Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Worshiping Jesus differently does not equal "a different Jesus"


I had an epiphany yesterday. This is how it came about. After hearing over and over the accusation that "Mormons worship a different Jesus"--I started to recognize why some people of other faiths have claimed (wrongly I might add) that we are being deceptive or disingenuous when we say that we are Christians. In frustration they state: "We are simply talking about a different Jesus than you". Both parties tend to go away frustrated from this type of exchange, and nothing productive seems to come of it.

Now of course if Latter-day Saints believed only that Jesus was simply a great prophet and wonderful moral leader–if that were the extent of our testimony or our witness of Christ, than they would be right in assuming that that does not make us Christian. But few people bear stronger witness of Christ--and that He is much, much more than that--than do the Latter-day Saints. Of His divineness there is no doubt. We bear witness that Jesus is the Christ–the very Anointed One–and of His Messianic mission. The Book of Mormon confirms the truth of the Bible in this fundamental fact. So to be very honest, the claim that we are not Christian seems so pointless to most Mormons, because we know that we believe in and worship Jesus, and are therefore Christian.

But their claim of “a different Jesus”–that one is a tab bit more interesting. Because there are “differences” in our belief for sure. We believe in the Christ of the Bible, but not the Christ of post-biblical councils and creeds. I was there in person and remember when President Hinckley said:

"As a Church we have many critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient traditions, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes from the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke to them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision of the Almighty Redeemer of the world glorifying our understanding, but unequivocating in the knowledge it brought." (April 2002 General Conference)

Can it be put any more simply? Both sides accept the biblical teachings about Christ, but we interpret them through different lenses. Yes, this is a difference. No one has ever claimed "we're the same". So the epiphany I had was how to respond to this claim.

Even though we have differences in our Christian beliefs, (ie: Evangelicals believe in the Trinity where all three persons are one being; I believe in the Godhead where three distinct beings are one completely unified God) does that really mean that one of us can’t be Christian? I don’t necessarily think so. Or rather, do those differences really mean that we’re worshiping a “different Jesus”? I think the better answer is that perhaps we’re just worshiping Jesus differently.

58 comments:

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

Mormons do worship a different Jesus though. The modern revelation given to Joseph Smith is that us "traditional types" are false in our beliefs, and are an apostate church. We are clearly described as the "church of the devil" in 1 Nephi 13 (incidentally this has been the claim of JW's, Christian Scientist's, the World Wide Church of God when they were considered a "cult," and many more that sprang up during the 1800's and early 1900's).

Worshiping Jesus differently is what you would see when comparing a Midwestern Country Church to a Southern Baptist African American Church. Mormon differences go much deeper then a "different" style of worship. Mormon doctrine has a different plan for salvation, a different nature prescribed to Jesus and God, a different take on heaven, a different take on church procedures (the priesthood of Aaron, Melchizedek priesthood, and etc.), a different view of prophets and prophecy. The list goes on, and as one could clearly see there is much more then a difference in "style of worship". It goes beyond the basic differences you see in "traditional" denominational worship and goes to a theological core in Mormonism.

Mormon doctrine considers the "Traditional Revelation" an apostate revelation. Lost sometime after the apostles died, in which Joseph Smith is the messenger of this true revelation. The message contained in this revelation is the apostate church is false and outlines new beliefs as to why it is false. So its not just the traditionalists that hold Mormons=heresy, but also a Mormon view that Traditionalists=heresy.

So it appears to me, that modern Mormons for whatever reason have decided that they want to become just another "denomination" in the view of the "Church of the Devil". While appealing to this desire, they will tell me that in order to reach the Celestial level of heaven, I must be a Mormon (incidentally the levels of heaven thought is not in the BofM) and my views are an apostate view(which being an apostate in Mormon theology doesn't get me punished,I just can't be a god of my own planet). This of course isn't shared by Mormons during their everyday encounters. Instead they put up a screen where they say they are no different and they just have a "different" testament of Jesus that takes place in the America's, providing the Bible with back up and confirmation.
Be Honest.

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

Clean Cut said...

The only dishonesty that I detect here is that you're claiming to be an expert about what I believe. What's your motivation Brooks? Let's say you've made your point. Do you want me to say "Thank you. I now see the error of my ways"? I haven't said anything to provoke anybody--only to seek understanding. You're coming across as if you have an agenda. Is this how you want to come across?

We can still disagree without being disagreeable.

My only advice to you would be the same that Gamaliel reasoned when Peter and the early Apostles were testifying of the divinity of Jesus Christ:
“If this . . . work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.” (Acts 5:38-39).

In other words--lay off. It we're so wrong, then we'll eventually "come to naught". But if Mormonism "be of God, ye cannot overthrow it"--so why try so hard in the first place?

Clean Cut said...

For anyone else wanting to "contend"--this isn't the place. Please limit your comments to your own beliefs--not mine. They're not up for debate or argument here. And they're certainly not up for being misrepresented.

I would venture to say that I am the world’s authority on what I believe. You are not.

I quote from Stephen Robinson: “When non-Mormons attempt to impose doctrines on the Latter-day Saints or interpret them for us, the resulting fictions generally fall into one of three categories: outright fabrications, distortions of genuine LDS doctrines into unrecognizable forms, or the representation of anomalies within the LDS tradition as mainline or official LDS teaching.” ("Are Mormons Christian?")

I'm not trying to minimize our differences. But it's not your job to criticize them either. I’m not afraid to share distinctive LDS beliefs about Jesus and His redemptive mission. But nor am I afraid to explore commonalities.

I believe that I am a Christian because I accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, try to follow his moral commands as best as possible, as well as his teachings about who he is. This is actually at the heart of what I believe. But I am not saying that I am “just like you”. I am Christian no doubt, but different.

So let me believe what I believe and I'll let you believe what you believe. "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." (11th Article of Faith)

A more productive statement than "Don't you believe in a different Jesus?” (which is a conversation stopper) would be “What do you believe about Jesus?” (a conversation starter).

I believe that out of God’s great love for us, He sent His son to earth to become our intercessor and put us “at-one” again with God. He was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Ghost. He led a sinless life, and he taught the way we should live, and we have an obligation to follow Him.

Most importantly, he voluntarily gave up his life as part of an infinite and eternal atonement on our behalf. This is why he died on the cross. This is why he was resurrected. I could go on. But the only issue that REALLY matters is the issue that is never brought up.

That would be the heart of what we do and say and teach and believe as Latter-day Saints. Again, to paraphrase Robinson: “Though all the world may say that Latter-day Saints do not know or love or worship [the real] Jesus Christ, I know that we do, and if this is not the issue in question, or if this is not enough to be counted a Christian, the the word as lost its meaning.”

I will never argue or debate. I hope that's clear. If that's what you'd like, we can part ways now. I thank you in advance for your “convicted civility”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6VoeO7Bwk

Sally said...

I think that's what frustrates me most about anti-Mormons: the inability to agree to disagree. Why can't I share my testimony, and you share yours, and though we may be different, why can't we respect each other's view? And find the commonality rather than the divisiveness?

I thank you, Clean Cut, for sticking to your beliefs, respecting others' beliefs, and not getting sucked into the totally unproductive realm of Bible Bashing.

brooksrobinson said...

