Mormons as Christians; Christians as Mormons

In the nineteenth sixties and seventies, an “anti-cult” movement emerged in America, assailing religious movements like Krishna Consciousness and the Children of God and Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple with the word “cult.”  The anti-cult movement was secular, and as such attacked these movements in secular language: it popularized concepts like ‘brainwashing’ and ‘deprogramming,’ warned that such religious movements were not really religious but rather elaborate means of self-gratification erected by charismatic leaders who wanted to exploit the young, and generally made the word ‘cult’ a symbol of a dangerous, suspect, clannish, and authoritarian pseudo-religions.

Around the same time, the “counter-cult” movement arose around the charismatic Baptist minister Walter Martin, who in the 1960s founded the “Christian Research Institute” and published the runaway bestseller (as far as these things go) Kingdom of the Cults.  Distinct from the anti-cult movement, the counter-cult advocates defined ‘cult’ in strictly theological ways.  Martin argued that a cult was “a group of people gathered around a specific person’s interpretation of the Bible,” rather than, he assumed, what the Bible actually taught.  “Cults have capitalized upon the failure of the Christan Church to understand their teachings,” he explained. “There is considerable truth, all of which, it might be added, is drawn from Biblical sources, but so diluted with human error as to be more deadly than complete falsehood.” [Kingdom of the Cults, 1965, 11, 17].  For Martin cults were more dangerous for theological reasons than for secular reasons – and, again, were not really religions at all, but parodies of true faith.  Into the category he placed the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Spiritualism, and, of course, Mormonism.  Doggedly, doggedly, Martin would comb the authoritative writings for each such movement and find ways in which it contradicted the plain and self-evident reading of the Bible (as, of course, it seemed to Martin himself, who just happened to be an evangelical Baptist minister, which, as far as he saw it, allowed him to read the Bible with clarity others lacked).

Of course, the lines between these two movements are more blurry than it might seem.  “Cult” as it is commonly used today seems to be a conflation of the two definitions – a religion that makes one uncomfortable for theological, sociological, or cultural reasons.  Martin could be generous toward the cults at times, affirming their sincerity, but also borrowed language from the anti-cult movement to warn of exploitation and totalitarianism.  Likewise, anti-cultists found Martin’s many works useful to demonstrate that the new religious movements they assailed had no place in the community of ‘real’ religions and instead were heretical inventions that did not deserve the respect normally accorded in America to true belief.  Each movement informed the other, and strategies of delegitimization swapped back and forth.

Many of these assailed new religious movements developed what we might call their own counter-counter-cult movements in response to particular mobilizations of the counter-cult.  In 1953 an evangelical named John L. Smith opened the doors of the “Utah Ministries” in Salt Lake City, and began a career of full time missionary work among the Latter-day Saints.  He has been followed in quick succession by organizations like the Tanners’ Utah Lighthouse Ministry and the interesting duo of Saints Alive in Jesus, and Ex-Mormons for Jesus.  As the sociologist Douglas Cowan points out, while the anti-cult seeks only ‘exit’ the counter-cult wants ‘migration’ – there is, according to Walter Martin, one true way to read the Bible, and it is not enough that a cult concede its way is wrong; they must accept the true way.  Ex-Mormons for Jesus, as Sara Patterson has pointed out, serves as something of a mirror to Mormonism, with its own conversion narratives, weepy testimony meetings, and a firm conviction that the truth has been restored and must be spread.

Following these efforts, many  of these beleaguered “cults” have generated their own ministries which go toe-to-toe with the counter-cultists in their own language.  The work of organizations like FARMS and FAIR and other Mormon apologetic groups try to demonstrate that the Bible verses Martin cites don’t mean that; they mean this, and so on.  When Martin asks the question whether Mormons are Christian or a cult, he does so from the perspective of Christian unity, that the Bible teaches a single coherent faith; many Mormon apologists willingly enter that arena.  But others take a slightly different tack.  Many years ago the Mormon theologian and philosopher Truman Madsen published an article with the rather cheeky title “Are Christians Mormon?,” a title that the Mormon philosopher and theologian David Paulsen more recently adopted for an article of his own.  Ostensibly these articles are designed to demonstrate that many Christians share (usually as folk belief) some of the same beliefs that Mormons hold as central to their theology: eternal families, an open canon, and so on.   What is more interesting is a tack the two take which the patron of Mormon apologists, Hugh Nibley, more or less invented: they find parallels to Mormon belief existing on the fringes of Christianity since its beginning.  That is, while Martin assumes a single coherent Mormon faith, these apologists argue the opposite: that Christianity has always been diverse and multiple, and that orthodoxy is more or less an invention, and that Mormon beliefs are as much a heritage of the early church as are the creeds.

In one sense this seems to aid the Mormon cause, as a rather unique version of Christianity to begin with.  Certainly it seems more in line with contemporary academic scholarship on early Christianity.  But it also will likely demand that Mormons think through their own doctrine of restoration more closely: if, after all, they believe that their own church is the image of the one in the New Testament, what might the rising vision of diverse Christianity mean for that?

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The Liberal Soul, by Richard Davis
Review: “Selma”
“The Prophecy of This Book”
  • David Tiffany

    It’s not so much that Mormonism has a slightly different interpretation of the Bible, but that Mormonism marginalizes the Scriptures and introduces teachings that are in direct conflict with the Scriptures. A few examples:
    1. God the Father has a wife (among many) called God the Mother.
    2. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, having come about by God the Father and Mother having relations.
    3. God was once a sinner like us and had to be saved by His own God.
    4. That man can one day become a God and will have to save His own people.
    5. That God gave us a one way ticket here to the earth and we must earn our way back by obeying the commandments.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      David Tiffany aka downtown dave is a countercult minister in the mold of Walter Martin. I’m reminded of something published here at Patheos several months ago, recounting a story told by “Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary, “one of the elder statesmen of American evangelicalism.” According to the article, which I’ll quote, Mouw “told a story of attending a
      series of talks in the 1950s by Walter Martin, a famous counter-cult apologist. In the fourth lecture, Martin spoke of Mormonism. Mouw recalls:

      “‘We knew that there were a lot of Mormons there because they came and filled the first two rows…And Walter Martin did his very harsh attack on Mormonism. Later on he was to publish a book that’s been sort of a classic in the counter-cult movement called The Kingdom of the Cults. But he was rehearsing those things at the time in public speeches and he really went after Mormonism.

      “‘In the Q&A, a very articulate young Mormon man stood up, and they went back and forth quite a bit. The Mormon was insisting that Walter Martin misunderstood Mormonism on the atonement of Christ and Walter Martin simply would not give in. And they got almost into a shouting match and at a certain point the young man, with tears flowing down his face because Martin had been pretty rough on him, said, “I don’t care what you say, Dr. Martin. I believe that my sins have been forgiven by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on Calvary and nothing that you can say can change that conviction.” And Martin turned to the audience and said, “See how they lie?”’”

      • David Tiffany

        You say that I’m a countercult minister. I would disagree. Perhaps a counter deception minister, using the Bible as my source. You see, God has given us the Bible as the Standard by which we (you, I, and everyone else) can grade everything we read and hear. When we are introduced to a doctrine or teaching that is in complete contradiction to the Bible, it is always the Bible that stands. As I’ve done before, I will list some of the Mormon doctrines that are not in addition to the Bible, but that completely contradict the Bible. Perhaps you can show me in the Bible where each one of these Mormon teachings can be validated.
        1. God was once a sinner like us and had to be saved by His own God.
        2. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, actual procreated children of God the Father and God the Mother.
        3. God had sex with Mary in order to produce Jesus.
        4. God has many wives.
        5. Jesus has many wives, including some he married here on earth.
        6. That it’s possible for anyone besides Jesus to hold the Melchizidek Priesthood (look at the qualifications in Hebrews chapter 7).
        If you have the time, I would appreciate your comment on each of these points, as I fail to find any Scripture in the Bible to back them up. As a matter of fact, each of these points are in direct contradiction to the Bible.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Very much in the vein of Walter Martin. Distorted, misleading and unfair where not, indeed, simply a lie. I could discuss each claim in detail, and have offered to do so on your own blog … where you don’t allow it. There are no contradictions between Mormon doctrine and the Bible. That was the whole point of the main article. You’d be willing to admit that – if you were willing to be fair and thoughtful. But we know from experience that you’re not, don’t we?

          • David Tiffany

            Maybe you could help your frient, Mortus, above. I’m surprised that the Mormon doctrines and teachings that I listed above can be 100% validated with the Bible. I would like to see that. You can also start with how the Bible shows that God the Father went through a similar process as Jesus to get where He is. It shouldn’t be too difficult with both of you working on it. I would much rather see your proof than your insults.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Look, neither Mortus nor I are the one conducting himself offensively, so quit playing the victim. I’d answer your question if it were intended in good faith, but of course we both know it’s not. We know that with assurance because even when explanations are provided, you disregard them in subsequent comments. Even now, you demand that I justify assertions that aren’t part of our faith. You want to CLAIM that they are – that’s what is known as the straw-man fallacy – and you are even pleased to dredge up the odd quotation that might suggest that your assertions could accurately represent our belief TO SOMEONE WHO DIDNT KNOW BETTER. As it is, we know that you’re being deliberately unfair and malicious, while justifying your behavior in faux Christian terms. But Christ is not in the bearing of false witness. That’s not an insult; it’s just a doctrinal truth.

            If you were sincerely interested in learning how we relate our beliefs to the Scriptures – while recognizing that God would not stop, and has not stopped, revealing His truth to His children – you would first try to demonstrate that you have read and understood what I and others have written to you before. But that is what you utterly refuse to do. Pathetic, really.

          • David Tiffany

            If you can’t answer my question because you believe I’m not acting in good faith, why don’t you answer the question on behalf of the truth. If it can be proven in the Bible that God the Father went through the same process as Jesus did to get where He is, I would like to see where that is in the Bible.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            If you were sincerely interested in learning how we relate our beliefs to the Scriptures – while recognizing that God would not stop, and has not stopped, revealing His truth to His children – you would first try to demonstrate that you have read and understood what I and others have written to you before. But that is what you utterly refuse to do.

            I don’t particularly think that God the Father “went though the same process as Jesus did.” So you’re cross-examining me from a false premise. Which is why I don’t particularly like a “Q&A” format for discussion. It is too much like your idea of courtroom cross-examination, and I’m actively disinterested in playing along. If you want to engage me in discussion, it would be better to do that on your own blog (rather than further burdening this page). But of course you won’t allow that – I wonder why? I would also prefer that you say what you really, sincerely think, and try to demonstrate fairness and respect for accuracy when you do so. That latter part you utterly refuse to do. While latter-day revelation tells us more about the nature of God and the purposes of our existence and creation than were fully revealed in the Bible, that does not mean that everything is perfectly well known. Articles of Faith, v. 9. It also does not mean that there is anything in latter-day revelation that is contrary to the Bible, which you should understand was the original point.

            I’m done with you. Your pattern is to say whatever you want, fair or not, accurate or not. You then refuse to listen to or account for anything different anyone tells you at any time. It is bearing false witness, and it is a sin.

