Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Missionaries coming tonight

The missionaries are coming over tonight for their Tuesday night visit. Not sure who we are going to get because we just passed a missionary swap so I expect to get a new guy tonight. With their schedule of changes we should be able to speak with a ton of different mormon young men throughout the year. The more, the merrier! We are planning on talking about the role of our works in salvation tonight (which was actually suggested by the long serving missionary last week).

Along with the passages in Romans and Galatians that deal with justification by faith alone, I am going to try to work into passages like Micah 6: 6-8 because that also ties in with the idea of the priesthood and the temples, so if we can get to why the mormon priesthood and temple system is nothing like the Old Covenant system. I have tried to get them to look at the covenants but I get blank stares, so that is not terribly fruitful. Here is the passage:

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6: 6-8)

The key to what Micah is saying is that it is not the outward works that God desires but the inward change. You cannot do good works to change your heart, God must change your heart and save you to do good works. That is a common misperception among evangelicals as well, so mormons are not alone in this. It should be a good conversation, please pray for these young men, pray as we do that God would change their hearts and free them from the bondage of self-righteousness that mormonism holds people with.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Titus 3: 4-8 and mormonism

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been focused on other issues. We do have the missionaries coming over tonight, but we only get them for an hour so I am going to focus on a particular passage and see what they come up with. The passage is from Titus 3:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3: 4-8)

I like this passage because it touches on so many topics that are contrary to mormonism simultaneously. It talks about salvation being apart from works, speaks of good works being a result not a cause of salvation, it speaks of “God our Savior” and “Jesus Christ our Savior”, showing that the Bible teaches that Christ is God. I will try to post what the outcome is from tonight’s meeting at some point tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A mormon president?

There are two online editorials today about Mitt Romney and his “mormon problem”. A number of polls show some distressing signs for Mitt Romney as we slowly start down the road to 2012. A sizeable segment of the population polled (about 1/3) declared that they be less likely for a mormon as President. That is a problem.

The first article was by David Frum, posted on CNN.com. Writing from a conservative standpoint, Frum argues that we shouldn’t let Romney’s mormonism preclude him from office.

Simultaneously, USA Today ran an editorial today chastising the perceived religious intolerance of those who would not vote for a mormon for President. I say perceived because one’s faith is not a value neutral issue. When you believe that God is a created being and that Jesus and Satan are brothers, the offspring of “heavenly parents” and that faithful mormons become gods and rule over their own worlds, your judgment is suspect. His faith is one of the factors about him that people use to judge whether or not to vote for a candidate. There are plenty of people that are legally eligible for office that I wouldn’t support for a variety of reasons.

Regardless, I certainly agree that Mitt Romney’s mormonism is not a disqualifier for elected office. In fact I would prefer Romney as a candidate to any number of other moderate “Republicans” and certainly I would prefer him to Barack Obama. Romney was gracious in defeat and a good soldier after he withdrew. He did everything right in defeat and supported the GOP nominee. I think that by and large Romney would be an o.k. President, reliably conservative and predictable. We could certainly use someone who is stable and not afraid to extol America’s virtues, someone who doesn’t see America as the biggest problem in the world. On top of that, Romney, compared to the Boy Wonder in office now, has actually had some experience in the real world. So if it comes down to Romney versus Obama, I will heartily cast my vote for him and I would also support Romney over people like Rudy Giuliani or other socially liberal Republicans.

Having said that, I do recognize the danger here and it is a danger that goes way beyond fiscal policy or foreign relations. A Mitt Romney Presidency would expose and mainstream mormonism like never before. That could be quite interesting. Would a President Romney, with the press always on his heels, go to the temple in Washington, D.C. and risk having the major media outlets start publishing details of what goes on in the temple? Would the scrutiny of a mormon President bring to light the quirky and heretical views of mormonism? Or would a mormon President make it that much easier for mormon proselytizing? Mormon missionaries already find themselves in a world that is by and large ignorant of God. The more Biblically literate people are, the less effective mormon evangelism becomes. Unfortunately with each passing year, Americans become less Biblically literate and more relativistic. When you combine a mormon President to make the religion seem less scary and an ignorant populace, you have fertile soil for the lies of mormonism to take root.

It should be an interesting story to watch as the race for 2012 unfolds. I think that if Romney were a Methodist, he would be a popular choice as a safe selection, an adult alternative to the childish Obama administration. But as a mormon, coupled with his “Johnny come lately” conservative principles, Romney may find it hard to pull out a primary win in the GOP.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Report from the latest missionary visit

We spent a lot of time on the idea of praying about the Book of Mormon. I tried to really impress upon them the reality that people can talk themselves into all sorts of stuff. The people in Jonestown who drank the Kool-Aid, the followers of David Koresh, the 9/11 hijackers all sincerely believed and had convinced themselves that what they were doing was the right thing. It is little different from mormonism. Mormonism at its heart is based on a “testimony” of the book of mormon that stems from praying to be given a revelation that it is true. It then becomes a linear A-B-C, if the BoM is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet and the church he founded is what he said it was, the “priesthood” is restored and therefore Thomas Monson is a prophet. All of this stands over and above what the Bible teaches. All of it transcends evidence to the contrary that shows the Book of Mormon to be a fabrication, the product of Joseph Smith’s imagination. There is faith and there is blind faith and mormonism falls into that. The young men who were in our home last night are captive to the same manipulation that has been used for over 150 years by mormonism to draw people into a false belief system. By clever marketing, selective misrepresentation of the Scriptures, religious language and genuinely polite, likeable and nice young men as their representatives, mormonism creates a product people want to buy and like a good salesman mormonism manipulates people into modifying their desire to belong to what seems at first blush like a great thing into feelings of “faith” bolstered by their testimony and that of others. Little wonder that so many talks in mormonism focus on the mormon church being the “true church” and the monthly testimony meetings where you are to inundated with others telling you and encouraging you to publically intone the words “I want to bear my testimony that I know this church is true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and Thomas Monson is a prophet”. When you have a preconceived outcome and a sincere desire for whatever reason to reach that outcome bolstered by the support of people you like, it is pretty easy to manipulate yourself into an experience. A couple of other things I brought up were people who fall in love and feel all warm and fuzzy, only to break up a few months later and also that they were raised as mormons with the tacit understanding that the BoM was true and that they would be missionaries. That sort of familial pressure can create all sorts of feelings (which is true of many “Christian” kids as well). I have often wondered if they reason the mormon church sends these men out so young is that they are still heavily influenced by their family upbringing and easier to control and manipulate than a more mature adult might be.

