that it is like JESUS CHRIST that God existed on an earth. So just as Christ was God from eternity, then came to an earth, took a body, died, was resurrected, and ascended WITH his glorified body. So the Father did the same. It is the notion that the Father never condescended to a mortal existence that JS is trying to refute. Specifically, he is refuting the notion that the Father is an unembodied, amorphous, spirit from eternity to eternity. He is verifying the Biblical account that we are created in our earthly form in the image of God, as well as his own vision of an embodied Father and Son.

      How then does Joseph mean that God was like US when he was on the earth? Well, obviously in the same way that Jesus was like us. And the Bible says as much, that became like us, so much so that we are called his brethren (see, e.g. Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 2:11, KJV).

      So if the Bible is not blasphemous for saying that God (Christ) became a man like us, and increased in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52), then why is Joseph Smith blasphemous for saying the same thing?

      Joseph also acknowledges our dependence on God in the same sermon, God’s greater intelligence, and his capacity to save.

      Now please go to bed (unless, of course, you live in Australia), and let me get some sleep!

      Mike

    • Mike

      Correction: I cited Hebrews 2:7 above, I meant Hebrews 2:17.

    • James

      teleologist,

      Consider the fact that when Jesus stated “I and the Father are one” (John 10) the Jews took up stones in an attempt to kill him. Why did they do this? Because, from their perspective, Jesus was twisting the scriptures so horribly and blaspheming against the divinely revealed word of God. They could hardly believe the outrageous and contemptible things he was teaching about God.

      I raise this as an analog to our discussion. I’ll let others get into the nitty gritty of the King Follett Sermon with you, because I’ve done that so many times before I’ve lost interest in that debate for now. But I hope that this analogy from John 10 drives home the point that devout, smart, bible loving people can strongly disagree with how to read the bible. Jesus faced the same challenge that Mormons are facing….and audience who thinks that these new teachings are an affront to God and which distort and pervert the word of God in the Bible.

      The reality is that competent individuals can read the text in very different ways.

    • mark s

      teology, apology accepted. I’m sure my previous post could have been a bit softer, so I too am sorry.

      Mike, you have made some great points. nice.

    • teleologist

      Mike,

      So in the same sermon JS acknowledges that God is a self-existing GOD (meaning a God from eternity).

      Actually you are wrong this is not what JS meant. Self-existing DOES NOT MEAN a God from eternity. I will demonstrate that to you with my following comments.

      So how do we reconcile this with what he said elsewhere? It’s simple really when you read the part I quoted earlier, that it is like JESUS CHRIST that God existed on an earth.

      I understand what you are saying but this makes no sense and it is irrelevant in any case. Because it doesn’t matter how much or how long JS makes comparison between God and Jesus the problem is when he said ”he was once a man like us” and ”I am going to tell you how God came to be God” . God was never a man like us. God is God from everlasting to everlasting. God did not ”came to be God”. No matter how you try to divert what JS said about Jesus, it is not going to explain away his precise words here. Let me give you another analogy. What JS is doing is similar to someone handing you a glass of 99% pure water but it has 1% poison in it. It doesn’t matter how you try to emphasize and explain how pure that 99% is, you will never be able to explain away that 1% of poison.

      Now what does JS mean by “God was once a man like us”? JS said,

      The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. … There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven.
      So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning, it will have an end. … But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the housetops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.

      When JS said that God is self-existing, he did not mean that God was God from eternity. If he did then he must mean that we must be Gods also from eternity because we are also self-existing. How much more blasphemous can you get? Much more, JS said that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. In essence when JS said that God is self-existing, he meant it in the same way that man is self-existing and co-equal and co-eternal with God.

      I don’t mean any disrespect for what I am about to say but Joseph Smith is a wretched blasphemer and a son of Satan. If he lived during Phinehas’ time he would have gotten a spear through his belly. I know Mormons revere JS which is what blinds you to the Bible, but for Christians he is a false prophet and a son of perdition leading his follows straight to hell.