          • David Tiffany

            “God himself was once as we are now, and is
            an exalted man. . . . If the veil were rent today, . . .
            if you were to see him today, you would see him
            like a man in form—like yourselves in all the
            person, image, and very form as a man. . . .
            “. . . It is the first principle of the Gospel to
            know for a certainty the Character of God, and to
            know that we may converse with him as one man
            converses with another, and that he was once a
            man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of
            us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ
            himself did; and I will show it from the Bible”
            (Smith, Teachings, 345–46).
            Mortus says: “It is actually quite possible to show, using the Bible, that the Father became what he is through a process similar to what Christ experienced.”
            You say, “I’d answer your question if it were intended in good faith, but of course we both know it’s not.”
            We have discussed and debated many issues on this article and on others. My point has been that Mormonism teaches what is contrary to the Bible. The point of you and others have been that Mormon teaching does not contradict the Bible. In a public debate, both sides have the responsibility to make the case for their claim. Here is a good place to do so. You know that in a public debate, if you make a claim and refuse to back it up with fact, you lose the respect of the audience. Now, I say you cannot prove with the Bible that God the Father went through a similar process as Jesus to get where He is. You, and the others listed above say that you can. Prove your case.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            If you were sincerely interested in learning how we relate our beliefs to the Scriptures – while recognizing that God would not stop, and has not stopped, revealing His truth to His children – you would first try to demonstrate that you have read and understood what I and others have written to you before. But that is what you utterly refuse to do.

            The refusal to engage our actual beliefs continues. Hence, you do not act in good faith. I notice that you don’t even try to deny it. And yet you demand that I respond to your mischievously-worded questions.

            Just on that point – mischievously-worded questions, that is – I notice that you re-framed your question, without admitting that you have done so. Your first demand was to insist that I prove from the Bible that God the Father “went though the same process as Jesus did.” Now, you change “same” to be “similar,” which is a similar question, but not the same one. (There’s a little verbal humor there if you’ll notice.) I take it you admit that your first version was a straw-man argument; that is, you admit that your first question asked me to support a claim that no one actually made. That was not good faith. That was not fairness. That was the sophistry of a deceiver. That was false witness.

            Now, you quote another commenter as saying, “It is actually quite possible to show, using the Bible, that the Father became what he is through a process similar to what Christ experienced.” Notice that is nothing that I said, so your insistence that I have a “responsibility” with respect to that remark is untrue. I don’t. If you want “Mortus” to clarify it, that’s fine, but I’m not him and I am not speaking for him.

            But you also quote Joseph Smith’s King Follett Sermon. (The link you posted doesn’t seem to work, but naturally I recognize the sermon.) That Sermon, while historically important, isn’t canonical and I am not obligated to treat every line of it as scripture. That doesn’t mean that I reject any part of it, but only that I see it as testing the outer boundaries of what has been revealed about the nature of God, the Godhead and the history of intelligent spirits. Prophets have sometimes spoken speculatively, as they themselves have recognized, and there is more to the process of canonizing doctrine that the idea that someone said something once.

            This is an error – a deliberate and therefore a grievous error – that you and yours make all the time. You WANT to be able to grab a quotation (or a second-hand record) of what someone reportedly said at some time in history, and introduce the quotation with the words, “Mormons believe that ….” That is fundamentally dishonest because it conflates the belief or understanding of the speaker, who can even be a prophet or apostle but who is never claimed to be infallible, with well-accepted or canonical doctrine. The two are not the same . . . but you will never, ever acknowledge that they are not. Because of your dishonesty. Because of your desire to deceive. Because of your intention to bear false witness.

            Another error you make – and that you make deliberately and therefore deceptively – is to conflate non-contradiction with proof. The distinction is pointed out to you, time and time again, but you never, ever acknowledge or refer to it. Now, I will admit – you see, I try to be fair even though you will never yourself try to do so … I will admit that both Joseph Smith (in the KF Sermon) and Mortus (in his or her comment) referred to proof from the Bible regarding the histories of the Father and the Son. But there is still a difference between the two concepts, and one which is important to my views. (Looky there! I’m actually allowed to think independently. Imagine that.) I confess that I am not sure what Joseph meant by proof, nor am I sure what Mortus meant … you’d have to ask them. As I read the KF Sermon, I think I can maybe guess at what Joseph meant, but on the other hand, I doubt that I am competent enough in terms of historical knowledge to express an opinion. (I think he meant that we read in John 5:26 that, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” So, we know that the “life” of the Son comes from the Father.) My only claim is that although some spiritual truths have awaited latter-day revelation to be fully expressed (consistent with the idea that we receive knowledge from God “precept upon precept, line upon line;” Isa. 28:10; see Eph. 4:11-14) and that commandments can change from dispensation to dispensation, ALL of God’s truth can be read together to form a consistent whole. So that there is no contradiction between the Bible and Mormon doctrine, as they are both properly understood.

            So, anyway, I am not sure what Joseph meant, but I’m not required or expected to know. I do know, of course, from the Bible as well as latter-day revelation that the Father and the Son, at the very least, existed prior to Creation. See Gen. 1:26. We know from the same verse that we were made in their image and likeness.

            Those terms (likeness and image) are used in the Bible to describe a physical relationship. Gen. 5:3. God’s likeness is “as the appearance of a man.” Ezek. 1:26. The Son of God, Jesus, is “the express image” of His Father. Heb.1:3. James reaffirmed that we “are made after the similitude of God.” James 3:9. Jacob declared, “I have seen God face to face.” Gen. 32:30. John described seeing the eyes and head of the Lord. Rev. 19:12, 15. Isaiah also saw the Lord “sitting upon a throne.” Isaiah 6:1. In Exodus 24:9,10, we read, “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” None of these images or comparison of image (likeness) would be possible if God were incorporeal. Moreover, Stephen saw God the Father, and saw Jesus on His right hand. Acts 7:55.

            What’s the relevance? Well, it means that we know from the Bible that from the beginning the Father and the Son have not been merely amorphous Presences (or a single amorphous Presence), as is often misconceived, but have a likeness or an appearance after which we have been created. (Just to preempt an anticipated argument, the verse in John 4 which says “God is Spirit” could equally be translated, and sometimes is translated, as “God is a Spirit,” since Greek lacks an indefinite article.)

            We also know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 3:16) and has been from before the creation of the world (John 1:1-2). It seems to me that conventional Christian theology struggles with Christ’s son-ship. Mormons take the Bible at its word; you don’t. You will go to great lengths to avoid acknowledging that the Son of God is, literally, the son of God. Still, that’s what the Bible says. The Bible also says that “He that believeth on me [Christ], the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12. This implies a process. The Bible also tell us that Jesus is “the express image” of His Father. Heb. 1:3. I don’t know whether ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, but there is certainly something about similarity of form which implies similarity of origin. (I can also believe, and do, that God has always existed and that He does not change without having to believe that He is static or somehow unable to act, create or increase in glory.) The Bible also refers to us, children of God (Ps. 82:6; Matt. 5:48; Acts 17:28-29; Rom.8:16-17; Heb. 12:9), as capable of becoming joint heirs with Christ. Rom. 8:17; see also, 1 Cor. 2:9.

            Paul’s expression of “heirship” in this context is important in answering your question. Romans 8 implies that Christ receives “glorif[ication]” from His Father, and of course that we may do so too. See also, John 17:20-24.

            I am mindful that all this sounds strange in the ears of someone who has ever been exposed to anything but conventional Christian theology. But that’s just the point – much of conventional Christian theology simply glosses over parts of the Bible that don’t fit the the oversimplifications of that theology. And I am not really concerned with “proving” any of this; it is precisely the fact that the Bible has left some questions and issues open for discussion that underscores the need for subsequent explanation and revelation. Eph. 4:11-14.

            In summary, none of us, Mormons or otherwise, knows or claims to know very much about how the Father became the Father or how the Son became the Son. Nor are we required to know. We are only required to believe. John 20:31. We only know that They existed from before the beginning, that is, from before the Creation of the world. We know that the Creation has a purpose – and Mormonism does a better job of explaining that purpose than anything I have yet encountered. But if Christ is His Father’s “heir” in glory (Rom. 8) we can be reasonably sure, from the Bible, that He follows His Father’s path.

            While latter-day revelation tells us more about the nature of God and the purposes of our existence and creation than were fully revealed in the Bible, that does not mean that everything is perfectly well known. It also does not mean that there is anything in latter-day revelation that is contrary to the Bible, which you should understand was the original point.

            I really do wish to conclude with you now. I’m confident that this fulfills any responsibility I could possibly have to explain anything to you. And, on the other hand, I know from experience that you don’t listen and you don’t care what I present … you only want to use dishonest means of attack. It is the Walter Martin method and it really is as dishonest and un-Christian as anything I have ever encountered from a self-proclaimed disciple of Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. You ought to repent.

          • David Tiffany

            I’ll be waiting for the proof in the Bible that God went through a similar process as Jesus to get where He is.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Matt. 13:13; Mark 4:12. Even without parables.

        • Mortus

          Wrong on so many points.
          1) All Christians believe that God became man. What in the world do you think the Incarnation is all about? That God became man does not imply in any way that He became a sinner.

          2) As to your upset about sex in Heaven (why do Protestants get the willies about that possibility?), Dialogue (a journal written by Mormons) had an entire issue on the subject some years ago, and came up ambivalent as a commentor pointed out in the next issue.

          We do believe that Christ and Satan are brothers. You on the other hand believe that God created a defective angel who fell and now leads myriads into Hell and eternal punishment. I am not sure that is an improvement over what we believe.

          3) That is by no means Mormon doctrine, although some have speculated on it. What we believe is what Luke said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” [1:35]

          4) Possible, although the one written reference to a mother in Heaven current among Mormons is in the singular (the hymn “O My Father”).

          5) Pure speculation. Many Christians have also mooted about the possibility that Christ was married. I once brought up the subject with an Orthodox Jew, who said, of course the Messiah would marry–he would keep all of God’s commandments.

          6) The first four verses of Hebrews 7 support Mormon doctrine very nicely, and I fail to see anything that would support that idea that Christ was the only one to hold the Melchizedek priesthood.

          Indeed, Paul says that Melchizedek was “made like unto the Son of God” and “abideth a priest continually.” That is exactly the promise made to all Melchizedek priestholders today.

          The current Protestant view of man’s ultimate destiny is a shrunken remnant of what Christians were once taught. You should look up the wiki article on theosis sometime to get a picture of what you’re missing. A short quote from Martin Luther: “God becomes man, in order that man should become God. . . . The Logos puts on our form and figure and image and likeness, in order that he might clothe us with His image, form, and likeness.” (cited in “Luther and Theosis” Concordia Theological Quarterly 64:3)

          I’ll also quote you section 460 of the current Catholic catechism:
          The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only–begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

          Protestants such as yourself are in the decided minority among Christians in believing that men will not become gods.

          So, to get back to your point. The Melchizedek priesthood is, in our doctrine, the holy order after the Son of God. Those who hold that priesthood are called to imitate Christ’s life and bring, paraphrasing Paul in Hebrews 7, peace and righteousness to the earth through sharing the Gospel and living its principles.

          You have two problems. You are, as several others have pointed out, a liar; and second, you have a twisted, limited view of Christ’s work that few other Christians over the last 2,000 years would recognize as true Christianity.

          • David Tiffany

            But I was talking about something other than the Incarnation, as your own teachings verify:
            “God himself was once as we are now, and is
            an exalted man. . . . If the veil were rent today, . . .
            if you were to see him today, you would see him
            like a man in form—like yourselves in all the
            person, image, and very form as a man. . . .
            “. . . It is the first principle of the Gospel to
            know for a certainty the Character of God, and to
            know that we may converse with him as one man
            converses with another, and that he was once a
            man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of
            us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ
            himself did; and I will show it from the Bible”
            (Smith, Teachings, 345–46).

