Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel, p. 3

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>>>Over the years I have been trying to get answers to questions such as the ones I asked recently [Where in the Book of Mormon does it teach Baptism for the Dead?], but the Mormons have avoided answering such questions for one reason or another. They have never given me an answer from the BOM or say this book never teaches such things.

Without talking with the particular people you’ve talked with, I can’t know why they avoided answering your questions. Some people feel uneasy answering questions, because they lack confidence in their knowledge of the Gospel and their ability to express themselves. Other people feel that such discussions can end up as being contentious, and we’re told that contention is of the devil and we should avoid it.

On the other hand, there are many LDS who, like me, are happy to answer questions and discuss the Gospel. As long as people in such discussions have respect for each other and are trying to inform but not change each other, discussions can take place without being contentious. In my case, I answer questions and give my reasons for believing the way I do. But, when I think I have sufficiently explained myself such that the people should understand my perspective, I bow out of the discussion. To remain in the discussion would likely lead to argument. My purpose is to inform not to convince.

>>>I am reminded of what Joseph Smith said-“If anyone teaches doctrine contrary to the Book of Mormon mark him an impostor”

You didn’t say this, so I’m “reading between the lines” about your question on Baptism for the Dead. I’m wondering if you’re thinking that, based on what Joseph Smith said, if a principle, such as Baptism for the Dead, isn’t taught in the Book of Mormon, then it would be a false concept and the person teaching it would be an impostor. We don’t claim that the Book of Mormon has all teachings about God. If it did, we wouldn’t need the Bible or other scriptures. We wouldn’t need latter-day prophets. We believe the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel, that is, the fullness of the commandments we need to follow to allow Christ’s atonement to come into our lives. The Gospel is the good news of the atonement. The Gospel, in this sense, doesn’t cover everything about God that could be written down. Baptism for the Dead was revealed to God’s latter-day prophet, but it isn’t part of the individual commandments that we must follow for our salvation, that is, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, giving service to others, etc. We use the word “gospel” in different ways. The statement, “The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel” uses the word to refer to the good news of the atonement and the commandments we must follow for our individual salvation. In addition, we use the word “gospel” in a more general way to refer to anything about God. We have to consider the context of statements to understand what one means when he or she uses the word “gospel”.

>>>Perhaps the Mormons that I have spoken to on the internet or at my door are impostors?

Again, without talking with those Mormons I can’t say much. I would guess that is likely that they don’t want to get involved in religious discussions to avoid contention or because of how they feel about their ability to discuss topics that aren’t part of the basic teachings of the church.

>>>In answer to your last e-mail, Doctrines and Covenants 20:8-9;27:5 refers to the Book of Mormon as “the fullness of the gospel.” The word “fullness” means “the state of being complete.”

Keep in mind that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, not the fullness of religious truths. The word Gospel, as used in this context, refers to the atonement of Christ not to all religious teachings. We have never claimed that the Book of Mormon contains all religious truths. Just the truths about the Gospel which is the good news of the atonement. We believe the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the teachings about the Atonement, that is, it contains all we need to know about the atonement to receive its blessings if we allow Christ to come into our hearts as we accept him as the Redeemer and follow him as disciples. Obviously, the Book of Mormon doesn’t contain all knowledge about the Atonement. For example, we don’t know why Christ had to shed his blood instead of doing something else like waving his hand in the air or winking his left eye three times at midnight. We accept on faith that he had to shed his blood. Knowing exactly why he had to shed his blood isn’t necessary to our salvation.

>>>If the BOM is “the fullness of the gospel,” That is to say the complete, finished and total gospel, Then we don’t need the Bible or other Scriptures etc.

That’s your statement. It certainly isn’t my statement. We need the Book of Mormon and the Bible because both books teach of Christ and his atonement. Two witnesses are always better than one witness. Both books have their own way of explaining Christ. We benefit from having both books. Other Christians seem to be hung up on this idea of having only one book of scriptures. We’re glad to have as many books of scriptures as the Lord wants to give us!

