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Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Sally... (2 of 7)

Picks up where Part 1 left off:

8.  “The fact that there is no reference to a mother in heaven either in the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a mother did not exist there” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Smith, Jr., p. 143).

Sally, Jesus always referred to God as “the Father.” There is no separate god-mother in heaven. God Himself knows how to bring forth life and how to nurture His children. One of His names is El-Shaddai, which means “many-breasted, or all sufficient One.”


9. Jesus was the “Firstborn” of the Sovereign’s offsprings. Lucifer, his brother, was the second born in the morning of pre-existence, and the rest of human beings followed in this pre-mortal existence. “We are all the spiritual children of heavenly parents.” (Eternal Marriage Student Manual, p. 259).


Again, Satan is not equal to Jesus in any way. He is NOT the spirit brother of Jesus Christ. The only heavenly parents any of us have is God the Father. Although, I will say that anyone’s parents who died as believers in Christ are certainly in heaven now.


10. “The child to be born to Mary was begotten by Elohim (God).”


Specifically, the Holy Spirit:


18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 1:18 NIV)

11. This is called “celestial Sireship.” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 23)


12. The Church teaches there is an after life when righteous spirits carry the message of salvation to wicked spirits in hell and co-mingle. At this point those wicked spirits can repent and be freed. (Preparation for Exaltation, p. 36).


Sally, there is no chance for repentance in hell, nor will there be any “co-mingling” of the righteous and the wicked in hell. Jesus told the story of a rich man who died and ended up in hell. He begged for Abraham to send the poor beggar Lazarus to him to comfort him in hell, but God would not allow it:


22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.     The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked     up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ (Luke 16:19-31)

13. The Church teaches the Father in heaven was once a man as we are now, capable of physical death. He progressed through stages to reach the stage of “exaltation of godhood.” Humans have the power to reach godhood. When we become gods we will have jurisdiction over worlds that will be peopled by our offsprings. (Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 132).


Sally, the Bible does not teach that. Again, God the Father is not a man. He is not a created being. In the miracle of Incarnation, God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus, the Son of God, and as a man did experience physical death for the purpose of our salvation. And He was raised from the dead so that we, too, might have resurrection life.

 
Since God has always been God, He never progressed through any stages to reach “exaltation of godhood.” And men will never become gods. Men and women who follow Christ in this life will, however, reign with Christ for 1,000 years when He comes again, and for eternity. That is is great hope of redemption - what was lost to Adam and Eve in the garden has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, and He will make all things new!  Does this involve getting your own planet? I can’t say. But it absolutely refers to taking dominion once again over a restored earth, the place God put mankind to begin with.


14. The Church holds that “Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children” (Orson Hyde (apostle) The Judgments of God on the United States, (March 15, 1855) in Journal of Discourses, p. 210).


Sally, the Bible does not teach that Jesus was ever married on earth. He attended a wedding at Cana, but it wasn’t His own. And He never begat children. There are Gnostic gospels (false) that have taught that for centuries, but it is a complete falsehood.  Christ will marry His Bride, the Church, at the culmination of history, at His 2nd appearing.


 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:  “Hallelujah!
 For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 7 Let us rejoice and be glad
 and give him glory!
 For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
 and his bride has made herself ready.
 8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
 was given her to wear.  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)  (Revelation 19:6-8 NIV)

15. Joseph Smith, Jr. taught The Book of Mormon is more reliable than the Bible, (History of the Church, p. 4:461). It advocates that if it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormon Doctrine, p.670).


Sally, this is just a ridiculous statement and a chief reason that Christians reject Mormonism. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the sole author of our salvation. 


 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)

So you see, Sally, “Joseph Smith” cannot offer anyone salvation; only Jesus Christ can do that. He has not “restored”any truth at all. To the contrary, he has perverted it.


16.  Mormonism teaches persons can be baptized for the dead. This is required for the persons ultimate salvation. If it is man’s part in salvation that means that what Jesus did on the cross is incomplete and has to be completed by man, and is completed by baptism. Again I say that indicates what Jesus did on the cross was incomplete. The Bible teaches contrary to that. Salvation is by the blood of Jesus not the water of man.


"Bottom line: they believe Jesus is the son of God, but they do not believe Jesus is God the Son. They believe Jesus was 'a' son of God just as they conceive all human beings to be."



