Is it really that hard of a decision?

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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. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    181 replies to "Difference Between Christianity and Other Religions in a Nutshell"

    • Hodge

      “I have not yet found a verse in the Bible that could not be reconciled just fine with Mormonism. So I don’t feel like we are “explaining away” anything here.”

      So you reject the notion that the Bible was in any way corrupted? You reject anyone who claims that the Bible was in any way corrupted, or where it disagrees with Mormonism, it corrupted? You reject anyone who claims that the text as it exists right now or in Smith’s day, contradicts Mormonism and as such must be corrupted? I just want to be clear before I tell you who you’re rejecting according to Mormonism.

    • Hodge

      “What is the basis of your conviction in the Bible?”

      Faith. It’s been supernaturally given to me. I believe the Bible whether I feel like it’s true or not. I may sometimes feel confirmation of it and sometimes not. My feelings are corrupt and therefore irrelevant to its truth, especially since the devil uses my corruption to delude me with all sorts of false religion.

    • Seth R.

      I withhold judgment on what may or may not be corrupt in the Bible. I think the primary deficits in the Bible are what was LEFT OUT rather than what is currently in there.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, what is the difference between a “supernatural witness” and “feelings?”

      Because you are using language almost identical to what I hear from my fellow Mormons.

    • Hodge

      I believe the supernatural gift, not witness (that’s different language that conveys something else), is the cause of my belief. It does not come through feeling but an enlightenment to acknowledge what the Bible says is true. This is different from the burning in the bosom by the very language used. If you want to say you see them as the same, that’s fine. I just have never heard that from any Mormon before. You do, however, acknowledge that it is at least a feeling, even if it is more, and that is where we differ. A feeling may accompany faith, but it is not necessarily a part of it.

    • Hodge

      “I withhold judgment on what may or may not be corrupt in the Bible. I think the primary deficits in the Bible are what was LEFT OUT rather than what is currently in there.”

      Well, you’re in continuity and discontinuity with the historic Mormon witness here. Yes, it includes what was left out; but Mormon authorities include its corruption, even the possibility that the entire Bible is corrupt, without a single verse in tact. Most would simply limit it to where it does not agree with Mormonism; but all in all, the witness is clear that although the Bible is useful, it is to be suspect as filled with errors where it disagrees with Mormon doctrine (that statement, made by Mormon leaders, assumes that the Bible does disagree with Mormon doctrine at points). I, of course, can give you a few verses where the Mormon prophets themselves say the Bible is wrong, so there are some official statements as to certain places; but in the end, if one believes the Bible is corrupt it provides a…

    • Hodge

      way out when one cannot reconcile what is most certainly in conflict with Mormon teaching, which again, goes back to the fact that Mormonism as it stands is in discontinuity with the Bible as it stands. Hence, Michael’s argument has not been discredited by your bringing up Mormonism as a possible exception.

    • Seth R.

      I’d be interested in seeing those quotes. Because the current LDS official stance does not claim any specific passages to be expressly in error.

      As for feelings vs. witness vs. enlightenment – I suspect all you are doing is using different terminology from Mormons to describe exactly the same thing.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, that might be an available cop-out, but I don’t use it. And I know of no LDS authorities who use it.

      Because we don’t have to. Because LDS doctrine is not in “discontinuity” with the Bible.

      And anyway, I didn’t originally bring up Mormonism as an exception to Michael’s rule. I brought up Elijah as an exception to Michael’s rule.

    • Hodge

      “I brought up Elijah as an exception to Michael’s rule.”

      Sorry, I jumped in half way and didn’t read the previous posts. I only read your latter posts making the claim that Mormonism fits the bill.

      “And I know of no LDS authorities who use it. Because we don’t have to. Because LDS doctrine is not in “discontinuity” with the Bible.”

      Did Smith believe the Bible AS IT STANDS, not as it supposedly was, is in continuity with Mormonism?