    • teleologist

      James,

      Consider the fact that when Jesus stated “I and the Father are one” (John 10) the Jews took up stones in an attempt to kill him. Why did they do this? Because, from their perspective, Jesus was twisting the scriptures so horribly and blaspheming against the divinely revealed word of God.

      I will let others if they choose to explain to you why Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God and why it is consistent with OT teachings.

      However, the problem with your analogy is that using your same logic we would not be able to judge any blasphemous teachings from anyone. Because the minute we try to stone them (figuratively only) you will raise the objection they tried to stone Jesus too.

      Second, to even compare the false teachings of JS to Jesus’ teachings, I personally find it offensive.

    • James

      teleologist,

      No need to have others explain to me by Jesus Christ is God. I already believe it. I believe it because LDS scriptures teach it.

      Regarding my analogy, my point was not that we can use this analogy as a get-out-of-jail-free card. I’m not taking the analogy that far. I’m only suggesting that competent individuals can disagree on how to read the text. Those who disagree with your particular interpretation of the Bible don’t always do it because they are dishonest or because they secretly hate the truth, or because they are devoid of the spirit of God. Humans are complex beings and we just disagree sometimes.

      I think I’ll drop out of this discussion at this point.

      James

    • Mike

      Teleologist,

      What, besides your personal beliefs, makes you think that the idea that the spirits of humankind have always existed is blasphemous? We acknowledge that we were created/formed by God as physical beings, as the Bible indicates.

      And if it is blasphemous to say that we (and you) have always been gods in a sense (although not one with God, and in no way comparible in intelligence, might, power, glory, etc.), then you may indeed find yourself in the camp of those who sought to slay Christ for saying not only that he was the Son of God, but also (in his own defense) for reminding them that their own scriptures said (and they cannot be broken) that even his accusers were gods? (John 10:32-36, KJV).

      It appears if we take Jesus seriously that the Old Testament prophets really meant what they said when they said (as did Joseph) that our God is a God of gods (Deut. 10:17; Josh. 22:22; Psalms 136:2; Dan. 2:4&).

      Indeed, to accept Jesus’ saying that we are gods (small g plural, OT elohim, NT theoi) and that the FATHER (Jesus said, my Father and your Father) is our God (large G singular, OT El, NT Theos), the God of us all (Jesus said, my God and your God) is NO different than to say that we are all children and he is our collective Father (Psalms 82:6). The meaning of these statements is the same, which is why they are used together in Psalms 82:6.

      And yet, gods or not, we still need the God of gods to be saved, and we must submit to his Son in order to become one with them.

      If you stone me for blasphemy, you’ll also have to stone Jesus and the author of Psalms 82, whom Jesus quotes and affirms. For I am not making these claims, but simply accepting what HE has said.

    • Kevin

      Teleologist,
      How can you say someone is
      a wretched blasphemer and a son of Satan – a son of perdition leading his follows straight to hell
      and clam not to mean any disrespect? That is very disrespectful. You have no right to make a judgment on what will happen to others after this life.
      The problem here is a disagreement on what a Christian is. If a Christian is someone who believes in Jesus the way you do, then anyone who does not (including Mormons) is not Christian. If it means someone who tries to be like him by following his teachings then that’s what you need to do to be a Christian. When Mormons clam to be Christian they clam to follow his teachings. You clam they are not because they don’t believe as you do. But I don’t see who gives you the right to decide what the definition is.
      Would Jesus be happy with you trying to destroy the faith other people have in him because they are not in the same congregation as you? I think not. Do you even realise the comparison you make with Joseph Smith and the Savoir taking a spear in his belly? Examine his life and you would agree he would take that spear in the belly to stand for his belief in Jesus Christ, only he lived in a time of bullets. Is your resolve to follow your faith in Jesus Christ as strong as his was? I think that would be a good indication of who is a Christian.
      I suggest you consider your own standing with Jesus and how you can be more Christian opposed to how others are not. As for anyone who wants to know what Mormons believe the best source is a real Mormon.
      If you want to be a Christian, I say try live a better life, be kinder, be forgiving and all the things your conscience tells you that you should do. I think Jesus will accept that.

