Picking the lock of salvation

by Rusty Lindquist on January 25, 2011 · 80 comments

For those of you who weren’t aware, last week was the national HOPE conference in New York.  No, this isn’t a self-help conference teaching us how to increase our capacity to hope (I wish it were).  Rather, it’s a gathering of some of the most talented and well-known hackers around the planet.  HOPE stands for “Hackers on Planet Earth”.

At every HOPE conference there’s a popular area called “Lockpicking Village” where they discuss all the latest lock picking techniques. 

Reflecting on the whole thing, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to those who somehow think they can “slide” into heaven, somehow opening the “doors” of heaven without actually going through the mandatory prerequisite steps. 

A lock is made of tumblers in a tube, each of which must be in the correct place before the lock will turn.  Inserting just the right key will put those tumblers in their required positions, but inserting any other key, or a partial key, will only place a few of the tumblers, if any, in the necessary position, and no matter how hard you twist, or how long you wait, the lock simply won’t turn and the door simply won’t open.

So many religions teach the doctrine that man needs to do little, if anything, for salvation.  In fact, often they teach that it’s as simple as accepting Christ, or being baptized.  But first, baptism must be done by one holding the proper authority, but even then, that is only one of the tumblers in the lock.  There is more we must do.  Baptism and faith alone are insufficient for our exaltation; they’re only part of the lock.  Religions that teach such doctrine, therefore cannot adequately equip you to enter into the kingdom of God. 

The proof is in scripture itself, for we will, as Revelation 20:12-15 states, be “judged… according to their works”.

While the sacrifice of our Savior put the gate on the barrier, making entrance possible, it does not make entrance sure.  The surety of our salvation can only be gained by approaching that day armed with the right key, the one that satisfies the demands of all the tumblers in the gate, baptism by authority being one of them.

While this doctrine is far from traditional, it is prevalently backed by scripture.  And while critics are quick to protest, it is not the burden of Mormonism to back this claim, but the burden of anyone believing contrary to come up with a suitable explanation for each of the scriptures which clearly state otherwise (and which I list in detail here – a post that has gone almost entirely unchallenged).

But the miracle of Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that through Joseph Smith, the great latter-day prophet, the gospel of Christ was restored to the earth in its fullness along with all the keys, authority, ordinances and covenants necessary for us to do all we must do to enter the kingdom of our Father.

I invite you to learn more about this prophet Joseph Smith (here), partake for yourself in the miracle of Mormonism, and experience the rich blessings that come from understanding and living the fullness of the gospel.

Rusty

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin Carter July 22, 2008 at 9:04 PM

Revelation 20:12-15 states, be “judged… according to their works”.

You see, the point is this, works do not determine your salvation–they just manifest that you really were saved. Do you see the point? So that when God judges men He will judge them on the basis of their deeds, because their deeds will manifest whether, in fact, they are regenerate or not.

God can look at your works as the objective proof that you have been saved. And He will look at your works and see the pattern of righteousness, not just relative human goodness, but true righteousness born of a love for God. And He will also see that your name is written in the Book.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

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2 Margaret July 22, 2008 at 9:06 PM

Awesome! Be sure to click on the links to learn about “the Prophet Joseph Smith” and the “Miracle of Mormonism”! they are extremely enlightening.

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3 ryan July 22, 2008 at 9:27 PM

Martin, I agree with you wholeheartedly. When you become completely converted to Christianity, you cannot sit still. The love in your heart is so rich and abundant, that you have an outpouring of love to those around you and works are then a symbol for your love for Christ.

But I submit that those who on their death bed who declare faith in Jesus may not have been truly converted. I won’t judge, but I feel that true conversion is more than a declaration after a life of ease and procrastination.
Ryan

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4 Martin Carter July 22, 2008 at 9:50 PM

Ryan, that reminds me of a parable told by Jesus. I hope you can find your answer within it. I know what you mean by “not judging”. It is best that you let Him pay as He sees fit.

Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no-one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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5 Rusty Lindquist July 22, 2008 at 10:43 PM

We’ve both said the same thing. You said God judges our works to determine the reality of our faith, since righteous works are the natural result of pure faith, but the results are the same. We’re judges by our works, and they must be sufficient. It’s not a free ride. Unless you draw a distinction between salvation and exaltation, the two of which are often confused.

But I’m not just talking about righteous living. I’m talking about being able to fulfill all the requirements of exaltation, which extend beyond baptism, such is simply the first step (and is only efficatious so long as it is done by one holding the proper authority). Such is what I mean in describing the fullness of the gospel.

We’re blessed to live in a time where the gospel is here in it’s fullness and we can complete all the steps necessary for our eternal exaltation, where we can me admitted into the kingdom of our father and enjoy such things as the eternal companionship of our spouses, and the eternal togetherness of our families. Such exalted blessings are available today to the Latter-day saints.

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6 Jesse July 23, 2008 at 3:36 AM

I agree with you on this post, and on this last comment of yours, Rusty.

Martin, you truly do speak the truth: “So that when God judges men He will judge them on the basis of their deeds, because their deeds will manifest whether, in fact, they are regenerate or not.”

As you quoted, faith without deeds, or works, cannot occur. When one has been blessed with true faith, they will be compelled to do good (i.e., follow the commandments of God, enter into covenants with Him, etc., etc.). So faith without works, then, would be like filing a lawsuit with no evidence.

Indeed, it is a great blessing that we live in a time where our God has seen fit to call living prophets and apostles once more!

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/background-information/organizational-structure-of-the-church

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7 ponderingpastor July 23, 2008 at 5:09 AM

Rusty, did you think I had disappeared?

As you note, the role of obedience is one of our areas of disagreement. I believe that Mormons have made Christ’s passion unnecessary by returning to “the law” as Paul describes it in Romans.

Much of the first part of Romans refutes your argument: Just as those who hold Romans as a central description about what Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension mean have to wrestle with the passages that describe judgment based on works, you have to wrestle with Romans. (See my comments in parens below.)

Romans 3:9-28 charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” 13 “Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of vipers is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Our understanding of these verses is that this is the description of all humanity … in all time. It is not just directed toward people in a specific time and place. Paul has made the argument that the attempts to reach God and be obedient fail because of sin.)

19  Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
(vs. 20 … put another way, God will not make righteous, God will not save anyone through their obedience to the ordinances)

21  But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
(An interesting translation issue appears in this verse. It can either read “…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” or “…the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe.” You see it could be either Christ’s faith or ours that saves.)

For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Gift language and earning through obedience language are at odds here. Faith is the central role, not obedience.)

27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
(Mormons I’ve “spoken with” do several things with this, often disingenuous. One is to discount Paul and his importance. After all, according to Mormons, Paul is not a prophet and so Joseph Smith trumps Paul. Another is to make these passages describe “partial” justification, that is, that faith “opens the possibility” for salvation. Continuing effort is necessary to maintain salvation. However, the earlier part of this quoted section and the earlier parts of Romans really doesn’t permit that kind of interpretation. Another route is to move to misrepresent the claim that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and claim that we ignore the rest of scripture just to hold this. The nuance of “who effects our salvation” is missed, for Christians holding strong to the description of salvation in Romans maintain it is Christ alone who effects salvation, while Mormons have to participate in salvation, negating verse 27. [Granted, I’m probably missing some nuance here also.]

What ultimately is our difference here is not so much faith vs. works or obedience. It is the role of Christ. From what I can discern, Mormons see Christ as offering access to salvation … if you do the rest. Christians claim that salvation is completed and continues in Christ alone.

There is another issue here. Lutherans embrace paradoxes in faith matters without trying to resolve them. For example, we are saved by faith alone and obedience counts. Many other Christians and Mormons make attempts to resolve the paradox to find the one right solution. That results in great misunderstanding.

In it all. Obedience does not save us, because that obedience is incomplete, stained by sin, and inherently dishonest.

Pondering Pastor

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8 Rusty Lindquist July 23, 2008 at 11:12 AM

I think you explanation was beautiful, I don’t agree with all of it, but I do agree with most of it.

You say “In it all, obedience does not save us, because that obedience is incomplete”. I totally agree. Only Christ saves us. No matter how much we do, no matter how good we are, we are not saved by our works. We are saved by Christ. As such who affects salvation in our eyes? Christ. We’re no different there.

Yet he says he will judge us according to our works. Judge us for what? Why? Why would he judge our works if our works did not affect our entrance into the Kingdom of God? He judges us because as you say, they do play a role in our eternal inheritance. And I agree that righteous works are nothing more than the proof of our commitment to the Savior, which is what makes them the perfect thing to judge, because as someone said on another comment, it’s not what’s in our heart that matters, but how that actually affects our actions.

The scriptures you quote here we agree with (and I’ve never heard that Mormons don’t think Paul is a prophet – but either way, his words are in the Bible and we believe the Bible to be the word of God). The problem is that there are these other scriptures that I outline here that still have to be answered (and no-one has). What does he mean when he says “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Shouldn’t that be “… salvation unto all”? But then there’s that awful final qualifier. It’s not salvation to all, it’s salvation to all that obey him. Apparently, our works which he says he judges, are part of the salvation equation.

