What’s This Mormon Thing?

Hostile Anti-Mormon posts subject to editing or deletion

Mormon Ministry – Just How Different?

Posted by JLFuller on July 16, 2008

Just in case there are some who read this but know nothing about Mormons, let me take minute to tell you about us and why we are not like any other Christian denominations. First, we believe in Jesus Christ, the same one as in the New Testament. We believe the bible is the word of God, that Christ died to atone for mankind’s sins and by doing so made it possible for every human being to be resurrected after death. This is the salvation we read about in the scriptures. By His sacrifice we are saved from being cast into outer darkness (eternal hell) with Satan and his followers. God has told mankind that He cannot abide sin in the least degree so in our sinful state we would not be able to live with God so what Christ did makes us eligible to attain a heavenly state. We also believe that there is nothing we can do by ourselves that merits what has been given to us so in a very real way, Christ bought us. We are His. We believe in baptism by emersion by one holding the authority to perform that ordinance. We take Holy Communion weekly, we call it the Sacrament. We believe in the laying on of hands to heal the sick and to convey priesthood authority and that marriage between a man and a woman is a Holy ordinance. I could go on. So far, you might say, Mormons are not different from most  other Christian denominations and you would be right.

What makes us different and riles most other Christian Churches, we call them historic or traditional Christians, is that we believe God restored His original Church in 1830 through a young man named Joseph Smith Jr. It was after Joseph prayed for guidance as to which church he should join, according to Joseph’s account, that he was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ. He was told that he should join none of the churches of his day because they all had adopted creeds which were an abomination to God. In time Joseph would be given the responsibility of restoring Christ’s original Church along with the many teachings and ordinances which had been lost or removed from scripture over the centuries. Joseph would be given plates upon which were written the records of a people who had lived in the New World centuries before and that those records would testify that Jesus was the Christ and that the Holy Bible was in fact the word of God. Joseph would be able to translate them with the aid of heavenly beings and that this would be the most correct of all the scriptural works of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is that Church today. We are known as Mormons after a prophet named Mormon who lived 1400 years ago. He compiled all the records of the book we call the Book of Mormon, a testament of Jesus Christ. It was Mormon’s records that were given to Joseph to translate. 

As you can image some religious people take serious exception to what Joseph said and the teachings of his new church. Many said then and say today that we are not Christian because of our view that their theology is not what Christ taught in the first century but has become infused with man’s teachings and ideas. Most churches just leave us alone but some have an active campaign against us. Some of what they say is legitimate but wrongly understood, incomplete or misinterpreted. Others are deliberate in their distortions. We, however, do not attack other churches but just proclaim the doctrine we believe was given us to preach. We are a missionary church which means we go into the community to make the message of the gospel, as we understand it, available to others. In fact we have been very successful having grown to the fourth largest church in North America. Most of our membership came from other churches so you can image how we are viewed in some circles. 

But just as we are a missionary church and seek new members, we also have strict guidelines to which members must adhere. Some members leave the church over these things. Being uncompromising rankles some members especially those who want to preach their own views in our Churches while desiring to be considered authoritative and legitimate. But we are a structured Church and all authority concerning doctrine comes from a prophet and 12 apostles just as in Christ’s time. If these people don’t recant and get back to the official Church doctrine they are excommunicated. Personal conduct such as adultery and homosexuality or other sex offenses are cause for excommunication too and a fair number of members are dropped from the roles of the church every year for those reasons. There are those who leave for other reasons too.

 Over the years there has grown up a substantial number of ex-Mormons who have taken severe umbrage with Church disciplinary actions and have become quite vocal if not militant in their condemnation of us. Many of these ex-Mormons have joined other churches and with a few attaining positions of authority. Some make attacks on the Church a tenet of their religious doctrine. You will hear them referred to as anti-Mormons. They are not to be confused with other denominations whose theology is different from ours but refrain from the overtly militant activities of the anti-Mormons. We respect everyone’s right to believe what ever they chose however and respect legitimate dialog with those who are respectful in return.   

There other things about our theology that historic Christianity thinks are heretical too. I disagree of course. Our beliefs are not heretical or orthodox – they are heterodox.  But for our basic beliefs you can go here.

 

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11 Responses to “Mormon Ministry – Just How Different?”

  1. jackg said

    JLF,

    This is a great post that has a lot to talk about. Perhaps, we can address one issue at a time. Now, I don’t claim to be original in my comments or views, but I am curious as to how would answer. John 14:23-26, teaches that anyone who loves Jesus will obey His teaching. It then goes on to state that after He leaves, the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, will teach them and remind them that everything he had taught them. My question for you is: do you see this statement being made only to His disciples, or can it be received by everyone? The reason I am asking is that those who do not believe that a restoration of Christ’s original church (a word He did not use, by the way) refer to this passage to claim perpetual authority, that to say that the Church Councils are nothing more than the work of man, is to say that Jesus is lying in this verse. (I hope I have presented this argument appropriately enough.) The claim, then, is that the Spirit has been moving throughout the history of humanity, and that there never was a time after Pentecost in which the earth was void of the Spirit and, therefore, in need of a restoration. I think that’s enough for now. Oh, here’s something you might find interesting: verse 30b in the NIV reads: “He has no hold on me”: in the Swedish translation it reads: “In me exists nothing that belongs to him.” I like that translation. More compelling. I hope to be able to say that of myself, as well. Just thought I’d share that with you. Peace…