      “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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).

    • Hodge

      Did Young?

      “You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe…I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 6).

      Did Pratt?

      “…and who, in his right mind, could for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 28).

      Did McConkie?

      “The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity – manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas” (The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).

    • Hodge

      Did Hinckley?

      “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations”. (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, letter dated May 22, 1992).

      How can we judge whether a biblical passage is accurate if it’s all in perfect continuity with the Book of Mormon and current Mormon doctrine anyway?

    • Seth R.

      Yes Hodges, I don’t see a problem with any of those quotes and what I’ve just said.

      None of them really claim the Bible to be in outright error in any stated particular. Some of them suggest it without getting specific – which is no more or less than I have done here.

      The closest thing would be Brigham Young’s statement, but all that really does is show he wasn’t a literalist on certain passages but viewed some of them symbolically – which is no different from what many of the Protestant participants on this blog believe.

    • Hodge

      “This has been thoroughly answered by Mormon apologists and historians.”

      It’s been answered from a Mormon perspective. The most logical explanation is that he lied about physically seeing them initially and then when backed into a corner, he admitted that he only saw them in a spiritual sense. The attempt to reconcile them by using both of his statements as equally true is a matter of believing he was telling the truth on both occasions. In any case, a few witnesses is not what Michael is talking about by his use of the term “public.”

    • Seth R.

      Which just demonstrates to me that you didn’t actually read the article.

    • Hodge

      Wow, Seth. I think this shows that Mormonism is in no way harmonious to biblical religion, but instead that Mormons or any other group can harmonize anything by twisting it according to its technicalities. Young believed that Adam was God. That’s why he didn’t believe the Bible when it said that Adam was taken from the dust. Your claiming that he wasn’t a literalist is absurd to anyone familiar with his hermeneutic. He was an ULTRA literalist, which is why he rejected what he did and interpreted the Bible so strangely on many occasions. Note that he does not say he rejects the interpretation but that Adam came from the dust. He does not say that the dust means something else, only that he rejects it.

      In any case, your claim that this isn’t used by leaders as a cop-out isn’t true. It’s used by them to explain why the Bible differs so dramatically from Mormon religion. That’s why it plays such a prominent role in every “theology” book in Mormon religion from Teachings to…

    • Hodge

      Oh right, Seth. I just got done reading it, but I must not have because I didn’t come to your apologists conclusions.

      I suggest reading and checking out the original documents still published by the Mormon church (as I have always done) found in the Tanner’s, “The Changing World of Mormonism.” Despite what Mormon apologists claim, the book is absolutely accurate.

    • This makes Me Sick

      This is actually hugely rude, insulting, and incredibly inaccurate. People like you shut down dialogue; this sort of thinking is the foundation of prejudice, hatred, intolerance and even war. Makes me sick.

    • Seth R.

      No, because you breezily ignored everything the article said, all the historical documentation of multiple sources and accounts of what Harris said, and simply boiled it down to – “well I’m right anyway because I say so.”

      You simply did not credibly answer the claims raised there.

      But at any rate, you’re trying to open this up to a general debate on Mormonism – which is not the point of Michael’s original post. We can debate Mormonism here for ages. But the point was Michael’s formula for invalidating some religious traditions.

      It is a deeply problematic formula that damages the prophetic claims of Elijah and Isaiah just as much as it damages the likes of Joseph Smith.

    • cherylu

      Hi Seth,

      Unless my memory is completely failing me, I at one point in time asked either you or your friend Jared which one you would believe if there was a conflict between the Bible and the Book or Mormon. Which ever one of you it was answered, “The Book of Mormon.” Do you remember that conversation?

      Isn’t that answer in itself an admission that which ever one of you said that believes there are errors in the Bible? Or that there is a discontinuity between it and the Book of Mormon?

    • Seth R.

      And by the way Hodges, if you are so utterly bankrupt of effective arguments and ideas here that you have to resort to making this about me personally, there really is no point in continuing to talk to you.