We also spent some time on the nature of God. As I mentioned, one of the members who came with the missionaries gave us a copy of Gospel Principles, so we were able to ask about our “heavenly parents” and that this implies a “Heavenly Mother”. We were able to talk a bit about who Christ is, His nature and who He is, and why the Bible teaches that what mormonism believes about Christ is heretical (without using those words). I tried to emphasize that Jesus cannot be who He said He was in the Bible and also be a created being who is the brother of Lucifer and our elder brother, different in age but not in nature.

One new tactic they tried was to get us to preemptively commit to being baptized as mormons and working our way toward that goal even though we clearly had no interest in doing so. Kind of determines the outcome and t hen working toward it. It is kind of clever, it puts pressure on you to get a “burning in the bosom” as you get closer to your date. I think it would be a great sales pitch for a lot of products, decide at the beginning on the closing date of the sale and then work on your pitch. What we did instead was tell them that we would do so if they would similarly agree to be baptized on the same date as Christians. We would search the Scriptures for a month together, pray together and at the end of that time either we would be baptized as mormons or they would be baptized as Christians. That really threw them off. They were kind of stunned for a second. That is when we got into the conversation that either we are wrong or they are wrong but that we cannot both be right. I get the sense that the “commit to be baptized” thing was their big gun and when that didn’t work I was afraid they weren’t coming back. They did commit with no qualms to come again next week, we might have a new missionary after the change date on Monday. Please pray for these lost young men and all of the missionaries around the world who have been manipulated and deceived into earnestly and sincerely preaching a false gospel to the lost of the world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Building a mall for the glory of God!

Watch this video on the new $1.5 billion temple of affluence that the mormon church is building in Salt Lake City! Gotta love a church that has "investments" sufficient to bankroll a $1.5 billion development.

Visitors tonight!

The missionaries are coming over tonight. Hope to have a very deep conversation who Jesus Christ is. I want to use the Gospel Principles book they left me as a springboard, and ask about our "heavenly parents". So many of the errors of mormonism come back to an aberrant view of who Jesus Christ is, who His Father is and who we are as humans. They are coming at seven o'clock, prayers would be welcome!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Abandoning the Gospel to win political fights

I read an article about the effort by some in the evangelical movement to "dialogue" with mormons. The article in Christianity Today presented a very disturbing and sobering statistics in response to the question "Are Mormons Christian?" :

Evangelical Protestants

No 45%
Don't know 15%
Yes 40%

Mainline Protestants

No 23%
Don't know 15%
Yes 62%

Black Protestants

No 30%
Don't know 27%
Yes 43%

I found the 43% yes from black Protestants troubling given mormonism teaching that their black skin is a curse and that until the late seventies when political pressure became too great, blacks were unable to become full members of the mormon church (in that they were unable to hold "the priesthood" and not permitted to do temple work). What these stats tells us is two fold. First, many Christians are completely unequipped and undiscerning to the point that they don't realize that a religion that teaches that God the Father is an "exalted man" that has a body of flesh and bones and that Jesus Christ is a created being and the brother of Satan cannot by nature be a "Christian" religion. Second, it shows us that in the effort to win the culture war, we are allowing ourselves to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For example, check this very honest quote:

One undoubted factor in the search for better relations is that evangelicals and Mormons today unite on various moral issues and feel on the defensive, especially in shared opposition to same-sex marriage. Whatever differences they may have about the nature of God, "when you've been in the trenches together, it often generates new respect," said evangelical attorney David French, who leads the Alliance Defense Fund's (ADF) campus religious freedom project. "The LDS commitment to core values is one that betters our country, without question."

Better to lose the culture war than to put the cross of Christ to shame and deny the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thoughts on hearing from a "General Authority"

As I mentioned, I spent last night listening to Paul Pieper, a mormon "General Authority", a member of the "Seventy". For the mormons present, this was a thrill. For me it was heartbreaking. These people were so earnest, so excited, listening so raptly to a man proclaiming a false gospel and a false god. I took a lot of notes to talk to the missionaries about when they come tomorrow night, most especially on the various ways that Paul Pieper portrayed a gospel of works salvation and human righteousness. Some of the things Pieper said were (speaking of mormons): "You don't know how much power you have in your goodness" and "All mankind can be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel" So they use words like grace when what they mean is a grace that fills in the gap between our own righteousness and God's perfection. Lots of talk last night about making sure that we are "qualified" by our own works to be baptized which equates to being born again. Not a hint of the Biblical doctrine of being born again through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is relegated to a baptismal gift, given after baptism to be a helper so we know which works we need to perform and which sins we need to repent of so we can clean ourselves.

When I left and went to my car, I wept for a moment. I was overcome by the lostness exhibited and the blasphemy celebrated. I was heartbroken but I was also thankful. I saw starkly how lost I was and how great my Savior is that in spite of my own arrogant self-righteousness He saw fit to save me. The true God, the God of the Bible is a God who saves in spite of works, who saves in spite of our own righteousness. That is the God I worship and that is the God I proclaim. I pray for those who were in attendance last night, for all mormons, for the missionaries, for the false prophets who lead them. If God can save Paul, if God can save me then He certainly can save Paul Pieper and Thomas Monson. It is my prayer that this happens. All praise and honor and glory to Jesus Christ, for He alone is worthy!