I‘m not Bible bashing or Mormon bashing, I simply answered the question as to why we as Traditionalists cannot accept Mormonism as a denomination. What I find every time this sort of discussion occurs and this question is asked by Mormons, the Mormon beings throwing out proof text verses to defend why he doesn‘t have to explain, provides no Biblical basis as to why they believe such things, and claims there‘s Mormon bashing going on here. It is clear, the Bible says test prophecies. I am testing the prophecy of Joseph Smith by asking my question, give me Biblical based reason’s as why I should accept his revelation and his radically different idea of God? Until any Mormon can do so and defend it Biblically an in context, this question will always be asked by Mormons, “Why can’t you Traditionalists accept us as Christians?”
Be Honest

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

Sally said...

Well, I guess to me it comes down to a definition of Christianity. I define a Christian, like Clean Cut said, as someone who belives in Christ as their Savior, and who does their best to follow Him.

It seems that Brooks adds a bunch of stipulations to it. (Although under this premise I don't understand why Catholicism is considered Christian--they don't fit into the Prodestant box either).

We, as Mormons, aren't trying to deny our own unique doctrine (the Nature of God, the Plan of Salvation, etc.) to try and be "just another denomination" with other Christians. I embrace that other doctrine! That's what brings me such joy!

We just get a little baffled when others say we are not Christian, when by our definition--a follower of Christ--we clearly could not be more so!

It's just so foreign to me. I don't go around picking apart everyone else's beliefs and note the differences and try to say that they're really not what they say they are. If someone says they're a Christian, I'm happy for them and am glad we've found some common ground in Christ. The End.

S.Faux said...

We LDS definitely worship the Jesus of the New Testament. I have posted an essay entitled Do Mormons Worship Jesus?

I am not convinced that the LDS worship Jesus much differently than other Christians. It would be very difficult to distinguish Mormon prayers from Protestant prayers. Maybe you are splitting hairs that I am failing to see.

One main difference is in our views of Apostolic authority and priesthood. The New Testament is very clear about the struggles of the early Church and the importance of the Apostles in dealing with those struggles. It seems to me that living Apostles with an authorized priesthood are just as important today than ever. There is nothing in the New Testament that suggests to me that Apostles would become obsolete.

True, Apostles must testify of the resurrection. This is one reason why Mormons believe in continuing revelation. The experience of the Apostle Paul sets an example.

Further, early Christians continued to attend the temple. For example, Acts 2:46 indicates routine temple worship. Temples did not become obsolete with the death of Christ; they became more important. (Sure, certain practices would change, like animal sacrifice).

Faith in Christ is an extremely powerful thing. Consequently, Mormons MUST have high regard for any Christian believer. One does not need the priesthood to have faith -- even a very powerful and meaningful faith.

brooksrobinson said...

Sally:

“I define a Christian, like Clean Cut said, as someone who believes in Christ as their Savior, and who does their best to follow Him.”

Key words, you define a Christian as that. The Bible has another definition of who is a believer.

“It seems that Brooks adds a bunch of stipulations to it.”
I do not add any stipulations to that equation. I let the Bible do the talking mate. When Paul’s salvation formula in Romans states that one must confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. There is already another non-Brooks stipulation added to your words, “’Christ as their Savior, and who does their best to follow Him.’” As I stated before, the key is the word, “Lord” and what this word means to the Jews writers, especially considering Paul was a Jewish Pharisee.

The word “Lord” in Greek is kyrios. It is the closest thing Jews had to the Hebrew Adoni, when they translated the Hebrew Bible into the Greek Bible in the 2nd century BC. This word became so identified with YHWH, to the Hellenistic Hebrews, they refused to even acknowledge the Caesar of Rome with that title. Yet this word was a simple Greek word for Lord. So when Paul used this, he knew exactly what he was doing(being a Pharisee and being familiar with this word), because merely using this word as he did, would spell utter retribution in the actions of pious Jewish leaders, and it did.

So the added stipulation is not my own, but is what Paul wrote in Romans for a confession statement. This stipulation is clearly seen through out the gospel of Jesus as well, so to deny Jesus is the same being as YHWH, is to miss one portion of the confession formula that makes one a believer.
Be Honest.

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

Sally said...

Blah, Blah, Blah. Brooks, you're getting caught up in symantics, and missing the bigger issue: why do you care that I may see things differently than you? Why can't you just respect my beliefs and let it go at that?

Clean Cut said...

Brooks, I dare say you're putting a little too much stock into words. (Especially condescending is the continued "Be Honest".)

I put much more stock in my heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and my personal relationship with my Savior than I do with words or academics. This too, is fully consistent with the Bible. There is no required "confession formula". There is, however, required covenant making.

The gospel, as taught by all the prophets and apostles in every age and time, is quite simple. You're explanation is definitely not.

Clean Cut said...

I also agree with Sally.

brooksrobinson said...

Sally:
“I define a Christian, like Clean Cut said, as someone who believes in Christ as their Savior, and who does their best to follow Him.”

Key word, you define a Christian by that. The Bible has other notions.

“It seems that Brooks adds a bunch of stipulations to it.”

I added no stipulations that are my own. Romans 10 is clear, those who confess Jesus as Lord and savior are considered believers. I already defined the context of Lord here, which is the context we must use considering the Jewish origins of the writer, and Christianity. Also its worthy to note, Jesus himself taught that he was YHWH. By ignoring this teaching, Mormonism picks and chooses what teachings of Christ it follows.

“Although under this premise I don't understand why Catholicism is considered Christian”

Like many evangelicals, I consider many of the Catholics dogma’s to be heretical teachings. However, despite this, they do not deny that Christ as YHWH, like Mormon dogma. This leads me on to another point, anyone who claims that Jesus is YHWH, and accepts him as Savior is a believer. Mormon dogma is clear on who Jesus is…and that is a god who is created, who allows men to become gods. Mormon dogma belittles the eternal God of the universe into an office position of like minded god‘s, rather then a being who is eternal. This is why I cannot accept Mormon doctrine according to Joseph Smith. Once again, provide me with Biblical answers as to why Traditional Christians should accept Mormonism as another denomination, and I will cease any negative views of Mormonism.

Clean Cut:
“The gospel, as taught by all the prophets and apostles in every age and time, is quite simple.”

Considering that when Paul wrote to the churches words such as this ,” hos en morfee Theou huparchoon ouch harpagmon heegeesato to einai isa Theoo,”-which translates “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” (Philippians 2:6) which was a hymn. He did not explain what this hymn meant, which is clear cut evidence, that the church by Paul‘s day, must have recognized Jesus as the same being as God the Father. He did not bother to explain the meaning of this statement and just threw it out there as an additive to a section of the letter on humility. Considering also that Ignatius (35-110AD) wrote, “For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost” or “God being manifested as a man, and man displaying power as God,” this dispels any misconception that Jesus being elevated to the level of God the Father a late, apostate idea. Ignatius being a student of the Apostle John, would have received a clear cut teaching on Christology.

“Especially condescending is the continued ‘Be Honest‘.”
There’s nothing condescending about this, I’m asking you to examine with honesty and not personal biases. Just as you would expect me to examine the Book of Mormon with honesty. Which I have, I’ve read it with an open mind being as objective as possible. But mistake upon mistake kept popping up. Thus ending an objective approach, and thus leading to a blog entry.

