Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel

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In the past there was a discussion forum in this site, and some of the discussions were about basic teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The discussion forum is no longer active. However, I am preserving in this section the questions and answers about the teachings of the Church because the discussions can be helpful to those wishing to know more about Mormonism.


>>>A missionary read one of the verses to prove the apostasy of the Catholic
>>>church. I can’t remember the verse but it was about the second coming of
>>>Christ and it mention the son of perdition. it said that before the time came
>>>that many would leave the church, the son of perdition would be revealed who I
>>>can only assume is the antichrist. they couldn’t tell me who he was, so how can
>>>you believe in a great apostasy if the antichrist has never been revealed

In my online book I discuss the Apostasy in detail. If you have questions after you’ve read that chapter in the book, please return here and post your questions.

>>>Why do you have prophets when Luke 16: 16 says that the time of the prophets
>>>has past?

“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” that Jesus referred to is the Law of Moses, including all of the sacrifices and rituals that were observed during Old Testament times. The “prophets” that Jesus referred to are the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament. Thus, “The law and the prophets”, a common phrase in the New Testament, refers to the Old Testament times, the prophecies that the Messiah would come. Jesus is saying that the Law of Moses, which was a schoolmaster to bring the people to Christ, is no longer in effect, because he, the Messiah, is here. That verse in Luke does not apply to our having prophets today. One of the reasons we have prophets today is because they were the foundation of the church, Christ being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

>>>Also in verse 17 it says that divorce is wrong. why do you say that its ok. I know
>>>that it was allowed in Moses’ time because of the “hardness of hearts” (Mark 10)

In the LDS church there are two types of marriages. Those performed by secular or civil law, and those performed by the Priesthood. The Priesthood marriages are performed in the Temple. All marriages performed outside the Temple are performed by civil law. A marriage performed by a Mormon Bishop in a ward building is performed by civil law and is no different than a marriage performed by a Justice of the Peace or a minister at a wedding “chapel” in Las Vegas. Civil marriages are until “death do you part”. The LDS church recognizes civil marriages as valid marriages during mortality, much the same as it recognizes other civil acts as being valid during mortality. Because marriages outside the Temple are performed by civil authority, those marriages can be ended by civil authority. The LDS church recognizes divorces by civil authority as being just that, legal acts performed by legally constituted government.

As I mentioned, marriages by the Priesthood are performed in LDS temples. The ending of Temple marriages, Temple divorces, can only occur upon authorization of the First Presidency of the church. I don’t know the conditions allowed by the First Presidency for Temple divorces, but those divorces aren’t common. We believe members of the First Presidency are prophets of God and act under inspiration from Him, and we believe Temple divorces are the result of such inspiration.

>>>Every apostasy verse used to prove the apostasy theory mentions some or
>>>many falling away from the faith, or it warns of those false teacher that were
>>>very real then and now, but it never said that the church would completely fall
>>>away

Paul gave this prophecy about the church (Acts 20:29-30).

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
And also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.”

Not sparing the flock” sounds like a complete falling away to me!

As with other verses in the Bible, the verses that speak of a change to the church must be interpreted, because they are ambiguous. If all verses in the Bible were perfectly clear, we wouldn’t have the many Christian groups that we do have. To help us understand the changes that would occur to the Christian church after the death of the Apostles, we can turn to secular history. Finally, we have our own personal prayers in which we can ask God where the truth is today (James 1:5-6).

The following long quote is from my online book in the chapter on the true church

One of the historians who lived immediately after the apostolic period was a man named Hegesippus. A later historian named Eusebius referred to the writings of Hegesippus.

The same author, [Hegesippus] relating the events of the times, also says, that the Church continued until then as a pure and uncorrupt virgin; whilst if there were any at all that attempted to pervert the sound doctrine of the saving gospel, they were yet skulking in dark retreats; but when the sacred choir of apostles became extinct, and the generation of those that had been privileged to hear their inspired wisdom had passed away, then also the combinations of impious error arose by the fraud and delusions of false teachers. These also, as there were none of the apostles left, henceforth attempted, without shame to preach their false doctrine against the gospel of truth. Such is the statement of Hegesippus. (Eusebius, pp. 70-71.)

A historian named Mosheim, who lived after Eusebius, described the changes that occurred during the second century in the ceremonies used in the Christian church.

