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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One Lord

This morning I started out thinking I was going to write about something else, something completely unrelated to Mormonism, but as soon as I started to prepare my notes they began to go in a completely different direction. This isn’t really about Mormonism, but it’s related, so I felt this was still an appropriate venue for this subject. It’s about Monotheism and the deity of Jesus Christ and I am only going to post 3 key verses of scripture from the New Testament that relate to the first of all commandments: 

Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is One LORD. (Deu 6:4)

I’ve written on this subject before, but I really don’t think this can be stressed too much, especially as it relates to Mormon Doctrine concerning the Godhead.

One God One Lord 4

I have colored the words in the verses, in the image above, to correspond to the Greek and Hebrew words being used in each verse, so we can look at how they related to each other. These passages tell us:

The Lord (Jehovah) our God (Elohim) is one Lord (Jehovah)!

Thou shalt worship the Lord (Jehovah) thy God (Elohim), and him only shalt thou serve!

To us there is ONE GOD (Elohim), the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and ONE LORD (Jehovah) Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

So what does all of this mean?

Jesus Christ is LORD!

He is the manifestation of God in the flesh: Emmanuel, God with us.

God (Yahweh/Jehovah) Himself is the REDEEMER/SAVIOUR of His people. (Isa 43:10-12; Isa 45:20-21; Hos 13:4)

Mankind is redeemed/saved from sin and death by the Spirit of God that dwells IN THEM, of which Jesus serves as the perfect pattern and our blessed assurance.

He is the pattern Son and the one into whose image we are to be conformed as sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

He is the Head of a many-membered body.

This is why all power and authority was given TO HIM; why all things were put into HIS HANDS; why the Spirit was given TO HIM WITHOUT MEASURE; why He had the power to lay down His own life and take it up again; why He has preeminence over ALL MEN, being THE HEAD of the body of Christ, whose Head is God; why we are called by HIS NAME, just as He is called by the Father’s name.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just about one individual man named Jesus, though in all things He will always have the preeminence. It is about the ONE NEW MAN “created” IN CHRIST, the only begotten Son of God. It is about one Son bringing many sons to glory, as the captain of their salvation.

This is why we are to know NO MAN after the flesh, not even Christ. We are to see ALL MEN as ONE MAN through Christ Jesus! We are to see ALL MEN as GOD’S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON… ONE MAN: ONE HEAD, ONE (many-membered) BODY. One man whose Head is God: the ONE God and Father of all.

We are ONE, just as they are ONE, because we are all joined together by ONE SPIRIT, which is THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

God is Spirit! And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit!

We are God’s offspring and because we are united in, by and through the ONE SPIRIT that IS GOD there can be ONLY UNITY in the Kingdom of God, where God is ALL IN ALL.

We are ONE! One with God and one with each other!

I wanted to keep this as simple as possible, trying to stick with just the three passages of scripture highlighted in the image. However, the temptation is to list every verse that immediately comes to mind with regard to this topic, so I did end up going beyond the three I wanted to focus on, though I did curb my desire to add so much more.

I also had to fight the temptation to make this all about Mormon Doctrine, in particular, though this is a blog dedicated to Mormon topics. This topic, however, reaches beyond Mormonism, as I believe so much is missed (by Mormons, by Jehovah’s Witnesses, by anyone else with an incorrect understanding of the Godhead) when we do not fully understand who Jesus Christ is as the mediator between God and man. If we do not properly understand their oneness, we cannot possibly understand our own.

Let God be true, but every man a liar…

 

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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Godhead, Sons

 

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Terryl Givens on Mormon Universalism

Mormon UniversalismI came across another article on “Mormon Universalism.” I have not listened to the interview yet, and maybe I should before I comment, but I don’t have the time right now and I think there is enough in the article to comment on without hearing the interview.

I will grant Mr. Givens that Mormonism is very inclusive when it comes to salvation, much more so than traditional/mainstream Christianity, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that even Mr. Givens has to exclude the “Universalist Unitarians,” by which I think he probably means the Christian Universalists, since he was speaking of “the Christian world.” Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that salvation as defined by Mormonism is not the same as salvation defined by the traditional view of Christianity. In Mormonism “all are saved” based solely on the fact that all receive immortality through the resurrection of the dead, whether they are subsequently damned (sent to outer darkness or obtain a lesser degree of glory) or not. Either way you look at it, though, there is no true “universalism” in Mormonism.

Mr. Givens also makes some very false claims about the universalism that existed in Joseph Smith’s day, particularly Christian Universalism (which goes all the way back to the first century and the gospel preached by the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ). Anyone who has ever read the writings of the Universalist preachers of that time (look them up, many of them are available for free on the internet) can tell you that it is an absolute falsification of the truth to claim that “they didn’t know how to reconcile the need for a Savior with that desire to universalize salvation,” until Joseph Smith conveniently came along, after receiving a vision, and provided those answers.

There was and is absolutely no uncertainty whatsoever as to how God provided for the salvation of all men among those who are Christian Universalists. His name is Jesus Christ. And if God actually did provide for the salvation of all men through the gospel of Jesus Christ, as He did, then Mormonism is proven false, categorically; as it denies (among many other things) the FULL salvation of ALL men.

While it certainly would be nice to see Mormonism get out of the “only true church” business, that is only the tip of the iceberg that is Mormonism. That they are more inclusive than traditional Christianity, in the sense that they do not damn most of humanity to endless torment in hell, is a good thing; but it doesn’t make up for everything else Mormon doctrine lacks. Truth.

