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Problems with the Book of Mormon

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Here I am going to discuss, rather briefly, some of the problems I have with the Book of Mormon.

1. The Book of Mormon claims that “the church of the Lamb of God” has “few” members.

1 Nephi 14:12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

This is not at all true, as the church (of Jesus Christ) is made up of the body of Christ. And, according to the Bible, ALL MEN were gathered together into Christ by being baptized into His death on the cross, where “our old man was crucified with Him”.

Jesus said: “I, if I be lifted up, will draw ALL MEN unto me.”

ONE NEW MAN has been created IN CHRIST – whether bond or free, male of female, Jew of Gentile. This is what Paul is speaking about when he writes: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:24-25)

2. The Book of Mormon claims that book of Revelation, written by John, is about “the end of the world.”

1 Nephi 14:20-22 And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been. And he shall also write concerning the end of the world.

This book is not about “the end of the world;” it is about “the revelation of Jesus Christ,” who IS, WAS, AND IS TO COME.

3. The Book of Mormon claims that the devil is a fallen angel who “became a devil”:

2 Nephi 2:17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

Though many believe the Bible says the same thing, this is not true. Jesus made it clear that the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44)

4. The Book of Mormon speaks of “eternal death”

2 Nephi 2:29 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.

There is no such thing as “eternal death” in the Bible. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed (1Co 15:26), at which point there shall be “no more death.” (Rev 21:4)

5. The book of Mormon teaches that our flesh, our natural body that goes into a natural grave, is to be resurrected.

2 Nephi 9:8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

First of all, the bible never speaks of the resurrection of our corpses, only the resurrection of “the dead.” Secondly, what kind of sense does it make to claim that if our flesh is not resurrected we must then be subject to the devil, as spirits, for all eternity? If we were not subject to the devil as spirits in the pre-existence, what would make us subject to him now just because we are spirits?

2 Nephi 9:12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.

This is not, at all, what “the resurrection of the dead” is about. It has absolutely nothing at all to do with physical death and rotting corpses of flesh buried in physical graves. The natural body is just that, natural. It came from dust and will return to dust. (Gen 3:19) The flesh is not counted for the seed of God. (Rom 9:8) That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. (John 3:6) God is the father of spirits, not of the flesh. (Heb 12:9) We do not wait for our corpses to be resurrected one day. Paul tells us, very explicitly, that our desire is NOT to be unclothed, but to be clothed upon. And he makes it very clear that we should KNOW that “if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2Co 5:1-4)

6. The Book of Mormon claims that the “first death” is physical death (from which we are saved “by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel” after physical death). It also places judgment after physical death and the resurrection of our bodies from their graves (and our spirits from hell).

2 Nephi 915-19 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God. 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 ascendeth 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 eternal torment.

Granted, this is also a very popular Biblical interpretation of death and judgment. But I have come to see it as untrue.

The Bible does not say that judgment comes after physical death; it says that judgment takes place “in the earth.” (Pro 11:31; Isa 65:6) Indeed, Jesus himself said; “now is the judgment of this world” almost 2000 years ago. (John 12:31). And what did that judgment coincide with? Jesus’ death on the cross (by which we are judged) and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (through whom judgment comes). (John 16:8-11)

People isolate Heb 9:27 and claim that it states that judgment follows death, but the death being spoken of in that passage is the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!!

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:24-28)

Judgment follows HIS DEATH, not ours!!

7. The Book of Mormon treats “the second death” as a post-mortem event that follows this post-mortem judgment.

Jacob 3:11 O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

Again, though this is also a very popular Biblical interpretation of the second death, I do not believe it is an accurate view. I have come to see “the second death” as our baptism into Christ’s death, through which comes “the resurrection of the dead.”

While the Book of Mormon claims that the “first death” is physical and the “second death” is spiritual, the Bible tells us that we first died “in Adam,” due to sin. And it also tells us that it was while we were yet dead in sin that Christ died for us (Rom 5:8)… taking our old man with Him to the cross where he is “crucified with him” by being “baptized into His death” (Rom 6:3-6) …. as such, we are also made partakers of His resurrection, according to the “new man” created in Christ. (Eph 2:15)

This is how I see the second death and the first resurrection…. IN CHRIST! The second death destroying the first, in Him who IS “the resurrection and the life,” over whom death has no power. Fulfilling the words of Paul that: “As in Adam ALL DIE, even so in Christ shall ALL BE MADE ALIVE.”

8. The Book of Mormon says: “Men must follow Christ to avoid the lake of fire and brimstone.” (Introduction to Jacob 6)

I’d suggest that no one avoids the second death, for it is our baptism into Christ’s death, through which comes the resurrection of the dead. So while the Bible does say that those who overcome are “not hurt” by the second death, it never says that it is avoided by anyone. It says: “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 12:8) That is a perfect description of ALL MEN who are DEAD IN SIN…. before being “crucified with Christ.”

9. The Book of Mormon claims that the first resurrection is the resurrection of all of those who lived up until the time of Christ, who were raised from the dead when Christ was raised from the dead.

Mosiah 15:19-22 For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead. And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called. And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.

While it is true that the first resurrection is connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I think it is important to note that there is only ever ONE RESURRECTION counted in scriptures and that is THE FIRST! HIS!