There is no institution so pure and excellent which the corruption and folly of man will not in time alter for the worse, and load with additions foreign to its nature and original design. Such, in a particular manner, was the fate of Christianity. In this century, many unnecessary rites and ceremonies were added to the Christian worship, the introduction of which was extremely offensive to wise and good men….Both Jews and heathens were accustomed to a vast variety of pompous and magnificent ceremonies in their religious service. And as they considered these rites as an essential part of religion, it was but natural that they should behold with indifference, and even with contempt, the simplicity of the Christian worship, which was destitute of those idle ceremonies that rendered their service so specious and striking. To remove then, in some measure, this prejudice against Christianity, the bishops thought it necessary to increase the number of rites and ceremonies, and thus to render the public worship more striking to the outward senses….The rulers of the church adopted, therefore, certain external ceremonies, that thus they might captivate the senses of the vulgar, and be able to refute the reproaches of their adversaries. (Mosheim, Century II, p. 71)

Mosheim described the changes to the Christian ceremonies that continued through the third century.

All of the records of this century mention the multiplication of rites and ceremonies in the Christian church. Several of the causes that contributed to this, have been already pointed out; to which we may add, as a principal one, the passion which now reigned for the Platonic philosophy, or rather, for the popular Oriental superstition concerning demons, adopted by the Platonists and borrowed, unhappily, from them by the Christian doctors. For there is not the least doubt, but that many of the rites, now introduced into the church, derived their origin from the reigning opinions concerning the nature of demons, and the powers and operations of invisible beings. Hence the use of exorcisms and spells, the frequency of fasts, and the aversion to wedlock. (Mosheim, Century III, pp. 71-72)

Mosheim described the fourth century, a time in which changes and distortions to the church continued.

While the Roman emperors were studious to promote the honour of Christianity, by the auspicious protection they afforded to the church, and their most zealous efforts to advance its interests, the inconsiderate, and the ill-directed piety of the bishops cast a cloud over the beauty and simplicity of the gospel, by the prodigious number of rites and ceremonies which they had invented to embellish it….The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious dieties, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God. (Mosheim, Century IV, p. 72)

The Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as the state religion, and the bishops of the Christian church obtained great political power. For centuries the apostasy reined, a period known informally as the “dark ages”. John Wesley wrote of that period.

It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian….The cause of this was not, as has been supposed, because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause of it was that the love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his Church, could hardly find faith upon earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church–because the Christians were turned heathens again, and only had a dead form left. (Wesley, p. 73)

The Doctrine of the Trinity

An important evidence of the apostasy is the distortion that occurred in the church about an understanding of the nature of God. The result of this distortion was a doctrine known today as The Trinity.

As we have seen in previous chapters, the Bible teaches that members of the Godhead are separate personages but one in unity. I believe the early Christians worshipped that type of God. However, as we have discussed, wickedness and persecution grew, and church members adopted sinful practices from neighboring countries.
The Apostles tried to correct the church, but they were unsuccessful in this because they were scattered and communication between them and groups of Christians was slow. In cases where the Apostles did learn of wickedness in the church, they were not always able to communicate with the people and exhort them to repent. As a result of persecution, the Apostles were killed, and the time came that the church was without their inspired leadership.

Once the Apostles were gone, the Bishops over the churches in individual cities began to extend their influence to other areas, causing them to contend with each other. Philosophers introduced changes in the doctrines of the church, and the church languished in apostasy. One of the conflicts in the apostate church concerned whether the Son was coequal with the Father since he had been created by the Father. Constantine used his political power to bring the Bishops together in a council, known as the Council of Nice, in 325 AD to settle this and other conflicts. The result of this meeting was the Nicene Creed which stated among other things that the Father and the Son were one in “substance” (in our language we would say one in person). Later, another creed known as the Athanasian Creed was formed. This creed states the following.

We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated; but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty; and yet there are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God. (Talmage, pp. 47-48)

In other words, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are of one “substance” or person but are revealed to man in three forms. The Church of England expressed this concept of the Trinity in the following words.

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. (Talmage, p. 48)

Imagine! People claiming to be the Church of Jesus Christ and not being able to agree on the nature of God! Instead of having inspired Apostles as their foundation who could receive divine revelation from God, they resorted to councils of intellectuals. Jesus taught it was .life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). Life eternal to know God, and yet it required the intervention of the Roman emperor to bring the apostate Christians together to agree on the nature of God!

Many Christians today believe in one God rather than three separate personages in one Godhead. These people are sincere and think their belief in one God comes from the Bible, but it doesn’t. Their belief comes from the Catholic Bishops, the intellectuals, and the philosophers who met in councils to debate the nature of God.

>>>Jesus promised to always be with his church, not just until the apostles died, and he
>>>promised to send the holy spirit with will guide them into all truth, not false doctrine.
>>>Isn’t saying the church apostatized like saying that Jesus is a liar

Jesus organized his church and left his Apostles and Prophets as the foundation of the church. People, through their freedom of choice, killed the Apostles and changed the structure and teachings of the church. In doing that, the people changed the church to be their church, not the Savior’s church. The liars are the people who changed the church, not the Savior!