      This debate is obviously not going your way, and you are now trying to desperately make this about me and how “deluded” or “dishonest” I am.

      And you are now combining this with what I like to call the “shotgun tactic.”

      What it means is that when you are losing on one angle of attack – quickly change the subject to something else (like Adam-God) and hope no one notices that you just lost the point you were debating. Repeat as many times as necessary.

      But I’m not buying it. Neither you nor Michael have demonstrated how his little cartoon doesn’t eviscerate half the prophets of the Old Testament.

    • Ed Kratz

      thismakesmesick,

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think your comment helps much in dialogue?

      And the post is not really about seeking dialogue anyway. Just to provoke thought. Just saying it is wrong does not really help. Can you name me another religion who’s foundational claims are:

      1. Open to public and historic examination
      2. Are substantial enough to demand an allegiance

      I am open to dialogue.

    • Seth R.

      I don’t remember saying that Cherylu.

      I don’t view the Book of Mormon as inerrant either – mostly because the text itself says it is not.

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth,

      Again, I don’t base my faith on the prophets in the OT. If Christ has not done what he did publically and if the Exodus was not done the way it was, I would not be a Christian (at least not from an intellectual standpoint) because I would have not warrant for my faith.

      But since Christ did what he did, I believe his word concerning the OT and all the prophets.

      Again, it is the basis of the major movements of our faith. Mine is not based on Elijah, Abraham, or Isaiah, but on the historic incarnation of Jesus.

      If God is going to make another “turn” in our faith (which I don’t think he will Heb 1:1-2), then it would have to be historic and public as well. Private fringe testimony can come from anyone. Why should I be expected to believe if it is done in secret and only has one person’s (or even two or three) testimony.

      God does not and has not worked that way in history. Read Isa 40-48. He is epic.

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I’ve already told you my faith is not based on Joseph Smith and the prophets either.

      So what is the difference between us on this score?

    • Seth R.

      Incidentally, the Tanners are not an accurate source for fully reporting LDS documents.

      Those two were famous for their use of the ellipses.

      Normally an ellipses is simply used to cut out unnecessary text. At least, that is how responsible academics use them.

      The Tanners however, would start some quote off from, say, Brigham Young – and then put in an ellipses – and then continue on with the text.

      But when you actually investigate the source document, you find out that little ellipses of the Tanners’ encompasses entire paragraphs, and sometimes entire pages worth of content! It was utterly unscholarly and irresponsible behavior.

      And it didn’t help that the Tanners did not see fit to let the text speak for itself, but would instead amateurishly (and deceptively) add in bold text and underlining to the quoted text on a constant basis. Real scholars don’t behave like that. They let the text speak for itself.

    • Hodge

      Seth,

      You remind me of every Mormon I’ve ever met. I just demolished your arguments, but through reinterpreting everything according to technicalities of language, you think your harmonizing everything, and then saying that you’ve made great arguments. In fact, I brought up Young’s interpretation, NOT BECAUSE I’M DISCUSSING HIS ADAM-GOD THEORY, but because it shows that He specifically rejects the biblical text, not just an interpretation of the text, as you ignorantly claim. I would suggest you read through the first volume of Journal of Discourses and look at how he interprets the Bible. I think you would find it quite enlightening if you put down your Mormon apologetic for two minutes.
      So I’ve done no such thing as put forth a shotgun approach. All of my comments have to do with whether Mormonism is in continuity with the Bible as it stands. All the leaders of Mormonism, whether they specify a particular passage or not, believe it is not. You idiosyncratically say it is.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, first off, I would question the degree to which the Adam-God concept is at odds with the Bible. Brigham Young and Apostle Orson Pratt had several pointed disputes over that point.

      Secondly, I would point out that such teachings are not a part of modern Mormon belief anyway. No one in the LDS Church today teaches it, no one in my local congregation even knows what it is – except me and one other older gentleman who has an interest in historical oddities.