    • Emily

      I recently became aware of a new movement within (or without, depending on your interpretation) the LDS church. It’s called “born-again mormon” which was a very confusing concept to me as they reject core mormon doctrine and embrace a fully evangelical theology. But given what Beck has said about his belief concerning salvation, I’d have to say he falls into this camp: http://www.bornagainmormon.com/about-faith.htm

    • James

      Emily,

      There is no “born again movement” within Mormonism. The link you provided is to Shawn McCraney’s website. Shawn McCraney is well known among Mormon apologists and is considered to be anti-Mormon.

      James

    • Francis

      I respect the Mormon faith. I like Mormons. But I can’t, for the life of me, think of Mormonism as a valid Christian sect, heresy, or cult in any way, shape or form.

      When you believe in a heavenly father as an enlightened and deitified mortal, plus or minus, implicitly, a heavenly mother, that’s no more a Christian God than Ahura or Vishnu is a Christian God. And not believing in God as who He has already revealed Himself to be, is the first, the last, and the only strike you’ll ever need to count yourself out of the Christian faith.

    • V.

      If Mormons believe the Bible is the Word of God, and that the Bible was written before the Book of Mormon, then the Book of Mormon should not contradict the Bible. If there is even one contradiction between the two books, then it is logical to conclude that one of the books’ is erred. You can then deduce that, since the Bible came first, and is also considered to be objectively true by Mormons, then any revelation received afterward, would have to be judged by the same standards they used to judge the Bible. If that “new” revelation was in violation of the standard by which the Bible was measured, then you can discount it as being inspired by a sovereign God and, thus, it is erred. Therefore, since the Book of Mormon does in fact contradict the Bible, it is my contention that it is not the inspired Word of God. Not only that, but it is heretical. The other alternative Mormons have is to dismiss the Bible, yet this is impractical, because if it were dismissed entirely, from what would the book of Mormon be based? Therefore, I believe Mormonism to be self-defeating in nature. One only needs to compare the Bible to the Book of Mormon, and they will see the Book of Mormons’ teachings differ from the Bibles’ teachings. Therefore, Mormons have faith in a relativistic religion. Although Mormonism contains some degree of truth, it is fundamentally corrupted as a whole, because it contains too many untruths at its core. The Bible is not the Bible, if it is polluted with heretical doctrine. I am going to use a simple analogy to better clarify my point. Imagine you mixed “The Wizard of Oz” & “Titanic” together. You would have a completely different story. Although the new movie would contain bits and pieces from the original movies, you could not call the final product “The Wizard of Oz” or “Titanic”, but, rather, you would have a different movie altogether. The same is true with Mormonism; it is not the same as Christianity, but is a different…

    • James

      V,

      Thanks for your contribution. I want to point out a few issues with your critique of the Book of Mormon.

      1. First of all, for Mormons, the Book of Mormon was not really written after the Bible. It is a bit complex, but basically the text of the Book of Mormon is a compilation and redaction of hundreds of years of history that took place concurrently with the Bible. True, the final redaction and editing took place after the New Testament was closed (by a prophet named Mormon around 400 AD), but the original source material was all written concurrently with the Old and New Testament. The final translation into a modern language (in this case English) didnt’t happen until the 1800’s, but that is not when the text was composed.

      So a basic understanding of the chronology of Mormon scripture will help you if you want to mount an offensive on it.

      2. The test you propose should be equally applied to every book of the Bible in relation to all books that chronologically precede it. Recall that the Bible is in fact a collection of books, and so according to your test we should expect every single book to never contradict anything written in any biblical book that preceded it (ie. Malachi should not contradict Exodus, etc.).