Because God does love his people, he inspired the reformers to break down the political power of the Catholic church, and he inspired Joseph Smith in the Restoration of his church to earth again.

>>>Isaiah 44: 7-9 The important parts are when he says “who is like me? Let him
>>>stand up and speak, make it evident, and confront me with it…… You are my
>>>witnesses! is there a God or any Rock besides me?’ if there is more than one
>>>god in existence and he says that he is the only God in existence wouldn’t that
>>>be blasphemy since he would refuse to acknowledge the existence of his dog.
>>>also if there are other gods then our god likes to talk a lot of stuff

The Israelites had lived in Egypt for about 400 years much of that time as slaves. They had been exposed to the religious beliefs of the Egyptians who worshiped many Gods. After they left Egypt, the Israelites were exposed to the religious beliefs of other nations who also had many gods.

Jehovah wanted the Israelites to worship him, as their only God, in contrast to the many gods of the Egyptians and other nations. When Jehovah (Jesus Christ) said he was their only God, he wasn’t excluding our Heavenly Father or the Holy Ghost. The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are members of one Godhead and are perfectly united in all they do. Referring to one is the same as referring to all three.

Here is my discussion of the verses in Isaiah that you referred to. They are from my book in the chapter on the Nature of God.

——————-

Persons who object to the Church say, “What about Isaiah 43:10 where it says there were no Gods before Jehovah and will be none after him? Jesus and his Father have to be the same, and there is only one God.” Let us look at that verse.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)

In chapter 43, God is talking about the relationship between him and the Israelites. He uses the analogy of a trial in which he calls witnesses. In verse 3, he declares he is the God of Israel, and in subsequent verses he reassures the Israelites of this relationship. In verse 9 he challenges the nations of the earth to bring forth their witnesses of their gods, and in verse 10 he declares that the Israelites are his witnesses of his work and of the salvation which he is providing. Not only are they his witnesses but his servants because they do his work among the children of the earth. As his servants, he wants the Israelites to understand he is their God. In verse 10 when he said, “before me there was no God formed” he is saying he has always been the God of Israel. When he said, “neither shall their be [any] after me” he is saying he will always be the God of Israel. Thus, we see the context of that verse is that Jehovah always has been and always will be the God of Israel. That verse does not address the question whether Jesus and the Father are the same or are separate. As mentioned above, since Jesus and the Father are perfectly united, it is appropriate to refer to them as “one God”.

Those who object also ask, “How about Isaiah 44:8?” Let us look at that verse.

Hear ye not, neither be afraid; have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (Isaiah 44:8 )

This verse is a continuation of the “trial” dialog we just discussed. Jehovah is the God of Israel, and “there is no God” besides Him. As with the other verse, this passage concerns the relationship between God and Israel and does not address the nature of the Godhead.

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6 Responses to Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel

  1. Jeff says:

    I’ve been a Christian all of my life and I’ve followed Christ (or at least tried) most of that time. Like all people, I struggle with the day to day challenges of the Christian walk. However, about twenty years ago, I became interested in LDS faith and it’s people. Initially, it was out of genuine concern for the people involved in what I had been taught was a cult. I attended classes on the subject of mormonism (not taught by LDS). As you might imagine, I learned some of the darker history; strange teachings; and divergent beliefs taught by the LDS. For a time, I was convinced, the LDS people were caught in a web of deceit.
    There came a time, though, when I had some doubts about some of the people who wrote the materials. Some seemed as though they had an axe to grind. They never had anything nice to say about the LDS… nothing. I could clearly see that there were many admirable traits among the LDS churches and it’s members, even if I didn’t agree with them. Not all of the teachers were bad though. The ones I knew personally, were good and honorable men. They acted out of genuine concern for the people of our church and the LDS people. However, I did something they recommended against. I met with the LDS missionaries. I wanted to hear from them directly as to what they believed. I was upfront with the missionaries and told them I had some serious concerns about the LDS faith. I didn’t want to be disingenuous and try to sow seeds of doubt, since I had called them to meet with me. I just wanted to learn more about them.
    I’d like to ask some questions that really have gnawed at me though if you don’t mind. I want to say that I have no intention of offending or being rude. If I ask a question that crosses a line, please let me know. I’ve come here to learn.
    Ok, let me address one of the more sticky points I’ve really tripped over. Since I was a boy, I have been taught that God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Yet, it appears that LDS theology seems to teach “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become”. Is it teaching that God is a created being? Is it teaching that He lived and worshiped another God before becoming who He is today? I just can’t get around this. I don’t mean to sound difficult but it sounds like heresy. Am I misunderstanding this doctrine?
    It’s hard for me to accept the idea that the immortal, unchanging, omnipotent God started out as a created person and had a God above him.