      So perhaps this wasn’t the best example for you, to begin with.

    • Hodge

      So you are trying to make this about me (i.e., I’m making it personal). It’s not personal, Seth. Every Mormon I know does this. You are committed to Mormonism no matter what. So be it. I’m committed to historic Christianity no matter what. But let’s not act like you have good objective arguments to disprove Christian apologists and prove Mormon apologists correct. Case in point, I know what the man said. All the article does is try to show that he said two different things that must harmonize with one another. My point is that it is likely that he just lied about it and changed his story, as is a common human thing to do. You’re pretending that I didn’t deal honestly with the article is just a matter of you believing the conclusions. How would you like me to interact with it? It’s a matter of interpretation, not fact. The only way to deal with it is to look at it wholistically. I believe the claim is false and the two versions verify that. You believe it’s true and they cohere…

    • Hodge

      “Secondly, I would point out that such teachings are not a part of modern Mormon belief anyway. No one in the LDS Church today teaches it, no one in my local congregation even knows what it is – except me and one other older gentleman who has an interest in historical oddities.”

      Seth,
      I’m now going to nail you to the wall every time you present a red herring, since you’ve accused me of a “shotgun” approach that seeks to do the same. I, of course, have been arguing the same thing all along. This is one of those examples.
      The point is not whether Mormonism currently believes in the Adam-God theory. Who cares? My point is that Young saw it as contradicting the Bible, and the Bible at this point to be in error. But it’s all moot anyway, as the point is that somewhere in the Bible, at some point, all Mormon leaders agree, it is corrupt, and the reason why is that it conflicts with Mormon doctrine at some point. So, again, Mormonism is not in continuity with the Bible as it…

    • Hodge

      stands, period.

    • Seth R.

      Logical failure here:

      Brigham Young not in continuity with the Bible does not equal MORMONISM not in continuity with the Bible. Especially when you are talking about an item that the larger Mormon tradition did not adopt in the first place.

      Edit: Not that I’m admitting that Brigham Young was not in continuity, mind you.

    • Seth R.

      And hold on a second here…

      You are asserting that Brigham Young openly and clearly considered his own teachings to be at odds with the Bible?

      That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I have looked into the record on Adam-God somewhat. Perhaps you could provide a quote where Young made this admission?

    • Hodge

      Seth,

      You’ve won. I’m not going to argue the point anymore with you, as it seems clear that you cannot even understand what I’m arguing. My bringing up Young was to give you an example against your claim that Mormon leaders don’t point out specific texts as errors as an excuse to deal with their contradictions with Mormon doctrine. In Young’s time, he demanded that everyone believe it; but that is neither here nor there.
      Mormonism claims the Bible is in error. If Mormonism is in continuity with the Bible, Mormonism is also in error. If Mormonism is not in error, and the Bible is in error somewhere, even if not known where, Mormonism is not in continuity with the Bible. That’s the last time I’m going to present it. I’m out.

    • Seth R.

      Well, if you’ve got a quote from Brigham Young pointing out that he actually considered his teachings to be in direct conflict with the Bible, please share.

      From what I know of Brigham Young, I think it’s actually possible there is something out there where he did make such declaration. If that’s true, my limited point about no LDS leaders stating error specifically in the Bible would indeed be wrong.

      I’ll admit it’s quite possible. But it’s not something I’m going to concede just because someone here asserts it – without more.

    • Ed Kratz

      Guys, stick to the subject of the post. To the degree that it effects Mormonism, good. But it is very easy to go too broad here.

      Seth,

      All I can say is that you have done nothing to suggest that this illustration is not accurate. I have every reason to believe that the prophets were correct as Christ’s testimony is enough for me. I have no reason to believe in private revelations (esp those that purport enormous claims that change the interpretation of the historic Christian faith). My point is that God is not silent in these type of movements. Anyone can claim things as long as the basis of their claims are kept behind closed doors. The warrant for such a surrendering of belief is simply not present.