  2. Jackg
    Good question as usual. Is the Holy Ghost available to everyone? Yes. Was He always guiding God’s Church on earth? Well, you tell me if you think Christianity was well served by your statement given Christianity’s history. Was it the Holy Ghost who burned people at the stake? Was He in charge then? How about the 1500 years before the bible was translated into local languages so ordinary people could have access to the scriptures? Was it the Holy Ghost who prevented it being made available? Was it God who said anyone with a copy of the bible in any language but Latin should be burned to death? Was God in charge of all the religious wars within Christianity, the slavery, the genocide, the abuse of the weak and helpless? How about the selling of indulgences to the wealthy? Was God in charge then? Or did God allow Satan to run wild over the earth as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Was God in charge of the day-to-day running of the Christian church then extant or was Satan?

    Or does the prediction of a great apostasy seem to have come about as talked about in Acts 20:29-30, Isaiah 24:5, Amos 8:11-12, Matthew 24:4–14? Does 2 Timothy 3:1–5, 14–15 talk about our current time? Do I need to go on? I suggest Christ’s Church was gone. It no longer existed on the earth after the last apostle died. What was left was just a shell. The heart was missing. The authority was missing and Christ was not in it. But was the Holy Ghost still available to the worthy? I believe so. God was not going to totally abandon his children. The Holy Ghost was present to prompt some people at certain times. But we have no record of it in scripture that I am aware of. But then there was no authority to write on it. We make some confident assumptions about the Holy Ghost promptings in stalwart souls like Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.

    John 14:23-26. Precisely! Keep Christ’s commandments and the Holy Ghost will be your teacher and comforter. Christ implies that those who don’t have no promise. So what did these people do after He died? They apostatized just like Paul said in Acts. Christ also remarked in verse 30 that the deceiver (prince of this world) was coming after His death.

    You said “…refer to this passage to claim perpetual authority, that to say that the Church Councils are nothing more than the work of man, is to say that Jesus is lying in this verse.” Jack, this is not supported anywhere that I am aware of. I think it is a backdoor way for historic Christians to claim authority they are not entitled to. This especially doesn’t work in light of the apostasy. The premise of the argument that Christ would be lying if the rest of your statement didn’t work misses the mark.

  3. Jackg
    You brought up Church Councils. I assume you meant those convened 400 years after Christ died. I am ready to go there when you are.

  4. jackg said

    JLF,

    I didn’t expect the usual diatribes against Christians. I don’t see how they support your position. What it does support is a God who works through a fallen and broken humanity to bring about His work of redemption. Maybe, this doesn’t make sense to you as to why I am responding this way. It’s just that Christians accept the atrocities that man perpertrated against humanity in the name of God and denounce them as such. However, this does not prove that the Spirit was not working because, eventually, the wrongs have been addressed and every Christian acknowledges that some evil men used God’s word or lack of God’s word to manipulate people. So, no, the Holy Spirit did not take an active part in all that, but it does not mean that the Spirit was not present on the earth. Man does have free-will to respond to God or not. Even, today, there are scores of purported God-led, Spirit-led men who manipulate God’s word for their own purposes within Christianity as well as outside. That does not mean that the Spirit is not present in the world. We’re talking on a macro scale right now, how about a little on the micro. Personally, I was facing excommunication from the Church for adultery, and I lied about it. Eventually, I confessed to my Bishop and was subsequently excommunicated. According to Mormonism, that meant that I no longer had the gift of the Holy Ghost. Well, what I found out was that was not true at all; in fact, during those days, the Spirit was with me, nurturing me, and assuring me of God’s love for me. It was during this time that I came to a true knowledge of God, and it did not match up with Mormonism. Now, there are some things I need to clarify where I stand: I had the gift of the Spirit as any man who had not yet come to Christ, and that was through prevenient grace–and this was while I was an active Mormon; the perpetual indwelling of the Spirit did not come until I accepted the biblical Jesus as my LORD and Savior. Right now, I would suggest that God’s prevenient grace i working in the lives of the LDS member as it worked in my life. (I know I’m making a mess of this.) My point is that even though Church members thought the Spirit was not in my life, He was. So, even though the LDS teaches that the Spirit was not present in the world after the first century, He was. The gift of the Spirit is a gift, and a gift is not taken back. What we do with the gift is our choice, but the gift will always be ours unless we reject it or give it away.

    You see, I believe God’s Church to be the sum of believers–denomination plays no role in this. Peter became the first member of ekklessia when he proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. It is interesting that even though Peter walked with Jesus, witnessed the miracles, and knew Jesus personally, that all this evidence was not what constituted a living testimony. It was his confession of the Christ, and that confession came by way of direct revelation from God. Hence, Peter was the first member of the Church. Since then, the Church has been built up by this same confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And, where there are members, there is a church. There is also a priesthood, but it is a priesthood of believers and not an attempt to copy the Levitical priesthood which belongs to the Jews. (Am I getting too far off topic?)