      Can the Bible really withstand the test? I realize that fundamentalist Christian apologist (the “inerrantists” if you will) will argue to the death that it does not, and they may truly believe it, but other serious and devout students of Christianity disagree. There are contradictions between books of the bible.

      3. Finally, Mormons by and large would reject the very premise of your test. We don’t necessarily believe that every written communication from God is going to be inerrant. Chronologically later scripture can in theory contract earlier scripture, and we give greater weight to the most recent revelation. Mormons are OK with errant scripture, we have a differen epistemological framework than Evangelicals do.

    • James

      We could spend a vast amount of time debating a few particular instances of contradictions within the Bible, but we are probably better served by realizing that we will not agree. The important thing is that notable and serious minds can disagree on the issue, so your test (“no contradictions between books of scripture”) is not going to be a very valuable test.

    • V.

      James,
      I appreciate your prompt response to my post. To address your first point, there have been no manuscripts of the Book of Mormon discovered that date back prior to the eighteen hundreds, nor has there been any archeological evidence found, which would support ancient Israelites living in America. Furthermore, there is no evidence of the “Prophet” Mormon’s existence. While you could argue there is no evidence supporting the existence of the Patriarchs, as well as no original Biblical autographs, we do at the very least have manuscripts which date back approximately to the year 2,500 A.D. There is not one manuscript of the Book of Mormon which dates back to that time frame. The fact you would even suggest the Book of Mormon was written around 400 A.D. is mere conjecture. You have no evidence to support your claim.

    • V.

      I am familiar with the chronology of the canon, and also, that the same test for canonicity applies to Scripture, as it does to the Book of Mormon, however; you have not clarified what Scriptures you believe are contradictory in nature. Can you please cite which verses specifically you are referring to and cite your sources of scholars who have disproved Biblical inerrancy? While I do not hold to a strong epistemological view, I do believe in “Biblical Inerrancy.” I disagree with your faulty logic that the most current revelation is the most credible. God’s nature is unchanging, therefore, just because part of His revelation is fulfilled, does not mean it is no longer relevant. Otherwise, you maintain a presupposition that God’s Word is erred. Forgive me if my assumptions are incorrect, but I gather you favor a soft “Historical” view of inerrancy. While I cannot fault you for your degree of faith, what I do not understand, is why you can also believe Scripture to be erred. So if Scripture is indeed erred, as you previously stated, then how do we know it to be true? Either it is God’s Word, or it is not. Which is it? Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matt 5:18). Therefore, I believe my argument for Biblical inerrancy to be of the utmost importance, and it is relevant to the Mormon faith, as much as it is the Christian faith, if you do believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.

      Yes, you are correct in stating we can “agree to disagree,” yet I am troubled as to why it is you disagree. I believe the credibility of the Word of God to be the very foundation of our faith. I want you to know that I have a great love for you. I hope we can continue to have these theological discussions.

    • James

      Hi V. I think this could be a very good discussion. I personally don’t like discussions like these in public forums, simply because they inevitably get sidetracked by the multitude of voices who can jump in at any moment. The issues then fail to be explored with the depth they deserve. There is also the real temptation of “playing to the crowd” in public venues, where a good conversation turns into a points-scoring match. Finally, I note that in this particular venue, where I would be far outnumbered by those who disagree with me, I probably won’t enjoy it as much.

      All that is to say, would you be interested in a private email exchange? It is a much better way to have a friendly conversation on netural ground. Who knows, we may even strike up a friendship. If you are interested, please shoot me an email.