As pointed out already, I believe this is because it’s the only resurrection that matters. It is the power of HIS RESURRECTION (the first) that we are to come to know (Php 3:10) because it is the one we must HAVE PART IN (Rev 20:6)… and we have part in it by first being “crucified with Him” (= second death), so that we can be “raised with Him” (= first resurrection). (Col 2:12)

When the Jews asked Jesus about the resurrection of the dead, they did so after a very carnal understanding (very much the same way believers look at it today). But what did Jesus say? He said they erred, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. (Mat 22:29, Mar 12:24)

The prophets of old were NOT still in their graves waiting to be resurrected from the dead at the time of Jesus. Jesus points this out by telling them that God is NOT the God of the dead, but of the LIVING. And He said: “that THE DEAD ARE RAISED, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Luke 20:37-38)

So how can the dead already be raised, if Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected? Because HE IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!! (John 11:25) Though Christ was MADE MANIFEST in the last days, He was always “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8) Where? IN A PLACE CALLED A SKULL!!! (Mat 27:33; john 19:17)

Calvary is not just a reference to a hill in the middle east! Paul tells us that it was IN OUR MINDS that we were MADE ENEMIES of God. (Col 1:21)

Paul wrote: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1Co 2:12-13) And: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Co 4:17-18)

Those things which are seen are temporal. But they reveal to us those things which are not seem, which are eternal. So, perhaps, we are confusing the types and shadows for the spiritual realities that they are intended to reveal!

Given the way I have come to understand the Bible, the Book of Mormon comes across as having been written by someone who had a very carnal understanding of the Bible. Therefore, I cannot attribute it’s authorship to God or to someone inspired by God.

10. The Book of Mormon teaches the false doctrine of “eternal torment.”

1 Nephi 10:20-22 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, YE MUST BE CAST OFF FOREVER. And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.

1 Nephi 10:20-22 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, YE MUST BE CAST OFF FOREVER. And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.

1 Nephi 14:3-7 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it INTO THAT HELL WHICH HATH NO END. For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also ACCORDING TO THE JUSTICE OF GOD, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him. And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; A WORK WHICH SHALL BE EVERLASTING, EITHER ON THE ONE HAND OR THE OTHER—either to the convincing of them UNTO PEACE AND LIFE ETERNAL, OR UNTO THE DELIVERANCE OF THEM TO THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS AND THE BLINDNESS OF THEIR MINDS unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, BOTH TEMPORALLY AND SPIRITUALLY, according to THE CAPTIVITY OF THE DEVIL, of which I have spoken.

1Nephi 15:27-35 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water. And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God. And I said unto them that IT WAS A REPRESENTATION OF THAT AWFUL HELL, which the angel said unto me was PREPARED FOR THE WICKED. And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God FOREVER AND EVERN, AND HATH NO END. And they said unto me: DOTH THIS THING MEAN the torment of the body in the days of probation, or FOTH IT MEAN the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, OR DOTH IT SPEAK OF the things which are temporal? And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things BOTH TEMPORAL AND SPIRITUAL; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation. Wherefore, IF THEY SHOULD DIE IN THEIR WICKEDNESS THEY MUST BE CAST OFF ALSO, AS TO THE THINGS WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that THEY CANNOT DWELL IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also. But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore THERE MUST NEEDS BE a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. And THERE IS A PLACE PREPARED, yea, even THAT AWFUL HELL of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore THE FINAL STATE OF THE SOULS OF MEN IS TO DWELL IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, OR BE CAST OUT BECAUSE OF THAT JUSTICE OF WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN.

2 Nephi 2:29 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.

2 Nephi 9:15-19 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God. 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 ETERNAL TORMENT.

2 Nephi 9:24-38 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. Wherefore, he has given a law; and WHERE THERE IS NO LAW GIVEN THERE IS NO PUNISHMENT; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for THEY ARE DELIVERED by the power of him. For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is ENDLESS TORMENT; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel. BUT WO UNTO HIM THAT HAS THE LAW GIVEN, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that WASTETH THE DAYS OF HIS PROBATION, for awful is his state! O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And THEY SHALL PERISH. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. But WO UNTO THE RICH, who are rich as to THE THINGS OF THE WORLD. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall PERISH WITH THEM ALSO. And wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for THEY SHALL PERISH. Wo unto the blind that will not see; for THEY SHALL PERISH ALSO. Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities SHALL SMITE THEM AT THE LAST DAY. Wo unto the liar, for HE SHALL BE THRUST DOWN TO HELL. Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for HE SHALL DIE. Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for THEY SHALL BE THRUST DOWN TO HELL. Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them. And, in fine, WO UNTO ALL THOSE WHO DIE IN THEIR SINS; FOR THEY SHALL RETURN TO GOD, AND BEHOLD HIS FACE, AND REMAIN IN THEIR SINS.

2 Nephi 28:22-23 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.

2 Nnephi 31:16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, HE CANNOT BE SAVED.

2 Nephi 33:9-15 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, FOR NONE OF THESE CAN I HOPE EXCEPT they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, AND CONTINUE IN THE PATH UNTIL THE END OF THE DAYS OF PROBATION. And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that MANY OF US, IF NOT ALL, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come. And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, FOR THESE WORDS SHALL CONDEMN YOU ARE THE LAST DAY. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.

Nephi makes other references that include things like:

“…cast off forever.”

“…cut off and destroyed forever.”

“…and become miserable forever.”

Mosiah writes of the same:

Mosiah 3:25-27 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord INTO A STATE OF MISERY AND ENDLESS TORMENT, FROM WHENCE THEY CAN NO MORE RETURN; THERFORE THEY HAVE DRUNK DAMNATION TO THEIR OWN SOULS. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; THEREFORE, MERCY COULD HAVE CLAIM IN THEM NO MORE FOREVER. And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up FOREVER AND EVER. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.

Mosiah 5:5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, THAT WE MAY NOT BRING UPON OURSELVES A NEVER-ENDING TORMENT, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

Mosiah 15:26-27 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for THE LORD REDEEMTH NONE SUCH THAT REBEL AGAINST HIM AND DIE IN THEIR SINS; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection. Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For SALVATION COMETH TO NO SUCH; FOR THE LORD HATH REDEEMED NONE SUCH; yea, NEITHER CAN THE LORD REDEEM SUCH; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

The introduction to Mosiah 16 states: “Those who are carnal remain as though there was no redemption—Christ brings to pass a resurrection to endless life or to endless damnation.”