            “God himself was once as we are now, and is
            an exalted man. . . . If the veil were rent today, . . .
            if you were to see him today, you would see him
            like a man in form—like yourselves in all the
            person, image, and very form as a man. . . .
            “. . . It is the first principle of the Gospel to
            know for a certainty the Character of God, and to
            know that we may converse with him as one man
            converses with another, and that he was once a
            man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of
            us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ
            himself did; and I will show it from the Bible”
            (Smith, Teachings, 345–46).
   that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose
            step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until
            He has arrived at the point where He now is. “Is this really possible?” Why, my dear friends, how would you
            like to be governed by a ruler who had not been through all the vicissitudes of life that are common to
            mortals? If he had not suffered, how could he sympathise with the distress of others? If he himself had not
            endured the same, how could he sympathise and be touched with the feelings of our infirmities? He could not,
            unless he himself had passed through the same ordeal, and overcome step by step. If this is the case, it
            accounts for the reason why we do not see Him − He is too pure a being to show himself to the eyes of
            mortals; He has overcome, and goes no more out, but He is the temple of my God, and is a pillar there.JD 1:124, Orson Hyde, October 6, 1853
            As LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote, “The Father is a glorified, perfected resurrected, exalted man who worked out his own salvation by obedience to the same laws he has given to us so that we may do the same” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg. 64). Notice the word “resurrected” and the phrase, “worked out his salvation.” Only those who die can be resurrected, and only those who are lost need salvation. Unless McConkie is leading his readers astray, Mormons must admit that their God was a sinner for the Bible teaches that death is the wage of sin (Romans 6:23).
            I just touched on one point here. I can’t help but wonder if:
            1. You are unaware of Mormon teachings or 2. You cover them up.

            It encourages me that the information I can find on the internet is also available to others who may want to investigate your claims.

            And for all of those who want to know the truth, remember that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. If someone is teaching that they have revelation from God, go to the Bible and see if what they teach contradicts what the Bible teaches. If it does, the Bible is always right.

            On some of the points I mentioned above, I asked that you would validate those Mormon teachings with the Bible. You weren’t able to do that. That is because Scripture does not validate them. And if Scripture, by contradiction, rejects those teachings, I also reject them. The Bible is the Standard God has given us by which we can grade everything we read and hear.

            So with that in mind, when you come across a Mormon doctrine of teaching that contradicts the Bible, which is authoritative: the Bible, or the Mormon doctrine of teaching?


          • Mortus

            If death is the wages of sin, then I suppose Protestants must also believe Christ is a sinner. If not, why would his Father be any more of a sinner if he once lived on an earth?

            It is actually quite possible to show, using the Bible, that the Father became what he is through a process similar to what Christ experienced.

            I spent a year once meeting regularly with an ordained Protestant minister. His purpose was to show me that the NT proves Mormonism false, but as the year progressed all he managed to do was convince me the Bible supports our doctrine 100%.

            The relationship started off a bit tense, but after awhile we became good friends, neither convincing the other, but both a bit suprised at the turns our conversations took. He was a sweet man, a true disciple of Christ.

            Your problem is that you think you have a sole license to interpret scripture, and yet you don’t even interpret it in way that makes you part of mainstream historical Christianity, as I pointed out in the matter of theosis above. Both Catholics and Orthodox Christians would consider you a heretic, which puts you about as far out of the mainstream of Christianity as you would put Mormonism.

            You have a sort of Rumpelstiltskin version of the Gospel–small, twisted, angry and deceptive.

          • David Tiffany

            I’m glad to hear that the Protestant Minister was able to convince you that the Bible supports Mormon doctrine 100%. Knowing that, I would again ask that you would validate the above Mormon doctrines and teachings with the Bible. You could start with showing in the Bible how God the Father went through a similar process that Jesus went through in order to get to where He is (you said it was possible to do so).

        • Darren

          “Perhaps a counter deception minister, using the Bible as my source. ”
          Oooooooo, now I got goose pimples of excitement all over me. Such enlightment!!!
          “1. God was once a sinner like us and had to be saved by His own God.
          2. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, actual procreated children of God the Father and God the Mother.
          3. God had sex with Mary in order to produce Jesus.
          4. God has many wives.
          5. Jesus has many wives, including some he married here on earth.
          6. That it’s possible for anyone besides Jesus to hold the Melchizidek Priesthood (look at the qualifications in Hebrews chapter 7).
          If you have the time, I would appreciate your comment on each of these points, as I fail to find any Scripture in the Bible to back them up. As a matter of fact, each of these points are in direct contradiction to the Bible.

          1) Mormons do not believe that God was a sinner, period. This is neither taught as doctrine nor as speculation.. “God became man so that man may become God” is not only Mormon but solidly Christian as well. It’s even part of your own orthodoxy. This, of course, refers to the Son and as for the Father, it is not official canon that He was a mortal at any point of “time”; only speculation. See for yourself and please let me know where it is taught, *in the LDS canon of doctrine* that the Father was once a mortal man.

          2) Jesus christ is the Son of God and therefore *a* son of God. So is Lucifer. The Bible most definitely leans towards that doctrine.
          3) Nowhere is it taught that “God had sex with Mary” to produce Jesus. It is not canon nor speculated. LDS Church leaders have placed emphasis on the fact that Jesus is the Son of the Father and the Father only; not the Holy Ghost. (Yes, Jesus is the “child” of the Holy Ghost but not the “Son”). Because this is a very mportant doctrine to the LDS, certain LDS leaders have taught that Jesus was produced by the Father by the same nature we are produced but what is absent is the mechanics of that production. To be “begotten” means that a part of one person/being is used to “create” (if you will) or “produce” another. That is how the LDS firmly believe that the God the Father was both the God and Father of Jesus Christ on earth and eternally.
          4) That is not taught as canon; only speculation.
          5) That is not taught as canon. Noone knows Jesus’ marital status for certain.
          6) LoL, didn’t Melchizidek ohld the Melchizidek Priesthood?
          You need not worry finding scriptural points on any of these points since none of your concerns are part of LDS faith or worship; only speculation.
          Stop bearing false witness against your neighbors. It’s not what Christians do.

          • David Tiffany

            But Mortus, above, says Mormons can prove in the Bible that God the Father had to go through the same process of Jesus in order to get where He is. I don’t believe the Bible does prove that out. So show me where.

          • Darren

            My position is that the Bible does not explicitly say that God the Father had to go through what Jesus went through to get to where He is. That is *my point*, don’t throw what somebody else said my way when I did not say it, nor when that person did not address me. *ALL* LDS doctrine from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the LDS temples all have the Father existing “in the beginning”. Nothing in there teaches He came from anywhere. All teachings which say He did, which I think have truth to them and for those who do not, that’s fine for it is not LDS canical doctrine, is but speculation.
            So, rest thine soul, David Tiffany. You need not be troubled by your list of what Mormons believe because they do not believe it. The sad part about this is the probability that you can be told this a thousand times and a thousand times you’ll repeat the same list of “what Mormons believe”.

          • Mortus


            Think of who you are for a minute. You’re a weird counter-culture guy who haunts articles written about Mormons trolling for attention. Despite the fact that thousands of intelligent people whom even you would consider Christians have and continue to debate almost every aspect of the Bible, you, a troll, know exactly what it means.

            You’re in the same class of people who know who killed JFK, who are certain the USG is keeping aliens in secret underground prisons, and are convinced that Satan is sleeping with somebody named Rosemary.

            Not even the majority of your fellow Christians take you seriously. First Things reviewed a book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind a few years ago, and concluded that the true scandal is that there is no Evangelical mind–something you endeavor to prove with every post.

            People like you are fun to tease occasionally with your odd made-up version of LDS theology, your self-righteousness and your ignorance of historical Christianity and Christian history, but don’t think for a moment that your trolling is gaining you any respect.

            One of the major tenets of Protestantism was that everyone would be able to approach and experience God directly in accordance with his own conscience and without the intervention of priests and rituals. Yet you have the temerity to expect every Mormon to justify his faith and testimony to you–a random internet troll? Are you some kind of delusional idiot?

            I have studied and prayed about the Gospel for more than fifty years, have learned about its truth through both the Spirit and experience. I’ve raised six children who have preached the Gospel of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism all over the world, children who would stand in front of anybody and any congregation anywhere and declare that they know Jesus Christ is their living savior and the son of God; and who are now raising children of their own who will someday bear that same witness.

            I suppose I will have to answer to God someday for what I’ve done, but if you think for an instant that I feel any obligation to some strange, lying, random internet troll, you are seriously out of touch with reality.

      • Mortus

        I attended a Walter Martin lecture in Monterey CA circa 1980. At the end he had a question and answer session and some woman stood up and said, You’ve gone on and on about how evil Mormonism is, but my boss is a Mormon. He’s a kind and loving man, and I don’t see how he could be evil.

        Martin’s reply was, well you see, they force each other to be that way.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Oh wow. Never give an inch, I guess.

    • laverl09

      Honesty is a Christian trait and I would suggest that for you to be honest you need to change your “one-way-ticket” non-truth about Mormon theology.
      You know as well as I do that “As in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22) is a firm belief in Mormonism. EVERYONE who has ever been born on this earth will be resurrected and allowed to live in a Kingdom of Glory (I Cor 15:40-44). In these verses Paul explains how each individual in these kingdoms will differ in glory as much as the difference of the brilliance of the sun, moon and stars.
      The level of “glory” of each “saved” individual then is determined by how much of the light of the Spirit each individual lets into his heart. And how do we do that–by keeping the commandments: one of which is honesty.

      • David Tiffany

        Mormon Aaronic Priesthood Manual Lesson 30 excerpt:
        “Scripture and discussion
        Have the young men read again Abraham 3:25.

        According to this scripture, why is earth life so important? (We are being tested to see if we will obey the Lord’s commandments.)

        If we obey the commandments, what will happen?
        Emphasize that this is the way we obtain our return ticket home to our Heavenly Father.”
        You say I was lying. How’s that?

        • Wacoan

          Dave, you are not ignorant of Mormon doctrine. Anybody who would take the time to get to lesson 30 of the Aaronic Priesthood Manual would have encountered 2 Nephi 25:33, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Nor are we alone among Christians in believing that effort is required to follow Jesus. As to how you are lying, a half truth is a lie.

          • David Tiffany

            Right. And the key to the scripture you quote above is, “after all we can do.” Doesn’t line up with the Bible.
            Romans 11:6
            New International Version (NIV)
            6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
            Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.”
            Galatians 3:10, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
            Did you catch that? Everything. If you put yourself under the Law and don’t do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law, you are under a curse.

          • Wacoan

            David, you again purposefully misinterpret Mormon doctrine, and, at least on this issue, its place in Christian debate. Quoting Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright, “‘Being saved’ and ‘doing good works’ sounds like a low-grade version of the classic Reformation stand-off between Luther and the other reformers on the one hand and the Roman Catholicism of the late mediaeval period on the other — and, of course, Luther and his followers saw this
            stand-off as the re-run of the battles Paul had with his opponents, particularly the so-called ‘Judaizers’ in Galatians.”

