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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Approaching Mormon Doctrine

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Recently, I have seen the following quote presented in multiple Mormon discussion groups:

“The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”
– B. H. Roberts, sermon of 10 July 1921, delivered in Salt Lake Tabernacle, printed in Deseret News, 23 July 1921, sec. 4, p. 7

This quote seemed to be being passed around by Mormons in an attempt to silence any critic who would quote anyone or anything other than Mormon scripture as a source of Mormon Doctrine. In other words, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, even the Prophets and Apostles of the Church, nothing but what can be found in the scriptures is “Official Church Doctrine”.

That’s quite a statement coming from member of a church which claims to be “the only true church” and which points out not only the importance of but the need for modern-day prophets and apostles. We need them, but it doesn’t matter what they say because they might be mistaken? In fact, when I recently pressed a member for an answer on this, I pointed out that what they were saying was that the Mormon Church’s only real claim has nothing at all to do with “truth”, then, but with “power and authority”. They agreed.

Anyway, I found a more recent reference to “Approaching Mormon Doctrine”, which states:

“Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”
– The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon Newsroom, Approaching Mormon Doctrine, 4 May 2007

Though this more recent reference does reiterate that official church doctrine resides in the four standard works, it clearly includes official declarations and proclamations. In fact, it seems to also include any official church publication, as it is clearly stated that this is where “established doctrine” is “consistently proclaimed”. That those doctrines are derived from and supported by the four standard works, etc, doesn’t preclude those doctrines from being found in other places, in official church publications in particular. Therefore, it doesn’t preclude those looking for official church doctrine from consulting such publications and not being limited to just the four standard works of the church. And, of course, this should make perfect sense to any reasonable person. Members of this Church subscribe to and refer to these publications for a reason. They are valuable resources and one of the means by which Church Leaders reach the membership and reiterate/reinforce Church Doctrine.

It’s not “every idle word” that we are interested in. But those things a Prophet or Apostle of the Lord speaks from behind the pulpit in his church or that he publishes in writing aught not be considered “idle words” or “mere speculation”, as this is not the place to share such things, in my opinion.

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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Mormonism

 

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The Adoption of Sons

HisSonIn my first blog entry I commented on the dispensation of the fullness of times. The same passage in Ephesians also speaks of the adoption of sons. And several times in recent weeks I have seen members of the LDS Church make the claim that we are adopted by and to Jesus Christ as his sons and daughters.

According to the Church website,the scriptures speak of two types of adoption:

(1) A person who is of non-Israelite lineage becomes a member of the family of Abraham and the house of Israel by having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized by immersion, and receiving the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:17–18; D&C 84:73–74; Abr. 2:6, 11).

(2) All who have received the saving ordinances of the gospel become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ by continued obedience to his commandments (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 3:24–29; 4:5–7; Mosiah 5:7–8).

I want to focus on number 2, above, by looking at the scripture references given:

I’ll start with the verse from the Book of Mormon, since it does. Mosiah 5:7-8 reads::

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.”

But is that what the Bible verses say? Let’s look at Rom 8:15-17 first:

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

I get that Jesus is God, but when scripture speaks of the sons of God it is speaking of either Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God or it is speaking of those who have been born again (or been begotten from above, begotten by God) who are also called the sons of God because they are being led by the spirit of God. And this passage in Rom is talking about just that. Those who have been quickened by the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.

What about Gal 3:24-29?

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

This says that we become the children “of God” by faith “in Christ Jesus”. We do not become the children of Jesus, we become the children of God through Christ. We becomes “sons” through “the only begotten Son”. That’s why we are called “joint-heirs with Christ”. Isn’t that correct?

Further, in Gal 4:5-7, we read:

“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

I’m not sure why the reference given starts at verse 5, instead of 1, but let’s look at verses 1-4, as well…

“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”

Here, Paul is pointing out the difference between “a child” and “a son”. This is a distinction that I believe is very important, but one that seems to have been lost in translation.