When it says that “not the hearers of the law are justified, but the doers”, I have to ACT to be justified. Who shall enter into heaven? “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” then he continues “but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”. Who enters heaven? The doers . Why? Because he judges our works (Rev 20) and determines if they’re sufficient for him.

We’re told in Galations that the works of the flesh are manifest, and they that do evil shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Why, because before you can enter the kingdom of God, he judges your works.
But even then, again, I’m not talking just about righteous living, and enduring to the end, I’m also talking about all the other steps necessary for our salvation, for any church can teach righteous works, but only the one has the true authority for baptism, and to perform all the other ordinances and covenants necessary for us to walk back to our Father in heaven.

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9 Rusty Lindquist July 23, 2008 at 11:49 AM

It’s like the analogy I use in this post. It can be said that Christ created the doorway to heaven, one that enables all men to pass. Were it not for Christ, creating that doorway, the keys we have or the works we do would be pointless, like standing at a wall that has no door. So yes, it can be said, that Christ created the doorway to heaven, the only door through which one can gain entrance, and without which entrance is denied.

But when we get there, he judges us according to our works (Rev 20:12-15). The doers of the word will be justified (Romans 2:13-16 | James 1:22-25 | Matthew 7:21-23), those that do not the things of God shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-23), for we will be rendered according to our deeds (Romans 2:5-11 | Matthew 16:27 | Revelation 22:12-15), for only he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Mathew 24:13), for faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

In other words, we’d better have the right keys when we get there, having done all that was required, otherwise, in like manner, the doorway will be of little use.

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10 ponderingpastor July 23, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Like ships passing in the fog …

… a careful response in due time.

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11 Margaret July 23, 2008 at 2:07 PM

PP Welcome back! Somehow I knew you were lurking out there somewhere.

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12 Martin Carter July 23, 2008 at 5:45 PM

PP: I can explain James 2 14-26 if Rusty allows.

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the adevils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” What does this mean: “Faith without works is dead”? Does this mean that to be saved we have to do works? Well let’s find out.

Back up, verse 14. We have got to get the context. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?”

What does the Bible teach about salvation? Abraham was justified by works? Romans four, is that what it says? “Abraham was justified by what…? “Faith.” Abraham was not justified by works. Romans chapter three says, “No man is justified by works. By the deeds of the law shall…” what? “No flesh be justified,” none. There is no way that we can be justified. In Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Salvation is by faith, not by works. Galatians chapter three tells us the same thing, that you cannot be justified by works, you cannot be saved by what you do, in terms of deeds. He says, “…they that are of faith,” Galatians 3:9, “are blessed with faithful Abraham.” It’s all a matter of faith. The man that is justified, he says in verse 11, “But no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, … The just shall live by faith.” Now the Bible teaches that you are saved by faith, well you say that what in the world is James saying?

Can faith save him? James is looking at this from the stand point of evaluation. He is looking at a man who says, “I have faith!” And he is saying, all right if you have true saving faith then I ought to see some evidence of it, right? “By their fruits you shall…” what? “…know them.”

He is simply saying, if your faith is genuine then it’s going to manifest itself. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old thing are passed away and behold all things become…” what? “…new.” There is going to be a manifestation. And so he says, what kind of faith have you got my friend, I don’t see any evidence? For example, he says, “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food and one of you who claims to have saving faith says depart in peace be warm and filled.” Just what he needs. Condolence. Hope you feel better, hope you find some food. But you don’t give him the things needful to the body, what kind of faith is that? If you’re really saved it’s going to be a working kind of salvation that will bear fruit. That’s all he’s saying. So, in verse seventeen, “…so faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead, because it’s alone.” So it’s a dead faith not a living faith. If “a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works; show me your faith without your works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works.” And he contrasts two kinds of faith.

One kind of faith is the faith that doesn’t have any works and it is dead faith and the other faith is the faith that produces something and its living faith. One saves and one doesn’t. That’s what he is saying, “Oh,” but he says “I believe, I believe,” “Yeah,” he says, “The devils believe and they tremble.” It’s not enough to believe unless that believing results in an act of commitment to Christ that results in a changed life that bears fruit. That’s his whole point.

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13 ponderingpastor July 23, 2008 at 7:06 PM

Martin, Thanks for the effort. The problem is that Mormons will focus in on the works that arise out of faith and find that to justify their view. There will be little argument about your post, and yet, Mormons miss the centrality of faith. As I listen to them ,they maintain faith becomes that which enables the saving work. You and I will agree that this misses the point. I’d recommend James Fowler’s book, _Stages of Faith_.

Pondering Pastor

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14 andrealudwig July 23, 2008 at 7:58 PM

Sheesh, I’ll try to make this short. No one will be saved by works. It is true those who are saved will be rewarded according to their deeds. Those who obeyed God more will be rewarded more. But salvation cannot be earned. It is a free gift: “Not of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” If you could earn salvation, Jesus would not have died on the cross for your sins. Thinking you can add to his finished work is a slap in the face to God.

You can read more about true salvation and true Christianity in my blog. My husband used to be Mormon.

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15 Rusty Lindquist July 23, 2008 at 8:16 PM

Andrea,

You’re right, we’re not saved by works. That’s what I’ve said. You’re also right, salvation cannot be earned.

Yet there are all of these scriptures that say we also cannot be saved without our works.

But what you say about those who have done more will be rewarded more, drips with deeper doctrine that bears further exploration, and is an increasingly important avenue to address in this cross-faith exploration of the balance between works and salvation. It gets into the difference between salvation and exaltation, and a tierd inheretance after death.

Thank you for making that distinction, and based on your response there, it could be that we agree completely, but are using different terms (which would not be surprising).

PP, that looks like a magnificant book, thanks for the recommendation. I’m actually heading out now to see if I can go get the hard copy. If not, I may have to settle for the electronic version for immediacy sake.

Martin, it looks like your comments came accross twice, I removed the first version (FYI) since the second seemed like it had more clear formatting. I’ll read and reply soon, I just want to get to the bookstore before it closes.

Rusty

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16 pastoralan July 23, 2008 at 10:01 PM

You said, “So many religions teach the doctrine that man needs to do little, if anything, for salvation.” Can you please name me a few? One or two?

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17 andrealudwig July 23, 2008 at 10:36 PM

Mr. Rusty, I really appreciate your kind tone, which shows through. How long have you been a Mormon? Would it change your life immensely to become a born again Christian instead? Do you believe you will become a god and have wives and children in heaven? Do you believe Jesus traveled to the United States? Do you believe Joseph Smith was presented the Book of Mormon by an angel or a demon? Do you believe that God wants men to have more than one wife? Those are many questions, but they are the first that come to mind when I recall Mormonism.

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18 Eric Nielson July 24, 2008 at 10:00 AM

Rusty and all:

I think there is a big part missing in all of this, and that is the degrees of glory or degrees of salvation. The analogy in the post fails I think, because everyone’s key will unlock some door – just a matter of which door. I think discussing this without including the degrees of glory will come up short.

Mormonism is very generous when it comes to salvation. All will be saved from death and hell. All except a very small number will receive a salvation. Mormons are almost universalists.

The degree of slavation depends largely on what kind of people we become as judged by Christ.

Pushing for a salvation that partially depends of works without including salvation by degrees always comes up short.

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19 Rusty Lindquist July 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Eric,

Precisely. This is the deeper doctrine to which I refer in my reply to Andrea, that she hinted at. I’ll explore it further in a separate post today or tomorrow.

Andrea,

No life change would prevent me from doing what I know to be right. It might make me drag my feet, but it certainly wouldn’t stop me. still, I’ve had too many ongoing confirmations of the truthfulness of what I believe to make me even think of doubting. What’s more, the more I learn and study, the more it all makes sense, and the less room there is for any doubt of it’s divinity.

I do believe that if I can fulfill all the requirments there are, that one day, I too can “inherit all the father hath”, as Paul said. I also do believe that Christ did visit the American continent. In the bible he said “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also must I bring, and they shall here my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepard.” Who am I to say he can’t visit wherever he pleases, are we not all children of God? Still, I’ll do a separate post on his visit to America and the record of that visit as kept in the Book of Mormon.

I do believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, a sacred event that led to a cascading sequence of events (including the delivery of the Golden Plates) in order to accomplish the restoration of Christs church and the organization of Prophets on the earth today. Such experiences are the nature of prophets through all time.

I do not believe in poligomy, if I did, I couldn’t be Mormon, for I would be excommunicated.

Such questions are not stumbling blocks for me, for as I study the scripture, I realize that all of these that seem so “untraditional”, are really only untraditional because of the departure of traditional Christianity from Christ’s original church and teachings, but none of which run contrary to the actual representation of truth in scripture. The concept of living prophets is beautiful, and comforting, as are the concepts of theosis “human diefication”, and the Book of Mormon as a second testament to Jesus Christ (the stick of Joseph as spoken of in the Bible).