2… the Lord redeemeth them not.

11-12 If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of ENDLESS DAMNATION, being delivered up TO THE DEVIL, who hath subjected them, which is damnation— Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord WHILE THE ARMS OF MERCY WERE EXTENDED TOWARDS THEM; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.
Alma 12:11-18 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT BY THE CHAINS OF HELL. And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works. Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to chide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance. And now behold, I say unto you THEN COMETH A DEATH, EVEN A SECOND DEATH, which is a SPIRITUAL DEATH; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, SHALL ALSO DIE A SPIRITUAL DEATH; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up FOREVER AND EVER; and then is the time that they shall be chained down TO EN EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, THEY SHALL BE AS THOUGH THERE HAD BEEN NO REDEMPTION MADE; FOR THEY CANNOT BE REDEEMED according to God’s justice; AND THEY CANNOT DIE, seeing there is no more corruption.

As does Alma:

Alma 12:32 Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, THE PENALTY THEREOF BEING A SECOND DEATH, WHICH WAS AN EVERLASTING DEATH as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for ON SUCH THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION COULD HAVE NO POWER, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.

Verse 36 goes on to speak of “the everlasting destruction of your souls.”

I’ll stop here, though Alma goes on to talk about those whose soul “cannot be saved,” who are “consigned to a state of endless wo,” etc. And I am sure there are more passages, but this should be more than enough to demonstrate my point.

These condemnations are put into unequivocal terms, regardless of the fact that Joseph Smith tried to come back later, with D&C 19, to claim: “It is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment,” called such because God’s name is “endless” and these punishments are “God’s punishments.”

That in no way settles the issue, given the fact that the Book of Mormon doesn’t limit itself to only that kind of terminology. As we can clearly see, the Book of Mormon goes way beyond speaking of something called “endless torment.” It clearly asserts, time and time again, that there is “no end” to the damnation, the torment, the punishment of the wicked, saying they “cannot be saved,” and are “as if no redemption has been made,” remaining “in their sins.” Etc.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. It’s simply the things that stood out to me today as I was doing some research in the Book of Mormon with regard to the topic of “eternal torment.”

Not only do these verses seem to clearly contradict the Good News – THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN FROM SIN AND DEATH THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD – it’s quite difficult to reconcile most of these passage (particularly those about the state of the wicked) with LDS theology concerning salvation in lower degrees of glory, even when termed “damnation.”

Clearly only two kingdoms are presented in the Book of Mormon; the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the devil.

Makes me wonder how I ever reconciled all of this with Joseph Smith’s personal revelations about such things not contained in the Bible or the Book of Mormon… and, seemly, contradictory to both.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Mormonism

 

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Is it a teaching of the LDS Church today that God the Father was once a man?

lorenzo-snowIn some recent conversations with members of the LDS Church, I have been told that the Church does not teach that God was once a man. In fact, some members have said that they believe God has always been God and has never been a man, though they still acknowledge that God the Father does have a body of flesh and bones just like the Son and just like man.

How he got that body of flesh and bones is anyone’s guess, I suppose. I also suppose the reason why we needed to be born into a state of probation in this physical world in order to receive a body of flesh and bones ourselves, while God the Father did not, is also anyone’s guess. And I dare not ask how beings that have bodies of flesh and bones give birth to beings who do not.

It seems clear that at least some of the members of the LDS Church want to distance themselves from this teaching about God once being a man. And, as I recall, so did President Hinckley some years ago when he was interviewed by Time magazine (which I will come back to).

Given the fact that I have just recently been told by active members of the LDS Church that God is NOT “an exalted man,” I was a little bit surprised when I came across this video on Facebook this morning.

Note that this video is copyrighted 2013.

The page where I found this video posted a link to the same video on the LDS Church’s website, but that link no longer works, so I assumed the video had been removed. To find more information, I searched the website and found this article on “The Origin of Man”. As you can see it was published in the February 2002 issue of the Church’s Ensign magazine and it states:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme.”

(Upon further search I did find the video on the Church’s website, on a different page, and the video on YouTube, which I posted above.)

So now I was curious as to the date of that interview with President Hinckley. My search on that brought me to the article: “Does President Gordon B. Hinckley Understand LDS Doctrine?” on FairMomon.org.

In this apologetic piece, FairMormon tries to argue that President Hinckley did not deny the teaching, he only said that the Church does not emphasize the teaching today in it’s classes and public discussions, etc. FairMormon even seems to want to insist that this was the question being asked… not is this still a teaching of the church today, but are you actively teaching this in the church today (as if there is a real difference).

To be clear, the question asked was: “Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?”

Does anyone of even moderate intelligence actually think that anyone else of even moderate intelligence is going to believe that President Hinckley was not being asked (or did not understand that he was being asked or that FairMormon does not know that he was being asked) whether or not this is a current teaching or belief held by members of the LDS Church today?

I don’t know when this article on FairMormon was written, it is not dated. Perhaps it was written not long after this interview with President Hinckley, but in the words of FairMormon: “All one has to do is examine Conference talks to see the truth of the answer.” Why just Conference talks? Because that’s the one place we are sure not to find this teaching? (And I don’t even know if that is true.) What about other publications of the church, do they not count?

The author of this FairMormon article states: “Those who do not attend Sunday School, Sacrament meeting, priesthood meeting, Relief Society, Ward Conference, Stake Conference, General Conference, or read the Ensign, scriptures, nor study LDS manuals, have no right to define for those that do, just what the beliefs of the members of the Church are.”