            We are not going to resolve a two thousand year-old unresolved theological debate other than to point out that many Christians including Mormons believe effort is important. James (2:20) wrote, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” Note that it is vain to reject the importance of work, not to deny it. Jesus said (John 14:15), “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He did not say, if ye love me, good would flow from you with no effort.

            Like many Christians, Mormons believe that works are a necessary condition for salvation, but not sufficient. Grace is necessary as well. Some Christians believe that grace is sufficient. The half truth, the l lie, is insinuating that Mormon’s fall outside Christian debate on the issue of grace and works. Did you catch that?

          • David Tiffany

            Paul’s response to the Judaizers in the letter he wrote to the believers in Galatia was not an unresolved debate. Paul was putting them in their place. He makes the case for faith apart from works. And the verse you quote in James has to do with James saying that if you claim to belong to Christ, works should follow.
            God has a lot to say in the Bible about “after all we can do.”

            Isaiah 64:6
            New International Version (NIV)
            6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
            and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
            we all shrivel up like a leaf,
            and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
            Romans 3:9-26
            New International Version (NIV)
            9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
            “There is no one righteous, not even one;
            11 there is no one who understands;
            there is no one who seeks God.
            12 All have turned away,
            they have together become worthless;
            there is no one who does good,
            not even one.”[a]
            13 “Their throats are open graves;
            their tongues practice deceit.”[b]
            “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[c]
            14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[d]
            15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
            16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
            17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[e]
            18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[f]
            19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
            Our righteous acts are as filty rags before God. We will not be justified by Him by observing the Law.
            Jesus does tell us that if we loved Him we would keep His commands. All of them. The Bible also tells us to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We’re not.
            But there is a righteousness that comes from God. This righteousness doesn’t come from us…our righteousness is as filthy rags. Romans 3:21-26,
            21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified (declared righteous) freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies (declares righteous) those who have faith in Jesus.
            So you are free to try to approach God through observing the law, though He says He will not justify you (declare you righteous).
            Me, I’ve asked and received from Him the free gift of righteousness that comes from Him by the finished work of Christ at the cross. Jesus died and paid the full penalty for my sins and credited His righteousness to my account. Romans 4:23-25,
            23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him (Abraham) alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (to declare us righteous).

          • Wacoan

            As I said, I am not going to engage in a theological debate. Take it up with N.T. Wright. That was not my quote, it was his and his vita is better than yours. I picked his quote because, as a scholar, he is authoritative. You did not challenge the thrust of his quote, that being saved and doing good works is an unresolved debate. He also comes closer to the Mormon position than you writing, “– so if we are indeed rescued from sin and death then it makes no sense whatever to say ‘well, I’m saved, so I won’t bother about good works’. We aren’t saved BY good works but we are saved FOR good works — for the rich, wise, mature human life which reflects God’s glory into the world.”

            You are still dodging the point. On salvation by grace, we are in the mainstream of Christian debate. Like many Christians, we believe that effort is necessary for salvation but not sufficient. We rely on Jesus’ atonement for salvation.

            Side bar. I agree with the Isaiah and Paul, I disagree with your interpretation of Isaiah and Paul. You did not end a two thousand year debate. Your comment focuses on “righteous acts,” words you chose, not me and you write as if it were the end of the debate. Jesus wrote about the righteous as well (Matthew 25 for starters).
            ” 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his aright hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
            35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
            36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
            37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
            38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
            39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
            40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

            My argument is not about works and grace but your attempt to selectively pick out a reference focusing on a single word, interpret it in a fashion that ignores other interpretations and pass it off as settled.

            You write, “Me, I’ve asked and received from Him the free gift of righteousness that comes from Him by the finished work of Christ at the cross. Jesus died and paid the full penalty for my sins and credited His righteousness to my account.” My conclusion is that prayer is work. Enos in the Book of Mormon did the same. Missions of Christians including me have as well. The question is then what. You misrepresented my religion.

          • David Tiffany

            Paul writes in Philippians 3:4b-9, “If anyone else think he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eigth day, of the people of Israel, or the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church, as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
            But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider the rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
            Paul makes it known in this passage that he is not relying at all on his own righteousness before God, but relying on the righteousness that comes from God.

          • Wacoan

            A short review is in order. Bowman wrote an article on the anti-cult and counter-cult movements and the LDS response.

            You (David) gave a counter-cult response that a knowledgeable Mormon would recognize as full of half truths and misrepresentations.

            Laver109 called you on point 5, that “we must earn our way back by obeying the commandments.”You responded by quoting Abraham 3:25 which reads, ” And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;”

            This of course is the half truth. Knowing that you understand something of Mormon doctrine and that repeated gross misrepresentation must be by design and I supported laver109′s conclusion. I quoted 2 Nephi 25:33, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” I pointed out that many Christians other than Mormons believe that works, effort, is important.

            You ignored the quote that clearly states that we are save by grace and the fact that Christianity diverges on the relationship between grace and works. Rather than honestly acknowledging that Mormons and other Christians that believe that works are important, you stressed three Pauline references that mention that workers are insufficient. I agree, but the inference is that they are bad and counter productive.

            I sighted N.T. Wright who notes that the debate about the relationship between works and grace is two thousand years old and that we would not resolve it. I also noted that Wright’s position was closer to the Mormon position than his. I quoted James that “faith without works is dead” and Jesus, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” My goal was not to end a two thousand year debate but to demonstrate that many Christians rationally believe in the importance of works.

            You tried to correct my interpretation of James using references from Isaiah and Paul that claim that we are all impure. I agree but this does not disprove the importance of works only that grace is necessary. You described his conversion. You did not try to dispute Jesus. We should keep his commandments. He also argues that.” That’s works. You again failed to acknowledge that Mormons fall within the traditional debate between Christians on faith and works.

            I responded that you were again failing to acknowledge that Mormon doctrines fall within the bounds of traditional Christian debate. I quoted Matthew 25, which stresses the importance of works, “”34 Then shall the King say unto them on his aright hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
            35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
            36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

            I was not attempting to end a two thousand year debate but to argue against selective interpretation.

            I pointed out that his conversion was similar to that of Enos, as well as my conversion or any other who has experience Christian conversion.

            You quoted Paul yet again with another verse stressing the importance of grace. While I quoted Jesus, you quoted Paul. The quotes by Jesus are fairly easy to interpret. There are a couple of problems with your argumentation. Paul should be used to support the gospel as taught by Jesus not to interpret Jesus. Jesus is the Master, not Paul. Second, a thousand quotes supporting a clause that all Christians accept, that we are saved by grace does not disprove a second, that works, our effort, no matter how imperfect, are necessary. Third, you use words such as works as if they have one interpretation when they may not. The books of the Bible were interpreted into English through many languages and the meaning of words sometimes change over time. Gay meant one thing fifty years ago, another ten years ago and yet another today. Finally, you intentionally misrepresent Mormon doctrine.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            You’ve discovered the David Tiffany pattern, that’s for sure. It’s sad to think how many hours he devotes each week to bearing false witness against his neighbor. Of couse he thinks he doesn’t have to be concerned about sin, because he thinks that’s what it means to be saved by grace.

          • Wacoan

            Thanks for the supportive comment and your comment linking to the patheos article. I found his response to your comment amusing. One has to admire the audacity of a sophist who claims to be a “counter deception minister.”

          • trytoseeitmyway

            I understand, although I don’t find him to be particularly admirable on any level. It’s shameful to skip past any kind of fair or respectful inter-faith dialog by misrepresenting the faith of others. I think they call it, “Lying for the Lord.”

          • Wacoan

            “Lying for the Lord” is a term I had not heard; it is something of an oxymoron.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Yes, of course. My tongue is in my cheek when I write that. If one visits “countercult” websites (which I don’t recommend – one comes away feeling slimed), one sees that several of them accuse Mormonism of expressly allowing falsity in defense of the faith, which they say Mormons call (in quotes), “Lying for the Lord.” In other words, they actually claim that the phrase – an oxymoron, as you say, and a particularly perverse one at that – is used approvingly within Mormon circles. Which it’s not. Since I know that the phrase isn’t used, and that there is no such concept, the deliberately false claim to the contrary is one of the things that disgusts me about these people. (See, e.g., the references to Walter Martin on this page.) So, in my comment, I was being ironic, but obscurely so, which I suppose I shouldn’t be (ironic or obscure). I’m pleased that your comment gives me a chance to explain.

          • Wacoan

            I have been posting comments for a month or two now and have run into people blind with hate, and people that just like to rile observant Mormons. David seems to be a third type, someone who profits from misrepresentation. I felt dirty commenting with David, but I felt the Church needed to be defended.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            I understand – that makes perfect sense. Your comments have been appreciated.

          • Darren

            “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith”
            The Book of Mormon agrees.

            “25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments…27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.” (2 Nephi 25)

          • Darren

            “Our righteous acts are as filty rags before God. We will not be justified by Him by observing the Law.
            Jesus does tell us that if we loved Him we would keep His commands. All of them. The Bible also tells us to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We’re not.”
            You’re exactly right and Mormons believe that it is *by grace* which we are saved. But works is not a muted subject in God’s eyes.

            “10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
            “22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:” (Revelations 2)

            The teacheings of James and Paul are not contradictory but, as best explained online once, “two sides of the same coin”. The coin is God’s salvation and we need both sid, ergo; faith and works, to receive full salvation through grace.

          • Darren

            “Right. And the key to the scripture you quote above is, “after all we can do.” Doesn’t line up with the Bible.
            Romans 11:6″.
            why not? Romans 11:6 says that grace is not based upon works. 2 Nephi 25:33 says, as you notes, that we are saved *by grace*, “after all we can do”. In other words, despite all we can do,our salvation is still by grace.
            King Benjamin declared: “I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:21). That single verse is full of god’s grace of creating us, preserving us, and allowing our own free will to govern our actions. It also declares that if we give god our all, we are still “unprofitable” servants of God. That to me says that we are not saved based upon our works but by grace. We do not merit salvation but God will give it to us despite our own shortcomings to “deserve” it based even upon our best of works / efforts.
            The teachings of the Book of Mormon square neatly with Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:10.

          • olderwiser

            This addition to grace (“after all we can do,”) is the path to despair for anyone who is honest with himself – regardless of whether Mormon or Evangelical Christian. Because not one of us ever does “all that we can do.” Nor can we by our own will, effort, or power, “decide to follow Jesus”,, or, “invite Jesus into my heart.” We are all dead in our sins until the Holy Spirit makes us alive in Christ. What can a dead man do to be saved? Absolutely nothing. However, when we have been made alive in Christ we will seek to do God’s will as he has revealed it to us in Holy Scripture. In this life, however, even though we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, sin still clings to us as long as we live. We will never do all that we can do, and daily we all sin much. So daily we repent and receive anew God’s forgiveness for the sake of the holy and innocent suffering and death of his only begotten Son, Jesus. The faith by which we are saved is a gracious gift of God, given by the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. We do the believing, but the faith to believe is all God’s gift to us, unmerited by anything we have done. This saving faith, this priceless gift, can be rejected. While we cannot say “yes” to God by our own power or will, we can say “no”, Even after receiving the gift of faith we can still harden our heart against God, rejecting the salvation bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Every day

          • Wacoan

            Thank you olderwiser for you thoughtful comment. I do not think are beliefs are much different. I do believe that at some point, effort on are part is necessary or Jesus is a capricious Savior. He atoned for the sins of the world but the books will be opened and we will be judged. If not our effort, by what criteria does Jesus judge? By not saying not? That is work.