Clean Cut and All Mormons:
I do not hate Mormons, and fully recognize everyone as God’s created people. I admire Mormon dogma on its moral convictions expected of its members. I fully recognize Mormons as being “good” people in regards to the world. I would not be surprised if there are many Mormons who are more moral then I. But when discussing matters of faith, I will not hesitate to provide answers and evidences to my convictions. If we lived near each other, I’d happily buy you a soda, kick back with you and hang out(especially if you have a PS3). I had an Islamic friend that I’d sit with everyday at lunch. We would talk as normal friends, talking about things such as cars, stupid classes, cool military games and movies, and other things Jr. High/High School friends discuss. However, if when we began discussing religion, I’d have no hesitation expressing my faith based off of scripture, history, or just general observances, and trying to show Christ‘s love for him, and that I truly do care for him. I had no issues asking questions about his faith and trying to understand his upbringing. That is my one qualm with the internet, especially blogs. There’s no personal interaction, I can’t get to know Clean Cut as a person, just like you can’t get to know me as a person. So do not take my responses as “hateful” or “disrespectful,” I just expect good reasons as to why a revelation should be taken as a revelation, and I measure it to Gods standard and what is stated in there.

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

Clean Cut said...

Brooks, once again you are mistaken about Mormon beliefs about Jesus. Have you taken time to go to the link in this post about "We bear witness that Jesus is the Christ"? That should give you a better idea about what we believe about Jesus. I also highly recommend the masterpiece book "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage.

Please stick to sharing your own beliefs about Christ--not sharing what you seem convinced we believe about Christ.

Much of the condemnation of Latter-day Saints is for things they DON’T believe. Again–misrepresentation. Our critics claim like experts to be the authority on what we believe! “No, that’s not what you believe; this is what you believe!”, followed by some hocus-pocus that is certainly not taught by the LDS church. Think of the absurdity of it–”You don’t know what you believe, but I know what you believe; I know your thoughts better than you do!” Where did you learn how to mind read?

What is our doctrine? What do we teach today? If any teaching or idea is not in the standard works, not among official declarations or proclamations, is not taught currently by living apostles or prophets in general conference or other official gatherings, or is not in the general handbooks or official curriculum of the Church, it is probably not a part of the doctrine or teachings of the Church–regardless of whether or not somebody in the 19th century (or the 21st century for that matter) personally believed something crazy.

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

So you don't teach Jesus isn't the same being as God the Father? Or the Bible is full of mistakes? Or that man preexisted? Or man, if he follows the dogma's of Mormonism, will become gods of their own planets? Or the natives are the descendants of the Lamanites? Or Jesus is the brother of Lucifer? I've spent plenty of time researching from Mormon websites, Mormon dogma's, religious writings(BoM,D&C, etc.),what Joseph Smith said,and clarifying this with Mormons, to know what Mormonism believes. You my friend, haven't let down my research yet.

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

PS: I may not be able to tell you what you believe personally or act as an authority over that, just as I can't act as an authority what a Traditionalists believe. But I can say what the Mormon Church holds as a general consensus of their theology. I also can measure what a man holds as his own theology, based upon what he says and hold that up to the Bible.

Clean Cut said...

Was there a sincere question in there somewhere or were you merely wanting to put words in my mouth?

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

You stated that no one can say what you believe and us traditionalists always twist Mormon dogma. So I'm asking, do you believe these dogma's?

As I also stated, I cannot 100% say, Clean Cut believes this and that. However, that is not to say that after you reveal what you believe, that I cannot say Clean Cut believes this or that.

aquinas said...

I think it is important when dialoguing with those of another faith to realize that we are dialoging with an actual person, not with a "faith" or with a "tradition." We have to engage people as individuals. However, if we are to assume that we can know what another person believes without even talking with them, without even engaging in dialogue with them, then there really isn't any point in communicating with that person. If we can know what another person believes, not because we actually engage with another person, but because some book tells us everything we ever wanted to know about what "this person" believes, then there is no need to engage in dialogue. The position that "I've talked with enough of your kind of people that I know what you think" is a position one can take, but if this is the case, then there really isn't any point in dialogue.

One of the unfortunate things I see in interfaith dialogue is that people aren't actually speaking with an individual, they are speaking with some composite of a person constructed out of all the conversations they have had with other people. In other words, they basically "continue" a discussion they have had with other people but with a brand new person as if the person they are speaking with is completely interchangeable with any other person. This isn't a very effective, because it fails to accept this person as an individual and in an extreme sense it is dehumanizing. True communication cannot advance unless people meet each other as individuals.

brooksrobinson said...

aquinas:

Hence why I asked him if he believed these teachings.

The original discussion was, "Why Can't Christians accept Mormonism as another Christian denomination?" The whole discussion was not on individuals, but faith. I gave him my reasons why Mormonism as a faith cannot be accepted. If he chooses to say, I do not believe what the mainstream Mormon dogma states, then obviously the conversation will take a different turn. But until then, we are dealing with two faith's, not individual's.

aquinas said...

Brooks, when it comes down to it, it doesn't really seem to matter how Clean Cut answers your questions. Whether he answers them one way or another it won't really change anything. You have already stated that you have done your research and reached your conclusions. Therefore, any additional information that Clean Cut or any other Mormon provides for you seems irrelevant and superfluous. Furthermore, such exchanges can be found in great abundance on other sites and message boards. It isn't exactly clear what the need is to repeat these kinds of interchanges which have already been repeated ad nauseum on the internet. What is the incentive of any Latter-day Saint to respond when the outcome is already determined?

As it stands you are offering your depiction of the Latter-day Saint faith based on your experience and research. However, the Latter-day Saints visiting this board appear not to agree with your characterization of their faith. To some degree this is to be expected, however, discussion is much more likely to advance when you can restate the beliefs of others and they can respond with "Yes, that is exactly what I believe! You have described what I believe accurately." This kind of dialogue is rarely achieved, but it is possible.

I understand that many Evangelicals do not accept Mormonism as Christian and may not even accept individual Mormons as Christians. However, I think most Mormons already know this. Repeating to them that you do not accept them as Christian doesn't seem to add anything to the conversation.

Now, if your goal is to explain to Mormons why you do not accept Mormonism as Christian then it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of your explanation. If every time you explain this, Mormons don't understand and don't accept your explanation, then it might be useful to try a different method. Others, such as Craig Blomberg and Greg Johnson, have been quite successful at explaining these reasons in ways that Latter-day Saints can appreciate and understand. Not every explanation is the same, and some are infinitely more effective than others.

In addition, it is one thing to say that Mormonism isn't the same as historic or traditional Christianity, but it is quite another to claim that individual Latter-day Saints are not Christian in any sense of the word. Many Latter-day Saints would agree that their religious beliefs differ in some ways, even in significant ways, from those of the Christian world at large. However, even here, it is important to accurately describe the faith. Even if you believe that you are being accurate, based on your research and experience, it is important that Latter-day Saints with whom you are dialoguing see themselves in the characterization that you paint of their faith. In fact, that goes for people of any faith whether Protestant, Catholic or Mormon. No one likes to be mischaracterized and dialogue is not likely to advance until Latter-day Saints see themselves and their own faith in your description of their faith.

Now, when it comes to the personal faith of individual Latter-day Saints, and whether their faith in Christ excludes them from the appellation of Christian, that is simply something which no member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is going to accept, no matter how persuasive you believe your arguments to be. It is probably more effective to spend time on other issues that promise a more fruitful discussion and exchange.

Clean Cut said...

I appreciate what you have just said aquinas! I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for participating in the conversation.

brooksrobinson said...