The truths I’ve been able to embrace by virtue of revealed religion, and the clarity brought about by further witnesses of the Savior have enabled me to shake the shackles of traditional belief and see clearly God’s eternal plan of salvation. I would be a fool to forsake such truth, like turning away from the sun at noon-day, and denying it’s existence.

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20 Margaret July 24, 2008 at 11:54 AM

I think Rusty is (wisely) trying to teach principles of the gospel in small servings. No one could learn it all at once, but “line upon line, precept on precept”. The Lord gives us basic principles, and then adds to them as our understanding increases. The understanding comes through study and prayer. As we understand one concept, another is added.

When someone tells me something new that I haven’t heard before, or that what I believe is wrong, I simply give it the test of study, prayer, and listening to the Holy Ghost. I have 40+ years of experience with this method, and have learned to trust it. I have to admit that there have been times when I have had to change what I believe. The most important part is to be open to what the spirit tells me. For that, I have to set aside my pride. Sometimes that’s not so easy if I think I know it and don’t need the spirit to tell me.

I have learned a lot here from many of you. I hope all of us can be humble enough to let go of our pride and listen to the spirit, and learn step by step.

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21 Eric Nielson July 24, 2008 at 3:01 PM

Sorry. I did not realize which missionary discussion you were on.

Carry on.

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22 Margaret July 24, 2008 at 4:25 PM

Eric,
I really didn’t mean that as a criticism to you. I know Rusty welcomes comments and questions as they come. Please don’t hesitate to make ANY comment because of what I said. I don’t have any inside road to his plan and I suspect it’s always flexible. Sorry.

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23 Larry Hinners July 24, 2008 at 6:00 PM

“I would be a fool to forsake such truth, like turning away from the sun at noon-day, and denying it’s existence.”

Rusty, I am asking how you can expect a non-mormon to do exactly as you can’t. There are no real evidences for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon; no sun at noon-day.

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24 Rusty Lindquist July 24, 2008 at 7:29 PM

Eric, Margaret’s right, you’re comments were incredibly well-timed, as were those from Andrea, the perfect segue to take the discussion to a new level. Please, don’t hesitate to add comments.

Larry,

But there are evidences, many of them, if you’re Christian and already accept the Bible to be the word of God (I’ll list them separately). But evidence is not required. Such is the position of any non-christian looking at Christianity. ‘WHAT EVIDENCE’ is there, they all cry, much like the saduccees and others in the bible coming to Jesus and wanting a sign, what do they want? Evidence!

But evidence was not meant to be the way we gain a testimony of truth. And so many come to accept God, and Christianity despite the lack of proof, or evidence, that can show incontravertably that the path is correct, such is the point of faith, and the need to do our due dilligence, study it out in our minds for ourselves, and then approach God in solemn prayer to ask if it is right.

Evidence doesn’t convert. The holy spirit converts.

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25 Larry Hinners July 24, 2008 at 9:51 PM

I’m pretty sure that Jesus showed the saduccees enough evidence that He was God in the flesh that some murdered him. I’m also sure by those same signs and wonders, many believed in Him – “Evidence”.

I am also sure that all mankind has the knowledge of God by the evidence He has left in His creation and enough evidence that He holds them without excuse. (Romans 1: 20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Rusty, what about when he hung the rainbow? Was it not left as evidence of His promise.

Isn’t God Just. Would the Holy Spirit convert without evidence?

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26 James July 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Another great conversation. I’d like to point out that one problem with the LDS “lock” is that no one in the LDS Church really knows how to open it. For example, at one point in time a key tumbler was celestial marriage (aka plural marriage).

Brigham Young clearly taught “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, page 269).

Future LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith on the subject: “Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or nonessential to the salvation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my protest against this idea, for I know it is false…” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, pp. 28-31)

I could go on and give other examples from LDS leaders at the time, but that’s not the point. The point is that LDS leaders today totally reject the idea that celestial marriage is essential to exaltation. In the eternal LDS world who will be right? Who really knows? We can only speculate.

From Rusty: Sorry, but that’s just plain false. If you’re going to post things that are just not true, you’ll need to find another outlet.

Another example is the Word of Wisdom. According to the official Mormon Church site lds.org, obeying the Word of Wisdom is essential to exaltation. Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
“SALVATION AND A CUP OF TEA…. my brethren, if you drink coffee or tea, or take tobacco are you letting a cup of tea or a little tobacco stand in the road and bar you from the celestial kingdom of God, where you might otherwise have received a fulness of glory? … There is not anything that is little in this world in the aggregate. One cup of tea, then it is another cup of tea and another cup of tea, and when you get them all together, they are not so little (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p.16).

Yet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and most all the early Mormon leaders drank tea, coffee and alcohol.
It was not until the temperence movement of the early 20th Century that Mormons began to see the Word of Wisdom as an essential commandment.

They did, and then Joseph received the instruction on the Word of Wisdom, and worked to purge such practices from the church. Was it obeyed immediately by all? Nothing ever is. But as is the case throughout Christian history, we’re given line upon line. Again, this is another red herring.

Now to my main point: how can Mormons point out to others the “mandatory prerequisite steps” to get into heaven when they are not really even sure of them?

Easily, because we know what has been revealed, have access to a living prophet to tell us exactly what is required of us today. Is it the same for us today as it was for those before? No. Is that odd? No. When Christ came to earth, did he not fulfill the law of Moses? Were the people post-Christ required to do the same things of those before him? No. So why would you be so held up by such a concept.

I’ll tell you why, because you’re focused so intently on perverting the ways of the Lord and giving into your insecurities that you’ve become an instrument in the hands of the devil and are devoted to confusing others and becoming a stumbling block to all who are weak enough to fall into your traps. But for your efforts, you’ll be acountable, and the time will come when you too will stand before the prophets, and come to a bright recollection of all your guilt. I pity you for the suffering that you are heaping upon your soul, and encourage you to repent, and stop fighting against god. If you don’t believe in Mormonism, fine, let your own soul be accountible for that choice, but you’d do well to stop attempting to lead others astray as well.

Do you have to have more than one wife in the next life to get into the highest heaven?

No

Do you have to keep the Word of Wisdom (let’s remember the part about not eating meat 9 months out of the year!) if Joseph and Brigham didn’t?

Again, this is just false. The Word of Wisdom doesn’t say to not eat meat 9 months out of the year.

I think I can understand why most people would lean toward Christ alone for salvation. It’s much easier to understand.

So can I, because it’s convenient, and traditional.

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27 Rusty Lindquist July 25, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Comments added above. Please do not waste my time, nor the time of my readers with falsities. If you wish to discuss principles, scripture, and Mormonism, that’s great, but you’ll have to do it with genuine intent, and not led by the desire to dispute, argue, confuse, or mislead. You’re comments are now moderated.

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28 andrealudwig July 26, 2008 at 9:07 AM

Hi Rusty,

It is so easy for people to become offended or unkind when they are arguing for what they believe. I see you got angry at Mark up there.

I really admire you for your comment that you would cling to the truth whatever it is and no life change would frighten you enough to cling to a lie.

I have been talking with a Mormon named Aaron on my blog. Would you mind taking a look at the comments and jumping in?

In Christ’s Love,
Andrea

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29 Larry Hinners July 26, 2008 at 4:41 PM

“Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God?”

Rusty I think it a good thing that we discuss God’s evidences and how they are the basis for transformation into saving faith. Unless you still uphold your doctrine of conversion without evidence. God is just, and He has provided bountiful evidences for conversion to faith. Through the same evidences He rightly judges those persons who have eternally denied Him. Previously, I had asked how God could judge righteously without providing absolute evidences for the Book of Mormon. It confuses me that God led the Israelite’s for 40 years in the desert by a pillar of fire, yet in the case of the Book of Mormon, it’s followers are wandering in the desert and waiting for the day to come when evidence will prove their book without a doubt. Christian’s are not waiting for evidence. We are not asking non believers to forsake the lack of evidences and follow a pillar that might some day appear.

A few weeks ago, my daughter had the chicken pox. I guess the chicken pox isn’t as common anymore with the vaccination, so just in case for you who don’t know, they are small red bumps that appear over all your body and desire immense scratching to relieve the itching. The infection is highly contagious and lasts for a week or so. I have five other children who have not received immunizations so my wife and I have been waiting the last days for the next kid to breakout.

Last night, while I was in a deep sleep, my nine year old comes through the bedroom door. “Dad Dad”, he yelled, “I can’t get to sleep, I have these bumps all over and I can’t stop itching them.” I listened and compared all of his symptoms with that of my daughters. Expecting to soon hear those words, I nudged my wife’s foot from beneath the covers and announced my diagnosis,”Chicken Pox!” She nudged me back and told me to take him downstairs and give him some Benadryl.

After we made it downstairs, I turned on the light to examine how bad they already covered his body. I lifted off his shirt to look at the bumps and behold on his chest was not a single chicken pox to be found. Instead after closer examination, it was evident that what he had was rather the hives. Probably just an allergic reaction to some tropical flavored Kool-Aid he had drank earlier in the evening. I still fixed him up with some Benadryl and kicked him back off to bed.