            We are dead in our sins. We repent daily. To me, because repentance takes time and effort, it is a work. Two men walk by a topless bar, one man says he won’t go in but does. The other says that he will go in but does not. Which man has done his Father’s will?

        • laverl09

          I’m sorry. I forgot that you can’t be asked to keep ANY of the commandments or you would be showing your faith by your works.

          • David Tiffany

            What you have said is exactly what James is saying when he says faith without works is dead. He is not saying faith plus works equals salvation. He is saying that if he is saved by grace through faith, then it will be evidenced in his life by what he does.

          • laverl09

            Finally we agree on something.
            So, if we twist the true intent of an Aaronic Priesthood manual (or anything else for that matter) we are not evidencing our faith.
            In your belief is there any consequence for not evidencing your faith? Or are you saved by your faith–no matter what?

          • Wacoan

            David, I don’t know of Christians who deny that grace is necessary or that accepting Jesus as Savior brings a change of heart as experienced by Enos, Alma and Paul. Such a change of heart is generally acknowledged by baptism where we are cleansed of our sins and covenant with God to keep His commandments.

            Apparently, you argue that once cleansed, our sins, past, present and future, are forgiven. I believe that this type of easy salvation is doctrinally incorrect but again, that is not my real point. Salvation is a process, not an event. Peter denied Jesus. Paul argued with Peter. Some falls from grace are more dramatic. David committed adultery and murdered his competitor. I don’t know of any Christian who has become perfect because of his or her conversion to Jesus, and, I believe that if that flow of good works did not require effort on our part (works), it would be perfect as Jesus is perfect.

            My problem with your comments is not your belief on grace. I live in Waco, Texas. Most of my friends, who are good people, believe the same. My problem is your willful misrepresentation of Mormon doctrine. At this point, I believe that you need to reconstruct your ministry and apologize for you misrepresentations. Teach salvation by grace alone if you desire but drop the misrepresentation.

            Better yet, I would recommend that you follow the advise of Moroni,

            “3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

            4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

            5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

  • peter_marlow

    Very well done. You make many good points. Thank you!

    There is one true Christianity which Jesus taught during His mortal life, parts of which has been preserved in the Bible, and parts restored by Jesus Christ through His modern prophets. There are also currently about 1 to 2 billion other Christianities present in this world, and many more in the next, in the minds of imperfect individuals who, like me, are in the process of learning from God exactly what true Christianity really is. Along the way, one person may hold beliefs that differ from or contradict those of another.

    The one who better understands God’s love will not let such differences impede his love for another. He will not seek to impose the notion that his beliefs are more correct than those of another, as many have sought to do (due to their fears and insecurities) since the earliest days of Christianity. He will simply love and teach of God’s love. He will also humbly seek to adopt the beliefs of those he knows whose ability and capacity to love is greater than his own. He will do this continually, for the rest of his life. He will allow himself to learn from them how to love as God loves.

    In addition to the divine confirmation of its truthfulness that I received from the Holy Ghost 36 years ago, it was great examples of love that helped draw this convert to Mormonism. Still today, I continue to learn much from the leaders of this church as to how I should believe and do to grow my love. Of modern-day prophets, in the Bible Jesus taught only that by their fruits we will know them. And through the years I have certainly experienced good fruits by following our modern-day prophets and other church leaders. I have seen my love for God and His children grow. My faith and trust in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, has grown. And this continues to bring me immeasurable joy.

    May we all shed our pride and fears and allow God to teach us, both through His servants and by His Holy Spirit, how to love, until someday we can finally each give God the joy of being loved by us as much as he loves us, and experience the joy of feeling and giving a love as great as His, and finally understand how much it is that He really loves us.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I don’t know whether this would be a fourth tack, or whether it fits into one of the other categories of LDS responses to the evangelical, “countercult” criticism, but I have an observation about the evangelical understanding of salvation and how it is to be attained. As an aside, it is at least noteworthy that there is an inconsistency between the idea that one must DO something to be saved (“ask Jesus into your heart,” or whatever variant that particular pastor or evangelists happens to find suitable – because you don’t actually find those formulas in the Bible) and the idea that salvation is by grace alone, not of works lest any man should boast. As they do indeed boast. But that’s just an aside. My point is that I was raised in evangelical churches and know very, very well what they teach regarding the requisites to salvation. It is essential in this theology that one acknowledge the divinity and godhood (or Godhood, if you prefer) of Jesus Christ, that there is no salvation except through Him due to one’s own inherent weakness and sin, and that one repent of one’s sins and commit one’s life to Him. That’s the core of every “altar call” that I ever heard, in any evangelical church or Billy Graham crusade that I ever attended. (I even had occasion to be introduced to Rev. Graham one time. Wonderful man.) Once that inner prayer is spoken, once those thoughts are sincerely and reverently held, one is “saved” and will remain saved for the rest of his or her life, regardless of any other events or circumstances. I hope that sounds like a fair summary.

    It follows that Mormons are all saved. Every baptized Mormon (which, by definition, is every Mormon who ever lived) has acknowledged the divinity and Godhood of Jesus Christ, and that there is no salvation except through Him due to his or her own inherent weakness and sin; and that he or she repents of his or her sins and commit his or her life to Him.

    Of course when this is presented to the countercultist, it won’t be abided. The immediate answer is that the Mormon has “the wrong Jesus.” I mean, there was only the one Jesus – you know, the subject of the four Gospels. That one. Then they start going on and on with their doctrinal critique, much as David Tiffany does elsewhere on this page. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that none of those altar calls included a list of unchallengeable points of dogma. They just said, admit that you’re a sinner and ask Jesus into your heart. They said, that’s all you need to do to be saved, and don’t worry about any other works. So, Mormons are all saved by that understanding.

    • Thomas Palmieri

      That people are saved who believe in the divine goodness and glory that is essential to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ is doubtless true, for who can say that a heterodox Mormon believer who loves God and does good to his fellow man will be denied the kingdom, while the orthodox believer who does not love God and does not do good to his fellow man will receive the kingdom? This was not the teaching which was given to us by the Lord (i.e. Mt 25:31-46). That does not mean, however, that the Mormon believer will not have his erroneous beliefs corrected in the age that is to come, when he discovers that God is Spirit (Jn 4:24), all pervading Logos (Reason) [Jn 1:1), light (1 Jn 1:5) and glory (Ex 24:16-17; 1 Cor 2:8), and not a body of flesh and blood, as Joseph Smith erroneously taught. For in the age to come the Mormon who is saved will realize for himself that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50). That is, the Mormon believer will see God inasmuch as he is pure in heart (Mt 5:8), not on account of the impurity of his doctrine, which will be corrected by the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, which brings all things to remembrance (Jn 14:26). For though various men hold to a variety of teachings with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, and with regard to the Trinity as a whole, God is truth (Deut 32:4), who will not allow error to exist in his heavenly kingdom. Either the orthodox are correct in their doctrine of God, or the Mormons are correct. Either God (the Father) exists ‘above all, and through all, and in all’ (Eph 4:6), and the Son exists ‘in the bosom of the Father’ (Jn 1:18) and as the creating and sustaining power subsisting in all things (John 1:3; Heb 1:3), and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (Jn 15:26) and the Son (Jn 16:7), being proper to the Father and the Son (Rom 1:9), and the Holy Trinity is the one only God, into whose saving NAME (Mt 28:19), not names, the baptized are immersed, as the orthodox Christians believe, OR the Father, the Son and the Spirit are three different gods existing in bodies, as the Mormons believe.
      Furthermore we are NOT SAVED by accepting Christ, that is to say, REGARDLESS of any other events or circumstances, as you say. Have you not read St. Peter’s epistle, who says: ‘give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do all these things (e.g. virtue, knowledge, patience, temperance, kindness, charity), ye shall never fall’ (2 Pet 1:10)? Observe, then, that he says that we can fall and lose our salvation. For we are saved not by faith alone, as Luther erroneously taught, but BY grace THROUGH faith (Eph 2:8), for grace is the “gift of God” (Eph 2:8). What, then, is the gift? Why, none other than that of the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13). For Christ said that if we should become spiritually lukewarm, he will spew us out of his mouth (Rev 3:15-16). Hence the doctrine of ‘once saved always saved is false.’ We can receive the gift of grace, but lose it, for only those who ‘endure to the end shall be saved’ (Mt 10:22).

      • trytoseeitmyway

        Well, I think it’s the non-Mormon erroneous beliefs that will be corrected eventually, but of course I understand that you’re not there yet. That’s OK. Perhaps you understand that your (perfectly appropriate) reliance on 2 Peter was not incorporated into the altar call I heard in the evangelical churches of my youth, and that we were instead taught that salvation, once secured by that singular conversion experience, was indeed immutable. “Lest any man should boast,” we were told. Isn’t that conventional, popular evangelical doctrine? I’m not saying its biblical, mind you, but that’s pretty clearly what I remember being taught.

        I don’t know why so many conversations like this have to get sidetracked by trinitarian hair splitting, but the easiest thing for me to say is that Mormons take the Bible at face value in regard to the separate persons of the unified Godhead (the term used by Mormons, which has the advantage of being used in the Bible).

        • Darren

          My understanding of Evangelical Christianity is too that once converted to Jesus Christ than salvation is granted and can never be removed. Thomas Palmieri’s perspective is an accurate Roman Catholic / East Orthodox take on biblical doctrines. My perspective is LDS and, of course, am convinced that it is God’s true church. I, therefore, reject the Holy Trinity in its historical definition and believe firmly in the biblical Godhead. The biblical Godhead is, from my view, best understood asthree persons and three beings yet one God in unity, thought, and purpose.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Thanks for validating my understanding of the faith of my childhood. I wasn’t in doubt of it but Thomas Palmieri seemed not to understand that I was being merely descriptive about it (while then trying to map those beliefs about salvation onto affirmations made by Mormons at baptism). As an evangelical, my take (at the time) on the faith-works dichotomy didn’t trouble me – it is only years afterward that I am struck by (1) the curiousness of the idea that even the most fleeting moment of faith and “accepting Jesus” suffices, regardless of one’s thoughts and deeds, however despicable, thereafter, and despite considerable biblical teaching to the contrary; and (2) the fact that even the act of “accepting Jesus” is itself a work of righteousness, thereby undermining the evangelical’s rejection of any contribution of, or reliance on, “works.” You see that when evangelicals proudly proclaim that they have been saved by accepting Jesus – but that YOU haven’t been saved, either because you haven’t quite said the right prayer or because you don’t quite believe the right things. They’re “boasting” about their self-imagined privileged position in the eyes of God, even when quoting Eph. 2:9 with a straight face. Much like the fellow who will tell you glowingly and at great length about how humble he is.

            The Mormons-believe-in-salvation-by-works trope is so ingrained that almost no one understands how or where Mormons believe that salvation from the consequences of sin and death is an unconditional free gift. LDS theology is actually skewed more in the direction of grace-not-works than even evangelical theology. That’s because we believe that the Atonement reaches every single son and daughter of Heavenly Father, whether they take steps to “accept” it or not. A favorite Institute teacher of mine remarks that the evangelical idea of Jesus (this teacher used to be an evangelical too) make Him more of a damner than the Savior, since the evangelical understanding has Him condemning many, many more to an eternity of torment in Hell than He ever saves. This means that they, not we, have “the wrong Jesus.” We believe that all are saved for a degree of glory except for a very few that firmly reject that blessing.