Paul is saying that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant. But he is also pointing out how the “child” becomes a “son”. And it by receiving “the Spirit of His Son”. For when we receive “the Spirit of Christ” we, too, cry “Abba, Father”. We are not crying Abba, Father to the Son, however; we are crying Abba, Father to the Father by the Spirit of His Son.

Here is Eph 1:3-12, which we discussed last time (emphasis mine):

“Blessed be THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY JESUS CHRIST TO HIMSELF, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: IN WHOM also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”

We receive “the adoption of sons” (uihothesia = placement) through the Son, through the beloved. But we are not “adopted” in the same sense that we understand adoption today, I don’t believe, where the one adopted is actually the biological child of someone else but, due to a legal transaction, is able to call one who is not their father their father (and one who is not the son their son). That is not the way I understand the term to be used in scripture. Scripture clearly tells us that we are “begotten by God” that we are “His offspring”. But we are begotten by God through Jesus Christ, which is why Paul said the mystery that was hid from ages and generations, that was being revealed to the saints, was “Christ IN YOU, the HOPE OF GLORY”.

We becomes “sons of God” though the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said, in John 20:17 (emphasis mine):

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto MY FATHER, AND YOUR FATHER; and to MY GOD, AND YOUR GOD.”

Now, I am certainly not denying that the scriptures tell us that we become “children [sons] of the resurrection” and Jesus Christ said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus made many “I am” statements, statement that (to me) are intended to clearly demonstrate that He and the Father are “one”, that He is God manifest in the flesh and that it truly was the Father that was in Him doing the work – through Him reconciling the world to Himself. The significance of which is completely lost by those who separate the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into three separate and distinct being who are each God, one only in purpose but separate in being.

This is another example of how and where Mormon doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Adoption, Mormonism, Sons

 

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The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

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“A dispensation of the gospel is a period of time in which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who bears the holy priesthood and the keys. … The fulness of times is the final dispensation, and began with the revelation of the gospel to Joseph Smith. … It is a glorious time, the time in which we live today” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”). Here are some of Joseph Smith’s teachings on this gospel dispensation.

See: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times

According to the LDS Church we are currently living in “the dispensation of the fulness of times”, as ushered in through Joseph Smith via the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

But is that what the Bible says about the dispensation of the fullness of times?

Paul speaks of “the dispensation of the fulness of times” in Ephesians 1. And it seems clear to me that Paul is saying that they were, then, living in “the dispensation of the fulness of times”; for he said that it was in “the dispensation of the fulness of times” that God would “gather together in one all things in Christ”. Eph 1:3-12 reads:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”

John also writes about the gathering together of the nations in John 11:45-52, in which Caiaphas prophesied concerning the death of Christ saying:

“Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”. John said: “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”

If we continue reading in Ephesians, Paul continues by pointing out that those who were dead in sin “were quickened together with Christ”, even raised up together with Him in His resurrection. He says that “one new man” was created “in Christ” by which reconciliation was made, through which the Gentiles were made partakers of the promises and part of “the commonwealth of Israel”. (Eph 2) In chapter 3 Paul calls it “the dispensation of the grace of God” which was given to him to preach.

It is to this “gathering together” into “one body” that I believe Paul is referring when he speaks of those who would forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” in Heb 10. The word used there is “episunagōgē” and it means “a complete collection”.

I don’t really see how there can be any doubt that these things were accomplished by the cross of Christ through which Christ was made the High Priest over the house of God (mentioned several times throughout the book of Hebrews), making it possible for us to enter into the Holy of Holies, with boldness, by the blood of Christ.

Paul speaks several times about the fact that “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Rom 12:5)

Back to Heb 10:1-5, Paul writes:

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:”

The church is that body; His body being His church – to whom the mystery and the riches of the glory of the mystery were to be made known. We read in Col 1:18-27

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

Can there be any doubt that these things were accomplished in Christ, by the cross of Christ, through the blood of Christ poured out upon the alter of the Lord once for all at the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

This is one example of how and where Mormon doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Mormonism

 

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