  2. Allen says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for visiting my site and for sharing about your background and your questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon church.

    The Mormon belief that man (and woman) can be exalted to be like our Father in Heaven is one of the doctrines peculiar to the Mormon church. I personally believe that this doctrine was part of the ancient church, but by the time the books we have in the Bible today were canonized in the fourth century, that doctrine had been lost. However, the Bible does give strong indications that followers of Jesus Christ can receive all the the Father has. In my online book, in the last chapter, I give Biblical scriptures that teach this doctrine. Because that chapter is online in this site, I won’t quote the scriptures here.

    Some people believe that Mormonism brings God down to the level of sinful man. However, it is just the opposite. Mormonism raises sinful man, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to the level of God and that they can receive all the the Father has. We believe that God was once a man who lived in mortality. Through his faith and repentance, he received all that his Father had and became like him. Once he became like his Father, he became unchangeable. In other words, consider the idea that a mortal man can progress to become exalted. As a mortal man, he was changeable. He didn’t always keep his word. He wasn’t always consistent in his relationships. After he was exalted, he became unchangeable. He was consistent in his relationships. He could be trusted to keep his word. Because we trust him, we have faith in him.

    You expressed concern that Mormonism is in opposition to the scriptures that say that God is unchangeable. You gave Malachi 3:6 as one scripture about God being unchangeable. The first several verses of Malachi 3 are concerned with the relationship between Jehovah and the Israelites. God warns the Israelites that when the Lord comes in his second coming, the wicked people will suffer the judgment of God (verse 5). In verse 6, he assures the righteous that they will not be consumed, because he changes not, implying that they can trust him because he keeps his word. He promised that the righteous would have blessings from God, and those blessing will be given to the righteous. The ancient Israelites could trust God. We can trust God today.

    The most important thing, Jeff, is that as you study the scriptures, you pray and ask our Heavenly Father for understanding of the scriptures and if particular interpretations are true. I know, Jeff, that God will answer your prayers.

  3. Jeff says:

    Thank you for the detailed response. I’ll have to give some of this some thought, although I have to say that the part about God having been just a man sends a shiver down my spine (Numbers 23:19). I will consider what you’ve written though.

    The one problem that comes to mind regarding God the Father changing (while mortal) is this: we know that Jesus lived a mortal life and died as a perfect, sinless man and was also God in the flesh. So, why would God the Father have done any less by being sinful and faulty during his mortal existence? Did Jesus outperform him? Your thoughts?

    I see your point regarding Malachi 3:6. I’ll have to think about this for a while. It sounds plausible.

    I agree with you though on the matter of prayer and seeking God. I’ve been doing just that and will continue to do so. I realize that all of my perspective comes from the Bible alone while yours may have references from other standard works. The Bible is all I’ve known and is my compass for pointing ‘true north’. So, thank you for taking my one-sided questions.

  4. Allen says:

    Numbers 23:19 is part of the conversation between Balaam and Balak. During that conversation, Balaam spoke with the Lord and then returned to Balak. Balak asked him what the Lord had said, and Balaam said

    God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19

    In other words, Balaam was assuring Balak that he could trust the Lord, that the Lord was not a man speaking to him. I think that both you and I would agree that the personage talking with Balaam was not a man but was God and could be trusted. That verse doesn’t have reference to any previous condition of God.

    You have an interesting point, whether God the Father would have done less than Jesus by being sinful during his mortality. Any thoughts about the Father being sinful or not during his mortality is speculation, because we don’t know anything about his condition in mortality. It’s not important whether the Father during his mortality was sinful or not. If he were sinful, his sins were forgiven, and he became exalted via the Atonement of his savior. You and I are sinful, and our sins can be forgiven via the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Once our sins are forgiven, it’s as though we never committed them. The Lord remembers them (the sins) no more.

  5. Jeff says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I certainly agree with you regarding the context of Numbers 23… I’ve just taken it to also be intended to demonstrate God’s nature as well. Often times, I’ve found parts of the Bible to take on multiple messages within the same passage. Regardless, thank you. I’ll have to dedicate some thought and prayer to this.

  6. Amy says:

    I am a member recently active again, I stopped going to church at 16, now I am 38, so I’m learning almost all over again, I am deeply struggling with something, I can not find peace and happiness with this subject, my husband is not LDS, we have a wonderful marrige, he’s a good person, a excellent dad to our son and my 2 kids from a previous marrige, the love we have is amazing and unconditional for each other, I am scared because the church teaches marriages and family are only eternal if they are in the temple on earth, can we not have this opportunity in the after life, if he chooses to accept God and his plan? Can we still not get this if he doesn’t here on earth? He may, he may not, I’m working on it.. But if he does not, I just want something to go on to keep me going .. This topic brings me such sadness to me

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