            The confusion comes in because they think that “salvation” is a binary concept. It isn’t. It is not the case that one is either saved or not saved, and either destined for Heaven or Hell, and that’s all there is to it. We can be saved by grace *from* something (death and Hell) and still be saved through sacred covenants *for* something that will be even greater. 1 Cor. 2:9. Thomas Palmeri touches on this when he cites 2 Peter 1:10 and Matt. 10:22, among other verses.

            There is a richness to N.T. and Mormon soteriology that far too many overlook by insisting that the state of being saved is unitary, and that all references to salvation have to mean the exact same thing. The Bible doesn’t teach that. John 14:2; Matt. 7:20-21; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 4:8, to name a few. I completely understand why Paul would argue against justification under the law; the idea that Mormons somehow don’t understand or won’t accept that concept is used as a straw-man argument, and even as a cudgel, by the evangelical “countercult ministers” of the world. But neither is it the case that God fails to keep His covenants with His children or that righteousness is not somehow firmly commanded. By leaning so hard on the biblical expression at one time that righteousness is like filthy rags (and then they tell you what they think “filthy rags” really means – yech!) my former co-religionists end up relegating God’s Kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33) to spiritual and eternal irrelevance. Jesus died to free us *from* sin, and not to free us *to* sin.

        • Thomas Palmieri

          As a Roman Catholic, I would not defend the Lutheran one sided view of salvation as “faith alone”, which is clearly refutable from the Scriptures. And as we all know, the Church at Rome has had its share of troubles throughout the ages, as it is said ‘all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God’.
          I do want to respond to your other missive however. I really don’t see how I failed to ‘listen’ to what you were saying about the Mormon doctrines on the Trinity. I responded to what you wrote point by point. The fact that I did not agree with what you said does not mean that I didn’t listen. I simply did not agree with you, for profound theological reasons. I showed that the doctrine that God (Father and Son) is flesh and blood comes from your own Doctrine and Covenants, which you tried once more to defend in your response to me. Therefore I take it that that is what Mormons actually believe about the nature of God. I also showed that Joseph Smith’s arguments in support of the doctrine are absolutely contrary to the teachings of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. You resort once more to the example of the visions of Isaiah and St. Steven and the Old Testament appearances of God to the patriarchs to justify your doctrine, even after I have showed you the scriptures that say that no man has ever seen God (Jn 1:18), or can see him (1 Tim 6:16), who dwells in unapproachable light, and is light (1 Jn 1:5); that the Son is not flesh, but the Word of eternal life (1 Jn 1:1-2) dwelling in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18), the “true light” (Jn 1:9) and “radiance of the Father’s glory” (Heb 1:3); that God exists “above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph 4:6), who cannot be circumscribed within either heaven or earth (Is 66:1); that the Son pervades all things, ‘upholding all things by the word of his power’ (Heb 1:3), who creates all things (Jn 1:3) [wherefore bodies being products of intelligent design, are all creations of the Word]; that the Holy Spirit is present everywhere (Ps 139:7-8); that the Son (Jn 1:18, 8:42) and the Spirit (1 Cor 2:10; Jn 15:26) simultaneously dwell in the depths of the Father and proceed forth from the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is one and the same Spirit of the Father and the Son (Rom 8:9), who is sent forth from the bosom of the Father by the indwelling Word (Jn 16:7). I have explained to you also that the visions of Steven and the prophets who have seen God in a bodily appearance are theophanies, that is to say, appearances of the unapproachable light in a bodily form, for the sake of we who cannot bear to behold his glory. For when Moses seeing God in a bodily image asked to see his glory, that is, his true nature as light, God responded to him that “no man shall see me and live” (Ex 33:20). Therefore those who saw him as a man saw him not in his true nature, but in a corporeal image suitable to our physical senses.
          I have listened to the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants teaching that the Father and the Son exist as flesh and blood bodies, and I have listened to Joseph Smith’s arguments in favor of the teaching, and your arguments in favor of the teaching, and shown you in no uncertain terms that they contradict the teachings of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, not about human arrangements, but about the nature of God. You, on the other hand, have failed to take any account of the scriptures which are against the teaching of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith and yourself. Who is not listening to whom? It is not me you to whom you are not listening, but the Word of God speaking through the prophets. The Mormon idea of ongoing prophetic revelation does not take into account the possibility of false revelation, which Sts. Paul (Gal 1:8-9) and John (1 Jn 4:1) solemnly warn against. How can the Spirit of Christ speaking through the prophets (1 Pet 1:11) at one time declare that God exists as all pervasive light and glory, and at another that he exists in a body of flesh and blood? In that case then the Holy Spirit is divided against himself, which is impossible.
          As for St. John’s visions in the Book of Revelation, if he has seen Jesus Christ he has seen the incorporeal Word united to a human nature, who is not flesh from eternity but the “Word made flesh” (Jn 1:14). The Word which dwells in the Father is eternal, not the body, which was itself taken from the flesh of Mary, which therefore came to be in time, and was united in time to the glory of the eternal Word. The Word is of the form of God (Phi 2:6), light eternal; the flesh is of the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), flesh and blood while on earth, a glorified spiritual body after the resurrection. The Word of eternal life nevertheless remains undivided within the bosom of the Father and pervading and sustaining all created things, even while united to the flesh of Jesus Christ. Are we then to take in a literal sense that John saw a sword coming out of Christ’s mouth? Or that he saw the Lamb in the midst of the throne that the Father was sitting upon (Rev 7:17), as if the Lamb was contained inside the throne, or the Father was sitting upon the Lamb? Are these visions not symbolic representations conveying unseen truths?
          Lastly I have shown you that Smith’s teaching about the nature of the sonship of the angels and ourselves as compared with the Son of God’s is distinguished between creature and Creator, for the Son of God is only begotten Son (Jn 1:18) by nature, who is God from God, light from light, ever dwelling within the bosom of the Father. Men and angels are sons by adoption, according to the grace of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:15). Christ is our brother in having taken on our nature; he is our Lord and God and Creator (Jn 20:28, Jn 1:3) as the Word of eternal life. We are his image in that we have reason, not flesh, for we like God are rulers over unintelligent creation. An ape has a body that is 99% genetically compatible with the human anatomy. Is he too an image of God in the Biblical sense? God forbid! For if we are an image of God in the body, Christ died for the apes as well!
          What is at stake in the Trinitarian concept is the meaning and purpose of the incarnation, and the proper praise of God which follows therefrom. God who is infinitely above us, who is pure intellectual light and all pervasive goodness and glory, in an act of supreme condescension emptied himself (Phil 2:7) of his supreme glory and took upon himself our lowly human flesh, becoming servant to man. In offering himself a propitiating sacrifice upon the cross to the Father through the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14), he redeemed our humanity by taking our sins upon himself, and reconciled us to our Creator. God as Father remains ever above us, and offers us the adoption of eternal sonship (that is to say, sonship for ever after), who are made “partakers of the divine nature” by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit which is given us in baptism. God as Son condescends to become as one of us, and offering himself on our behalf takes our sins away from us, and restores the image of God in us, not as a body, but as pure in heart and soul, for God is not body, but pure intellect. Because the Son has life in himself, he is not able to be holden by death, and rises from the grave unto eternal glory. The divinity never died on the cross, for it upholds the world and all creation, (Heb 1:3) which would have dissolved if the Word of eternal life had perished upon the cross, which is impossible. No. It is the humanity, that is, the flesh and soul, that is to say, that which is from Mary, which perished upon the cross and which is renewed and perfected by the glory of the divinity which is proper to the Son of God, who raises corruption into incorruption. As Son of God incorporeal, the Son is light eternal (Jn 1:9; 1 Jn 1:1-2); as the Son of Man, he is light eternal united to a human nature, in whom “all the fullness of Godhead dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). God as the Holy Spirit is that Spirit which is common to the Father and the Son (Rom 8:9) through whom the Son transacted his sin offering unto the Father. The whole act of redemption, then, is an act of the one God taken on our behalf according to the triadic and yet indivisible working of the members of the Holy Trinity. For there are not many Gods and Lords, but one only Lord and God. Did Christ lie when he said that our God is one Lord only? Then why this mischief of the Mormons which speaks of three Gods in the Trinity? It is the one God who came down among us to live as one of us, who saved us out of love for his creation. The Mormons, on the other hand, preach an entirely different gospel, who say that we are an image of God in the flesh, who has no flesh; who say heedlessly that God is flesh and blood, when St. Paul teaches on the contrary that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50) [wherefore God as understood by the Mormons cannot inherit his own kingdom!]; whereby the mystery of the incarnation is falsified: for God became man in Jesus Christ, who possessing the natures of both God and man, is a fit and one only mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5), who is acquainted with our sufferings and temptations, inasmuch as he has assumed our flesh. The Father and the Spirit are not so acquainted, who have not united themselves to our humanity. But if they are flesh and blood (the Father at any rate), then he himself is another mediator, who is acquainted with the temptations and urgings of the flesh, in which case he could have offered himself to himself in heaven for our sakes, and had no need to come down to us in the personage of the Son of Man to effect the regeneration of our nature. Therefore it is shown that the doctrine that God is flesh and blood overthrows the whole purpose of the incarnation, and makes light of the Christian religion.
          I do take what you believe about the nature of God and of his Christ seriously, and it is because I do that I point out that the Mormon doctrine is incompatible with Christian belief, as recorded in the Old and New Testament Scriptures. If you take me seriously, you will grapple with all of the Scriptures that were cited above that declare that God is incorporeal light exisiting in omnipresence, the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father (Jn 14:11) and the Spirit which is common to both (Rom 8:9), one only God (Deut 6:4; Mt 12:29), of one only name into which we are baptized, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19).
          If what you say is true, and you truly take the Bible at face value, you must take the time to investigate all of the Scriptures which declare that God is not a body of flesh and blood, but which declare rather that he is invisibly omnipresent light and glory, and determine for yourself whether the teachings of Joseph Smith and of the Doctrine and Covenants which you seek to defend are compatible with not a few isolated scriptures pulled out of context, but the totality of the Biblical revelation. There is a hermeneutical principle that Scripture must be interpreted in light of Scripture, that is to say, the scriptures which declare God to sit upon a throne is to be understood in light of those which declare his omnipresence, and we must therefore weigh them accordingly. Thus if God exists everywhere at all times, and is said to be light unapproachable whose glory will kill anyone who sees it, we must understand then that his appearance in a body is a condescension and veiling of his nature that is done for our sake, and not to be taken as a literal expression of his nature. Any doctrine founded upon the assumption that his veiling in a fleshly representation is a literal unveiling of his incorporeal nature is purely untenable in the light of the totality of the Biblical witness.

          Thomas Palmieri

          • trytoseeitmyway

            Thank you for this thoughtful and respectful presentation. It stands in marked contrast to … well, you know. I would apologize for saying that you did not listen to something that I said … except I don’t think I said such a thing? Perhaps you are confusing me with someone else.

            I agree with the idea that there is an “hermeneutical principle that Scripture must be interpreted in light of Scripture,” but may disagree regarding the conclusions you reach in applying that principle; many of your arguments hang from extraordinarily slender reeds. For example, to pull a trinitarian proof out of Matt. 28:19, which has a quite opposite natural reading, is too much of a stretch for me. I think you’re relying on a grammatical convenience as though it revealed a substantive truth.