Afterwards it was apparent to me that neither his explanation of the itching or the knowledge of his bumps confirmed anything by themselves. It was when I turned on the lights and could see the evidences with my own eyes that I made could the right call.

Likewise, there’s all kinds of things out there masquerading as the gospel. And according to 2 Corinthians 11, Satan is primarily disguised as an angel of light. I think his primary occupation and primary function is in the realm of false doctrine and false teaching and false religion. I thought to myself , would God give us the itching and bumps and then leave us without any hard evidence for the existence of the Nephites, something we could touch and see with our own eyes? My conclusion was that He would never leave us in confusion. He is just and if not just then He is not God. Amen! He was, is, and always will be a God of evidence.

Thank you Lord Jesus for being True. Your Truth is the anchor for all men and the foundation of all faith. Without your truths how are we to trust your promises of salvation. And through your same promise, we rest, waiting for that glorious day when we shall be with you. Father God you are Holy indeed, there is none like you. All your creation sings praises to your Glory. There is none that will escape your rightful judgment. Holy Spirit, you lighten our ways with your Truth. We praise you and worship you forever and ever.

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30 Blackhatseo July 26, 2008 at 4:46 PM

Added. Nice work on this one. Btw, my blog is dofollow, stop by and grab a link. Bompa

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31 Margaret July 27, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Larry, I like your analogy about the chicken pox and hives. There is another side to it, however.

What if you had made the observation of the symptoms of your son and compared them to those of your daughter and thought “I don’t need to look at them because he has been exposed, the symptoms are the same, so I know it’s Chicken pox!” Without investigating it further, you miss the truth.

So it is with those who rail against Mormonism. They read anti-Mormon literature, listen to others who also speak out against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and think they are experts and “know” it is false. Rarely, if ever, do they actually read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. They don’t study it out in their minds, pray, and listen to the Spirit. Most have never even read the entire Bible, studied and prayed so they really know what it teaches. Instead they take a few scriptures, some out of context, and insist that proves their point.

As several of us said before, we challenge you to read and study it for yourself. After you have done that, pray sincerely with the intent of finding out if it is the truth. Those who refuse to do that, to their detriment, will never know if it is true, and will bumble around in the dark.

This is why we try so hard to share what we have. It brings us so much joy and we want all to have it! Those who refuse to turn the light on and look will, sadly, never know the truth.

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32 Larry Hinners July 27, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Margaret, your suggestions to read, study, and pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true can only produce the itch. It falls right in line with my process. Evidently you failed to read all of my post.

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33 Margaret July 27, 2008 at 6:07 PM

How can you judge something you don’t understand and haven’t studied and prayed about? Are you afraid to? There is much proof that the Book of Mormon peoples existed. With effort you and anyone else can find it.

I do agree with your last paragraph. Jesus Christ is true. And He has given us more than the Bible so we can have a full knowledge of the Gospel. Much has been taken away from the Bible through the centuries in the many translations. Heavenly Father is great, holy and loves us more than we can comprehend. The Savior speaks to us today through a living Prophet, because He loves us. We are so blessed to live at this time in the history of the world. There is no need to fear studying these things!

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34 Import from China July 28, 2008 at 8:39 AM

Nice post, you got some good points there – thank you.

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35 andrealudwig July 28, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Hi Margaret,

The Bible is complete in and of itself. It contains everything we need to know God and live the way he wants us to. The Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, and therefore, cannot be true.

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36 Larry Hinners July 28, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Margaret, I think it’s somewhat disingenuous to lead readers with impressions that the Book of Mormon is historically accountable. The same caution for your “Bible lost in translation theory.” They simply are not true. You want me to surrender my mind to the church led by a prophet while believing the Bible to be mistranslated. No Thanks!

What scares me most is this: Members of your faith would not leave the church even if officials reversed earlier doctrine and announced the Book of Mormon as divinely inspired but not containing any ancient history.

Would you?

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37 Brad July 28, 2008 at 3:19 PM

One problem with this website, folks, (and you probably won’t see this comment b/c of it), is that it’s heavily moderated by Rusty, and he will only let you see what he deems fit for you to see. As such, all the discussions that could take place don’t, and as a result all of the ideas of opposition to Mormonism don’t make it onto this blog.

As such, Rusty is able to avoid a lot of comments that he doesn’t feel like answering, and people never know it. Once he feels he’s given you a good Mormon answer, it is pointless to continue questioning, b/c he just won’t post it. Yep, THAT’S really defending your faith.

Rusty, though I’m sure this won’t surprise you or disappoint you, I’ll steer clear of your blog in the future. It’s WAY too one-sided, and there are too many other good Mormon blogs where they are at least willing to discuss (even argue) the issues.

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38 Rusty Lindquist July 28, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Larry,

There will be times when God chooses to provide evidence. He has done that in the past, in several instances, usually when the faith of those present is insufficient and they require something more concrete. As in the case of his appearance to Thomas, he said “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou has believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” ( John 20:29 ).

While the Lord may choose to provide evidence where he may, far be it from me to expect it from him, my aim is to be of such faith that for me it will not be required.

But even in your claim you contradict yourself. You claim that we should seek evidence, but then in the same paragraph say “Christians are not waiting for evidence”. Let me ask you, have you beheld Christ? If we progress line upon line, precept upon precept, then I would suggest that if you have found yourself capable of believing in Christ without the evidence of seeing him, or feeling the prints in his hands and in his side, then you too, are not far from being of sufficient faith to receive an answer as to other things, by nothing more than a witness of the spirit.

Finally, if you’re unaware of all the physical evidences they’re continually finding that support the Book of Mormon, I invite you to stay more current. But for those with sufficient faith, they needn’t wait for indisputable physical evidence before they can start implementing the truth and power of the Book of Mormon in their lives. Those with sufficient faith can start doing so now. Just as I have never seen Christ, yet know he lives, my beliefs are not subject to the crutch of evidence.

And I’m sorry that you’re daughter has the ChickenPox, I’ve had them TWICE as a kid (they say that’s very rare), but I do remember itching like the dickens!

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39 Rusty Lindquist July 28, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Brad,

As you can see, you CAN see this comment. In actuality (as opposed to over-dramatization), there are only four people who I moderate. You are one of them. There have only ever been about 3 posts that I’ve not allowed through, two of which were yours. Everyone else has their posts go straight to the public, including the Pondering Pastor, who is the most frequent to post contrary views. Why wouldn’t I moderate his posts? Because he does so with respect, and his discussions are always based on principles, doctrine, and when they stop progressing, we both simply agree that we won’t agree, and we move on.

In your case, however, we’ve reached an area where there is no further value you’re adding, yet you continue to rail on and on. That adds no value, and as this blog belongs to me, it is therefore up to me to preserve its value in respect to my other readers.

Any good product manager knows that you have to take control of your product. If you simply respond to every wish of every customer, you end up trying to be everything to everybody but become nothing to anybody. Similarly, if I simply spent all my time responding to a discussion with you that isn’t going anywhere, then that’s time I’m not spending creating new content, adding more value, and discussing things that are progressing.

It’s an exercise in futility, and I’m surprised and disappointed that you esteem my time to be of such little value that you’d think I’d be so quick to waste it.
Any comments that repeatedly come across as just trying to argue, or are anti-Mormon, or are disruptive and disrespectful I will moderate. If it occurs more than once, I them moderate that persons posts from then on.

But as long as one remains respectful and adds value, I simply enjoy the conversations as they happen.

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40 Rusty Lindquist July 28, 2008 at 5:02 PM

Andrea,

First and foremost, there is nothing in the Book of Mormon that contradicts the Bible. I’m sorry you feel this way, and would love to address anything specific you feel lies in contradiction. Please let me know what it is.

Lastly, the bible isn’t complete, nor does it contain everything we need to know. Nowhere in the bible is there the presumption that “this is all there is” or that “this is all that is necessary”. That’s why god gave prophets.

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41 Larry Hinners July 28, 2008 at 8:49 PM

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.

Rusty, Thank you for your comments regarding Thomas. You asked how I came to know Christ without evidence through touching him such as Thomas. I came to know Jesus as Christ through the evidences that are recorded in his Word. Thomas was never asked to put aside the lack of evidences to receive a witness. So your right, those that come to believe in Jesus Christ through the evidences in His word must be blessed.

Again, God is just, providing evidences to rightfully judge all mankind.

John 12:48-50

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

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42 Rusty Lindquist July 29, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Most certainly those who believe after evidence are blessed. But as Christ said, more blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believed. When our faith in the Lord is strong enough that we don’t require a sign, then we’re making real progress. Sign-seeking is a little discouraged in the bible ;-). I’ll do a separate post on this.