Aquinas:

It will matter how clean cut answers the questions. For instance, if he was to say, "No I reject the Mormon dogma that Christ is a god, and I believe he is the true one Living God, same being as the Father and Holy Spirit, and we as men will not become gods." That would change the conversation quiet a bit. I would place less emphasis on the Mormon dogma, and be asking more questions about Clean Cut's personal faith.

However, since he poised the question on his blog and placed his answers on Neils blog (and in response to my thoughts), I responded. He has yet to deny any assumptions that he retains the basic Mormon dogma's that Christianity rejects, and has only defended the Mormon dogma. All I've asked for is scriptural references and defense Biblically for why I should accept Mormonism as a Christian denomination. I gave basic responses as to why one cannot accept Mormon dogma as Christianity, which he has rejected, without providing Biblically based reasons( except assumptions). In spite of rejecting these Biblically based responses, he has yet to use the scripture to paint why Mormon dogma is correct. Thus the conversation is at a frustrating stand still with the only conclusions being, "Mormonism is Christianity cause I think it is." Rather then, Mormonism is Christianity cause its Biblically sound, matching the Bible both in doctrine and in theology.

Amanda said...

Hey Clean Cut!

I didn't even realize you had a blog until today...I think Sara posted it in one of her posts. This is a great, thought-provoking blog. And, knowing the caliber of person behind these posts makes it even better and more interesting for me! I'll be back... :)

Clean Cut said...

Brooks, I'm really not interested in apologetics. There may be contradictions within Mormon culture, but the theology is Biblically sound. I'm unable to think of ANY theological problems/contradictions between Mormonism, my personal beliefs, and the Bible.

We are openly acknowledging our differences AND how they don’t exclude us from Christianity. Therefore, “being honest” leads me to declare my faith as “Christian” in its very sense—that’s who I am at my core. I’m not particulary interested in having you accept me as such, because that wouldn’t change anything anyway.

I have taken the time on Neil's blog to attempt to clarify misconceptions and to explain why all the arguments you all use to “prove” we’re not Christian simply run into problems and don’t ultimately hold up. (See "Are Mormons Christian?" by Stephen E. Robinson).

Clean Cut said...

One last thing Brooks, I highly recommend you take the time to read "The Pattern of Our Parentage" by Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. This talk clearly explains our theology, and just as you asked, it contains plenty of scriptural references, as well as common sense. If you're sincere in wanting to dialogue, this will be a good place to start for understanding.

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:
"I have taken the time on Neil's blog to attempt to clarify misconceptions and to explain why all the arguments you all use to “prove” we’re not Christian simply run into problems and don’t ultimately hold up."

You haven't done that though. Nor have you backed up Mormonism as being Biblically sound. You've plainly just assumed we should take it as such. For instance, find me in the Bible where it talks about us being preexisting spirit beings? Or marriage in heaven?

Clean Cut said...

Admittedly, some unique LDS beliefs are not found in the Bible. That does not mean that they run contrary to the Bible—just that they’re not there. Some beliefs come on the basis of modern revelation. "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." (Article of Faith #9)

It's pretty well known that Latter-day Saints have an expanded canon of scripture compared to the rest of the Christian world.

To quote Robinson:
“Some critics of the Latter-day Saints maintain that since Mormons have a different canon than the Christian canon, since they add books of scripture to the Christian Bible, Mormons cannot be Christians.

“The Bible doesn’t forbid a departure from the Christian canon either by addition or subtraction. (The commandment found in Deuteronomy 4:1-2 applied only to the book of Deuteronomy, and likewise the Revelation 22:18-19 refers only to the book of Revelation—not the entire Bible. Although the na├»ve reader of the Bible might logically assume it does since it comes at the end of the Bible, but most scholars agree that Revelation wasn’t written last—only included last when the Bible as we know it was compiled).

“In fact, every one of the Old Testament prophets “added” to the words of his predecessors. Any student of the Bible knows that various authors of the Bible “added to” or “took away from” words of other prophets. So the issue in this case is clearly not whether one adds to the canon of scripture—all the biblical Apostles and prophets did that (without ceasing to be Christians I might add)—but whether the one who does so has been authorized and commanded by God.

“It is not necessary to prove here that the scriptures received by Joseph Smith are genuine. The question is not whether Joseph Smith, like the New Testament authors, added to the Christian canon, but whether Joseph Smith, like the New Testament authors, had apostolic authority. If he did, then what he added to the biblical scriptures is Christian. Now, one could object that Joseph Smith was not a prophet and did not hold apostolic authority, but that is still abandoning the canonical or Biblical exclusion and retreating to a different argument.

“One hidden motivation behind the canonical exclusion is the firm conviction among most non-Mormons that there will never be any more Apostles and prophets. If that conviction were true, then it would follow that there could be no additional scriptures, for no one would have the apostolic authority to write them. Latter-day Saints simply deny that the conviction is true, for no biblical warrant can be found for it.”

“Another motivation behind the canonical exclusion is the conviction of the excluders that the Bible alone is enough, that the present canon is so perfect, so complete, that it cannot possibly be improved upon. This is an extreme form of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, which insists that the Bible is perfect and without error, that it is complete, and that it answers all theological questions with clarity. With such perfection in the Bible, inerrantists argue, any further scriptural revelation would be superfluous and redundant. Often Latter-day Saints are confronted with some version of the following inerrantist logic:

1. All religious truth is found in the Bible.
2. The revelations of Jospeh Smith are not found in the Bible.
3. Therefore the revelations of Joseph Smith are not religious truth.

But to this I would add the following:

4. Premise number 1 is not found in the Bible, either.
5. Therefore premise number 1 is not religious truth.
6. And if premise number 1 is not religious truth, then neither is conclusion 3, which is based upon it.

"Extreme inerrantists will hotly dispute premise number 4; nevertheless it is true. There is not a single passage in the Bible that mentions the Bible—“Bible” is not a biblical word.

“The greatest weakness of the extreme inerrantist position is that it accepts as its fundamental working principles propositions which are not themselves found in the Bible—for example, “the Bible is sufficient for salvation,” “the Bible is inerrant,” “the Bible answers all our religious questions,” “the Bible gives us authority to speak and act for God,” or “there will never be any more scriptures from God than the Bible.” None of these propositions are themselves biblical, yet they are accepted as fundamental religious principles by people who claim to reject all nonbiblical religious principles.”

Anonymous said...

clean cut
puede publicar su direccion de email por un misionero que enseno en el CCM?
gracias

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

“Admittedly, some unique LDS beliefs are not found in the Bible.”

False, instead they are refuted, to list a couple:

Marriage after death: “29. Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
30. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”(Matthew 22:29-30) The context of this verse is dealing with the Sadducee who ask Jesus whose wife a woman will be in heaven, after she marries seven brothers cause they die.

Preexistence: “44. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45. And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being.'' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 15:44-46)


The Bible itself may not say “This Book is truth all of it,” but it certainly implies it. Of course Deuteronomy’s and the Revelations verses apply only to that. However, Proverbs 30:6 states that no man should add to the Lords, and 2 Timothy 3:16 states that all scripture is God inspired. I do not think modern revelations cannot happen, but they will not contradict the scriptures. There is a new covenant under Christ and that covenant will not change till he returns, especially change the nature of God or Jesus.