            Likewise, John 1:9, to take another example, scarcely amounts to textual proof that the Son of God is “invisibly omnipresent light and glory.” “Light” in that context (we both acknowledge the importance of context) specifically referred to the Savior’s temporal incarnation (exactly the opposite of an invisible ominpresence) and could not at all refer to photons or their supernatural equivalents. (It also occurs to me that “invisible light” is an oxymoron.) Light in the context of that verse metaphorically refers to knowledge, it seems very clear.

            I want to be respectful of the time you have devoted to the above presentation, but fear that I lack the time to answer verse by verse. I am looking for a way to respond that doesn’t require that level of detail, while still affirming our own – and I think superior – understanding of the nature of God and the Godhead. Let me just say that if you think God as understood by Mormons can’t inherit His own Kingdom, your understanding of God as understood by Mormons still lacks completeness. I don’t mean to be flip about that, but I do mean to say that you should look at the issue more closely. Mormons believe that God (both the Father and the Son) are embodied, it is true, and you acknowledge that many scriptures can be cited as consistent with that notion. You do away with those scriptures too easily, primarily based (I think?) on neo-platonic theological innovations of well after the time of Christ and the New Testament apostles. Mormons understand 1 Cor. 15:50 literally as saying that it takes a spiritual form to dwell in spiritual glory, and don’t find this at all inconsistent with the idea that the Father, the Son, angels and the sons and daughters of God have spiritual bodies. This applies the above-referenced hermeneutic principle more elegantly, I suggest, and lets us take more of the Bible at face value than an interpretation which does away with many descriptions and accounts of God and His likeness and image as merely metaphorical.

            (Look at D&C 93:33 for a moment. Hermeneutic principles apply to latter-day scriptures too! The LDS understanding of the difference between the spiritual and the temporal is more complex than your comments here acknowledge. Of course, I understand that you weren’t writing a treatise, any more than I am, so some things necessarily get left out. But there is complexity there that is worth attention. Man was formed from “the dust of the ground” into which was breathed his spirit (Gen. 2:7), and we don’t suggest for a moment that God is so formed or that the dust of the ground inherits glory. We take “likeness and image” literally, while you seem not to, but likeness and image don’t refer to identity of substance.)

            I recognize that Romans 8 speaks of our status as children of God in terms of adoption, and find that to be perfectly understandable in its context and that it can be related to the idea of spiritual rebirth in the New Testament. But I don’t see that as at all over-writing multiple Old and New Testament scriptures declaring mankind literally as spirit children of “our Father, who art in Heaven.” Your denial of that reduces yet more scripture (as pertaining to the Fatherhood of God) to mere metaphor; there is also an hermeneutic principle that a literal meaning ought to be preferred over a figurative one, if it is possible to apply the literal meaning consistently with other passages. My sense is that we do quite a good job of that.

            I think that you open a door you don’t intend to open (but which will lead you to greater truth if you let it) when you cite John 14:11 for the biblical truth that the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. As I say that, I ask you to compare John 17:21, in which the Lord prays that we may all be “in” Him, as He is “in” the Father. This forces us to conclude, I would think, that the indwelling that is being referred to in either passage (chapter 14 or 17) is spiritual and relates to a partaking of divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4, which you have already referenced), but it can’t be a trinitarian proof unless you mean to include all of the elect within the Trinity!

            But I also want to suggest to you – again – that such discussions, while interesting and even profitable in religious study, are perhaps to one side of what is fundamental and of what constitutes “the gospel.” I think that the gospel is the knowledge that we are here for a purpose (Mormons do a better job of saying what that purpose is, I think, than others) but that the inevitability of disobedient choices required and requires a Savior and Redeemer. It is true that the Bible warns us against false prophets, but it also assures us that true prophets can be discerned from their fundamental teaching of Christ. 1 John 4:2. You’ve acknowledged “troubles” throughout the ages from the Church at Rome, which is sort of a mild way to put it, ascribing the troubles to human imperfection, an idea with which I can agree. I don’t think that LDS priesthood leaders have been perfect either. Where, then, is truth? Where is the Church? You’ll assure me that it must reside in Rome because you think that Jesus said as much to Peter, but I’m not obligated to read the scripture that way and, in fact, I don’t. I think we’re taught in the fourth chapter of Ephesians that Christ does and will call priesthood leaders, including prophets and apostles, for the purpose of unity of the faith and of doctrine, and I find that powerfully in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

            But even that doesn’t affect “the gospel.” The gospel is not founded on “fleshly” vs. “non-fleshly.” “corporeal” vs. “incorporeal” or any other theological inference of that order. It is based on understanding our common purposes, destinies and redemption from death and sin, and on the call to each of us to love God and our sisters and brothers, and to be submissive to His will, even enduring to the end while relying on the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ.

            It is likely that my response, however long, leaves you unsatisfied because I have omitted one or the other of many points and observations you have made. But this has already been time consuming for me in a way that conflicts with other duties, and I find that I must let it rest. May God’s blessings and peace be with you, now and forever.

          • Thomas Palmieri

            I will forego any more Scriptural commentaries in terms of polemics. But I will say that the understanding of God as Supreme Light and pure intellectual substance is well attested in the experiential witness of Christian saints and wonderworkers for well on 2000 years, and I myself was favored with a revelation of the holy uncreated light some 24 years ago, which in a moment of spiritual contemplation came down from above, entered into and pierced my heart and initiated me into what is meant in 2 Peter 1:4 where it is said that we become partakers of the divine nature, which overwhelmed me with a profound awe and bliss. I understood then the words of St. Paul, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” That supreme transcendent light that is the true nature of God Christ revealed unto Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor, who had promised shortly before then to reveal the Kingdom of God to men living upon the earth, unveiling his deific glory before the awe struck disciples. It is because of that revelation of light eternal that is not seen with physical but with spiritual eyes, which enters into the body and soul of the one who experiences the divine touch, that a sage such as St. John can declare that “God is light,” who speaks from direct experiential revelation. It is therefore a gross dimunition of that supernal and infinite and all pervading glory to reckon it as being circumscribed within the compacted frame of a bodily existence, that is to say, according to nature. But Christians acknowledge in faith that it (He) emptied itself of its glory in condescending to unite itself with the flesh of the Virgin in the man Christ Jesus, for the sake of our redemption.

            God is not a person in the sense that we are, God is an infinite person, within whose uncreated intellect lies the possibility and precognized patternings for all created existences. Buddhist writings speak of ‘God’ [the Jewish sage Martin Buber in his work "Two Types of Faith" said the word "God" is a mere human stammering before the infinitely illimitible nature that is the divine reality] as the revelation to the inmost spirit of the supreme nature of existence, which is an unbearable and all pervading light and brightness radiating like billions of suns, which is a pure void, utterly ungraspable by the human or any created intellect. The Muslim Sufis understand that “Allah” (which means in Arabic: THE God) is none other than light eternal glorifying the inner man who invites the holy light into his presence. The Hindu sages speak of the Brahmajyoti (light of God), God’s pure luminescent nature. God told Moses in the Old Testament that his true face is his glory, the glory which Moses longed to gaze upon, who was assured that to look upon his glory while alive in the body is impossible for man, explaining to Moses that no man can see him (i.e. his glory) and live. St. Paul, knowing this scripture, and having been raised up out of his body in spiritual ecstasy and having been raised in spirit unto the third heaven, and having witnessed unspeakable visions that it is not lawful for a man to utter, alluded to his rapturous inspiriting with the divine glory when he said that we see God now through a veil, but in the age to come face to face, that is to say, in his pure irridescent glory, when we shall know him as he truly is.
            But the human mind, being normally veiled from perceiving the glory that lies above its created nature, when giving itself over to conveying its experience of the ineffable glory that is God, resorts to images and metaphors in speaking of that light that is a light beyond all lights (not photons, but wisdom and love inconceivable, supreme bliss and source of all benefences), and calls it ‘face of God’ in respect of its being God’s self manifestation, and ‘finger of God’ in respect of being God’s inspiriting power (I wrote of it as the ‘healing hand of the Lord’), and ‘darkness’ in respect of its nature’s being unpierceable by the human intellect, and ‘cloud’ in respect of its being light and intangible and a mystifying power before the intellectual faculties, and so forth.

            It is well known that the more universal a principle, the greater its antecedence and ontological reality than the lesser principle. In physics energy is the more universal principle to matter, which is mathematized in Einstein’s famous E=MC-squared equation, and by this we know that the formless is antecedent to the formed. For even here the word ‘form’ conveys that another power is exercising influence over that which is being formed by its exertion. Hence God, being the antecedent of all ontological principles, and the former of all forms, is a formless nature. For if he were a body, his nature would be sequent to a superior and formless antecedent principle that is exercising formative influence upon it. But as Creator this is impossible. Hence God is a formless nature. But it will be objected that Christ is said to exist “in the form of God.” But form here means “in the nature and power of”, i.e. God.
            It is, moreover, an ancient and venerable theological principle that the human advances in his understanding of God in three stages, corresponding to the three modes of his existence, that is to say, from the bodily to the intellectual to the spiritual. For those whose minds are enmeshed in the things of the senses understand Jesus as having literally risen on a cloud to heaven on the occasion of his glorious ascension. But those who are of a superior intellectual bent will ascend to a more worthy conception, and understand that the cloud is a symbol of Christ’s spiritual exaltation, and not the means of his conveyance. But the spiritual will intuit that the cloud signifies mystically the Holy Spirit, which is Christ’s own Spirit, the cloud signifying the transcendent glory of the heavenly light. Christ observed this threefold principle in his teaching ministry, who spoke to the crowds in parables, teaching about the kingdom in a physical image, as a mustard seed. To the disciples he taught on the intellectual level, discoursing about the kingdom in private. To the most spiritually advanced disciples he reveals himself as the Lord of glory upon the holy mount, unveiling his abiding nature as the eternal light.
            It is only in understanding the nature of God as supreme indefectable light and glory that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity becomes comprehensible, that one indivisible nature can exist in three distinctive subsistences.
            Padre Pio, whose face was observed by one who intruded upon his private prayer as aglow with the uncreated light according to the depth of his union with God, counseled his spiritual children to pray above all for heavenly light, not mere intellectual understanding, but the divine glory itself, which brings all things to remembrance. The writings of the fathers and saints is saturated with such divine counsel. I invite you to explore the wisdom of their holy teachings.
            For my part, having been pierced with the holy divinizing light, it is no great hope to see God in the form of a man, who has revealed himself as infinitely so much more to the eyes of my spirit, and to the piercings of my heart.

          • trytoseeitmyway

            I sincerely respect your faith. And claiming my own profound spiritual experience, I would not deny yours. Yet, the Light of Christ is explicitly a part of Mormon theology, as is the ministry, companionship and omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. I have no reason to find theological disputes – surely they exist – when it is possible to identify areas of commonality.

      • Truenuf

        God is Spirit AND God the Father and God the Son both have a body of flesh and bones. To posit otherwise would be to suggest that man is capable of things God is not. You can drive a car – is God incapable of that? You can hold a baby in your arms – is God unable to hold a baby in his arms? It can be a simple as that.