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev 5:9-14)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This might get interesting

The missionaries were supposed to come over tonight but they stopped over last night to tell us they couldn't make it because there is a "Fireside" Tuesday in the area. One of the "General Authorities", Paul Pieper, is speaking. They invited me to come and you can bet that I will be there. I am really hoping there is a chance to ask questions.

Let me be clear. I have a heart for the missionaries, these young men are lost and deluded. They are preaching a false gospel but many of them have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It breaks my heart to see them so eager and so zealous for such a pernicious lie.

Adult mormons are somewhat different. Many of them have little excuse outside of their own sinful, unregenerate nature for rejecting Christ. They may have family or social reasons for staying in the church. As a former mormon, I know that those ties are strong and it takes a mighty work of God to break them.

Mormon leaders are a different story. These men are mature and have been mormons for a long time. They are not only lost, they are deceivers, false prophets and wolves. These men have certainly heard the Gospel at some point and have rejected it for the false gospel of mormonism. They know the lie and they still propagate for their own motivation. This man coming to speak tonight is one of the top 100 mormons in the world. I pray that he will be saved by Christ but until that happens I plan to boldly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him and rest in the comfort of knowing that God is sovereign in all things. We are meeting at seven this evening, please pray.

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dissension in the ranks!

Had the boys over tonight. The one missionary has been the same one who comes every week but they were on splits tonight and he brought the zone leader with him. I think the zone leader was getting mad at him, especially when I got the other missionary to say that the index and topical guide in the book of mormon were "inspired". We spent a lot of time on justification tonight and even wandered into predestination and election. I gave the zone leader a bunch of Scriptures to look up. I was sure to schedule next Tuesday night with the primary missionary because I was a little concerned that the zone leader would forbid them from coming back to talk to us. Good talk, got to share the Gospel with these young men and pray for them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Report from the missionaries

Had another good visit with the missionaries. They brought help along in the form of a couple from church. The guy was a teacher of the Gospel Principles class (and gave me his copy!)

I felt kind of bad for one of the missionaries, the newer guy. He was the senior missionary and was leading the lesson and by the end he was in a lather because I was riding him like Seabiscuit. I was trying to let him get through his lesson, the first one "The Plan of Salvation" but I kept having to interrupt him to ask questions or call him on something he said. It was the firts official lesson we went through, normally we were just going over particular issues like the "priesthood". I was afraid I came on too strong but they are coming again next week, with a different companion on splits with them so we will get a chance to talk with another of these lost young men. I would ask for your prayers for them and for all of these earnest but lost young men around the world.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

News from the latest missionary visit

We had a very good meeting last night with the missionaries. We spent most of our time talking about the priesthood. I think I managed to demonstrate that a human "priesthood authority" was completely absent from the New Testament and I also tried to plant the seeds of the idea that not only is that "priesthood authority" absent, it actually flies in the face of the entire idea of the New Covenant and Christ as our High Priest

We also asked lots of questions about how they live and how odd and isolating it seems. The one missionary especially was clearly not happy about the living arrangements that are designed to keep missionaries isolated. When you have no one to develop personal relationships too, you tend to rely on your companion and when you have doubts you talk to the other guy who has invested two years of his life in a mission.

I am going to the "priesthood session" tonight. I am hoping it provides me the chance to ask lots of questions again. One of the missionaries is moving on to a new area and the newer guy is staying, so he will be back with his new companion on Tuesday to go through their "Plan of Salvation" lesson. I am going to try to keep my mouth shut while they go through it and leave them with lots of follow-up questions. Please pray for these two young men and for all of the young men who are trapped in mormonism, working so hard to please God but instead proclaiming a false gospel. These zealous, sincere, nice young men are as lost as a Hindu in India or a Muslim in Saudi Arabia and they need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ just like any other lost person. Pray that God will raise up bold and faithful people to witness to them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New visitors last night

I haven’t written much here lately, I have had lots of other stuff on my mind regarding the church. Lately though you can’t go to a webpage without seeing an ad for the mormon church, so I clicked on one and requested a book of mormon. The missionaries came over last night and we spent about two hours talking.

I was trying to hold off any heavy questions, just letting them talk. That is hard for me to do, but I wanted to let them speak and give us their spiel. I had a hard time holding back on the “two personages” appearing to Joseph Smith, time for that later.

I threw a few questions out like “Why would a Jew write in ‘Reformed Egyptian’ instead of Hebrew when they were several centyries removed from living in Egypt when Lehi left Palestine and then almost a millennia removed from that?” It seems unlikely that Mormon or Moroni would even be familiar with Egyptian as a language, much less ‘Reformed Egyptian’ and even less likely that they would have written a record in a language that no one on the continent had ever spoken. I also brought up Hebrews 1. We spent some time on the Bible and why it was trustworthy. When they started giving the lines about it being translated over and over and things being missing, I asked them to give a quick summary of their understanding of the translation methodology and formation of the canon. That seemed to stump them, so I threw out 2 Timothy 3:16, gave some reasons both academic and theological as to why the Bible was trustworthy.

At one point they asked if they could refer to us as “brother” and “sister”. I gently demurred and asked them to call us by our first names. In all seriousness, they are not our brothers in the sense of being brothers in Christ. I also prayed both to open and close the meeting, I have a hard time letting people pray to a false god in my home.

They are coming back next week, I plan on spending a lot of time on the idea of the priesthood and the prophet, the temple and the differences between the Old and New Testament and the New Covenant. In the interim I am going to spend some time in study in the book of Hebrews which totally confounds the notion of a human priesthood. I expect to ask more pointed questions instead of letting them run through their standard presentation without spooking them. Time permitting I am thinking about going with them next weekend for the “priesthood” session of General Conference. Please pray for these two young men that God will work in their hearts. The stories have been pounded hard into these two young men but I know from personal experience that God can change even the hearts of people utterly convinced of a lie and if it is His will, He can and He will change the hearts of these young men.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Irony Alert

Thomas Monson presented Barack Obama with a detailed family tree yesterday. As Aaron Shafovaloff points out, according to mormon doctrines from their past "prophets", right up at the top would be the name: "Cain".