Dr. Nelson is Pastor Emeritus, Roswell Street Baptist Church · Former Pastor, Oak Park Baptist Church New Orleans, Louisiana. You can find Dr. Price’s complete article here:http://www.nelsonprice.com/what-does-the-mormon-church-church-of-latter-day-saints-church-teach/ 

Dear Sally... (1 of 7)

     I’ve been corresponding with a incarcerated woman for almost a year now. She read one of my books compliments of the prison library, found my address, and wrote to me. She asked if I might be willing to write back, and I said I would. So we’ve been trading letters since last fall. When I hear from Sally (not her real name) I usually get an update on her latest round of legal filings, her frustrations and troubles with other prisoners and staffers, and her hopes for the future. She would like to write a book one day about her experiences. I hope she does. If only half of what she says is true, her experience with the State of Florida’s justice system would make a great script for one of those Lifetime Channel movies.

    When I write to Sally, it’s usually about ordinary things, and hopefully something she is actually interested in hearing about. If I have an interesting newsletter or some really good jokes, I send them along, too, always being careful to limit my pages to the restricted amount. I try to include an encouraging Scripture or two in my letters, also. And I never staple or paper-clip anything together when I mail a letter to Sally. It is harder to get things into prison than you might think -  I had an envelope returned to me once because of the metal clasp attached to it. Apparently, inmates can do extraordinary things with tiny metal envelope clasps.  


    I discovered early on that Sally is committed to her faith, drawing what encouragement she can from her Mormon church while she serves her time. She even sacrificed a good bit of postage to send me copy of an LDS magazine. It’s impressive to receive a gift of any kind from someone with so little. 


    Since Mormonism is quite different theologically from traditional Christianity, I wondered how I might respond. While searching out ideas on the internet, I found a very respectfully written blog article from a retired Baptist preacher, Dr. Nelson L. Price. I copied Dr. Nelson’s article to send along to my pen-pal, and included some notes of my own.  Then I thought perhaps the readers of my own blog might appreciate a having a little knowledge of what Mormon doctrine teaches. So here follows a few items from Dr. Price’s research and article, along with my commentary to Sally, which appears in italics:


"Members of the Church say they believe Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God the Father. By that, what do they mean?"


1. They believe “We are sons and daughters of God, and we lived in a pre-mortal existence as His spirit children” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, [hereafter noted as “D&C”], p. 106).


Sally, the Bible teaches that God created man on the sixth day of creation. There was no pre-mortal existence:  


27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 2:27)
 
2. “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).


Sally, the Bible teaches that God the Father (YHWH) is not a man:


19 God is not human, that he should lie,
 not a human being, that he should change his mind.
    Does he speak and then not act?
 Does he promise and not fulfill? (Nu. 23:19 NIV)

It also teaches that Jesus, THE Son of God was fully human - the incarnation of God Himself, in human flesh: 


18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 1:18 NIV)

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (I John 1:14 NIV)

3. God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).


Sally, the Bible does not teach that. God has always been and will always be. There was no one before Him, for He is the beginning and source of all good things. God as Father is not “begotten” of anyone. Jesus the Son is begotten of the Father, that is, Jesus is God’s unique Son. Through the new birth that Jesus offers, people become sons and daughters of God:


 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (I John 1:35-36 NIV)


29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (I John 2:29 NIV)

3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (I John 3:1-3 NIV)

4. There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443). God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).


Again, the Bible does not teach that. The children of God are quite human, because we all descended from Adam and Eve, who are God’s creation. Adam received God’s breath of life (spirit) only after he had a body.  Man never existed as merely a spirit prior to receiving a body.


5. The first spirit to be born in heaven was Jesus, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 129). Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163; Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15). “Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).


6. The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus “in the morning of pre-existence,” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 192). Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163).


Sally:  Satan, which means “adversary,” was a created angelic being once known as Lucifer. Jesus the Son is part of the Godhead and is not a spirit brother to a fallen angelic creature! It is blasphemy to give Satan the same stature as Jesus Christ.


7. A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the Father. Jesus’ plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to “deny men their agency in order to dethrone God,” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 8).


Sally:  Satan was the reason a plan of salvation was needed in the first place. He tempted Eve in the garden, she and Adam sinned, and it all went downhill from there. The idea that God would entertain a plan of salvation from the devil is just ridiculous! Satan is a thief, a liar, a deceiver, and a destroyer. This is what Jesus had to say about it:


10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

(continued in part 2)

Dr. Nelson is Pastor Emeritus, Roswell Street Baptist Church · Former Pastor, Oak Park Baptist Church New Orleans, Louisiana. You can find Dr. Price’s complete article here:
http://www.nelsonprice.com/what-does-the-mormon-church-church-of-latter-day-saints-church-teach/