Yet, no one tried to define anything. The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was asked: “Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?” And as far as I am concerned, President Hinckley was not being honest and forthright with his answer. He was being deliberately evasive. And, no, I do not believe it was because he was uncertain about what the Church teaches, nor do I believe he didn’t understand LDS Doctrine. I think he was doing the same thing some members of the Church do everyday, for which Church Leaders have set a very good example: he was lying!

I suggest FairMormon (and every members of the Church who wants to deny this teaching of the church) do a much better job at searching and studying Church publications before claiming certain teachings cannot be found in them or are not being taught today. Even the FairMormon article itself provides a reference to page 9 of the Gospel Principles manual. The fact that they simply dismiss the reference by pointing to other statements found in the same lesson is laughable.

This article: The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation from 1989 indicates just how significant and important this teaching is to the “restored” Church and it clearly states:

“The Prophet explained that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens”; that “he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did”; and that he “worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling.” Through the Prophet, we learn that we “are begotten sons and daughters unto God” and that Christ is the Firstborn. (D&C 76:24; see D&C 93:21–22; Heb. 12:7–9.) As God’s children, we may become gods ourselves through Christ’s atonement and the plan of salvation, being joint heirs of Christ of “all that [the] Father hath.” (D&C 84:38; see also Rom. 8:17; D&C 76:58–60; D&C 132:19–21.) Along with these concepts is the concept of divine parents, including an exalted Mother who stands beside God the Father.“

I am sure there are many other references in Church publications related to this teaching. I feel no need to provide dozens of references when just one should suffice and I have provided more than that.

My question is…  IF THIS IS WHAT YOU BELIEVE, WHY DENY IT?

This is why I not only question Mormon Doctrine but the honesty and credibility of Church Leaders – and maybe even some members…

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Godhead, Mormon Doctrine

 

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Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible – How inspired is it?

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible – How inspired is it?

I am not familiar with the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. I don’t really know how many Mormons are, to be honest. We never used it when I was attending church and, according to this article that I was reading today, “A Greater Portrayal of the Master”, from March of 1983, it hadn’t gotten as much attention from members as, maybe, it should. I don’t know if that is still the case today, however. But after reading this article, I have an even harder time understanding how anyone sees this man as a prophet or these corrections to the Bible as inspired by God.

(1) The first example offered was clarification on Mat 2:2-6 where Bethlehem is referred to as “not the least among the princes of Juda”. Joseph’s correction to say that “it is not Bethlehem, but Jesus who is the prince.”

I find this unbelievable!! The word in this verse translated “prince” is “hēgemōn” and it means “a leader”. It is derived from the same words (“hēgeomai”) translated “Governor” later in the same verse (which, also mean to lead or command). And the point is that Bethlehem is not the least among the cities in the land of Judah (though she may very well have been seen as such!), for out of her was going to come Him who would lead/rule/govern the nation of Israel. It is about the one who is the greatest coming out of one who might seem to be the least among the nations of Israel. That is what is being contrasted! His greatness to her (seeming) insignificance.

(2) The second example offered is where Joseph Smith added to verses to Matthew to fill in the missing gap between Jesus’ childhood and the time in which John the Baptist began his ministry.

I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to fill in that gap. These types of sudden transitions are not unusual in the bible. In fact, very little is written here about the time between Jesus’ birth and the time they left Egypt. And who has ever read these passages and thought the John the Baptist began preaching when he and Jesus were just children? No one!! It’s clear that there is a gap. The point is simply that Jesus was in Galilee at the time that John began his ministry. There are no additional clarifications required to understand that there are years not accounted for and for which we know very little to nothing. I believe that’s by design.

(3) The third example offered was about Jesus’ conversation with the teachers in the temple at the age of 12. Joseph seemed to believe that some might have gotten the impression , from the KJV, that Jesus was just sitting and listening and not speaking – asking and answering questions. The argument is: “This clarification is necessary in order to make the event newsworthy. There is nothing essentially divine for a twelve-year-old boy to listen to his elders.”

Since when it is “necessary” to state the obvious? It’s quite obvious from the text that we have that Jesus was not just sitting in the background listening. The text says that he was asking questions (so obviously a conversation was taking place) and those who were listening were “astonished at his understanding and answers”. Would even a single person read this passage and walk away believing that Jesus “was only sitting with the learned doctors,” rather than speaking with them?

(4) The forth example offered was that which took place at Jesus baptism. The claim, concerning Mt 3:16-17, is: “As here reported, it was Jesus only who saw the Holy Ghost and heard the Father’s voice.” The JST, apparently, supplements this passage by making it clear that: “And John saw,…”

Maybe Joseph Smith believed the “him” and the “he” in the verse refers to Jesus, instead of John. But those who do not make that mistake know that it is John to whom the heavens were opened and to whom the sign was given. It was the very sign that John said, elsewhere, he was told would let him know who the Messiah was.

Joh 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

So let’s read the verse again, with a proper understanding:

Mat 3:15-17 And Jesus answering said unto him [JOHN], Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he [JOHN] suffered him [JESUS]. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him [JOHN], and he [JOHN] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him [JESUS]: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It is NOT being reported that “it was Jesus only who saw the Holy Ghost and heard the Father’s voice”; that’s Joseph Smith’s erroneous/false interpretation of the passage. Who believes that Matthew is claiming that Jesus is the only who saw and heard these things when it was not Jesus who needed to see or hear them?

(5) The firth example offered changes Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for 40 days to Jesus communing with God for 40 days in the wilderness. After which he was tempted by the devil.

Wow!! I don’t even know what to say here, except that Joseph Smith obviously did not understand how Jesus’ 40 DAYS in the wilderness correlated to Israel’s 40-YEAR journey through the wilderness. In those YEARS Israel was TRIED/TESTED. And in those DAYS so was Jesus. Israel FAILED! Jesus did not! And to claim that Jesus went into the wilderness to commune with God completely disregards the fact that Jesus was fulfilling the type established by Israel’s journey through the wildness (just as He did their going into and being called out of Egypt, earlier in His life).