The canon was selected very carefully, it was not some hodged podged organization that only accepted what was the theological thought of the day. The gnostic gospels were thrown out simply because they did not match the theology of the gospels or early Christian writings. Instead it painted a pantheistic god, had things like a talking cross, and other bizarre beliefs and events that do not match Christian writings or beliefs (incidentally the legendary accounts of Jesus people keep clinging that the gospels contain are actually the gnostic gospels). As far as the Apocrypha is concerned, they can be found in some Catholic Bibles. They are not widely accepted because, it is thought they posses no theological value to the church. They are not contained for instance, in the Jewish Hebrew scriptures (which is the format our Old Testament goes off of) and are found in the Septuagint (the Greek Hebrew scriptures ( mid 200s BC)). So its not that this set of books has new revelation, but its just held that its not theologically valuable. I have the Apocrypha and have read one or two books and glanced over a few more, and have not found anything yet that adds new revelation to the Law.

Also your reasoning is false, with why Christians do not accept Joseph Smith as a valid revelation. One just has to peer into his life, even after receiving the revelation, and one will discover things that would not be tolerated by any man of God. We do not accept his revelation because it contradicts the theology of the Bible. What interests me the most, is how many of the “out there” dogma’s of the Mormon church are not even found in the BoM. But are found mostly in a later writings, such as The Book of Abraham. In this case many Egyptologist, including some LDS ones, largely consider this book to be falsely translated by Joseph Smith, and it has been widely concluded to be a funeral text of ancient Egypt. Also for being a revelation of God, of supposedly historical events, the BoM’s nations, wars, and migrations are no where to be found in the America‘s. The plant and animal life depicted in the BoM also did no exist during this time in the America’s. The Smithsonian Institute does not regard the BoM as a reliable historical text in relation to the America’s. The list goes on and on, so it not just because his revelations are not found in the Bible, but rather his revelations contradict the Bible and have no historical backing what so ever.

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

"(the Greek Hebrew scriptures ( mid 200s BC))"

What I meant to say was the Hebrew Bible in Greek.

Clean Cut said...

Once again, it sounds like you have an agenda to prove me wrong. If you do, I'm not interested in debating. If what you seek is understanding, then start with these links:

Doesn't Matthew 22:23-30 contradict the LDS Doctrine of Eternal Marriage?

Is there Eternal Marriage?

I Have a Question (scroll down towards the bottom to where it says "Inasmuch as Latter-day Saints believe in marriage for eternity, how do we explain Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 22:29–30?"

Obviously, if all of our beliefs were fully explained in the Bible, then we would have no need of the additional scriptures we use along with the Bible. The reason we need these additional scriptures is because the Bible is incomplete regarding God's plan for the human family. While LDS beliefs are certainly consistent with the Bible, since it is one of our standard works, a person must also use these other sources of God's teachings if he or she wants to understand what Latter-day Saints believe. Furthermore, Latter-day prophets and apostles, equal in authority to prophets and apostles of ancient times, have further clarified and elaborated gospel doctrines beyond what the scriptures explicitly teach.

Again, to quote Robinson:
"The passage appealed to most often by extreme inerrantists is 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." But this passage, as used by inerrantists for their claims, merely begs the question, for it does not mention the Bible or describe what books should be in the Bible; it merely states that "all scripture" is "profitable". Indeed the Latter-day would agree heartily that all scripture is profitable, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

"The passage in 2 Timothy offers no criteria for determining what the canon of scripture ought to include. And even if it did, it does not say that the canon is closed or that the canon of scripture is sufficient, inerrant, or incapable of improvement; it merely states that all scripture is profitable.

"Any religious propositions as important as “all religious truth is found in the Bible” or “the Bible alone is sufficient” or “there can never be additions to the Bible” to be self-consistent, ought to be set forth in the Bible in clear, unmistakable terms, yet they are entirely missing."

As for The Book of Abraham or Joseph Smith, nothing you mentioned isn't anything I hadn't already read in "Joseph Smith; Rough Stone Rolling" by Richard Lyman Bushman.

The only problem is that some Mormon scholars, notably Hugh Nibley, doubt that the actual texts for Abraham have been found. The scraps from the Metropolitan Museum (which the Egyptologists examined) "do not fit the description Joseph Smith gave of long, beautiful scrolls. At best, the remnants are a small fraction of the originals, with no indication of what appears on the lost portions" (Bushman).

The Book of Abraham is inspired--Joseph did not translate by conventional means. Bushman: "Obviously, he was not interpreting the hieroglyphics like an ordinary scholar. As Joseph saw it, he was working by inspiration--that had been clear from the beginning. When he 'translated' the Book of Mormon, he did not read from the gold plates; he looked into the crystals of the Urim and Thummim or gazed at the seerstone. The words came by inspiration, not by reading the characters on the plates. By analogy, it seemed likely that the papyri had been an occasion for receiving a revelation rather than a word-for-word interpretation of the hieroglyphs as in ordinary translations."

Bushman goes on to explain that "the peculiar fact is that the results were not entirely out of line with the huge apocryphal literature on Abraham", (both main ideas and even many small details)--none of which would have been available to Joseph Smith.

You have every right to examine the character of Joseph Smith. You seem to have concluded that his actions were out of line with a man of God. He certainly had some rough edges, which makes it all the more marvelous that God is able to do such a great work through imperfect people. (It has always been so--just look at the prophets of old). Furthermore, Joseph said: "I never told you I was perfect—but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught" (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, "The Words of Joseph Smith").

Brooks, the fact of the matter is that one has to prayerfully read the scriptures themselves (not what someone else has told you about them), including the Restoration scriptures--and the Lord "will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost" (D&C 8:2) if they are true.

It's an experiment that Alma (in Alma chapter 32 of The Book of Mormon) compares to planting a seed in your heart. If you don't cast the seed out because of unbelief, but you nourish and water the seed, you'll soon be able to tell if that seed is a good seed, or a bad seed. Because if it is a good seed, or if "the word" is good, it will begin "to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me" (Alma 32:28).

This an experiment that I've put to the test, and now my faith is verging on a certain knowledge that not only are these scriptures good seeds, but that they actually cause my faith to grow into a strong tree with deep roots and sweet, sweet fruit.

brooksrobinson said...

Clean Cut:

I was reexamining the post above my last response, and I agree with Stephen Robinson up to a point and even a few things you pointed out in your first paragraph. Not everything has to be found in the Bible. There are tons of books that are good helpful books for ones religious life. For example A Purpose Driven Life and Every Young Mans Battle. These books deal with certain aspects that the Bible does not go into detail, or even spend time discussing. However, even though they are not necessarily found in the Bible, they do not contradict the scriptures and give good helpful advice based off of Biblical principles, or just common knowledge. I fully agree that the Bible does not spell out, NO MAN SHALL ADD! For the Most part those verses were dealing with Deuteronomy and Revelations. However, 2 Timothy’s was dealing with the Old Testament books, that is what is often inferred when the word “Scripture” is used.

Where I do disagree is ,“it is not necessary to prove here that the scriptures received by Joseph Smith are genuine.” It is necessary, because if Joseph Smith just made the Book of Mormon up, then much of what he has said would then be a lie. Also, whose to judge who a prophet is and who isn’t? There has to be some sort of standard to be set, that God gave to man, to keep believers from following false ideas. If there’s no standard anyone can claim to be a prophet and whose to say they’re wrong? Whose to say Muhammad, Jim Jones, Mary Eddy Baker, or the other countless so called prophets that have claimed new revelations that contradict both the Bible and the BoM? There must be a standard, so where does one draw this standard from?