I wonder if Thomas Monson explained Brigham Young's proclamation to our president who happens to have a white mom and a black father?

In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them.— it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren. A man would shuder should they here us take about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, allthough the true principles of it are not understood.

Brigham Young, February 5th, 1852

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just think if he had finished it?

As part of his "prophetic" calling, Joseph Smith took it upon himself to retranslate the Bible, which is odd since he had as far as I know no original text to translate from and no ability in Greek or Hebrew. Smith died in a shoot out before he could finish his "translation" of the Bible, leaving us only fragments of his handiwork to give us a glimpse into what would have happened if he had the time to completely rewrite the Word of God. Aaron Shafovaloff on Facebook pointed out one example of what sort of shenanigans Smith tried pulling in "re-translating" Hebrews 7:3. Here it is in the original KJV:

Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Here is the "Joseph Smith" translation of the same text (emphasis in original):

For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.

Notice how he inserts language to change Melchizidek from a unique type of Christ, a sign of what was to come and makes a whole priesthood order out of him thus propping up the heretical notion of a contemporary human "Melchizidek priesthood". Thankfully, Smith didn't complete his work of butchering the Bible and mormons today at least have a glimmer of the original truth in their otherwise completely false "Scriptures".

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brigham Young University lifts ban on YouTube?

Brigham Young University Lifts YouTube Ban After 3 Years

PROVO, Utah — Brigham Young University, the Mormon church school where students agree to live a chaste and virtuous life, has lifted its almost three-year policy of blocking access to YouTube.

Administrators lifted the ban on Friday, citing an increasing amount of educational material on the popular video-sharing site, university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

YouTube has its own filters for porn, but BYU added it to the list of Web sites blocked by campus online filters in 2006 because administrators felt there was too much content that could violate the school's strict, conservative standards.

The university's software also blocks pornography, adult content and violence from other sites.

BYU cited limited bandwidth as another factor when explaining the decision. But some professors have since complained that they couldn't access relevant YouTube content in the classroom.

"I think there's no other way but to provide all of it," Jenkins said.

I didn't even realize that they banned YouTube. Seriously, how many students have laptops and phones and blackberries with access to WiFi? If the students want to watch YouTube videos, I am sure they will have no problems doing so. You really aren't stopping much by blocking YouTube. on campus servers. Given their teachings on God that deny His eternal divinity and lump Jesus into a familial relationship with Satan, they have much bigger problems at BYU than students watching YouTube.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Great video from Sandra Tanner

I haven't had time to watch the whole thing (it is over an hour) but what I have watched so far has been just great!

(Mormon viewers please note: you will notice that Sandra Tanner doesn't have horns...)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cultural mormonism

A couple of posts have got me thinking about the hold mormonism has on people long after they stop believing. There are a lot of people who are nominal mormons at best and many more who are lapsed completely. Why do they retain their connection to mormonism when they stopped believing a long time ago?

The first was from Gloria at Musings on Mormonism in her post Religion vs. Relationship with Jesus. The second was from Andrew, a former mormon who retains his cultural ties to mormonism with a post linked to Gloria's called Religion vs. relationship.

What it stems from is the veneer of religiosity. Mormonism does a great job at creating a sense of community that is founded in a belief that they, unlike anyone else, have the "true church" and that they share a common sense of persecution. Ironically, mormon "persecution" looks a lot like the proselytizing that they do to other religions. Persecution can look pretty different depending on what side of the fence you are standing on. Even more than basic doctrines, mormonism is concerned with imprinting on the lifelong member and new convert alike a shared sense of history, being a part of the story of mormonism. It is easier to tell people a story and then surround them with other people who affirm that same story, even if the average mormon is woefully ignorant of the actual history of their church and what their basics beliefs are. Doctrine takes a back seat to feelings, history is preeminent over theology. When your basic evangelism tool is to ask people to pray for a warm feeling about a book penned by a shyster in the 19th century, you certainly want to rely on feelings and not pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Mormon teaching, whether fast and testimony Sundays or General Conference talks or teaching in Elders Quorum is all about reaffirming the belief in the mormon story. If you are a former mormon, think about the talks you get at General Conference from "apostles". What is the general theme over and over, year after year? It is that mormonism is the "true church". You don't get deep teaching, you get stories. You don't get Scriptural exposition, you get anecdotes. So even when people completely abandon the teachings of mormonism, they still cling to the church because they still buy into the story even if they don't buy into what that story means.

The same is true of Roman Catholicism and other religious organizations that have deep cultural ties and family linkages. Many Catholics are simply Catholics because that is what they were born. They might never go to Mass, might not believe in the doctrines, but Catholic is how they were born and Catholic is how they will die. Similarly, many mormons flat out will not leave mormonism because they have so much invested into it that they cannot bear to walk away even after they stop believing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A new blog you should check out!

Musings on Mormonism: Response to a comment from an LDS reader

Gloria, who like me was saved out of mormonism and like me has a big family (even bigger than ours!), has been writing some excellent thoughts on mormonism at her new blog, Musings on Mormonism. You should check it out!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Haven't posted much recently. My thoughts have been heavily on church matters, on politics, on conferences and reformation societies. But we are finally getting more or less settled in to our new house, and a new house in a new area means it is time to request a free copy of the Book of Mormon! I hope to get one delivered by a couple of sincere, nice young men in the next few weeks and have the opportunity to explore the Word of God with them...

Monday, April 6, 2009

As far as it is translated correctly

Those seven words make a world of difference. Ask a mormon and they will say that they believe in the Bible. In fact, it is right in their 13 Articles of Faith that they believe in the Bible. But those seven words after that assertion change the whole meaning of the 8th Article: As far as it is translated correctly. That really makes all the difference because it gives them an "out". When faced with something problematic, you just shrug it off as being translated incorrectly.