(6) The sixth example offered was Joseph’s correction to what Jesus said to his mother at the marriage that took place in Cana. Apparently Jesus’ words to his mother seemed “a little brusque,” so Joseph changed them to: “…, Woman what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; …” (JST, John 2:4.)

This is not the only place that Jesus addressed his mother as “Woman,” and there is significance to that – none that Joseph Smith seems to have been familiar with, however. I wonder if Joseph also thought it “a little brusque” for Jesus to ask “Who is my mother? Or my brethren?” when he was told his mother and his brothers were seeking him?

(7) The seventh example offered was about Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath. Apparently, Joseph Smith believed that the point was: “since he made the Sabbath, he is the Lord of it.”

It seems to me that Joseph Smith’s translation completely missed the point. The point was that not even David sinned by eating on the Sabbath (nor those who were with him)! It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath!

(8) The eighth example offered was about new wine in old bottles. I’m not even sure I understand this one. Joseph Smith adds baptism to a conversation about fasting.

First of all, why in the world would the Pharisees jump from “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” to “Why will ye not receive us with our baptism?” Secondly, isn’t it perfectly clear that Jesus is not talking about the same type of fasting/food that the Pharisees are? And what does being dunked in water have to do with wine and wine skins?

(9) The ninth example offered is where Joseph Smith corrects John in order to make it clear that Jesus did perform baptism.

Yes, in chapter 3, it sounds as if John is saying that Jesus did baptize. But John clarifies, just a few verses down, at the beginning of chapter 4, that it was not Jesus doing the baptizing but his disciples. So it’s not like we have one person saying that Jesus was baptizing and another person saying that he was not. We have the same person saying that Jesus and his disciples stayed there and were baptizing, but that it was not Jesus himself, but the disciples (and John the Baptist), who were doing the baptizing. To have Jesus baptizing men in water is to completely miss the point that Jesus is the one who (coming after John and “John’s baptism” – in water, unto repentance) baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire!

(10) The tenth example offered was one of Jesus reading the thought of his disciples in Mat 19:26.

Do I really need to point out that Jesus was not reading their thoughts? The passage clearly states that the disciples SAID: “Who then can be saved?” When it says: Jesus “beheld them”, it is simply saying that Jesus “looked at them”. The Greek word “emblepō” means “to look on”. The CLV translation renders the verse: “Now, looking at them, Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, yet with God all is possible.”” Another literal translation (Rotherham) says: “And, looking intently, Jesus said unto them—With men, this is, impossible, but, with God, all things are possible.”

(11) The eleventh example offered was about Jesus entering into a house to try and get away from the crowd, but he couldn’t get away from them. Apparently, Joseph Smith thought it inappropriate or impossible for Jesus not to be able to hide himself if he really wanted to, so he changed the verse to say that Jesus chose not to remain hidden because of his compassion for the people.

I don’t even understand the point of this clarification. Is the point that Jesus would never seek seclusion? That if he really wanted to hide that no one would be able to find him?

(12) The twelfth example offered was when the children were coming to Jesus and the disciples turned them away, but Jesus told them to suffer the little children. The claim is that Jesus preached the salvation of all children without the need for repentance and the disciple knew this truth. So they were not turning away the children because they did not want them to bother Jesus or because they thought he was too busy for them or even because they themselves were annoyed by them but because they knew this, saying: “There is no need, for Jesus hath said, Such shall be saved.” (JST, Matt. 19:13.)

I don’t believe the disciples understood any such thing. I believe Jesus used this opportunity to teach them that we must all “become as little children” if we are to enter into the kingdom of God. And do we not “become as little children” when we are “born again”? (Concerning which, Jesus said: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” – John 3:7)

(13) The thirteenth example offered was Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Joseph Smith’s clarification is to add the words: “(Meaning the soldiers who crucified him).” (JST, Luke 23:35.)

Wow! And this might be the biggest wow of all!! This is a prophet of God?? I don’t know if I can even express just how far away from the truth this is!! But it clearly shows, to me, that Joseph Smith was not inspired by God to make this claim. It’s absolutely false! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, for the sins of every man!! It was every man’s sin that put him on that cross and He was asking God to forgive ALL MEN! And anyone who understands even a little bit about OT typology should be able to see and understand that these words are given in answer to God’s question TO CAIN in Genesis, when God asked Cain (who is the figure of the first/natural/carnal man – our “old man”): “WHAT HAST THOU DONE?” (after killing Abel, who was a figure of Christ). Cain gives no answer! But Jesus, acting as mediator between God and men “intercedes” on Cain’s – (mankind’s) behalf, saying; “Father forgiven them, for THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!” And I believe Paul understood this. As I believe that this is why Paul wrote: “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb 12:24). Notice that he speaks of Jesus as a mediator here. What did the blood of Abel speak? We aren’t told, but we are told: “…the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Maybe it said something like this: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10)

(14) The fourteenth example has to do with the difference between the way Jesus’ robe is described in the various gospels. Matthew says it was scarlet. Mark and John say purple. Luke just says “gorgeous”. Apparently, Joseph Smith thought it important that we know for certain that the robe was purple.

Not sure I see the huge distinction between purple and scarlet. But it might be worth noting that the four gospels each present a very different aspect of who Jesus is, so these differences in description may very well be significant to those differences. This might not be something that we want to correct and make agree, but something that we need to understand better, as it relates to the lion, the ox, the man and the eagle. It may also be worth noting that the words used in Mark and John or Latin in origin. And the word translated “gorgeous” in Luke means “radiant”. It’s derived from the word “lampas” which means “a lamp”. Maybe there is more that we need to understand about this robe than just it’s “color”, huh?