I’ll get to the other stuff in another response, I was just re-reading some of the old responses and ideas came a flowing. For the record, I think it was you that stated something to the affect, “Anyone else think Elisa is being a little extreme,” I would have to concur, that yes she was being extreme. I do not hold any person of a religion as a “wolf in sheep’s” clothing, unless they are knowingly deceiving. I do believe though that Joseph Smith fits this category (which you probably already figured that anyways). But her pointing that finger at you was defiantly wrong. You are a sincere believer in your faith, just as I am in mine, or a Muslim in his, so unless you are purposefully trying to deceive me, then you aren‘t (which I do not believe you are).

In Christ,
Brooks Robinson

Lakes are Great said...

I really enjoyed aquinas's comment. Stated vary clearly and precisely. I really enjoyed this blog bro. It amazes me how so many people get so caught up on things that should be so simple. I'm by no means a gospel scholar but I am so grateful for the simple restored truths that make worshipping my savior something I can benefit and grow from without a prior fluency in hebrew, or greek or previous memorization of the entire bible. The gospel is so logical to me. I'm amazed at the number of people that so strongly reject such faith promoting and hope building truths. Thanks for your thoughts bro.

Clean Cut said...

Well said! Thank you.

Jill said...

I hesitate to post, my words are simple.

I base my words on the thoughts about learning the truth of all things--a principle directly applicable here. These scriptures come to mind. I also work off the assumption that both parties feel prayer is an essential part of learning truth and connecting with God.

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name. He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you." -John 14:26, KJV

If the Holy Ghost will teach all things, that must those things being discussed.

"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me." -John 15:26, KJV

The Spirit comes from the Father and testifies of Jesus.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." -Galations 5:22, KJV

These are the feelings that accompany the Spirit when it is present. When we feel these we know that we are receiving a gift that the Father has sent--a confirming witness of truth.

Whether reading scripture or discussing thoughts, may we each get on our knees and plead for that Spirit to accompany us as we each do our best to learn "all things." May we focus on the Spirit as the confirming source of truth. May we be meek in our learning and meek in accepting truth as the Spirit teaches it.

Best to those in the discussion.

brooksrobinson said...

Jill-

Although your words are simple, they are truth... truth from the Bible. The Spirit does comfort believers, giving us knowledge of our God, and the willingness to confess Jesus is Lord.

"--a confirming witness of truth."
With this and as you stated, it confirms truth. However we know truth cannot contradict. We know that if the BoM is truth, we should find some sort of physical evidence of these nations, just as the Bible has physical evidences to back up what it has stated. We know that God cannot be both three gods for one purpose and one being with three persons. So I think the question that should be asked is, Where do we get this truth?

brooksrobinson said...

Jill:
That question wasn't directed at you, but anyone who wants to answer.

NM said...

Hi Clean Cut,

I watched that youtube link (as part of the 3rd comment) and I thought the excerpt was excellent! =)

It (again) reminds me of Paul's exhortation in his first letter to the Corinthian church:

"21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."


Paul gave an insight into some of the wisdom he exercised for reaching into other people's lives (without compromising the message of Christ - crucified and resurrection)...

It has certainly been a challenge for me these past few days with regard to how I present the gospel message to my work colleagues, neighbours, relatives etc. =)

Great post by the way! As ever, I'll be hoverin'...

Kurt Manwaring said...

Brooks,

I hesitate to jump into this as well. This "conversation" seems much more like an argument.

If your question isn't rhetorical, however, and you really want to know where to find truth, I offer this -

Truth is truth wherever it is found. If the bible has truth, it's truth. If the Mormons have truth, it is truth. If the democrats or republicans or the devil have truth, it is truth.

The question then, to me, is what you want to do with the truth. If you agree with Paul's declaration that Jesus "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Phil 2:6), then the goal is to obtain as much truth as you can; ultimately, you'll want to be able to gather 'all' truth - even if some of it is uncomfortable.

The apostle John was clear that we cannot be saved in ignorance when it comes to the character of God and Christ (John 17:3). Prophets and apostles in this last dispensation have likewise been clear that we can't ultimately be saved if we are in ignorance of any truth.

Faith is a wonderful thing; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is even better. If you've reached the point where you feel you have drained every ounce of truth that may be found in Mormonism, then you've done more than I'll be able to do in my entire lifetime.

God is not a mystery. However, for me, there are still several mysteries remaining as to his character. That's part of the jounrey though - the way it was meant to be.

I get my answers by going to God Himself in prayer, just as James directed (James 1:5). Answers come everyday; truth comes everyday.

And it matters very little where that truth is found. The weight of the question should lie in how truth is found and used. Perhaps the most oft repeated offer in all scripture is that of the Savior, "Ask, and it shall be given you..." (Matthew 7:7).

If we ask in faith, nothing doubting, God will manifest Himself and His truth unto us (Moroni 10:3-5). BUT, that "shall be done in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will" (D&C 88:68).

We can't control that, but we can influence it. The prophet Moroni taught that our faith can influence when and IF God speaks to us (Ether 12).

And both Joseph Smith and Isaiah testified that more truth will come when we use the truth we already have in the right way (D&C 84; Isaiah 28). Having truth doesn't save us, nor does it guarantee we will use it the right way (Genesis 3; Moses 4).

That, thankfully, is up to us. And if we're sincere and rely "wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save" (2 Nephi 31:19), we'll be blessed with the opportunity to help other truth seekers (JS-H 1:1) find what they're looking for (Alma 29) - even the Savior Himself.

Ask God for truth, Brooks. If it doesn't come then live what you already have; as Isaiah said, "wait upon the Lord" (Isaiah 8:17). And if you don't like the truth you receive, I suppose it's time to ask yourself some hard questions.

With truth comes a stewardship and a responsibility; it comes liberally from God (see James again), who is perfect in mercy, and love and everything else revealed by the Spirit and by Peter (2 Peter 1).

This kind of truth might be best obtained by approaching God in prayer - by name, thanking Him for what He has given you, asking for the needs you have, and then doing it, like all else, in the name of His Son.

I know that God lives. I know that the bible serves a wonderful purpose and is His word as far as it has been brought down through the years correctly. I also know that He continues to speak to propehts and apostles - and people like me everyday, TODAY. The Book of Mormon stands as a second witness with the bible, and serves to clarify every major principle of Christ's gospel.

Those are things that I know. God lives; His Son lives; The Holy Ghost bears witness of Them both.

That's a general take on truth. If you want the Mormon version, verbatim, here it is:

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read [The Book of Mormon], if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and PONDER it in your hearts.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that you would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; AND IF ye shall ask with a SINCERE heart, with REAL INTENT, having faith IN CHRIST, he will manfiest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost."

Jia said...

Wow. I came in to comment on what a beautifully written post this was and got to read a little more than that in the comments section.

Because I'm not one to jump in and argue with the rest of the crowd, I'll stick to my purposes and say to Clean Cut that I recently found your blog and find it to be up to Elder Ballard's standards (LOL). It's beautifully written and I just love the voice you put behind your words.

Thank you.

Jia
www.modernmollymormon.blogspot.com

Clean Cut said...

Thanks Jia. I really appreciate that.

And thanks to Jill, NM, and Kurt for "weighing in" as well!

Kelli W. said...