Mormons only believe the Bible as as far it is translated correctly. As far as what that means? Well that is a little vague. I am all for accurate translation from the manuscript evience we have into English. But that is not really what mormons mean when they say: As far as it is translated correctly. What that really means is that the Bible is accurate where verses can be taken out of context but when it clearly denies mormon doctrines, you are free to ignore it.

Notice what the AoF say about the "Book of Mormon": we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

No qualifier there. Which is really odd because we have no way of knowing if the Book of Mormon, assuming for a second that there were ever plates or a person named Mormon to begin with, is translated correctly. Why not? Because all we have are Joseph Smith's multiple accounts of how he translated the plates but no plates to examine. With the Bible we have thousands of records to examine in real languages that can be verified. With the Book of Mormon we have no originals to examine, and even if we did they are supposedly written in a language that never existed, making verification impossible.

The Bible is viewed with suspicion by mormons, but the Book of Mormon is accepted as true and accuate based on a "burning in the bosom". The Bible contains accounts of people and places that are historically verifiable, the Book of Mormon records people and events that not only have no evidence of existing, but the evidence would seem to refute that they ever lived. All we have to go on with the Book of Mormon is the word of a known scoundrel and the affadavits of a handful of his family members and cronies. With the Bible we have the most studied work in history with thousands of manuscripts to examine in real languages that are translatable. I would be willing to bet that not a single one of the top mormon leaders could translate even one line of the Bible from Greek or Hebrew, and yet these men deign to sit in judgment of the Word of God.

Why is it that mormons put such faith in the Book of Mormon but are so distrustful of the Bible? The only real explanation is that the Bible refutes so much of what mormon leaders have taught that it must have doubt cast on it, it must be questioned and claimed to be less authoritative. Otherwise mormons reading the Bible and seeing the jarring disconnect between what it says about sin, God, Christ, man, etc. and what mormonism teaches will come to question their leaders.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Missionary zeal versus Conservative political values

I saw a very interesting article in USA Today, LDS members conflicted on church's illegal-migrant growth. There is a growing conflict among mormons apparently over the issue of illegal immigrants. Even as mormon growth has flattened in America, it has still flourished among the heavily Roman Catholic Latin American countries, and that apparently includes immigrants to this country. The problem is that many of these converts are illegal aliens and if mormons are anything, they are law-abiding and conservative politically...

The Mormon Church is one of the fastest-growing denominations in the country, and much of that growth is coming from an unlikely source: Latino immigrants.

Latinos overwhelmingly are raised Catholic, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is aggressively reaching out to them by touting the religion's heavy focus on family and community, pillars of the Mormon faith that are also at the center of Hispanic culture.

As a result, Latinos are joining the Mormon Church at a greater rate than members of any ethnic group, even Anglos, church leaders say.

But the outreach has created some unusual conflicts because the majority of the Latino converts are undocumented immigrants, which goes against a major tenet of the Mormon Church: obeying the law.

At the same time, some Mormons who say the church teaches compassion are upset that fellow members, including Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, have spearheaded a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

"What has happened among a good number of LDS members is that they have been shaped by the Republican Party of the last 40 years. They gravitate to the Republican Party, and the party has become very anti-immigrant, culture-wars-oriented," said Brigham Young University history Professor Ignacio Garcia

So illegal immigrants are fertile ground but darn it, it really rubs them the wrong way that they are breaking the law. That is a tough one, preaching the Gospel (which these missionaries are not) should be more important than concerns over immigration status. So perhaps they can convert them to mormonism, baptize them and then report them to the INS. The article estimates that 70% of Hispanic converts are illegal aliens. That makes sense, they are probably less likely to come from a church background that is steeped in the Bible, and because they are isolated they are vulnerable to the claims of mormonism.

One of things that really stuck out to me was this section:

"My father died a few years ago in a job accident in Colima," (Mesa Community College student Miguel)Chavez said. "They told me that families can be together forever, and we can see each other after this life. I really want to see my dad again."

Mormon missionaries and marketers use the desire of people to see loved ones again to sell their religion. I have a mormon video that starts off with a family dealing with the loss of a young child, and the point is that if you become mormons you can see family members again. It is a very effective marketing ploy, although it flies in the face of Biblical truth to claim that people who die get a second chance to be in heaven (as long as they agree to convert after death to mormonism). Far easier to sell people a story about seeing loved ones again than to tell people the truth that those who die outside of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are condemned for eternity. But that false hope has lured countless people to join mormonism, people who will later find that it is all a lie, a ploy that tugs at the heartstrings of vulnerable people.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Secret versus sacred

The kerfuffle brought about with the recent airing of a depiction of a small part of the mormon temple ceremony on HBO’s “Big Love” is sweeping the blogosphere, at least the portion of it dealing with mormonism from both the mormon view and the Christian view. Many mormons refuse to discuss the temple in any sort of detail at all, and they find such discussions distasteful and offensive. Few topics get mormons wound up like talking about the temple. In mormon life, the temple is built up as the ultimate experience on this earth. Many mormon homes have a three pictures on the wall, one of the current prophet or the current First Presidency, one of a stylized image that is supposed to be Jesus and a picture of a temple. We even got a very nice, suitable for framing, picture of the Washington, D.C. temple when we went through and still have it. It is front and center all of the time, it is spoken of in general terms constantly (but never in detail). Even when we were going through our prep classes before we went to the temple, none of the details were given. It was all very vague and designed to build up your expectations that this would be just a wonderful, uplifting experience. Even in private homes among mormons or in church buildings, the details of the mormon temple ceremony are not spoken of.