(15) The last example offered is about the number of angels at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection – one or two? The claim is that Luke and John say two, while Mathew and Mark indicate there was “but one”.

I’d just like to point out that mentioning only one in no way says or proves that there was only one. And the text does not say that there was “only one”. Besides that, there are other differences. In John, Mary Magdalene seems to go to the tomb alone to find it empty. And she doesn’t see anyone until she is left alone again after she has already gone to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty and they go to the tomb to verify her story. The other accounts tell the story differently and the differences go beyond just the number of angels present.

And very uninspired JST of the Bible is another place where Mormon Doctrine falls apart.

 

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The LORD our God is one LORD

1st vision two personages 2

I don’t really want to comment very much on LDS Doctrine concerning the nature of the Godhead because I think it has changed over the years. At the very least certain teachings have been so insufficiently defined that plenty of room has been left for speculation and it is unclear, to me, what the LDS Church holds as it’s official position when it comes to whether or not God has always been God or if he is exalted man who became God. And beliefs seem to vary somewhat among the members of the church when it comes to answering this question.

Suffice it to say that LDS Doctrine is that the Godhead consists of three independent and separate persons, who are each a God and part of the one Godhead spoken of in scripture. They consist of the Father and the Son, both of whom have bodies of flesh and bone, and the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of spirit.

But rather than comment on what the LDS Church believes or doesn’t believe, I simply want to ask: What do the scriptures say?

First and foremost, the scriptures make it very clear that there is ONE GOD! Not one Godhead made up of three Gods, but ONE GOD. And that one God is THE FATHER! He is the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6) And He is not only our God and Father, but the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ! (Rom 15:6, John 20:17, Eph 1:3) His is spirit (John 4:24) and invisible (1Ti 1:17, Heb 11:27). He is the one true and living God spoken of throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

So who is Jesus?

Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat 16:16, John 6:69) He is the one in whom the fullness of the Godhead (divinity, THE FATHER) dwelled, bodily. (John 14:19, Col 2:9). He is “the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) He is “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Mat 1:23) He is “the Word” and John tells us: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1) and “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Jesus is the manifestation of God in the flesh! The one through whom the Father (who is spirit and invisible) is revealed to men.

Paul tells us: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1Co 8:5-6) All things were created BY THE FATHER (GOD) THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (the Word of God).

God planted A SEED (HIS WORD) into the womb of Mary by which she conceived THE SON OF GOD (the Word made flesh). And it was IN CHRIST that THE SPIRIT OF GOD (THE FATHER) dwelled, making Jesus “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” (Heb 1:3)

The Father (spirit) is in the Son (flesh) doing the work….

Joh 14:6-21 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Jesus is not claiming to be the Father, but He is making it clear that we see the Father through the Son, for the Father is “in him”.

He is also telling us who the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit) is…

the spirit OF TRUTH [Jesus said; “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life],

the spirit OF THE LORD [there is ONE LORD, Jesus Christ],

the spirit OF CHRIST [Jesus is THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God],

the spirit OF GOD [there is ONE GOD, THE FATHER].

When we are told that the Father and the Son are ONE, we need to understand that they are not just one “in purpose”, they are ONE!! The union of flesh (Man/Son) and spirit (God/Father).

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three different Gods, for there is only one “true and living God”, who is the God and Father OF ALL. And God is manifest in the flesh through His Son, through whom He is also glorified.

Jesus is THE PATTERN SON and He is bringing MANY SONS to glory. And we are made “sons of God” in the same manner – by receiving “the spirit of God”, that Christ might be formed “in us”, whereby we are “conformed into the image of His Son” (who is THE IMAGE OF GOD), having the spirit of his Son by which we cry Abba, Father. (Gal 4:6)

Truly, much more could be said on this topic. Dozens more pages could be filled with scripture on this subject (and I may still come back another day and do that), but right now I just wanted to ‘touch on’ what I think is probably one of the most, if not the most, significant doctrines of the LDS Church which distinguishes it from Orthodox Christianity.

That the LDS Church teaches that God, the Father, is a corporeal being (separate from the Son) is another reason I believe Mormon doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Godhead

 

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The Law and the Prophets were until John

til john

The LDS Church claims that one of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith was the way in which the church was originally organized.

“You will find in His church the same officers ministering among men: namely, prophets, apostles, bishops, seventies, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. The Church will be directed on earth by a prophet of God.” (Delbert L. Stapley, General Conference, 1977)

One of the passages of scripture most often quoted to support this organization of the church is found in Ephesians.

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Another is found in 1 Corinthians:

1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that the apostles come first, not the prophets (which are plural, not singular). Another thing I find noteworthy is that here, as elsewhere, the “church” is equated with “the body of Christ.” (v27)

So while the LDS Church treats “the church” as an individual, easily identifiable “organization”, to which believers should be joined, that is not how the scriptures treat the subject. In the scriptures “the church” is “the body of Christ”. This means that “the body of Christ” is “the church”. And it is within this body that God has set “first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” for “the edifying of the body”, as we see in Ephesians. And, clearly, not all are apostles or prophets or teachers of workers of miracles. (v29) Notice also, that Paul does not say that there already exists “a unity of the faith”, but that these are given “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

Let us look at what Jesus said of the prophets, as it relates to those whom God sent to be mediators between man and God until the time of reformation spoken of in Heb 9:10..

Mat 11:11-15 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Here, Jesus says “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Recorded, again, by Luke.

Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

The law and the prophets were until John and since that time the kingdom of God is preached. Preached by whom? Wasn’t the gospel given to the Apostles to preach, that they might make disciples of all men?

And didn’t Jesus say that the blood of the prophets would be required of that generation?

Luk 11:46-52 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Notice that when Peter speaks of the prophets he is referring to those who came before.