Hey all, this is Pete.
Brooks, I am a convert to the Mormon Church at 22yrs old. I am now 39. I was brought up Methodist and Presbyterian in a Christian Family. I have my own unique angle that I feel it a blessing to share when the situation dictates. You seem to me like a very intelligent and well versed individual and someone who has conviction of what he believes. I admire you for that. I remember at around age 21, praying harder than I have ever prayed in my entire life. I was tremendously afflicted at the time and needed the guidance and solice of the Savior more than I ever had in my life to that point. I got to the point where I wouldn't stop praying until He revealed himself to me,.. it was one of the most intense times of my life to date. I didn't give in. I wasn't searching for a Church or religion, I was searching for truth, guidance and direction. I, for the first time in my life, let myself go and gave myself, my entire soul to Him. I remember this clearly. I knew, in principle, that as a little child comes to his father, that He would never misguide me. I had the faith that He would answer my prayers. It was a scary time because I believed in the adage, "Be careful what you ask for, you just may get it" and had to overcome the fear of being responsible for what the Lord revealed to me and live my life according to what was revealed to me. But I didn't care, I was indeed ready to receive that which I desired to know from Him. I was born witness to things that I cannot describe. Things that I could never deny. I took the scripture James 1:5-6 to heart and opened myself up. The Lord has blessed me beyond measure and you, Brooks, have some incredible gifts from our Heavenly Father. As your brother, I hope that you can accept me as your brother and know, that if we can agree to disagree on some things, that we can still love each other and find tremendous joy in doing so.
Personal witness and revelation is just that, personal. I could never deny that which has been born witness to you by the Holy Ghost, nor can you judge or deny that which has been born witness to me. That is something we will never be able to do in this life, but WILL be revealed and proclaimed upon the rooftops come judgment day. If I could offer any advice for you.....Be open minded and cast out all fear. Truth can be manifested in its purest form through the Holy Ghost, but only when we are ready to receive it...John 16:12-13. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
Yours in Christ,
Pete.

Clean Cut said...

See "Mormons Are Non-Traditional Christians (and other interfaith dialogue)"

Fair said...

To be sure, there are doctrinal differences between some Christians and the Latter-day Saints. But, this is true of virtually all Christians:

"Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves."

Latter-day Saints have no quarrel with the idea that some of their beliefs about Jesus may differ from those of other Christians. If there were no differences in belief at all, it would make little sense to have the hundreds of Christian denominations which exist.

But, it is insulting and unfair to insist that the LDS do not worship the "same" Jesus as other Christians. By analogy, a Protestant might consider Martin Luther an inspired instrument in the hands of God to reform the wayward Christian Church. A Catholic might rather consider Luther to be a wayward priest who was gravely mistaken. Clearly, the opinions about Luther may differ, but it would be absurd to insist that Catholics and Lutherans are each talking about a DIFFERENT Luther.

Rather than illuminating LDS Christians' or non-LDS Christians' beliefs about Jesus, this accusation is simply an attempt to spread discord and confusion.

LDS Christians and other Christians agree on the vast majority of points on Jesus' nature, mission, and indispensable role in salvation.

The LDS differ from other Christians in that they tend to belive additional things about Jesus, since they have other scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon) which provide them with further information. This information complements the Biblical beliefs which they share with the whole Christian world.

Clean Cut said...

"The Living Christ--The Testimony of the Apostles--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"

Clean Cut said...

I thought it was interesting that in a talk clear back in 1998 by Elder M. Russell Ballard, entitled Building Bridges Of Understanding he said:

"There are many who say that Latter-day Saints believe in a “different Jesus” than do other Christians and that we are therefore not “Christian.” Here is another place that we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. We believe in the Jesus of the New Testament, and we believe what the New Testament teaches about Him. We do believe things about Jesus that other Christians do not believe, but that is because we know, through revelation, things about Jesus that others do not know. It is a twisting of language to call this a “different Jesus,” as though we have created some other individual by that name."

Clean Cut said...

See my more recent post: A Different Jesus?

Kelark said...

When asked why a believe in a different Jesus than my LDS friends it boils down to this.

I belive that all things that have ever been created anywhere at anytime were created by Jesus. I believe that he was never created that he is the creator of all beings, atoms, energies, light ...everything.

I believe he is omnipotent, omnipresent omniscient and Almighty.

From my readings and discussions with LDS I find that the view is something diffent than that. That maybe he is those things as far as we are to be concerned. Or that he become those things or that there are others that are like him somewhere but we don't need to know about them. That somehow Jesus obtained his position or became who he is.

If you belive that Jesus is not the only unique sole creator of everything that is fine but it would certainly be a diffent Jesus that I believe in and worship.

kelark said...

Clean Cut,

I enjoy your blog very much. I noticed that you delete comments without explanation. I find it revealing to follow the threads and to get your opinions as an LDS. But I find it distracting when posts are missing. I am sure you have heard it so many times that it is not interesting to you but I would love to hear them and the response from others.

I understand if they are being vulger or distasteful.

Thanks for such a cool blog. I have posted a few comment I hope some comments on them.

See Ya,
Kelark

Clean Cut said...

Kelark, thanks for the comment! I want to respond in a way that would hopefully be helpful. However, I think the LDS view on “creation” requires a little more nuanced explanation.

We could go into much depth on this topic, but much has already been written. Suffice it to say, we too believe in Christ as “Creator”. However, while most of traditional Christianity believes in creatio ex nihilo, or creation out of nothing, Latter-day Saint Christians believe in creatio ex materia, or creation out of pre-existing matter. I believe this is the crux of the difference between our beliefs.

According to creatio ex materia, when God created the earth He organized pre-existing matter/elements. One analogy might be that a great artist “creates” a masterpiece, but he does so by organizing and arranging his materials (paints, canvass, etc) that he didn’t create out of thin air, but he organized them, used them, and arranged them in a spectacular way. Thus, “created” and “organized” are used pretty much interchangeably in the LDS mindset.

Certainly this is a significant difference in the framework of our beliefs about God, and an issue worth studying. Nevertheless, God is still God whether its creatio ex nihilo or creatio ex materia. We each can make a case for how the Bible supports our beliefs. I’m personally not interested in trying to prove one way is right and the other is wrong. I am more interested in mutual understanding.

Another significant difference in our beliefs is that Joseph Smith taught that even our spirits were pre-existing, in some degree or another—that is, they are uncreated and co-eternal with God. In other words, the mind of man, our intelligence, has always existed. We, too, have an eternal identity. Nevertheless, at some point God went about improving those spirits and helped to make us who we are today.

Now, this is a very simplistic explanation to a complicated subject, but hopefully it helps you to see why describing anyone as a “created being” does not fully capture the LDS nuances behind that description. Similarly, it would be wrong to say that Latter-day Saints believe Jesus is a created being. His mortal body may have been created, but Jesus himself was/is eternal and has always existed as Jesus.

I believe that Jesus, as the Book of Mormon teaches, is “the Eternal God”. More importantly, He is the Messiah—our Savior and Redeemer. Without Him we would all be lost. And for what it’s worth, the Book of Mormon also teaches that God is Almighty--omnipotent, omniscient, and through his Spirit, omnipresent.

Kelark said...

Thanks for the clarification.

If I believe that God is Almighty the ex-nihlo ceator and that he created not only the material of the universe but the laws of nature also including time and space.

Wow that was a long sentence that I am not even done with!

And you believe that God using existing materials made the universe (heavens and earth).

Then I conclude that your concept of God would be that he is subject to the laws of the material that he had to work with. For instance who determines the speed of light? Who determines the mass of an element? It seems as well that time and space would be a limiting factor on your God.(am I wrong?)If God can control the laws of nature such as setting the speed of light then what prohibits him from creating light in the first place?