That brings us back to the sacred, not secret claim and the episode of HBO’s “Big Love”. Mormons claim that the temple ceremony is sacred, not secret. The fact that it is hidden from view and that not only are mormons forbidden to speak of it to outsider, but really are not supposed to discuss the details with one another, strikes many people as very odd and secretive, especially given the lack of precedence for that sort of activity in the Bible. I suppose one could make the argument that the ceremony was SO secret in the early church that it was not even mentioned in the writings of Paul and the other apostles. But there is just no reference to mormon style temple ceremonies at all. There is not a hint of it anywhere, not the unique theological underpinnings of the mormon temple, or the ceremony itself or anything like that. If the temple is supposedly such a vital ordinance, it strikes me as odd that during the earthly ministry of Christ and the teachings of His apostles, it gets no mention at all and in fact the teaching we do get runs contrary to mormon temple teaching. It would be like the Bible making no mention of baptism or the Lord’s Supper but expecting us to observe them.

Well, some may say, what about the temple in ancient Israel, that was very sacred and reserved to certain men? True, but not really analogous. The ceremonies that went on in the old temple are not only available to review, they are laid out in excruciating detail as anyone who has read through the Old Testament knows. What they wore, what color their temple garb was, the animals they sacrificed, how they were sacrificed. It was incredibly sacred, but it was also very open. When the High Priest went into the inner sanctum, everyone knew what he was doing. The mormon temple relies on a general ignorance of the Old Testament, which is all too common among mormons and Christians alike. If I recall correctly, the Visitors Center of the Los Angeles temple has lots of information about the ancient Israelite temples to further increase the illusion that they are somehow related. Because of that, it is possible to build up the temple experience in the mind of mormons to offset the general weirdness that goes inside. Compare the specific details of the Old Testament temple practices with the vague warm and fuzzy depictions of the temple experience disseminated for public consumption. Compare also what actually went on in the tabernacle/temple of the Jews and the quirky ceremonies in a mormon temple.

Frankly, the shroud of secrecy that hides the mormon temple ceremony from public consumption has nothing to do with it being sacred in nature. Having been through the temple and reflecting back on it, I can assure you that if the particulars of the mormon ceremony were made public it would cripple mormon proselytizing. The temple ceremony is an embarrassing relic of a bygone age, when Joseph Smith could indulge his every whim and turn every notion that crossed his mind into an official doctrine.

By contrast, I am more than happy to discuss openly every aspect of Christian teaching and church practice. Some of it is hard to explain and might even make people uncomfortable, but it is not secret. Secrecy is not a hallmark of the Gospel. When you read what the disciples preached you don’t see any references to the mormon temple worship, nor is there a hint that something more is needed. It is the Good News, accompanied by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit that makes disciples, not mystic secret rituals in a temple. Christ died publicly, on a cross reserved for criminals, and when He rose again He appeared in public to many people. His teachings were spread far and wide, and none of those teachings had anything to do with secret temple rituals. The Gospel is the plain news that sinners, justly condemned by their sins, can receive forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ by faith in Him alone. That’s it. Nothing more complicated or secretive than that.

There is plenty that is secret going on within the white walls of the mormon temples around the world, and it may be sacred to mormons, but it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What goes on in the temple?

This is the controversial video from the HBO show "Big Love" and while it is a bit off, it captures the utter creepiness of what went on in the temple. What this and you will see why the mormon church is so adamant about keeping the temple ceremony under wraps.

Embarrassing Mormon Temple Ceremony as Shown by HBO

In the spirit of equal time, watch the response from the mormon church, explaining why they build temples

(HT: Mormon Coffee)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hopping down the bunny trail…

Whenever the topic rolls around to evangelizing mormons or discussions of mormon theology, it seems almost inevitable that the conversation veers off into all manner of ancillary and minor stuff. Read a couple of days into a thread on Mormon Coffee and almost invariably the conversation veers into a number of different, more or less unrelated, topics. The moderators try their best to keep the conversation on topic, and have been pretty strict about it, but in spite of their best efforts the topics often wander. But all of the issues that people get distracted by: polygamy, horses in the Book of Mormon, blood atonement, etc. pale when compared to “the big issue” with mormonism.

The big issue with mormonism is idolatry.

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20: 1-6)

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Exodus 32: 1-6

What is interesting is that Aaron and the Israelites didn’t completely make up a god out of thin air. They even say that this golden calf is the god who brought them out of Egypt, thus tying their false idolatrous god into the God of the Bible who redeemed His people out of bondage. The best lies are the ones tinged with truth.

Mormonism, started by Joseph Smith and sustained by his successors throughout the last century and a half, created and worships a god of his own understanding. He clearly was a man who, despite his rudimentary education, had a keen intellect and an incredible imagination. Despite that and a typical religious upbringing in frontier America, he lived in a time of religious upheaval and because of that upheaval confusion ran rampant in religious circles. Because of that uncertainty, Smith decided that rather than study deeper into the Bible to figure out who God was, it was far easier to create a new god of his own imagination.

The god that Smith created and that is worshipped even today in thousands of mormon churches and hundreds of mormon temples is a god that bears very little resemblance to the God of the Bible. Where the God of the Bible is infinite, eternal and unique, the god of Smith’s imagination is finite, created, subservient and but one of an untold multitude of gods. It certainly is not the first time that an idol has been created by man in place of God (i.e. the golden calf) but mormonism has taken the extra step of claiming fidelity to the Bible while at the same time completing reinventing who God is. That makes it difficult to speak with mormons, as many have pointed out before, because we are using the same words but meaning something completely different.

If you want to witness to mormons, you first need to study up on who God is. We have a hard time, in my humble opinion, witnessing to people of other faiths, cults and aberrant religions because we don’t have any idea what we believe. We don’t know what the Bible teaches, who God has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures and so when we are faced by someone with a radically false view of God, we know something is wrong, we just don’t know what it is. God’s people need to get back into God’s Word so we can talk to people who are lost, whether muslims, mormons or atheists, and declare to them the God who has revealed Himself. Otherwise we will just be arguing about minor issues that don’t matter in the long term, because if you don’t know God through His Word that has revealed His Son, you are lost and no amount of clever argumentation will change that. A good resource, and a free one, is an online book by Paul Washer The One True God. That is a great study resource to complement your reading of the Word.