        • Thomas Palmieri

          St. Paul says: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50). Therefore according to your doctrine, God cannot inherit his own kingdom. The Mormon doctrine contradicts that of St. Paul, that is to say, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, that is to say, the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9), which inspires the prophets (1 Pet 1:11). St. John says: “no man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who dwells in the bosom of the Father has declared him” (Jn 1:18). How does the Son dwell in the Father’s bosom if they are bodies? Joseph Smith did not understand that the Old Testament appearances of God were mere created representations of his infinite and ineffable glory. What does St. John say is the true nature of the Father and Son? “God is light” (1 Jn 1:5); the Son is “the true light” (Jn 1:9) and “radiance of the Father’s glory” (Heb 1:3).
          Your analogy of driving a car is blasphemous, though you did not intend it to be so. There are things man is capable of that God is not. To wit: man is capable of sin, God is not. Have you not read that God is the “Holy One” (Ps 89:18)? And that Christ was ‘sent in the likeness of sinful flesh…who was without sin’ (Heb 2:17, 4:15). The incorporeal God is indeed capable of holding a baby in his arms, and did so when he became incarnate in taking flesh from the Virgin Mary as the man Christ Jesus. And as the incorporeal Word the Son of God ‘upholds all things by the word of his power’ (Heb 1:3); therefore he holds all things, infants and parents and the universe itself, in his (metaphorical) arms. God exists ‘above all, and through all, and in all’ (Eph 4:6). He cannot be a body.
          Anyone who has a passing understanding of the New Testament Scriptures should be able to understand that the Mormon doctrines of the fleshly nature of the Father and the Son are contrary to the teachings of the Spirit of Christ speaking through the prophets and apostles.

          • Truenuf

            (1 Corinthians 15:50) Flesh
            and BLOOD cannot inherit the kingdom of God because blood is a distinguishing
            characteristic of mortality. One must be
            dead to inherit the kingdom of God. We
            believe God the Father and God the Son have bodies of flesh and bone. Jesus Christ had flesh, blood and bones in
            mortality; he has flesh and bones in immortality.

            (Romans 8:9) The reference to
            flesh here is clarified by the Joseph Smith Translation which corrects the
            verses as follows: “8 So then they that
            are AFTER the flesh cannot please God. 9
            But ye are not AFTER the flesh, but AFTER the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit
            of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none
            of his.” These verses have reference to
            those who are carnally minded when referring to the flesh. One also must not be confused between the
            Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ or Light of Christ. Here’s some info from the LDS Bible
            Dictionary that may help to clarify:

            “Light of Christ The phrase “light of Christ” does not appear
            in the Bible, although the principles that apply to it are frequently mentioned
            therein. The precise phrase is found in Alma 28:14, Moro. 7:18, and D&C
            88:7. Biblical phrases that are sometimes synonymous to the term “light of
            Christ” are “spirit of the Lord” and “light of life” (see, for example, John
            1:4; 8:12). The “spirit of the Lord,” however, sometimes is used with reference
            to the Holy Ghost and so must not be taken in every case as having reference to
            the light of Christ.

            The light of Christ is just what
            the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling,
            persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. For
            instance, Christ is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into
            the world” (D&C 93:2; see John 1:9). The light of Christ fills the
            “immensity of space” and is the means by which Christ is able to be “in all
            things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.” It “giveth
            life to all things” and is “the law by which all things are governed.” It is
            also “the light that quickeneth” man’s understanding (see D&C 88:6–13, 41).
            In this manner, the light of Christ is related to man’s conscience and tells
            him right from wrong (Moro. 7:12–19).

            The light of Christ should not
            be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is
            not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to
            one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul
            who “hearkeneth to the voice” to find the true gospel and the true Church and
            thereby receive the Holy Ghost (see D&C 84:46–48). Additional references
            are Alma 19:6; 26:3; D&C 20:27.”

            (1 Peter 11) See above from LDS
            Bible Dictionary

            (John 1:18) The Joseph Smith Translation corrects this
            verse as follows: “18 For the law was after a carnal commandment, to the
            administration of death; but the gospel was after the power of an endless life,
            through Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
            Father. 19 And no man hath seen God at
            any time, except he hath borne record of the Son; for except it is through him
            no man can be saved.”

            (1 John 1:5; John 1:9; Hebrews
            1:3) See above from LDS Bible
            Dictionary; also Christ in his pre-mortal state was like unto God and had the same
            power and glory as the Father and states as recorded in Matthew 28:18 that all
            powers are given to him in heaven and in earth.

            Blasphemy: God is capable to
            drive a car and hold a baby – thus it is not blasphemous to say so. I certainly did not nor do not claim that
            they actually drive cars. I was
            indicating that it was inconceivable that man could have abilities that God
            does not have. I did not say God the
            Father nor the Son commits sin. Was
            mortal Jesus capable of sin? Why did
            Satan tempt Jesus if he was not capable of sin?
            God the Father and God the Son do not commit sin. It is contrary to the nature of God to commit

            Final point: these are not
            “Mormon doctrines” rather they are doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus
            Christ. Resurrection is a joining of
            body and spirit in its perfect form.
            Jesus Christ was resurrected in flesh and bone as we will be. It is a gift of his atoning sacrifice. We are trying to become perfect as our Father
            in Heaven is perfect and as our Savior is perfect. 3 Nephi 12:48: “Therefore I would that ye
            should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (see also Matthew 5:48)

    • David Tiffany

      No, Mormons are not saved by that understanding. It is clear in Mormon teaching and doctrine that it is by obedience to the commandments that Mormons are trusting in to earn their one way ticked back to heaven.
      One Way Ticket
      In order to help us do the things that are right while we are having this earth-life experience (mortal), our Heavenly Father has organized his church on the earth. His church makes available to us all the teachings and ordinances that are necessary for those who wish to return again to him. If we will listen to our leaders and do the things they ask us to do, we can be assured of having enough purchasing power for a return ticket to our heavenly home when our work experience here is over.
      In order to help us do the things that are right while we are having this earth-life experience (mortal), our Heavenly Father has organized his church on the earth. His church makes available to us all the teachings and ordinances that are necessary for those who wish to return again to him. If we will listen to our leaders and do the things they ask us to do, we can be assured of having enough purchasing power for a return ticket to our heavenly home when our work experience here is over.
      Scripture and discussion
      Have the young men read again Abraham 3:25.

      •According to this scripture, why is earth life so important? (We are being tested to see if we will obey the Lord’s commandments.)

      •If we obey the commandments, what will happen?

      Emphasize that this is the way we obtain our return ticket home to our Heavenly Father.
      “We all had an experience similar to this long ago before we came to this earth. We were in a gathering where we were being instructed by our Father in heaven concerning the earth he had prepared for us. … He let us know that the decision to come here would be ours, and if this was our wish, he would see to it that we arrived into this mortal experience safely. Like the experience I had in Phoenix as a boy, our Father in heaven would provide a one-way ticket for us. Whether or not we returned again to him at the end of our mortal experience on earth would depend upon the things we did while we were here” (“Return Trip Ticket Home,” New Era, Apr. 1974, 5).
      3rd Mormon article of faith: We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

      But the Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace alone.
      Galatians 2:21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”
      Galatians 3:1-3, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you (put a spell on you and gained control over you)? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
      Galatians 3:10-11, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified (declared righteous) before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
      Galatians 5:4, “You who are trying to be justified (declared righteous) by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”
      Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–ant this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”
      Philippians 3:9, …”and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
      Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”
      Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified (declared righteous) by faith apart from observing the law.”
      Romans 4:2-3, “If, in fact, Abraham was justified (declared righteous) by works, he has something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’”
      Romans 4:6, “David says the same thing when he speaks of blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:”
      Romans 4:22-25, “This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘It was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (to declare us righteous).”
      So Mormon teaching says we have been given a one way ticket here and must earn our one way ticket back to heaven. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation from judgement is purely by grace apart from works. Those are two contradictory teachings. Now, the Bible is the Standard that God has given to us by which we can grade every teaching and doctrine that we hear and read. And when a doctrine or teaching is in direct conflict with the Bible, the Bible always stands.
      You also said in the above comment that we worship the same Jesus. We don’t. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is the offspring of God the Father and God the Mother…He is not. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is the brother of Satan…He is not. Mormonism teaches that God was once a sinner like us…He was not. Mormonism teaches that God has a God…He does not. Mormonism teaches that Jesus paid the price for our sins at Gethsemane…He did not, He paid the price at the cross. Mormonism teaches that we can hold the Melchizidek Priesthood…we can not.
      I would like to ask if you’re going to revert to calling me a false witness and liar again that you use the Bible to show me where I am in error. Labeling someone is easy enough to do, but prove your case. And if you have a problem with what the Bible says concerning a matter, be man enough to confront the Scriptures themselves.

      • trytoseeitmyway

        You seemed to miss the whole point. I wasn’t saying anything about Mormon doctrine; I was commenting on evangelical doctrine. Unless they happen to be speaking condescendingly – and falsely – to Mormons, evangelicals are very clear on what they think is necessary to be saved. I expressed that very clearly in my comment above, and don’t need to revisit it here, since you haven’t said a single word about it.

    • Grey Ghost

      I’d agree with that analysis, and have in fact used it with evangelical friends of mine – with the same result as you; i.e., it cuts no ice with them. They don’t think that faith in Christ is enough when it’s a Mormon’s faith in Christ. :)
      Of course, exercising faith is, in and of itself, a “work,” so the only truly consistent “sola grazia” believers are Five Points Calvinists. If that’s really God’s true doctrine, I give up.

      • trytoseeitmyway

        Thanks. Yes, they say that God’s grace reaches even the lowliest sinner … but then, under their breath, they add, “But not those Mormons.”

        This comes up with my evangelical family members. They know for sure that I am saved, because I accepted Jesus before I ever heard of Mormonism. But when I tell them that my wife and kids have the same love for Jesus that I do, and look to Him as Savior and Lord in exactly the way I did as a kid when I accepted Jesus into my heart, the family members will then try to find nice ways of saying that, gee, it is really too bad that my wife and kids will suffer the flames and torments of Hell through all eternity … not because they didn’t accept Jesus (they did!) but because that’s just the way God wants it. If I ask them to show me that verse in the Bible, they just look at me like why would there need to be anything about that in the Bible? They’ve heard it from enough preachers, wouldn’t a Bible verse be just redundant?

        Like you, I sort of have to give up. I still remember family members debating whether Catholics were saved. Of course in the Catholic case, they at least HOPED they were saved, which is more than what they were prepared to say about the Mormons. But they would start talking about the pope and “praying to Mary” and Catholic iconography … and it became clear that they only SAY that salvation is by grace. What they MEAN is that salvation is by adherence to TULIP Calvinism or whatever it is, and then by not adding any gloss to it beyond whatever Billy Graham or John Hagee or whoever specifically approves as “biblical.” Which is funny because it implies that no one was ever saved before John Calvin got around to inventing Calvinism, but my dear evangelical friends don’t want to discuss that much either. And heaven forbid that anyone would look at Eph. 4:11-14 and take it literally ….

  • John W. Morehead

    While not addressing the topic of this post directly, readers will be interested in recent work of mine that critiques evangelical counter-cult approaches as written by an evangelical. This includes my lead essay in Fuller Seminary’s “Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue” journal devoted to evangelicals and new religions which sketches a historical portrait of approaches including more recent missions and dialogue efforts, at (see the whole edition with responses that will be of interest too), as well as my essay in the Journal of Asian Mission at