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43 ponderingpastor July 29, 2008 at 3:33 PM

I’ve just posted a longish reply to this post on my blog. You can see it directly here:
http://ponderingpastor.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/gods-grace-so-much-more-than-what-mormons-teach/

Pondering Pastor

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44 andrealudwig August 3, 2008 at 9:50 AM

I was without internet access for a while.

Rusty, I misspoke. In my research, I have discovered that the Book of Mormon does not necessarily contradict the Bible. Rather, it plagarizes it. It is the teaching of Mormonism which contradicts both the Bible AND the Book of Mormon. Sorry, it gets confusing. I am learning a lot in the process of researching this.

Did you know that the Book of Mormon mentions nothing of the folllowing incorrect Mormon doctrines?
1. the Aaronic priesthood
2. the plurality of gods
3. that men can supposedly become gods
4. the three kingdoms
5. polygamy
6. celestial marriage
7. baptism for the dead
8. pre-existence of humans before they come to earth
9. eternal progression
10. God as an exalted man

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45 Rusty Lindquist August 3, 2008 at 10:50 AM

LOL, I am confused. Mormonism is based off the Book of Mormon, I’m interested to hear what you’ve found in the Book of Mormon that you think our beliefs contradict.

But to say the Book of Mormon plagiarizes the bible is like saying that the books of Mark, Luke, and John plagiarize Mathew because it comes first. Or that other instances in the Bible where they quote prophets and principles of old are instances of plagiarism. But in truth, the word of God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, so we should expect to find times when he will repeat himself, or teach the same doctrine again. Remember, the people on the American Continent didn’t all have the Bible so it was necessary that they be led just as those on the eastern hemisphere were, by prophets who would receive revelation, and by Christ himself during his visit. The Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ. Just as the bible prophecies, that the stick of Judah (the bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) shall become one in thine hand. I’ll elaborate more on this in my upcoming post on the Book of Mormon as the word of God.

But yes, there is much not taught explicitly in the Book of Mormon. Just as there are many principles not taught in the Bible. The Bible does not contain the sum total of all Gods knowledge. Just as the New Testament contains teachings and principles not taught in the Old Testament. That’s how God works, giving us line upon line, precept upon precept. God has not shut his mouth, but rather continues to teach man as soon as they are able to bear more. Such is the purpose, from the ancient days till now, to have prophets and ongoing revelation. That we may all grow in our knowledge and understanding of the principles of exaltation.

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46 andrealudwig August 3, 2008 at 12:30 PM

I spelling has gone downhill. “Plagiarizes” is what I meant.

The Book of Mormon claims to have been written first between 600 B.C. and A.D. 421. Why, then, would it be identical in so many places to the 1611 King James version, even down to the italicized words? Some instances of this are:

1 Nephi 11:27 copies Luke 3:22
1 Nephi 11:7 copies John 1:34
2 Nephi 2:18 copies Revelation 20:2
2 Nephi 10:16 copies Luke 11:23
Mosiah 18:21 copies Ephesians 4:5
Moroni 7-45 copies 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Joseph Smith was not a reliable and upstanding kind of guy.

Also, do you really believe that God would scatter his truths all over the place? That doesn’t make sense.

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47 Jim B. August 3, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Rusty,

I’m not sure why you Laugh Out Loud at Andrea, when you basically concede her point in your last paragraph:

“But yes, there is much not taught explicitly in the Book of Mormon. …God has not shut his mouth, but rather continues to teach man as soon as they are able to bear more. Such is the purpose, from the ancient days till now, to have prophets and ongoing revelation.”

This is a problem not only with LDS, but with Roman Catholicism and some segments of charismatic/pentecostal Protestantism as well – the allowance for continued revelation beyond the Bible. Just as Rome has been embarrassed by indulgences and Marianism, so the LDS has been embarrassed by polygamy and the Seed of Cain doctrine.

Brigham Young said, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” First Counselor Heber C. Kimball said, “You might as well deny Mormonism, and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives.”

And yet the practice is today condemned. (Although, Apostle Bruce McConkie said, “Obviously the holy practice [polygamy] will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium.”)

Funny how God told President Wilford Woodruff to abandon polygamy immediately after the Edmunds-Tucker Act became law (forbidding polygamy). This is the same Woodruff who said, “Do away with that [polygamy], then we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians and do as the world does… We just can’t do that, for God has commanded us to build up His kingdom and to bear our testimony to the nations of the earth, and we are going to do it, come life of come death.”

Did God change His mind? Is God like a man that He should repent?

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48 Rusty Lindquist August 3, 2008 at 6:39 PM

Andrea – that’s okay, I never was much of a speller either.

In answer to your questions…

Would God scatter his truths all over the place?

Let me ask this… are God’s people all over the place? Is it fathomable that he loves one people more than another? In the bible we read that Jesus said “Other sheep have I that are not of this fold, them also must I bring, and there shall be one voice, and one Shepherd”. Contrary to traditional beliefs, there is nothing in the bible that suggests that it is complete, that it is the only record God will give to the earth, indeed, it speaks itself that God will visit “other sheep”, who shall similarly “hear his voice”. Does it not makes sense that they too, would keep a record of these things?

Why are there such grammatical similarities in the Book of Mormon when it was written much latter than the bible?

Critics of the church often become cynical at this. Yet independent witnesses to the translation process each stated that Joseph Smith did not have any other books, manuscripts, or notes to refer to during his translation. In fact, it’s unclear that Joseph even owned a bible during the time of his translation. Emma recalled the following

When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made a mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling, although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. .?. . When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, “Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?” When I answered, “Yes,” he replied, “Oh! I was afraid I had been deceived.” He had such a limited knowledge of history at the time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.

So, therefore, where you suggest suspicion, you could see divine intervention. Evidence that Gods hands were in both works, not just the original writing of which, but in the translation as well. If both are the books of God, and both contain the words of God, and both are translated by the power of God, we should be more surprised if we saw no similarities.

Your study of the Book of Mormon

Andrea, I commend you for your interest in the Book of Mormon. It appears to me, however, that you’re trying to learn about the book of Mormon by studying the words of its critics. Is there a particular reason you’re not just reading the book itself? As Krister Stendahl (a Lutheran Pastor) said in regards to researching Mormonism (and which I cover here), you should go to the source, not the critics if you want an accurate picture.

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49 andrealudwig August 3, 2008 at 8:02 PM

Rusty,
Truly I am more interested in saving people and bringing them to a knowledge of the truth so that they can have freedom in Christ. I do not want to spend my time reading books which I know are not from God. If I study the truth constantly I will be able to spot a counterfeit. I want to be “innocent of evil,” and not have many words in my head which are from evil sources. I believe false religions were designed by demons, and I do not want to give Satan any advantage.

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50 Rusty Lindquist August 3, 2008 at 10:45 PM

Andrea,

How do you know it’s not from God if you haven’t even read it? What “evidence” have you that the Book of Mormon is not true? If your primary source for information about the Book of Mormon is from its critics, how accurate do you think that information will be?

Jesus himself said that he had “other sheep” which would hear his voice. Why couldn’t they keep a record? The bible also says that the bible is the stick of Judah, but that there shall also be a stick of Joseph, and they shall be one in thy hand.

Clearly it teaches that there is more than one record that we should consider as “one”. I’m confused why you’d have such a predisposition to not believe, when there is absolutely no reference in the bible that would indicate that it would be the only word of God, and indeed has these other references to more works.

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51 andrealudwig August 3, 2008 at 10:55 PM

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. So it is easy for me to discern right from wrong, especially when it involves essential doctrine. Mormonism has many flaws, which I have listed both in my post and in my comments. Here is what is true:

We will not become gods, ever. The Bible says there will be no gods after God and there were no gods before him.

Black people are equal to white people, though Mormonism used to teach that black skin was a punishment. The teachings of Mormonism have changed.

The Bible states that there will be no marriage in heaven. Mormonism teaches that there will be.

Satan is not Jesus’ brother, but was created by Jesus. Satan is of a different class altogether. Satan is a fallen angel; Jesus is God.

There are many more instances in which Mormonism veers far away from the truth found in the Bible. It is scary and to be avoided. I cling to the truth. I can only pray that your eyes will be opened and that you will have excellent discernment as well.

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52 Rusty Lindquist August 3, 2008 at 11:01 PM

Jim B.

In regards to your statements on polygamy and the prophets… there’s no mystery there, we’re responsible for obeying the commands of the living prophet. During the time when the practice was commanded to depart from it would be to do away with prophets, for the commandments came from prophets. There’s no strangeness there. During the time of polygamy, if you didn’t obey the commands of the prophet, you’d receive the condemnation, it was no different then than in times of old in that regard. Just as it’s no surprise that the Lord would command the prophet to then stop polygamy once it became outlawed. Just as the bible says, there is a time and season for all things.

In regards to your claim that revelation is done, I’d ask you the same question I asked Andrea… what evidence, reference, or indication do you have from the Bible that it is somehow “all there is” and “all there will be”? On what do you base the belief that God is somehow unable or unwilling to speak today, or in any other time? Where does the notion arise from that God, being the same yesterday, today, and forever, would somehow stop doing what he’d always done – that is revealing his word unto his servants the prophets?