      [email protected]

    • Rob Bowman

      V.,

      Your statement that we have biblical manuscripts that date back to about “2,500 A.D.” needs some fixing. AD 2500 cannot be correct (AD 2500) is still in the future!) and 2500 BC is too early (no book of the Bible was even written that early). Perhaps you mean that we have biblical manuscripts dating about 2500 years ago. If so, this is close to being correct depending on what counts as a “manuscript.” Currently the earliest extant manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (OT) date from as early as the third century BC, or about 2300 years ago. There is also the famous archaeological discovery of the silver scrolls that have the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 written on them; these scrolls are about 2500 years old. They are discussed elsewhere on this site: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/08/top-ten-biblical-discoveries-in-archaeology-4-ketef-hinnom-silver-amulet-scroll/

    • Rob Bowman

      James,

      Although V.’s presentation of the argument needs some cleaning up, he’s basically correct in pointing out that it is verifiable fact that the Bible has existed for thousands of years, whereas there is every reason to date the origin of the Book of Mormon to the 1820s. There is no manuscript evidence whatsoever for the Book of Mormon, other than Joseph Smith’s English version. (The “Anthon transcript” doesn’t even count, since it was supposedly copied from another part of the gold plates than the Book of Mormon. In any case, even the Anthon transcript dates from the 1820s.)

      I’m not prepared to agree with you in rejecting the coherency test of Scripture. The textual information we have shows that Jesus and his apostles accepted such a standard (e.g., Matt. 5:17-18; 22:29; Acts 17:11). I grant that we don’t have sufficient information to resolve definitively every alleged and apparent discrepancy within the Bible on such relatively inconsequential matters as numbers, dates, and the like. However, where the NT presses the matter is in the theological coherence of the gospel with the teachings of the OT; the NT writings quote the OT profusely for the precise purpose of showing that the gospel that the NT presents coheres with the teachings of the Scriptures the Jews already had. It is incumbent on Mormons to do the same thing with regard to the “restored gospel” they claim to have taught in their extrabiblical scriptures.

    • James

      Rob,

      Your reply is a bit confusing to me. You point out that there are no ancient manuscripts evidence for the Book of Mormon, as if this were contrary to something I’ve said. I certainly didn’t make that claim. I *certainly* don’t think the Anthon transcript has anything to do with it, so that comment seems to have come out of left field.

      I know that you tangle with Hamblin and others at the MDDB, so I’m confident that you are a bit more familiar with LDS apologetic approaches than you are letting on here. I’m unaware of any Mormon apologist (much less a prominent one) who argues that ancient manuscripts of the text of the Book of Mormon currently exist. The textual history of the Book of Mormon, as told by Mormons and by the Book of Mormon itself, precludes the possibility anyway. As you know, Mormons believe that the one and only original copy of the Book of Mormon was hidden away for many centuries until it was delivered to Joseph Smith. Therefore, no ancient manuscript copies or translations of it would be expected.

      Nonetheless, when a relatively modern copy/translation is all that exists of an originally ancient text, we can still find clues to its ancient origin. Such is the case, I believe, with the Slavonic texts of 2nd Enoch. We don’t need the original text, nor the intervening copies, to determine that a modern translation has its origin in antiquity. You, Rob, can tangle with Hamblin et al., over the strength of arguments in favor of an ancient BOM text, but the basic methodology can’t be denied.

      I can’t take you on in a debate Rob. I work fulltime in an unrelated field, so I don’t have your breadth or depth of knowledge in the relevant fields. V. and I are now carrying on our conversation elsewhere, so I’ll bow out now.

    • Rob Bowman

      James,

      Having corrected V. regarding one of his main criticisms of the Book of Mormon, I was simply explaining that properly stated his criticism is quite valid. I wasn’t suggesting that you or other LDS apologists claimed that there were ancient manuscripts of the Book of Mormon extant. Thus, your comment about me being more familiar with Mormon apologetics than I let on was off the mark.