>>>One more thought,1 Nephi 13:24 tells us that the Bible is “the fullness of the gospel.” If the Bible is the complete word of God, Why do we need the Book of Mormon?

That verse in 1 Nephi doesn’t say that the Bible contains the fullness of the Gospel. It says that when the books of the Bible were first written, they contained the fullness of the Gospel. As our 8th Article of Faith says, we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We believe that due to missing records and/or mistranslations, the Bible isn’t as complete as it was when it was first written. Now, to your question, why do we need the Book of Mormon. I answered that question above when I answered your question why we need the Bible. In addition, the Book of Mormon helps us understanding some of the truths that are, we believe, missing from the Bible due to missing records and/or mistranslations.

>>>According to Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, p.160: “by fullness of the gospel is meant all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the exaltation in the celestial kingdom…” Celestial marriage is an essential requirement to gain this exaltation, but where does the Book of Mormon mention CELESTIAL MARRIAGE? Or where for that matter, does it mention the word of wisdom, men can become Gods, baptism for the dead, etc?

Keep in mind that we’re talking about language and word definition. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, in vol 1, defined the word “gospel” in one way. The Book of Mormon defines it in another way. You have your definition of the word, and I have mine. I think that arguments about word definitions are futile.

You pointed out that Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, gave a particular definition of the phrase “fullness of the gospel”. Then you pointed out that The Book of Mormon doesn’t satisfy that definition, implying that the Book of Mormon can’t contain the fullness of the Gospel as LDS claim. In posting 13, I pointed out that the key issue is one of language and word definition. Elder Smith defined “fullness of the gospel” to be all inclusive, to refer to “all ordinances and principles that pertain to exaltation in the celestial kingdom”. The Book of Mormon, how ever, uses the word “gospel” to refer to the saving principles of the Atonement, such as repentance and baptism. The word “gospel” in the two books is used in a different context and can’t be equated 1 to 1 in the two books.

When reading Mormon literature (as well as any book) it’s important that we understand the definitions used by the authors to establish context. If we insist on taking the context of words from one book and applying it to other books in which the authors used a different context we are being dishonest! This dishonesty is a common tactic of those who oppose the church.

>>>If you contend that the Bible is flawed, then why do you continue to use it and study. Why don’t you either accept its teachings as the truth or discard it completely.

We do accept the teachings of the Bible as the truth. Of course, we don’t accept errors that have crept into the Bible, through the wickedness and mistakes of men, as truth. We don’t discard the Bible, because we do accept it as truth. We teach from the Bible. We pattern our lives after the teachings in the Bible.

>>>The introduction to Mormon 7 say’s “All who believe the Bible will also believe the Book of Mormon.” This is false.

That sentence has reference to verse 9 of that chapter.

9 For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that [the Bible]; and if ye believe that [the Bible] ye will believe this [the Book of Mormon] also;….

Mormon was speaking to the Lamanites who didn’t believe in Christ. The Lamanites knew of the Bible and they also knew of the teachings of the Nephite prophets. Mormon told them that if they believed the teachings of the Bible, they would also believe the teachings of the Nephites, since both books taught of Christ. It is clear to me that Mormon was assuming that the people who believed the Bible and thus the Book of Mormon had the Holy Ghost with them, and that the Holy Ghost would lead them to believe both books. Obviously, people without the Holy Ghost wouldn’t necessarily believe in both books and maybe not even in one book.

In saying that, I’m not saying that other Christians don’t have the spirit of the Lord. I’m not saying they aren’t good people. I’m not saying that they aren’t sincere followers of Christ. I’m not saying that they don’t love Christ. I’m just saying that there is more to Christ than they know of. The message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that God has spoken again through prophets, that God has given additional scripture to testify of Christ, that God has given additional religious truth to mankind. We ask them to open their hearts to the Spirit, that they might be led to receive and accept this additional truth of the restoration of the Gospel. I think this what Mormon was saying.