To me this is a fundamental difference in the nature of God between our two views. They are different so much so that we could not be seen as worshipping the same God.

Is your God the original God?
My Answer Yes he is Jehova.

Was there an original God that created matter, time and space?
My answer Yes Jehovah.

Who organized the matter and applied laws to nature?
My Answer Jehovah.

Who made the atoms and what holds them together?
My answer Jehovah

As I said before it is great that we can worship as we see fit but I think we seek a different Jesus.

Clean Cut said...

I think perhaps we're just interpreting the Biblical data differently. Yet, everyone is entitled to their own opinion...

Kelark said...

CC,
I read your blog on King Follett and I wonder if you would allow me to relate it to this post.

I noticed some speculated that it would not be out of the realm of possibility that God was once a sinful man that was forgiven and now sits exalted in Heaven.

Would worshiping a forgiven exalted man be the same as worshiping Almighty God, Eternal God that is from everlasting to everlasting even if they shared the same name?

They would be different in origin and nature how are they the same?

Clean Cut said...

I appreciate you using that analogy, Kelark. It is true that some Latter-day Saints interpret various "data" or sermon excerpts differently about the nature or origin of God. And even though I personally take issue with someone who chooses to believe that it's possible that "God was once a sinful man that was forgiven", I still wouldn't say that we're worshipping a different God. I just think they misunderstand some data about God.

I honestly don't think it's very likely that having a full understanding of the origin of God is a) imperative for anyone to fully understand, and b) possible for anyone to fully understand. There is just so much we mortals don't understand. Thus we go on faith. Plus, there are much more central and basic issues that should occupy our concern.

Now, if you're not buying this, perhaps I could use an analogy of my own. If such were not the case, then there would be about as many different God's as there are Christians, because even Trinitarian Christians are not all on the same page about how to conceive of the threeness and oneness of God, etc. Many Trinitarian Christians error on the side of heresy without even knowing it.

Personally, I don't think that means they're all worshipping a different God, nor does it mean that God is different. It just means that some of us are right and others are wrong about some issues about God.

I guess this just comes down to perspective.

kelark said...

CC,

Nice answer. I wonder if you could imagine a hypothetical situation where one of your LDS brothers would be worshipping a different Christ than you.

I remember from one of your other posts that you said something like "that is not the God I worship" I think it was in regard to the priesthood ban and it's origin. I realize that is a figure of speech but I think it is rooted in truth.

To me it seems that at some point our view of God can be so far removed from our perception of his real character and nature that we no longer can be said to be worshipping the same God, same name different God.

I actually have not read your view on this but I imagine you do not accept the Adam God Theory/Doctrine.

I can say from my point of view that the God of that teaching is not my God. In light of the fact that some of your brothers still believe that teaching do you say it is the same God as you follow?

Here is a week analogy but the best I can do.

A man buys a Ford he blows the motor and replaces it with a Chevy 350, next the frame and body are replaced and ultimately everything eventually gets replaced with Chevy parts except the name plate.

He then takes it into the Ford dealership to get it serviced. The service manager says "I am sorry sir we only service Fords" "What is the matter with you this is a Ford can't you read?"

Clean Cut said...

Wow, you really have read my blog! Out of curiosity, how did you find it and why the interest? Also, do you have a blog of your own? I'd love to get to know you more and understand more of your background and experience.

I do remember writing "that is not the God I worship" on that Priesthood ban post. I don't think I was trying to say that we actually worship a different God, but certainly that we may disagree about some of the attributes of God and how he truly works.

I like your analogy about the Ford and the Chevy. At their core, however, both are automobiles. The only problem is trying to pass one of as something it is not.

At the very core, God is God. We humans sure love to project our own views and interpretations and theology onto God, and some might very well believe He resembles a different God. But I guess my point is that, at our core, we really are seeking after the one true God, and nothing we try to say about Him actually changes who He is. And I fully expect to have my eyes opened when I actually return back home and see Him as He is. In the meantime, I'll try not to pass off my belief about the Godhead as the Trinity, nor a Ford as a Chevy.

You're right that I do not accept the Adam God Theory/Doctrine. It takes mental gymnastics that make that idea work. Actually, any current and "knowing" Latter-day Saint SHOULDN'T accept it. Spencer W. Kimball, the President of the Church when I was born, even spoke out against it in General Conference and how it is not in harmony with the gospel and the scriptures. (I can't remember the exact reference off the top of my head, but I remember reading about it in his biography).

Let's face it. People, even within our own belief systems, can have some really bogus ideas when it comes to theology. I think most of the time it's done innocently. For example, I don't think modalists or tri-theists are purposely wanting to distort the doctrine of the Trinity and arrive at heresy. But it happens. Nevertheless, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are worshipping a different God. But they're certainly mistaken about Him.

Kelark said...

I don't remember the path that I took to get to your blog. But I enjoy the tone so I have been poking around for the last few days.

I have been on other forums and youtube and I must admit I sometimes enjoy that less highbrow adversarial conversation if only to hone my message and be prepared for whatever I might find in the real world.

One thing I enjoy about your approach is your willingness to say "I don't know".

I am a born again Cristian married 29 years father of five that went to the Ed Decker School of Mormon Bashing. After a few times when LDS would come to my door and I would start telling them what they believe they would say "where did you get that stuff?" and I would say from the holy book the "God Makers" where else.

It was pointed out to me that maybe the anti stuff had a bias and that perhaps I should look into it myself before I start spouting off about stuff I just heard about.

So I got a BoM D&C and went to town. I read it from cover to cover many times so now when I speak with the young elders at my door and they say where did you here that idea?" I can say Alma Chapetr 11.

I have worn copy of the BoM that I have been reading for the last 6 months. While I don't find it inspiring I do find it interesting.


I still read "anti" stuff, I read FAIR and FARMS , I like the perspective of the ex-Mormon sites for the most part especially if they become "Christians" and any other websites where the issues and postitions are being discussed and debated. I really find your site to be very informative. I like your "New Mormon" approach and I also like hearing from the more fundmental LDS that disagree with you. Hearing the family fights gives me a better understanding of the issues at hand.

I wish that you could be a fly on the wall when I speak to some members of your church. I am sure it would be eye opening to hear the expanations of Grace and Mercy that I have heard. I can only say that if most LDS had your views there would be a much smaller anti industry out there.

I often stop the missionaries on the street and we discuss why they are out there and I tell them about my testimony.

My gift is evangelism and my heart is to share the good news. I have been honored to lead hundreds of people to the Lord in my lifetime even a few LDS have prayed to ask Jesus into their heart with me.


For the record I am not anti LDS I am pro Grace and I will go anywhere anytime to spread the word that the Son of God died on a cross for the sins of the world and the sins of the individual. And he that knew no sin became sin for us that through him we might have eternal life.

Jesus rose from the dead and that is our hope if not our faith is in vain.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

When I preach the gospel I always say that John 3:16 is almost as important for what it doesn't say as for what it says.

It doesn't say if I am good person
I will have everlasting life.

It doesn't say if I give to the poor I will have everlasting life.


It doesn't say if I am a baptist or a LDS I will have everlasting life.


It doesn't say if I go to Church I will have everlasting life.


It says If I believe in him I shall not perish but have everlasting life.

He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

I will stick around as long as you will have me and can take my nit picking. I have been thinking about starting a blog, maybe I will sometime. If I do you will be the first blog I link to.


Kelark

Clean Cut said...

Kelark--it's an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance! I hope you do keep chiming in. I'd feel honored.