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53 andrealudwig August 3, 2008 at 11:37 PM

Revelation 22:18-20 says,

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

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54 Rusty Lindquist August 3, 2008 at 11:46 PM

None of those distinctions are flaws, but ways in which Mormonism represents the fullness of doctrine as revealed through prophets and through proper interpretation of scripture. Look at each in its turn, and you’ll see the problems with your pre-judgements.

Deification is a belief held not only by Mormons, but by Christian scholars based on biblical references

You suggest that we will not become Gods, and that Mormonism is dangerous because of this teaching. But in so doing illustrate a tremendous lack of knowledge on the subject, for theosis, or the belief in human deification (that humans can become gods) is not unique to Mormonism, but is rather based in the bible and common among Christianity.

Many non-Mormon biblical scholars dating back to the earliest centuries after Christ have said that God came to earth and became man, so that man can become God. Paul says that we can become joint heirs with Christ. The ancient Clement remarked regarding those who become deified that “they will be enthroned along with the other gods, who are set first in order under the Savior” (“The Deification of Man in Clement of Alexandria, page 161). Ireneus (A.D. 180), who may rightly be called the first biblical theologian among the ancient Christians said “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of His boundless love, became what we are that He might make us what He himself is.” And “we were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods”. He, and hundreds of other Christian authorities have made these statements (I can supply an almost unlimited set of references if you’d like). But similar statements were made by Origen (AD 185-251), Justin Martyr (AD 163), Hippolytus (AD 170-236), Athanasius, Augustine (AD 354-430), Jerome (AD 340-420), and many other far more recent scholars.

Revelation 2:21 says “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”.

2 Peter 1:4 says that we might be “partakers of the divine nature”. Philip 3:14 says “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God”.

Jesus and Satan are Brothers

Here again, Mormons are not alone in this, indeed it too, was the understanding of many pre-nicene Church scholars, including the church father Lactantius, who said himself that Jesus and Satan were brothers. He said:

Since God was possessed of the greatest foresight for planning, and of the greatest skill for carrying out in action, before He commenced this business of the world,–inasmuch as there was in Him, and always is, the fountain of full and most complete goodness,–in order that goodness might spring as a stream from Him, and might flow forth afar, He produced a Spirit like to Himself, who might be endowed with the perfections of God the Father… Then He made another being, in whom the disposition of the divine origin did not remain. Therefore he was infected with his own envy as with poison, and passed from good to evil; and at his own will, which had been given to him by God unfettered, he acquired for himself a contrary name. From which it appears that the source of all evils is envy. For he envied his predecessor, who through his steadfastness is acceptable and dear to God the Father. This being, who from good became evil by his own act, is called by the Greeks diabolus: we call him accuser, because he reports to God the faults to which he himself entices us. God, therefore, when He began the fabric of the world, set over the whole work that first and greatest Son, and used Him at the same time as a counselor and artificer, in planning, arranging, and accomplishing, since He is complete both in knowledge, and judgment, and power…

Again we see how traditional (post-nicene) Christianity has departed from the original gospel and teachings of Christ. But to say that Mormonism is scary and to be avoided because we believe in those same teachings is strange. Rather, it’s the departure from original church by mainstream Christianity that is scary, and to be avoided.

This response is long enough, but there are equally understandable explanations for all your listed questions, which are little more than the most frequently regurgitated misunderstandings of critics, usually highly sensationalized for shock-value, but of no substance and very poor historical understanding.

This is why I recommend NOT simply reading things from Church critics. Their aim is not to tell you truly what Mormons believe, but to dissuade you from finding the truth, by falsifying claims of what we actually do believe or not providing sufficient background for you to see the doctrinal basis for those beliefs.

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55 Rusty Lindquist August 4, 2008 at 12:14 AM

Andrea,

Here too is a common biblical reference that critics like to throw out, but one that doesn’t work.

There is overwhelming consensus now among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, and not the whole bible. Those scholars acknowledge that a number of New Testament books were written AFTER John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. This includes at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and likely the entire Gosple of John itself.

But even more simply, at the time of its writing, the Bible didn’t even exist. The bible is a collection of books and writings by various authors, and were in circulation only as single copy, or in combination with a few other books for centuries. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000.

In short, nearly every prophet of the Old AND New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors.

But even this is not specific to Mormonism. One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed cannon and wrote “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls the bible? If the spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”

So, therefore, I humbly ask the same question. On what basis do you draw the conclusion that the bible is somehow closed, when it says itself that there are “other sheep that shall hear my voice”? Where is this “stick of Joseph” that shall be one in our hand, if not the Book of Mormon? (Ezekial 37:16,19)

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56 andrealudwig August 4, 2008 at 1:33 AM

It is God who said that there won’t be any more gods after him. We cannot refute that. Participating in the divine nature is not equal to becoming a god yourself.

How can Jesus and Satan be brothers if one is the Creator and always existed, while the other is the created? Satan is no match for Jesus. He is far beneath him.

Ezekiel has nothing to do with Mormonism. Verse 22 of Ezekiel 37 explains what the sticks are: Judah and Israel, the divided kingdom of Israel. In Ezekiel 37, God clearly explains that reuniting these two sticks into one nation is his plan. It has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon.

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57 Rusty Lindquist August 4, 2008 at 2:11 AM

Wow, you’re up late…

Deification?

But that’s not true. I assume you’re referring to Isaiah 43:10 “… before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”

On the surface (which is where most LDS critics leave it) that seems self-evident. But further study shows that in Isaiah’s time, they were not Monotheistic – he wasn’t saying “there are no other gods”.

What he actually said was that before God, there were no gods, nor will there be any after him. But if you think about it, God is eternal, which means there never was a time in which God did not exist, so there never was a “before god”, nor a scenario that would be “after God”. But what then could he be talking about?

Further study of Isaiah reveals that this scripture is a comparison of Isaiah between the God of Israel (YHWH) and Ba’al, a deity worshiped by the Canaanites. Ba’al had defeated Yaam, his preceding deity, to become chief of the Canaanite pantheon. And as such, it was assumed he too could be superseded. But Isaiah wanted to make it clear that YHWH did not replace his god, nor could he be replaced (hence – there was no god before me, nor will there be after me). For he didn’t oust some prior diety to become God, and nobody else can remove him to take his place.

You’ll notice, therefore, that while he says there were no gods before him, or after him, there was no mention of any gods “during” him.

Hence, theosis, deification, or the belief that we too can become like God, partaking of his divine nature (Peter), and becoming joint heirs with Christ (Paul), is not in contradiction to scripture, for in doing so, we do not replace god, we simply become like him.

Regardless, he is our only God today, and will be our God eternally, our relationship with His is everlasting, but doesn’t preclude our ability to become like him. We are taught that we should become perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect, that we become joint heirs with Christ, inheriting all the father hath.

Jesus and Satan Brothers?

Ah, that is a good question, and gets back to the true nature of God. Under the belief of the traditional trinity (God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost being one person), then this doesn’t make sense. But why then did Father Lactantius suggest that Jesus and Satan were brothers? Because he understood that the true nature of God is that he has a body of flesh and bones, and is a separate and distinct personage from Jesus, his firstborn son, and the Holy Ghost, who has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit (were it not so, he could not dwell within us). Hence how at Christ’s baptism there was Christ in the water, the voice of the Father from heaven, and the Holy Ghost decending – again, three distinct people, and why there are so many other references in the Bible of Christ referring to the Father as a separate person, and why in vision the two were seen standing side by side. Your understanding is correct in that God created Satan, but God also created Christ first, as Lactantius suggests.

What about the stick of Joseph?

Finally, in Ezekiel, verse 22 (they shall become one nation) is not talking about the sticks (which he clearly says earlier are actually writings – not people), but the children of Isreal. Read in verse 21 –

21 And say unto them, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Isreal from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:

22 And I will make them one nation in the land…

So for those that don’t accept the Book of Mormon, there’s still this stick of Joseph that must be accounted for.

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58 Jim B. August 4, 2008 at 9:28 AM

Randy,

First, I tend to agree that Rev. 22:18 probably refers only to the book of Revelation. However, the doctrine of a closed canon does not hinge on this one verse. Jude 1:3 and Heb. 1:2 would be starters.

Second, the Mormon (ab)use of the Ezek. 37 texts is laughably ill-founded. The sticks clearly refer to the divided kingodm of Israel (Ephraim and Judah). (FYI – The Hebrew word used for “stick” – ates – literally means “wood” and is NEVER used in the Old Testament to refer to scrolls or books.)

Randy, since you seem fond citing early Church Fathers, can you cite ONE Christian thinker/theologian prior to the mid-19th Century who interpreted these texts in this way?

Third, your citations of the Fathers regarding deification are, at best, ignorant, and at worst deceitful.

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59 Jim B. August 4, 2008 at 9:36 AM

RUSTY… not Randy. Sorry. I’m in the midst of a nasty head cold, and it seems to be affecting my brain.