      I do, on the other hand, claim that this fact is more significant than you admit. Yes, given the narrative that Joseph Smith produced about the Book of Mormon’s origins, we are given to understand that no copies were made other than the one set of gold plates. But does that mean there is no problem? Hardly. Rather, it looks for all the world like a device of convenience; the story precludes other copies to account for the lack of copies. That problem could easily have been overcome by allowing the public to view the plates, as Joseph allowed in the case of the Egyptian papyri he claimed contained the writings of the Genesis patriarchs Abraham and Joseph. Or he could have produced a substantial copy of a few pages of text from the gold plates along with his inspired translation of same. Instead for nearly two years he would let no one see the plates, not even his wife, and just before they disappeared for good he allowed eleven family members and supporters to see them briefly.

      I will comment on 2 Enoch in a separate post.

      By the way, on January 1 of this year I withdrew from posting on the Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board, once it became clear that the moderators were joining in the violation of their own rules and had drawn a line that made genuine dialogue impossible.

    • Rob Bowman

      James,

      Your comparison of the Book of Mormon to 2 Enoch is unhelpful to your cause, for so many reasons. (1) There are more than 20 Slavonic manuscripts, not just one, produced by different individuals at different times. (2) Coptic fragments discovered in 2009 date from before the origin of the Slavonic version(s) and confirm what all scholars already knew, which was that the book was originally written in something other than Slavonic (probably Greek) long before modern times. (3) The book of 2 Enoch did not appear under suspicious circumstances, as did the Book of Mormon. (4) So far as I know, no one is making 2 Enoch the basis for starting a new religion. If anyone was doing so, one would have every right to ask for good evidence substantiating its claims. (5) While scholars have proposed a range of dates for 2 Enoch, everyone agrees it was written about three thousand years or more after the time of Enoch! In this one respect your comparison is, in a backhanded way, completely appropriate: 2 Enoch and the Book of Mormon are both apocryphal works that are not what they purport to be.

    • James

      Rob,

      I know I said I’d stay away, but I just can’t help myself on this one.

      Once again, you appear to have responded to things I did not claim. Of your five points, none of them contradict the simple point I was making. I was comparing 2nd Enoch to the Book of Mormon in only a very narrow sense, and yet you seem to be attempting to compare 2nd Enoch and the Book of Mormon on a much grander scale. For the record, I agree with every one of your five points (except that the BoM was produced under “suspicious circumstances”, or that it is apocryphal.).

      My narrow point is that the case of 2nd Enoch demonstrates that scholars can conclude that a book is much older than any extant copy, and that its original language and culture are different from the one in which extant manuscripts were created. This is exactly the case of the Book of Mormon. We don’t need original manuscripts or copies from the intervening years in order to demonstrate that the English language translation has its origin in another language, time, and place.

      Fortunately, you already agree with the logic of that methodology and stated such with your comment #2. I grant that you can agree with the methodology without agreeing with where Mormons take it from there.

    • Mitchell

      Well I don’t have time right now to read the article or the comments but my thought don’t require that first.
      1. I think that Glenn Beck (Mormon) and Dennis Prager (Jew) have the best Christian Worldviews I’ve heard on the radio. (Note that I say “I’ve” to qualify and limit that to my experience.) That includes several local Christian radio hosts, although a couple of the substitutes hosts come close.
      2. Note that the word “Christian” is never defined. It is assumed that “everyone” knows what a Christian is. If a definition is every attempted it is not from an Evangelical, Reformed or even Catholic (and some world argue Catholics are not Christian from their perspective.) perspective.
      3. I grew up in a Russian Molokan community and know that some in that community were indeed “saved” yet still participated in activities and beliefs that would be questioned by most Christians (by the definition of Credo House). So I would say that you can be a Christian AND a Mormon, but if you are just a Mormon then you are likely not a Christian.
      I’ll be back to read the comments after I’ve read the article on my Kindle. Not sure what the “19” in the title of this post means, but I’m afraid there are at least 18 other posts on the topic of “Are Mormons Christians?”.
      PS – I got here because I’m researching the topic: What can Evangelicals Learn from Mormons. So far it seems we can learn about Youth Ministry, Family Ministry and “Gap Years” (Mission time before college). I’m sure there is a lot more too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.