Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adventures in eisegesis


As I mentioned several posts ago, I went with the missionaries to the Priesthood session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints broadcast. The evening was capped by a presentation by Thomas Monson, the president of the mormon church and the self-proclaimed modern prophet of God. In the second of Paul’s epistles to Timothy, he urges Timothy as a young elder to be sure he is rightly handling the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Based on what I heard from Thomas Monson, he is hardly on par with Timothy, much less a prophet of the restoration. Take this passage from his priesthood talk as an example, where Monson quotes one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Ezekiel 36:

In this vast throng are priesthood power and the capacity to reach out and share the glorious gospel with others. As has been mentioned, we have the hands to lift others from complacency and inactivity. We have the hearts to serve faithfully in our priesthood callings and thereby inspire others to walk on higher ground and to avoid the swamps of sin which threaten to engulf so many. The worth of souls is indeed great in the sight of God. Ours is the precious privilege, armed with this knowledge, to make a difference in the lives of others. The words found in Ezekiel could well pertain to all of us who follow the Savior in this sacred work:

“A new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. . . .

“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

“And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
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How might we merit this promise? What will qualify us to receive this blessing? Is there a guide to follow?

May I suggest three imperatives for our consideration. They apply to the deacon as well as to the high priest. They are within our reach. A kind Heavenly Father will help us in our quest.

First, learn what we should learn.

Second, do what we should do.

And third, be what we should be.

Oh the erroneous assumptions assumed by that statement. Keep in mind that this man is speaking from the “pulpit” or lectern at the mormon General Conference, speaking on priesthood authority to those who also hold a similar, although lower, priesthood authority.

The great error involved in this statement is the very premise of the question: How might we merit this promise? The whole point here, and indeed one of the key, overarching themes of Scripture, is that we cannot merit this change of heart, or seek to impact that change. It is a work of God. Notice the initiator and the recipient throughout the passage in Ezekiel: The repeated use of "I will" indicating God is the initiator of the action and we are seen as the recipient. Nowhere is it stated or even assumed that we have something to do with this sovereign change of heart. Like most of the talks in the "priesthood" session, the emphasis is on human ability with God's help, human worthiness. The focus of Ezekiel 36 is not on man however, but on God. Statements like this demonstrate that Thomas Monson has a minimal grasp of the Scriptures and feels free to misrepresent and reinterpret Scripture as he sees fit.

I wonder if any of the "priesthood" holders looked up Ezekiel 36 and wondered about Monson's interpretation.

1 comment:

Aaron Shafovaloff said...

WOW. Thanks for pointing this out Arthur!