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60 andrealudwig August 5, 2008 at 1:27 AM

Rusty, I really appreciate all the time you have taken to explain the Mormon position to me.

So you agree with the Mormon doctrine that there is not just One God? You are not Monotheistic? Deut 6:4 states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

2 Samuel 7:22 says, “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”

And surely you don’t believe God created Jesus, do you? Colossians 1:15-17 says, “He {Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

He was with God in the beginning. He always existed, with God.

John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Is Jesus the Word of God? Indeed he is. Revelation 19:13 states, “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.”

About the stick of Joseph, that is certainly a stretch to think it refers to the Book fo Mormon. All that was written on the two sticks were these words as God instructed Ezekiel to write:

{Ezekiel 37:16} “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’

There was nothing else written on these sticks, so it couldn’t refer to the Book of Mormon.

Rusty, I don’t think you are having an open mind concerning the truth about Mormonism and what God’s word actually says.

We can trust that the Bible is true and accurate, and the one who trusts in him {Jesus, the Word of God} will never be put to shame.” {Romans 9:33}

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61 Eric Nielson August 5, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Rusty:

It is important to keep in mind that in the ultimate sense God didn’t create any of us. Both matter and intelligences are eternal and can not be created nor made. Sure, there must be some type of spirit birth event, but in the ultimate sense we are all self-existent.

This is important because it separtates God from evil. If God created Satan in the ultimate sense then He (God) is responsible for the evil Satan does. But if the ensense of all of us is eternal, and God can not violate our free will, then He is not responsisble for evil.

For traditional Christians, Satan is more of a theological problem. If God created satan out of nothing then he is responsible for evil.

The Mormon explanation for who Satan is is the most logical, scripturally based, and theologically powerful explanation there is.

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62 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Jim

(LOL, seriously, you wouldn’t believe how often I get called Randy. I’ll send an email to someone, with my name right there, and they’ll still reply to “Randy”. I think Rusty is just such a strange, or at least uncommon name for a human. I should have been a dog 😉 Oh, and I hope you get feeling better, head colds are nasty, not enough to completely disable you, but just enough to make things miserable!)

Since I’ll cover the issue of an open/closed cannon in a separate post, I’ll save that discussion for then.

As for Ezekial 37, you say our translation is laughable, but it would be equally easy for me to say it’s laughable that we’re supposed write on the children of Isreal.

“Take the one stick, and write upon it, for Judah, and for the children of Isreal…” The stick is FOR Judah or the Children of Israel, not the children of Israel themselves.

The translation of stick, meaning wood, is an appropriate analogy to a scroll, which coincidentally, you do write on. It does seem that he’s talking about some sort of record, or book, since he refers to them independently of the people they’re written for.

I haven’t read the article you suggested yet, but will do so soon. All of my references and quotes of the early fathers are accurate. Does that mean they were unanimous opinion, well obviously not, but the point is to show that the beliefs of Mormonism, while not needing to be validated by other early-century Christian fathers, in fact often was.

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63 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Eric,

Thank you. This is a valuable addition to the discussion, the eternal nature of spirit matter and intelligences, as well as the free agency. I’ve never quite understood the concept that if God created satan, it somehow diminishes God’s goodness. I do think it stems for an improper or inadequate understanding of free agency. God created Hitler, and countless others who chose to use their free agency as they did. But in no way does that lessen my esteem of God’s divinity or perfection (as if my esteem even matters).

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64 Eric Nielson August 5, 2008 at 10:51 AM

But that is just the point. In the ultimate sense God did not create Hitler or anyone else. Hitler (as one of many expamples) is as eternal as any of us are, and has his free will. So nobody can really say that God made Hitler that way.

Evil does not exist because of God, evil is inevitable in spite of God’s efforts to subdue it. It is the law of opposites as stated in 2Ne2. We are all free to choose good or evil, and Satan has made his choice for evil.

As long as there is free will there will be evil.

At any rate, I find traditional Christian teachings about Satan much more problematic than Mormon teachings.

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65 andrealudwig August 5, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Wow, you don’t agree with Eric, do you, Rusty? Here are some verses about Satan being created by God:

~ Ezekiel 28:14-16 ~

You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.

You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

~ Isaiah 54:16-17 ~

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the LORD.

Here are some about God creating people:

~ Genesis 1:26-28 ~

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

~ Psalm 102:18 ~

Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD….

~ Psalm 139:13-14 ~

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

How easy it is for us to go astray and to think incorrectly when we don’t remain in the Word.

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66 Jim B. August 5, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Rusty,

Re: Ezekiel 37

Eze 37:11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’

Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. AND I WILL BRING YOU INTO INTO THE LAND OF ISRAEL.

Eze 37:13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

Eze 37:14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

Eze 37:15 The word of the LORD came to me:

Eze 37:16 “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For JUDAH, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then
take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of EPHRAIM) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’

Eze 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.

Eze 37:18 And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us WHAT YOU MEAN BY THESE?’

[We don’t need to strain ourselves in deciphering these verses; Ezekiel is prompted by the Lord to give his readers the meaning.]

Eze 37:19 say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and MAKE THEM ONE STICK, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE IN MY HAND.

Eze 37:20 When the sticks on which YOU WRITE [Ezekiel wrote on both sticks; we are not waiting for another stick to be written upon] are in your hand before their eyes,

Eze 37:21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather THEM [the Israelites of Judah and the Israelites of Ephraim] from all around, and BRING THEM TO THEIR OWN LAND.

Eze 37:22 And I will make them ONE NATION in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and THEY SHALL BE NO LONGER TWO NATIONS, and NO LONGER DIVIDED INTO TWO KINGDOMS.

Please, Rusty, read the entire chapter without coming to it with any preconceptions. Ezekiel could not have been any more explicit in the meaning of the two sticks. Ezekiel wrote on the sticks as a prophetic symbol. God is going to gather His scattered peoples and bring them together.

Like much of Ezekiel’s prophecy, this points to Christ and His purchasing a righteousness for His people. What Israel repeatedly fails to do – live righteously; obey the God’s law – Christ will do for them. In fulfilling the law that Israel could not fulfill, Christ purchases salvation and redemption for His scattered peoples (Jew and Gentile). Included in this purchase is a new heart and a new spirit – a heart and spirit redeemed from the curse of sin, and renewed with holy affections and desires. From this new heart and spirit (created by God breathing on dead bones – the new birth) arise fruits of righteousness – good works. Yet, it is not by these works that God’s chosen people are saved, but by Christ’s fulfillment of the law.

I would again challenge you, Rusty, to name one Christian theologian or thinker, prior to Joseph Smith, who interpreted Ezekiel 37 in this way. Fact is, there are none, because the interpretation is clearly provided in the text.

I would also challenge your use of the Hebrew word for “stick/wood” as “scroll”. You may think it an appropriate analogy, but the Old Testament often uses words for “scroll”, but never uses the word here for “stick/wood”.

And your references of the early Church Fathers may be “accurate” in the sense that these words were in fact written by them, but they are all taken out of context and flatly contradict the unanimous teaching of the early (and later) Christian church. I look forward to more discussion on this when you get an opportunity to check out the link above.

God Bless

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67 Jim B. August 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM

Eric,

How do you handle the following texts given your views on free agency and God’s impotence in combating evil?

Gen 50:20 – As for you, you MEANT evil against me, but God MEANT it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

The Hebrew word used for both “meants”, chashab, means to plot, weave, fabricate, contrive, etc. So, while Joseph’s brothers’ plotted to harm Joseph, God was simultaneously plotting for good. God contrived Joseph’s kidnapping, sale into slavery, wrongful imprisonment, etc. in order to save His people from the drought/famine, bring them to Egypt, enslave them, and finally redeem them. God doesn’t work ad hoc, He plans all things for good. Bringing me to my second verse…

Rom 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Eric, are bad things included in “all things”? What about the Cross, the ugliest act in human history? Did not God plan it from before the foundations of the world?

God Bless

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68 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Andrea,

I absolutely agree with Eric. But it looks like you misunderstood him. He is saying that Satan was created by God, so I’m confused at your selection of scriptures that back that point up. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your meaning, could you clarify? (Sorry if I’m just being dense).

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69 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 4:53 PM

Ah, I just reread Eric’s reply and think I now understand what you’re talking about. He’s not saying that God didn’t create us (Eric, correct me if I’m wrong), he’s saying that while God created our bodies, he didn’t create who we are. The “who we are” is a result of our choices, our free agency, and the immortal nature of our souls. So he’s saying that while God did create Satan, and Hitler, and the like, he didn’t make them who they are.

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70 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 4:56 PM

Jim,

I hope Eric still replies, but in the meantime, I’ll offer my reply. Indeed, bad things are included in all things. That’s what Eric means by the principle of opposition. God knew that we must have free agency, but he also knew that for free agency to “work”, we must also have an adversary. Hence the opposition to all good was indeed part of the plan. Just like opposition makes us stronger, or more humble, or brings our minds to god. Good can come from evil.