God is hard to comprehend, and frankly I don’t want a God that I can comprehend too completely. But that does not excuse us from creating a god in our own image, whether we are doing so intentionally or out of ignorance of who He has revealed Himself to be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buggy Whip Restoration

Imagine this scene if you can. Everyone knows that General Motors is in big trouble. They are desperate for cash and to revitalize their business. So the CEO Rick Wagoner announces they are bringing in a management guru who is going to teach them how to transform their business model. The man walks in and introduces himself as John Yoder, and he kind of sticks out in the room full of tailored business suits because he is wearing Amish homespun overalls, a straw hat and a plain shirt. Mr. Yoder addresses the board of directors and declares that their problems are over. The solution to the domestic automotive industry is simple: go back to manufacturing buggy whips! The problems in the auto industry prove that cars were just a bad idea from the get go, so out with the internal combustion engine and in with horse and buggy. What’s old is new again!

This is kind of a crude analogy of the premise behind mormonism but I think it makes the point. Joseph Smith and his followers promised to restore the church, the New Testament church reflecting the New Covenant in the blood of Christ, by returning to Old Testament, Old Covenant types and shadows. You know what’ll fix the church? Temples. Yeah, and prophets! Throw in some priests! That’s the ticket! That is an undoing of the Gospel and a return to the untenable system of works and obedience righteousness that mankind failed to keep. Mormon leaders say this stuff with a straight face and never get challenged from within except by a few dissidents who are in peril of excommunication because of their questioning of the “prophet”. There are plenty of Biblical references sprinkled throughout mormon doctrine but there is no semblance of the New Testament church, the ascension of Christ as prophet, priest & king, of justification by faith, of propitiation for sins at the cross. Mormonism cannot appeal to the New Testament for its source of theology. It cannot appeal to the New Testament ecclesiology to affirm its hierarchical, authoritarian human “priesthood” driven organization. It cannot even appeal to the New Testament to speak to the nature of God the Father, of His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ or the lostness of sinful man.

All that is left is a polytheistic paganism couched in Biblical terminology. Buggy whips will not save General Motors and a return to the Old Covenant will not reform the very real problems in the church.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Political free speech is un-American?

Tom Hanks is one of America's most beloved actors and directors. He has always struck me as someone apolitical, you just never heard him making inane political comments as so many other Hollywood types feel inclined and empowered to do because they have become rich and famous pretending to be someone else.

But apparently he thinks that only certain free speech is acceptable and by his statements shows himself to be just another one of Hollywood's self-declared cultural prophets. Mr. Hanks recently expressed his opinion of the mormon church and California's Proposition 8 at the premier of Big Love, his show about a polygamous family in Utah.

Tom Hanks, an Executive Producer for HBO’s controversial polygamist series “Big Love,” made his feelings toward the Mormon Church’s involvement in California's Prop 8 (which prohibits gay marriage) very clear at the show’s premiere party on Wednesday night.

“The truth is this takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. “There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process.”

Apparently the "constitutional process" doesn't mean that the people should be able to make their will law, but instead means that the courts can feel free and be encouraged to overturn the will of the people, declaring constitutional amendments to be unconstitutional. As I have mentioned before and what should be clear from my writings is that theologically I have no allegiance with mormonism, nor do I consider them suitable allies in any sort of cultural crusades. Mormons, members of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" are a lost people group nor different than Muslims or Hindus. "Enemy of my enemy is my friend" doesn't work with the Gospel. We can have no fellowship nor friendship with enemies of the Gospel.

Having said that, the idea that mormons using their own resources to stand up for a cause that they believe strongly in qualifies as "un-American" demonstrates the opinion of someone who is obscenely ignorant. The right to free speech and free religious expression is foundational to our republic. I think the Founding Fathers might have had a comment or two about that...

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

So where do we see that mormons do not have the right, individually or collectively, to express their political will? Where is it un-American? Mr. Hanks has a disturbing and quite dangerous idea of what American Constitutional government is founded upon. His sort of freedom is the same sort of freedom we saw in every totalitarian government that has ever existed. Certain ideas are approved by the elites, and other ideas are considered dangerous and deserving of being suppressed. What he is counting on, the California Supreme Court overturning the will of the people, is an intrusion in the democratic process that is unprecedented.

Bill McKeever from the Mormonism Research Ministry is quoted in the Fox News article and I affirm what he says:

Bill McKeever, a rep for the Mormonism Research Ministry, added, “Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn’t vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn’t ‘like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.’ Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks’ comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion.”

Our differences with mormons does not mean that they do not have the same rights as any other Americans, and as a religious group they have even greater protections under our system of government. We should witness to mormons with the Gospel of Jesus Christ but we should also defend their right to free speech as vociferously as we would any other Americans.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Word of "Wisdom" my foot!

Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer's: study

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.

"Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life," said lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study, which was also conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease this month, was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over more than two decades.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Trinity

I kind of fell away from doing this series of responses because I didn’t have time, we haven’t been as focused on mormonism since the missionaries haven’t been over and the individual who posted the initial comment has disappeared (seriously, I wish I had a buck for every bold mormon apologist who posts something to set me straight and then disappears when I call them on it). But I said I was going to do a full response, so by golly I am! The next point had to do with the Trinity, this is a lengthy quote but I need to post the whole thing to be fair. You will not that we find very minimal citation for some pretty strongly declared statements (I love the appeal to agnostic Bart Ehrman!).

The Trinity:

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed’s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one." Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

Mormonism is very appealing to cultural Christians, people who think they are Christians because of church attendance and because they try to behave in a moral way. They have a rudimentary knowledge of some churchy terms and some of the stories, but their knowledge is shallow and because they are not regenerate believers they never seek to dig into the Word and they surely are not being taught the whole counsel of God in most churches. The trinity is an area where many nominal Christians and culturally conditioned church going unbelievers are vulnerable precisely because it is a heady concept and one that receives so little attention in the church. I suspect that is because a lot of preachers don’t really understand it (which is somewhat understandable) and have never taken the time to really work through it (which is not acceptable).