>>>Mosiah 13:34-If God was already a man, Why did he take the “form of a man”?

In Mosiah 13, Abinadi is teaching the people of King Noah about the coming of the Messiah.

33 For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began–have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?

34 Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?

35 Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?

From the context of those verses, we see that when Abinadi said God himself, Jehovah or Jesus Christ, should take upon him the form of man, he was referring to Christ becoming mortal.

>>>What of Paul’s teachings in Galatians 1:8 “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

What of it? I agree with Paul. When Paul spoke of the gospel, he wasn’t referring to the Bible, which didn’t exist at that time. He was referring to the teachings of Christ and of his authorized apostles.

>>>Do you deny John 3:16? “For God so love the world that he sent His ONLY begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.?”

Of course not! That verse is one of my favorites. We believe very strongly in the atonement of Jesus Christ. The scriptures teach that Jesus was the only begotten of the Father. The scriptures also teach that we are children of God. The answer to this “paradox” is that Jesus was the only begotten in the flesh; we were begotten in the spirit.

>>>If you do deny this verse, then do you deny the basic tenant of Christianity?

I’ve explained that we don’t deny this verse. I can’t comment on “the basic tenant of Christianity” since you didn’t identify what that tenant is.

>>>So then are you Christians, or distinct and truly Mormon?

Both. We believe in Jesus Christ, in his atonement through grace for our sins, that through his blood and grace we are cleansed from our sins. We believe that it is only through Christ that we can come unto the Father. We believe that Christ is the mediator between God and man. We are Christians the same as you are. We are also Mormons, meaning we are members of a particular denomination. Other Christians are Baptists, Methodists, etc. In my online book at I discuss in detail our belief in salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ.

>>>OK, first, let’s go over John 3:16. I am sorry that I wasn’t particularly clear on what I meant. The reason I ask about the verse is the fact that it says that Jesus is the only son of God. But you claim that Satan and Jesus are brothers. That is the point I was trying to make, and in my haste, forgot to mention it.

Thanks for the clarification. Jesus is the only son of God in the flesh, while we all are sons of God in the spirit. When Jesus talked of our Father in Heaven, we believe he was speaking literally that we are, as Paul put it, the offspring of God; not in the flesh but as spirit children.

We believe that Satan was one of God’s spirit children and was known as Lucifer. He thus was a spiritual brother to Christ as well as to you and me. He rebelled and fought against God and was was cast out of heaven. God didn’t create Satan; He created Lucifer one of his spirit children. Lucifer, through his freedom of choice or agency choose to do evil and thus created Satan.

As with the other topics in this discussion, “this is discussed in my book”. I’m referring to my book all the time so you can go there if you wish and read further of my reasons and my interpretation of the scriptures about the topics. This saves me from having to repeat myself over and over again as I discuss with new people

>>>I’ll skip the Galatians point, for now, and move on to the Isaiah verse. You say that Isaac and the Hebrews worshiped only Jehovah, which, if I understand your argument correctly, is that that was the only God Isaac was aware of. I find this to be shaky ground to stand on, since Isaiah himself was one of the key prophets in foretelling of Jesus’ coming, and also, in Isaiah 61:1, it state that: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.” So he is aware of the three different aspects of the Godhead, but now what of his statement that there is only ONE god? Also, the New Testament (where the people are aware of Jesus and the Father.) talks of only one God as well, consider Romans 3:30: “Since there is only one God. . .”

I’m sorry for the confusion. I didn’t mean to say that Jehovah was the only God Isaiah was aware of. I’m sure, as a prophet, that Isaiah knew of the Father and of the Holy Ghost. First, you need to understand the Mormon belief that Jehovah and Jesus Christ are the same (I discuss this in detail in my book). So, when the Hebrews worshiped Jehovah, they were worshiping Jesus Christ. When the scriptures speak of one God, they are, I believe, putting the focus on Jesus Christ as the Redeemer, the Savior, even though the Father and the Holy Ghost also exist. It’s a point of focus. To understand what I’m saying, you need to understand the Mormon belief that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate entities in one Godhood, separate but one in unity, purpose, goals, etc. (I discuss this in detail in my book, too).