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71 Rusty Lindquist August 5, 2008 at 6:26 PM

Jim,

You asked me to name one Christian theologian or thinker who translates “stick” as book in Ezekiel. Moshe Greenberg, editor of the Anchor Bible. He expounds on Ezekiel and interprets “ets” as “lwch” or tablet, which he says refers to the hinged writing boards they used in their day. But in terms of the use of sticks to hold writing there’s prolific coverage on the subject, covering how they were used, when they were used, and why they were used. And this is not anything subject to interpretation, but with physical evidence of archeological discoveries and ancient writings (not all of them biblical) about the use of sticks. So feel free to challenge it, but you’ll need to take the challenge up with someone other than myself. The following URL lists extensively the use of sticks, quoting dozens, if not hundreds of sources.

Additionally, the Jews have always maintained that Ezekiel’s sticks were books. But simply the fact that Ezekial said they should write on these sticks, clearly indicates that he was referring to writing sticks of old.

http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/ezekiel.htm

Still, to your credit, you’re half right. Ezekiel’s prophecy of the sticks of Judah and Joseph actually has a dual meaning. It refers to the latter –day reunion of the kingdoms of Judah and Joseph (Isreal). But it also refers to the latter-day combining of the scriptural records of Judah and Joseph (Isreal).

If you’d like a full, and well organized presentation of the facts on the matter, including sources, you can go here:

http://www.lightplanet.com/response/BofM/EZEK37.html

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72 Eric Nielson August 6, 2008 at 5:19 AM

Rusty:

I am NOT saying that God created Satan (in the ultimate sense). The essential part of what Satan (and all of us) is, is eternal and uncreated.

Jim B.

I am not saying that God is impotent. He opposes evil and combats it constantly. Often with great success. He is very much an active God who is involved in every aspect of our lives. His work and glory are to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.

So he does influence people and events all the time. God intervenes. But not in a way that completely takes choice away from individuals.

Many times we do not understand when bad things can work out for good.

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73 Jim B. August 6, 2008 at 5:54 AM

Rusty,

First, I should have simply dropped the issue of stick/scroll. I’m not going to argue with you about the archaeological/historical significance of sticks or wood in the ancient Middle East. And frankly, it’s irrelevant. (I would maintain, however, that the word for “stick” in these texts is NOWHERE used in the Old Testament to refer to scrolls.)

But, for the sake of argument, let’s grant that these are scrolls. Who is to write on these scrolls? Some future individual or group of individuals? Nephi? No! The Lord instructed EZEKIEL to write on the scroll/stick. And what did He instruct Ezekiel to write? “For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him” AND “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.”

Everything to be written on these sticks/scrolls was written by Ezekiel. And the sticks are then held together to explicitly signify the reunification of the divided Kingdom. The sticks/scrolls CLEARLY symbolize these two groups of people, NOT actual scrolls or scriptures. This is the ONLY meaning of this text. NOTHING in the text refers to a future arrival of a second Holy Book.

(Though, if this text was prophesying a second Holy Book, wouldn’t the New Testament fulfill this? Wouldn’t the BoM be a third – and therefore illegitimate – book?)

Rusty, I would again reposit my challenge regarding this text, and this time more clearly: Show me ONE pre-Mormon thinker/theologian (Christian, Jewish or secular) who read from Ezekiel 37 a prophecy regarding a second scripture. (I am not asking you to defend the use of “stick” as a reference to a “scroll” – for the sake of this argument, I’ve granted that.) If there are none, you must ask yourself why, for millennia, did EVERYONE (Christians, Jews, secular scholars, etc.) miss this prior to the arrival of Joseph Smith?

Rusty, can you honestly say that without a Mormon preconditioning, you would read Ezekiel 37 and come away with an expectation of a future second scripture (let alone the BoM)?

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74 Jim B. August 6, 2008 at 6:34 AM

Eric & Rusty,

“God knew that we must have free agency, but he also knew that for free agency to “work”, we must also have an adversary. Hence the opposition to all good was indeed part of the plan. Just like opposition makes us stronger, or more humble, or brings our minds to god. Good can come from evil.”

The Bible never describes evil doings or evil persons as necessary counterparts of “free agency” or “free will”. God did create Satan and, in a sense, is responsible for all that happens – good and evil. God does not sin, but certainly planned for sin to enter the world. If God planned the cross from before the foundations of the world, He certainly would have had to plan sin. Consider:

Deut. 32:39 – See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

1 Sam. 2:6-7 – The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.

Job 12:6-10 – The tents of robbers are at peace,
and those who provoke God are secure,
who bring their god in their hand.
But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 33:10-11 – The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.

Psalm 115:3 – Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Psalm 135:6 – Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.

Isa. 14:26-27 – This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

Isa. 45:7 – I form light and create darkness,
I MAKE WELL-BEING and CREATE CALAMITY,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

God accomplishes all He intends to accomplish, including life, death, health, sickness, peace, war, well-being, calamity, etc. Consider Job: while Satan is the immediate agent of Job’s sufferings, God is the ultimate cause. God allows Job to be afflicted so that He will ultimately be glorified in Job’s faithfulness.

“Evil does not exist because of God, evil is inevitable in spite of God’s efforts to subdue it.”

Yikes! First, your God is awfully weak. Look around! Evil is everywhere. Everywhere is war, strife, hate, poverty, etc. Second, why is evil inevitable? If God is all-powerful, why couldn’t He prevent evil? “Free agency” won’t cut it, either. God would still be responsible for evil, even if He allowed it for “free will”.

God subdues all He chooses to subdue. Nothing and no one resists God.

Reply

75 Eric Nielson August 6, 2008 at 10:14 AM

Jim:

So you think life is basically deterministic. Every detail ordered by God? Is it correct to assume you are basically Calvinistic?

Reply

76 Eric Nielson August 6, 2008 at 10:47 AM

You say my God is weak, and from your perspective I do not blame you for your observation.

Yet I might say that your God is so absolute that one wonders what the point is? If God is in complete control of every detail than who is saved depends on God’s arbitrary whims. Which begins to come back to Rusty’s post.

So is man saved by his own choice – or by the unconditional election of God?

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77 Jim B. August 6, 2008 at 2:15 PM

Eric,

Ephesians 2

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…

…and were by nature children of wrath…

…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved…

…For by grace you have been saved through faith. AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; it is the gift of God, NOT A RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Who makes those dead in trespasses (all humanity) alive? Do the dead raise themselves? How do those who are BY NATURE children of wrath choose to do that very thing which is most opposed to their nature – love and obey God?

It is curious that your rebuttal to my scripture references is not an argument from scripture, but a tossing out of scary words like “determinism” and “Calvinism”, as if the mere assignment of these labels makes your case.

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78 andrealudwig August 6, 2008 at 8:25 PM

Rusty, I don’t know if you’re interested, but I am currently having a discussion with a Mormon named Jared if you {or anyone else} wants to join in. Have a good night.

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79 Eric Nielson August 7, 2008 at 6:59 AM

Jim:

There are all kinds of scriptures that could be referenced that instruct us to do what Christ taught. If we love Him we obey his commandments, we should be doers of His word and not just hearers. We will be judged by our works, faith without works is dead. We must repent of our sins. And on and on. These things illustrate our part, and we must choose to do them and act upon that.

So I could list scriptures that I interpret to match my religious ideas, and you can list scriptures and interpret them to match your religious ideas. Where would that get us? An argument I suppose.

We really need to take the ‘whole panorama’ of scriptures together as a whole. And this leads us eventually to a philosophy or theology of religious belief. There is a reason there are so many different churches out there that base their beliefs on the Bible. This is a big reason we need additional scripture and modern day revelation.

Determinism and Calvinism are just words, and have no need to be scarry. They are only scarry if they fit your religious beliefs and you realize that those beliefs are not entirely logical, rational, charitable, scriptural, and don’t feel right. Some absolute God who is responsible for every event in everybodies life, with mankind being completely depraved seems to be what you base things on. The scriptures you use and how you use them suggest this.

Anyway, this is Rusty’s blog, and I have probably intruded long enough. If you want to understand Mormonism, which I kinda doubt – but this is a Mormon blog, then understanding that Mormons take free will / free agency very seriously is an important piece of information. This, combined with our rejection of much of the dogma surrounding original sin might make us seem preoccupied with our own sins and behaviour. Our view of the atonement is that Christ makes salvation possible – there is no other way. Yet, we must do things like have faith in Christ, repent of our sins, and be baptized, in order to have a fullness of salvation. But salvation is very generous and inclusive. Christ has overcome the affects of the fall, and thus all but a few sons of perdition will be saved from death and hell.

Anyway, I don’t have much time for blogging, so I probably will not be following up on this soon.

Best wishes everyone.

Reply

80 Rusty Lindquist August 7, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Eric,

I truly appreciate your participation in these responses. We tend to have far more non-Mormon commentors, so having another LDS voice is a valuable addition. Please come back as often as time permits.

I’ve got additional responses to this I’ll post soon.

Reply

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