It’s not even, truly, all inclusive.

But the true gospel of Jesus Christ is!

P.S.  For another interesting take on Mormon Universalism you can check out this website.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Mormonism

 

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Mormonism and Universalism

punish1I was looking into the connections between Mormonism and Universalism, again, and happened across this blog which speaks of “a universali[s]m that existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries” in the LDS Church, which this member seems to believe has gotten, at least somewhat, lost in current years. I’m not sure how lost it is, as many members of the LDS Church, even today, will be quick to point out that, according to LDS Doctrine, salvation is “universal” in its scope. What they mean by that, however, is something very different from true Christian Universalism, as they only mean that all men will be resurrected from the dead, to immortality. They do not mean that all men will return to the Father or even that all men will enter into any of the various “degrees of glory,” as taught in LDS Doctrine.

That said, some of the quotes provided do seem to allow for the possibility of movement between these degrees of glory, by way of “eternal progression,” and that would seem to allow for someone to receive a greater degree of glory over time. I think this is something which current Mormons do still allow for, at least as a possibility, even if they cannot explain how that might look in practice, especially as it might relate to the highest degree of glory, for which there are certain requirements that must first be met, including the everlasting covenant of marriage.

But, as to the quotes provided, saying that truth can be found in all places, inside or outside of the church, among both believers and non-believers (as any Christian, LDS or not, would allow for), is not the same thing as teaching true “Universalism,” the belief that salvation will come to all men and all men will be united with God, the Father.  So I don’t see “Universalism” being the message of most of those quotes, though a couple of them do seem to speak to that possibility, even if not the guarantee, especially as it relates to “eternal progression” (and not just the fact that all men will be “resurrected from the dead” to a state of immortality). It’s not clear that such pertains to those who are termed “sons of perdition,” however.

But there can be no doubt that Joseph Smith and, therefore, Mormon Doctrine was heavily influenced by Universalism or the Universalist beliefs of Joseph Smith’s father and grandfather. Anyone familiar with Universalist arguments will immediately recognize the argument made in D&C 19 with regard to “eternal punishment,” etc., as a Universalist argument. The only problem is that D&C 19, while true when applied to the Bible, is not true when applied to the Book of Mormon because in the Book of Mormon it is written that there shall be “no end” to this torment – quite unequivocally.

So we have the expression “endless torment”, which is made in relation to the punishment of the wicked/unrepentant and another way to say “endless torment” would be “torment that has no end”.

However, in D&C 19 we read: “it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment” and if it is not written that there shall be “no end” to this torment then there must need be AN END.

In D&C 19, Joseph Smith seems to be explaining why something that is called “endless” HAS AN END !!

He explains that it is not “endless torment” (or “endless punishment”) because it “has no end” but because this torment/punishment comes from the hand of God, whose NAME is ENDLESS (and ETERNAL)

Therefore ETERNAL PUNISHMENT = GOD’S PUNISHMENT

And ENDLESS PUNISHMENT = GOD’S PUNISHMENT

Signifying from whom it comes, not how long it lasts.

I would have absolutely no problem with this IF, in fact, it wasn’t written that “there is no end” to the punishment/torment of the wicked. The problem is that it is written, at least in the Book of Mormon.

In the Book of Mormon we find many references to “that hell which has no end.”  to those who “cannot be saved,” to that which says: “the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out,” to those who are “cast off forever,” where they are “destroyed forever,” from where there is “no deliverance,”  to “a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end,” wherein the wicked will be “miserable forever” (you get the picture).

None of that sounds to me like torment/punishment that has “no end.” And we can’t blame it on “translation errors,” like we could if we were discussing the Bible which was actually translated by fallible men, since the BoM, we are to believe, was not translated but was simply transcribed by Joseph Smith directly into English as dictated by God himself.

And the fact that there are so many references to the fate of the wicked, which is clearly said to have “no end” (in more ways than one), completely disproves the statement that “it is not written that there is no end to this torment” (even if, in fact, this could be proven to be true by addressing translation or interpretation error in the Bible).

It IS written that there is NO END (no redemption, no salvation, no deliverance, no end to the misery) of the wicked MANY TIMES, in MANY WAYS throughout the Book of Mormon.

And I certainly don’t know how else you can understand the statement “it is not written that there is no end to this torment.” The fact remains that it is written, but only in the book produced by Joseph Smith. It is not written in the Bible.

Here are just a few references:

2 Nephi 1:17  My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts the Lord your God should come out in the fulness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever;

2 Nephi 2: 5  And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

2 Nephi 2: 28-29  And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

Note that if “eternal life” is that life which comes from God who is “eternal” and “eternal punishment” is that punishment which comes from God who is “eternal,” then by the same token this passage attribute “death” to God.  Note also that this is not an expression one will ever find in the Bible.

2 Nephi 9:16-24 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame scendeth up forever and ever and has no end. O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled. But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.  O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth call things, and there is not anything save he knows it. And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.

2 Nephi 28:22-24   And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!

While Joseph Smith was clearly influenced by and even incorporated, in some sense, “Universalism” into his doctrines, there also seems to be quite a bit in the Book of Mormon that seems like a deliberate attempt to refute that same doctrine. It’s quite the paradox, so just one more place where Mormon Doctrine seems to fall apart.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Book of Mormon, Hell, Mormonism

 

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