>>>You say that since God created us in his likeness, than He must have a body. Odd, since when an artist tries to make something in another things likeness (i.e., Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa), it is not that thing. For instance, the painting of Mona Lisa is not a body of flesh and blood, yet it was made in that image, AND we can still say that it was made in her likeness. The same is true with the Moses statement. So God has a face? So does the Mona Lisa. Doesn’t mean its a body, too.

You have a point. We both realize that the Bible is subject to different interpretations. To me, the Bible implies God has a body, but that is my interpretation. The Book of Mormon, however, makes it very clear: when the brother of Jared saw the Savior’s (Jehovah’s) spirit body (spirit body since he hadn’t been born of Mary yet) and thought it was a physical body, Jesus told him that it was the body of his spirit.

>>>To introduce a new argument, you believe in different levels of Heaven, correct? And that generally “good”(I use the term loosely) will go to a sort of Paradise. Basically, that there are distinctions in sin.

Not differences in sin but differences in good. We believe the three kingdoms, levels, what ever you want to call them, are places of glory not places of condemnation. We all commit sin. We repent or we don’t repent. We make decisions to follow God or to not follow God, etc. When the judgment comes, we’ll be rewarded for the good we had in our lives. We’ll go to our home in the mansions of the Father because we have been redeemed by the Savior. We are rewarded for our good. Before our judgment, we will have suffered in Hell for our sins (I discuss in my book the temporary nature of Hell).

>>>But what about Romans 3:22 and 23? “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Bible makes it pretty plain, to the perfect God, there is no distinction between degrees of wrong. It is sin, and to God, it is abominable.

In those verses from Romans, Paul isn’t discussing whether there is one or more than one mansion in the Father’s house. He is saying that salvation doesn’t come through the Law of Moses, the law that the Jews were then living. He is saying that salvation comes through the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. For there is no difference: all have sinned and to be saved all must come to Christ. No exceptions! No difference in how salvation comes! Jesus taught that there were many mansions in his Father’s house, and I’m sure Paul would have agreed.

>>>One other thing, you believe there were things before God (God was at one point a person, I believe?) Whatever the argument, you contend that reality existed prior to God. But what of Genesis 1:3: “And God said “Let there be Light” and there was light.”? Note, this is NOT the sun, as this was created in a later verse along with the moon. He created LIGHT. The very nature of that quality which confounded Einstein for so many years. So if God created LIGHT, how can it be that he existed in any sort of other existence, or that he lives on the Star Kolob?? This verse would seem to also denote that God created EVERYTHING. Now, maybe that’s a hasty generalization, but if God was imperfect at one point, how did He get around?

The verse in Genesis didn’t say that God created light. He said, “Let there be light.” Some interpret that to mean that God created light. Others interpret that to mean that God brought light into the creation. Mormons believe that the elements are eternal and have always existed. Einstein taught that energy and matter are interchangeable, and I don’t know if the eternal nature of the elements is in matter or energy or something else. At any rate, Mormons believe that the universe was created from eternal elements, not from nothing. In my book, I discuss the Hebrew meaning of the creation and how that meaning implies that the universe was created from existing elements.

Concerning our belief that God was at one time a mortal person. Yes, we believe that. As I discuss in the last chapter of my book, we believe that through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, man can progress to become like God and to receive all that He has. We do all that we can to become like Christ, through service to others, repentance, etc. but that isn’t enough. We don’t earn our blessings through our good works. Our good works and repentance are the doorway that allows the atonement to come into our lives and for Christ’s blood to cleanse us. We are transformed through the Grace of God and receive His gift to us of all that He has.

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