2Pe 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

It is to “the law and the prophets” that Jesus appealed when he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. So did Paul. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. The Apostles consistently referred to that which was written, which carries the words of the Prophets who prophesies of Jesus Christ!

We even see the same in the OT with Jeremiah and Hananiah, both called prophets, both of whom spoke before the people. But Jeremiah, referring to the prophets that came before him to establish the validity of his words, proved Hananiah to be a false prophet, whose end was destruction or death.

So while it is true that God gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers, the only Prophet leading the church today is Jesus Christ (Col 1:18), who is “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” (Heb 3:11)

When it comes to prophets and apostles today, Paul said: “Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” (1Co 14:31) We are to let two or three speak and let the others judge. (1 Co 14:29)

And how are we to judge that which others speak?

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

We are to do just as the Bereans did!! We are to “search the scriptures” to see whether or not what they say is true.

Act 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

We are to study to show ourselves approved of God, workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth!

2Ti 2:14-19 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The foundation has already been laid and there is NO OTHER FOUNDATION upon which man can build!!

1Co 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul did not come preaching some new revelation (nor did any of the other Apostles of Jesus Christ). They were not coming with some new word, but were sent to unveil that which had already been revealed through the prophets who came BEFORE them.

Just as Jesus opened up the scriptures to those two men walking on the road after His resurrection, so did Peter and Paul (and all of the apostles of Christ) open up the scriptures and reveal “the mysteries of God.”

Many of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith are things that have long since been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And many of the things “revealed” by Joseph Smith are things for which there is no prior witness in the law and the prophets. Therefore, Joseph Smith is proven to be a false prophet.

Let us not forget that every word of God is pure!! And if we add to His words He shall reprove us and we shall be found “a liar”

Pro 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

The LORD says for those who have His word to speak His word faithfully!

Jer 23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

Jesus said that those who do not love him will not keep his sayings (which words are not His, but the Father’s). And just as we are told to prove all things, we are told how He proves us!!

Duet 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

And He is, here, speaking even of those who come with signs and wonders!!

Recall that Paul speaks of “him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” We are not to go after them!!

Speaking one’s own words and attaching “the Lord saith” to them is rebellion, which is “as the sin of divination” (or witchcraft), as we see in 1 Sam 15:23. Paul even speaks of those who have been “bewtiched” by those who lead them away from the truth and back under the law.

When it comes to those who preach the gospel, we are to PROVE THEM for God uses them TO PROVE US, to KNOW whether or not we love the LORD our God will all our heart and with all our soul!!

Let us not be deceived!! And let us not go to a prophet asking for confirmation of that which we have already set in our own hearts as an idol. For the scriptures say that God will answer us according to the idols of our own heart, even by sending us strong delusion that we might believe a lie, if we believed not the truth and take pleasure in unrighteousness.

If we reject the word of the LORD, he will reject us and we will be turned over to satan.

So, let us not put our trust in men or the words of men.

If we are to be justified in OUR SAYINGS the words that we speak must be HIS WORDS (Rom 3:4) because it is “by our words” that we will either be justified or condemned (Mat 12:37). Let us be justified! Let us stick to His words, for “the words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psa 12:6)

There is no need to add to His words, which is something the apostles and prophets of the LDS Church have done repeatedly and unapologetically.

This is another reason I believe Mormon Doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in False Doctrine, Mormonism

 

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The Prophesy of Malachi Concerning Elijah

Elijah appearing to JS

The LDS Church teaches the prophesy made by Malachi in Mal 4 concerning the coming of Elijah was fulfilled in the days of Joseph Smith when Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple in 1836.

To examine the truthfulness of this claim, let’s first take a look at the prophesy in Mal 4:1-6:

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

So what we know from this prophesy is that a day is coming that shall burn as an oven and before that day comes Elijah the prophet will come. We also know that this prophesy was given about 400 years before the coming of the Messiah. We also know that the Jews, who are still waiting on the coming of the promised Messiah are also still waiting on this coming of Elijah because the two were connected.

Yet, in the Book of Mormon, Third Nephi Chapters 24 and 25, we have Jesus quoting Malachi in about 34AD. And according to the chapter headings this is a prophesy to be fulfilled “at the Second Coming” of Jesus Christ.

On the LDS Church’s website, this article, titled “Old Testament Prophets: Malachi”, also makes the same claim concerning this prophesy, saying it was a prophesy that would be fulfilled before the second coming.

In a study guide on the Church’s website, titled “3 Nephi 24-25: The Prophecies of Malachi”, we read how and when this prophesy was fulfilled:

“In fulfillment of this promise of the Lord through Malachi, Elijah returned to the earth in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple and committed keys of the priesthood making it possible to perform saving ordinances for those who have died (see D&C 110:13–16). He restored what is sometimes referred to as the sealing power of the priesthood. It is this power whereby families are sealed together for eternity.”

Further, this General Conference speech given in 1971 on “Elijah the Prophet”, tells us that the true meaning of turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children is genealogy and temple work or the redemption of the dead. And Mr. Hunter seems to imply that Malachi’s prophesy was always about the second coming of Christ. I find that interesting given Jesus himself tells us that this prophesy was fulfilled by John the Baptist.

Mat 17:10-13

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Again we read in Mark’s account:

Mar 9:11-13

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

There is not a shred of ambiguity in either of these statements. Jesus clearly identified John as the fulfillment of the prophesy made by Malachi. But if you ask a Mormon about this they will point to the wording found in Matthew, with a bit of a twist, and claim that John would have been the fulfillment “if” they would have received him… but since they did not receive him, he was not the fulfillment.

They may quote Mat 11:14, which says: “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” and claim that Jesus is saying: “if they had received him” THEN John would have been the fulfillment. But that is not what Jesus is saying at all.