    • Ed Kratz

      By the way, according to the same standards I reject the King James Only movement which says that the translators were “inspired.” There is just no reason to believe it.

    • Michael Meadon

      And was Jesus publicly conceived of a virgin? (I mean, there’s no chance that Mary would lie about pre-marital sex in a patriarchal society with a penchant for stoning, is there?). And did the Angel Gabriel publicly chat with Mary?

      Besides, all this “publicly did X” stuff comes from deeply unreliable sources.

    • Seth R.

      But Michael, if your only objection here is the “closed doors” aspect, then neither Islam nor Mormonism has a problem under your illustration.

      Because both of them “went public.”

      Extremely public.

    • brian

      except it took 400 years to report it in writing and half of that was done from Greece – by people who were not part of the “public” who witnessed it!

    • voyth

      There is a logical mistake in your way of thinking. Jesus (if he ever lived) also had a private vision of God (if he exists). So no matter which religion – it’s always one big lie.

    • Ron

      Perhaps the key is this, the faith delivered by the apostles is falsifiable, a quality not found in hardly any other belief system. If the bones of Christ are discovered, I walk away, though with great grief. I do not think that will ever happen, though. So much evidence for the resurrection exists that one must willfully discount the most plausible explanation, that Christ rose from the dead, and seek weak naturalistic explainationsl

    • Ed Kratz

      “except it took 400 years to report it in writing and half of that was done from Greece – by people who were not part of the “public” who witnessed it!”

      No, actually the first writing was done about a decade after Jesus death and everything written in accordance with the apostolic testimony was written in the first century. From there, the early church fathers (some of whom were disciples of the original apostles) cited the evidence in their writings so that you do have verifiable evidence before the Bible was actually packaged as a book.

    • Senthil

      Ha ha ha.. Ignorance is bliss.

    • Chambers, echo

      I see that moderators allow tangential argument, but an opinion clearly expressed about the actual topic is removed.

      Dear all: please consider whether “publicness” is really a good gauge of truth claims.

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth, the central FOUNDATIONAL EVENTS of both Islam and Mormonism were done with the doors shut. The foundation events of Christianity were done with the doors wide open. I have said this and qualified it so many times that this is really becoming bad stewardship of my time.

      The illustration above still stands in my opinion.

      Hope you are doing well…

    • lyesmith

      Yeah, Jesus have done so many miracles that no one cares to mention them only 40 years after his death. However for some reason all his miracles is a copy-cat from an other religion.

    • Ed Kratz

      “But Michael, if your only objection here is the “closed doors” aspect, then neither Islam nor Mormonism has a problem under your illustration.

      Because both of them “went public.”

      Extremely public.”

      Well of course it “went public”. That is the point of the cartoons. Each end with the belief and claim going public. The point is not whether something goes public, but whether the central defining events that claim to demand our attention and belief were done in secret or public. If it is public, it opens itself up to examination and historic scrutiny. As was said above, it is falsifiable. If it happened behind closed doors, it is just one man’s/woman’s word.

      Again, you decide.

    • Ed Kratz

      Lye,

      Even if that were true, let’s think about it for a minute. Could I start a religion based on claims for the public Crucifixion and resurrection (and post-resurrection appearances) 40 years later and expect it to be not only accepted, but flourish now or any time? If I were to suddenly make up these events and say they happened in 1970, they would be shut down, not based on alternative theories (which was the attempt), but on the basis that nothing like that ever happened. That is why those who start a religion must do so based on private events. Keeping thing behind closed doors makes the events beyond historic examination.

      And, hense, the pictures of the OP.

      And concerning your theory about Christianity borrowing for other religions, we will have to save that for another time. Suffice it to say that that is, from my perspective, more of a faith based claim then the event of the resurrection itself!

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