Mormonism is seductive because it takes some of the great mysteries of God and redefines them into more easily accessible doctrines. Sure they are contrary to Scripture, but they are easy to understand, so go for it! Kind of like the Golden Calf, it is easier for a sinful mind to worship something tangible than to worship the great I AM that you can’t see. The Trinity is a prime example of that because it is a doctrine that gets right to the heart of who God is, His very nature. Obviously anytime a mortal, fallible, sinful human tries to wrap his mind around the infinite, holy, self-existent God of the Bible, he is going to fall woefully short but that doesn’t give us a free pass to create gods in our own image. Unfortunately, the fact that the nature of the Triune God is so hard to grasp in many ways makes it a prime target for heresy, from Arianism to Mormonism to modern day modalism.

The Trinity is not something that is specifically spelled out in the Bible, that much is true. In other words, there is not a verse that gives a dictionary definition or says: There is one God, eternally existing in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, it is also in no way a result of Greek philosophy, something made up in a church council or the other drivel people cut and paste as a “refutation” of the doctrine of the Triune God. It is a doctrine that is clear when you look at the totality of the Biblical witness, something intertwined in the story line of redemption recorded in the Bible, but like many of the other great truths of the Bible it requires you to read and study and pray. In other words, put in a little effort!

Christ exemplifies the attributes that are unique to God and since the Bible is equally clear that there is but one God, we have a quandary. Either Jesus is not God, or there is more than one God or something else. That "something else" is where we find the Trinity. Jesus is clearly divine, uncreated, self-existing, immortal, in other words He is God in a way that only the God of the Bible can be. So it cannot be that He is not God. The Bible is also unequivocal that there is only one God. Not one God of this world or one God that we know about. In all creation, in all things that ever have or ever will exist, there is only one God. The most heinous of sins is idolatry and worship of other, false gods. So it cannot be that there is more than one God. What then? We are left with Christ, who has all of the attributes of God, who declares Himself to be God and is worshipped by the apostles as God. We also have the Father and the Spirit, who are personal, have all of the attributes of God and are distinct from Christ and from each other. So what does this tell us? It tells us that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. That is the only explanation that makes any sense at all. Lots of things are declared in the Bible that are hard to figure out. How can a sinner be made right with a infinitely holy and just God by the death of one Man? It just is and the fact that it is a tough concept is no reason to feel free to rewrite Scripture and reject what the Word says to make a tough concept easier for us to understand.

That Jesus Christ is God even as He is also man (the hypostatic union) is evident in the pages of Holy Writ. I am not going to try to replicate the volumes of work done by scholars who are better read than I and have done a much better job explaining the Trinity (see additional resources at the bottom of this post), but there are a few basic, fundamental points that show unequivocally that the doctrine of the Trinity is found clearly in the Bible. It is complicated and can be hard to wrap your mind around, but all of the great truths of God are taxing on the limited, selfish and sinful minds of mere mortal humans.

Jesus declares Himself to be divine

Jesus disciples and the NT writers recognized His unique and divine nature

Jesus was worshipped as God and accepted that worship

Jesus is uncreated and eternal, and shares the attributes of God

Pointing out that Jesus interacted in a personal way with the other members of the Trinity does not refute the Trinity, it supports it!

As I said, I don’t want to reinvent the apologetic wheel on the Trinity, so check these resources out for more clarification and deeper explanations.

Additional Resources:

The Forgotten Trinity, James White

The Trinity, CARM


A Brief Definition of the Trinity, Alpha and Omega

Saturday, January 10, 2009

33,000 Protestant Denominations?

Interesting video from James White. A lot of groups who claim that their organization is the "one, true church" organization throw out the "Protestantism has splintered in 33,000 denominations" claim and then suggest that "That is not what Jesus wanted". The implication of course is that unity in Christ must equal conformity to a church organization. Dr. White is specifically dealing with Roman Catholicism here, but it also applies to mormonism and other, smaller groups claiming the mantle of "one, true Church".

It is hardly preferable to have one, authoritarian unBiblical organization with heretical practice and doctrines in place of a bunch of smaller groups that at least get the Gospel right (in some cases) and need work on their ecclesiology. Replacing some minor errors with a bunch of huge ones is not an improvement! Whenever someone starts off with a defense of their organization as being the only true organization, that should be a warning to you that some is awry!

I would say that those Dr. White refutes in this video are correct in one respect. I don't think that the various and sundry competing Protestant denominational organizations are what Christ instituted or the New Testament shows us by example. But until we shed our "my organization is better than you organization" mantra, we will have a hard time seeing the Church as it should be: a simple gathering of Christians, whatever the location, who fellowship, pray, break bread and teach one another.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Great Video!

This is a great little video by James White. Intro music is a little hokey, but otherwise good stuff on the core question: Is mormonism Christian?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Piper, the Pope and the Prophet

Very interesting post on Mormon Coffee comparing the authoritative differences between Protestant Christianity, Catholicism and mormonism. The post, What if Thomas Monson, Pope Benedict XVI, and John Piper began teaching that the practice of homosexuality was morally praiseworthy? , is interesting and really shows the flaws in placing a human authority over the Bible. In the post, Aaron uses the example of homosexuality. If John Piper suddenly started teaching that homosexuality was OK, Christians including Aaron and I who love Piper's ministry, would call him out for teaching something that was not in accord with God's Word. But if Thomas Monson started teaching that, what would mormons be able to do about it? There isn't a recall vote for prophet that I am aware of. They would either have to grit their teeth and go along with it or recognize Monson as the false teacher he is. The third option would be to devolve into what much of Catholicism has, where people claim to be adherents and yet feel free to ignore what the Pope says.

Stray from the authority of the Word, place a human between you and Christ and all manner of mischief follows! The comment string alone should be worth the price of admission!