Let’s take a look:

Mat 11:13-14:

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

Jesus does not say that if they would have received John he would have been the fulfillment. He is clearly saying that “all the prophets and the law prophesied UNTIL JOHN” and “if ye will receive it” [THE TRUTH ABOUT JOHN], “this is Elias, which was for to come”.

John was the one sent to prepare the way for the Lord!! He was this ELIJAH which was to come!! So what does that say about “the great and dreadful day of the Lord”?

In Luke, we see Jesus in the synagogue reading from Isaiah:

Luk 4:17-29

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Sounds almost like what Jesus said when he said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Doesn’t it?

Turning back to Isaiah, chapter 61 tells us that “the acceptable year of the Lord” is connected to “the day of vengeance of our God” and Jesus, reading from Isaiah 61 says: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

So not only does the LDS Church deny that John was the fulfillment of this prophesy, as so stated by Jesus himself, they also deny “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John”, who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord, who is the one through whom God now speaks to mankind.

They tell us that God has “restored” to us living prophets and apostles, just as in the days of old, and ignore the fact that God no longer speaks to us through imperfect and fallible men. He no longer speaks to us through the law and the prophets, but now speaks to us “by His Son”. This is the very first thing we read in the book of Hebrews, a letter sent to those who were under the law and the prophets, those to whom the oracles of God were committed until the fulness of time was come – for God to send forth His Son.

Heb 1:1-4

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Paul speaks of Israel’s redemption from under the law in Galatians:

Gal 4:1-6

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, 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.

Again, please note that the coming of Christ in the flesh also pertains to the coming of “the fulness of the time”, which is something else the LDS Church claims has to do with days of Joseph Smith and the “restoration” which, supposedly, took place less than 200 years ago through him – almost 2000 years after the coming of Elijah, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God.

They say we need modern-day prophets and apostles, for God does not speak to the church except through his prophets and apostles. They refuse to see the Truth! God is no longer sending SERVANTS. He has sent us HIS SON. Just as the parable of Jesus speaks in Mat 21. He is the stone that the builders rejected and “is become the head of the corner” and “whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

There is but ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time:

1Ti 2:1-7

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

As I stated in my previous blog entry, though the LDS Church does embrace a more liberal understanding of the Father’s plan of salvation with regard to its scope, they still do not preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ because they do not preach that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of ALL MEN, in the fullest sense.

1Ti 4:9-11

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.

Not only do they not preach Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men, they do not even have a proper understanding of just exactly who the Messiah, their Redeemer, is.

These are just a few more ways in which the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fail.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Elijah, Mormonism

 

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Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children??

planofsalvation

The above is a depiction of the Plan of Salvation according to the LDS Church. To the far right it depicts three different kingdoms of heaven: the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom. It is into one of these three kingdom that most will go after final judgment. Then, of course, there is Outer Darkness which awaits Satan and his angels… and the most vile of men.

I think this is actually the primary appeal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is addressed in this speech from 2009 which I was just listening to earlier this morning:

Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children

To borrow the words of Elder Cook’s great-great-grandfather Phineas Wolcott Cook, the LDS Church teaches “a more liberal salvation for the family of man”. And in this respect, and this respect only, do I believe that the LDS Church approaches the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that Joseph Smith doesn’t even come close to being the person through whom this gospel truth has been restored in recent times. In fact, I believe that Joseph Smith borrowed a great deal from those men who lived in his day who were already believing in and preaching Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men, some of whom joined the LDS Church, including Joseph Smith Sr.

For more on that you can read this article from BYU’s website:

Universalism and the Revelations of Joseph Smith

Where I believe the LDS Church fails in this regard is that while it embraces a more liberal view of salvation it still DENIES the salvation of ALL MEN. It also teaches DIVISION in the kingdom of God. And it teaches its members to cling to a very legalistic view of salvation very reminiscent of Old Covenant Law. This is not surprising since this is exactly what the Church claims needed to be “restored” – a very Old Covenant view of the gospel with all of it’s touch not, taste not laws.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches a very high mixture of law and grace. And many of the things which they claim needed to be “restored” are the very things that Christ came to destroy in order that a New (or Renewed) Covenant might be established, one in which Jesus Christ is our one and only High Priest.

So despite their more liberal view of salvation, their view of salvation is not completely universal in scope. While they believe that the gospel will be preached to all men – to many after their death – giving all men the opportunity to accept the gospel and inherit all of the blessing associated with it, they are also quick to point out that there is a hell, a place of eternal torment to which some men will go and from which there is no escape. As one member put it recently: “It’s [that is, Hell is] described all through the Bible too.” This was said in response to someone else pointing out to them that the Book of Mormon cannot be used to support the doctrine of Universal Salvation because it speaks of “eternal torment” and does so in a way which speaks explicitly of the fact that such torment has “no end” to it, despite the claim made in D&C 19 that: “It is not written that there shall be no end to this torment.

Doctrine & Covenant 19 is clearly an attempt to borrow a Christian Universalist argument against the teachings of “eternal torment”, an argument that is absolutely true when applied to the Bible but which fails miserably when applied to the Book of Mormon. This is because the torment of the wicked is written exactly in this way in the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon speaks of those whose “final state” will be one of “endless misery”, from which there is “no redemption”.

So while the salvation of all men can be argued from a correct translation/interpretation of the Bible (which NOWHERE contains those types of assertions with regard to the lost), the same cannot be argued from the Book of Mormon. In fact, the same LDS person who said the above also said: “I don’t know what a “Universalist” is…, but there is plenty of hell in Mormon belief.” And while he does go on to point out that he sees hell not as a place but as a state or condition of the human soul, he clearly believes that such a state, for some, will never end.

So, on this count, I say the LDS Church comes close to the truth but it still falls short of the whole truth.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Eternal Torment, Hell, Mormonism

 

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