    The Spirit of truth, the Counselor, was given at Pentecost and, according to Jesus in John 14:16, the Spirit will be with us forever. We were not left as orphans (v 18). It seems to me that the picture the LDS Church paints is one that suggests we were left as orphans. The passages you cite must be looked at individually and in proper context. For the most part, they seem to suggest the need for such councils more than a prophecy of a universal apostasy because the councils were designed to purge the Church of heretical teachings. What about the caution to beware of false prophets? For me, that smacks of Joseph Smith and his teachings. I believe God worked through frail humanity even then. I will agree to the degree that people seemed to operate without the indwelling of the Spirit, but there were men (as you mentioned) through whom God worked. Their work was within the paramaters of the Bible. The work of Joseph Smith falls outside those parameters. The talk of modern-day temple work, etc. is not consistent with the biblical text. There is no mention of such practices even in the Didache.

    Wow, I’m exhausted. I just want you to know that I appreciate your firm stance and how you support your beliefs with scripture. It doesn’t matter that I don’t see it the way you do as far as our dialog is concerned. However, I think we are both alike in the fact that I would love for you to come to what I consider to be the biblical Christ, and I would hope that you would love for me accept JS as a prophet and Church teachings as truly from Christ. I feel we are maintaining appropriate respect for each other (but let me know if my passion gets in the way). I will be off the computer through the weekend. Looking forward to our discussion on Monday!

  5. JLFuller said

    Jackg
    Do you need a break after that? You must be exhausted. Some time ago someone asked if Mormons believed in the same Jesus as he did. The LDS responder assured him we do given we think there is only one. But in reality, we do not. We believe in the one in the bible. You believe in the one created four hundred years after the real Christ died. We believe in a good and loving God who cares for His children not one who would create billions of His own off-spring only to condemn them irretrievably to eternal damnation for something they had no control over. The picture of God you historic Christians paint is not the one in the bible. He is the one created by men under satanic influence four hundred years after the Savior died. He is not the God of the bible. He is what Satan wants you think the real God is. He wants you to think the real God is just like himself. No Jack, Mormons do not believe the nature of God is the same as historic Christians do.

  6. JLFuller said

    “I didn’t expect the usual diatribes against Christians.” Diatribe: a harsh and forceful verbal attack.

    Jack how does one talk about evil without addressing the evil itself? When I wrote the things about the dominant religious authority of the time they were about behavior not theology. What I said was about the first, second, third and fourth century people who claimed to be Christian and their abandonment of Christ’s original Gospel just as the bible said would happen. Was it diatribe to quote Acts, Amos, Matthew and Timothy? I didn’t say these things Jack. Christ and the apostles did. God did Jack. What I wrote was about the apostate Christian’s behavior. When I talked about the murders, genocides and slavery they were about human behaviors not Christ’s doctrine. These were by every standard of human decency abhorrent, evil and ungodly. There was nothing Christian about them. To suggest God had control of the Church when these things happened is unimaginably blind.

    These were not isolated events perpetrated outside the Church’s control. They were doctrine, policy and practice of the dominant religious authority and it went on for centuries. No one can say they were the acts of renegades. They were the acts of a corrupt and evil political theocracy. It is only by God’s grace that any resemblance to Christ’s original church remained at all. Was it diatribe Jack? I suppose it is when one describes Satan’s works. I am guilty of being passionate about our Savior and the evil that overtook Christ’s original Church. I admit it. I try to be proportionate and respond as the Savior or Joseph Smith would but I don’t do so well sometimes. It is something I work on regularly.

    But if the Church consists only of people and doctrine and I talked only about people’s behavior how is that an attack on doctrine? Surely no reasonable well-read and intelligent person who knows history would associate Christ or His doctrine with the barbarity of the dominant religious authority of those times. But it most assuredly was an attack on evil behavior. It was an attack on the ungodly behaviors of those who participated with Satan in disemboweling the original Church.

  7. JLFuller said

    “The talk of modern-day temple work, etc. is not consistent with the biblical text. There is no mention of such practices even in the Didache.”

    Before I get into evidences of early temples and temple rites, I want to include the following. It is a brief paragraph I am sure you are familiar with. It establishes the Book of Mormon as scripture and was prophesied about in the OT.

    “In Isaiah 29, the prophet predicts the bringing forth of a book in the last days, describing it a marvelous work and a wonder. The learned would not read the book because it was sealed, but the unlearned would not have such a problem. And in Ezekiel 37, we read of two books being combined: one is the “stick of Judah”, or the Bible. The other is called the “stick of Joseph”. What is this stick of Joseph? The only book known to man claimed to have been written by descendants of Joseph, Jacob’s son who was sold into Egypt, is the Book of Mormon! No other book qualifies. The New Testament was written by Jews (Judah) not Joseph. So it can’t be the book. The Dead Sea Scrolls were also written by Jews. Only the Book of Mormon satisfies both Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s prophecies.” Gerald Smith, http://www.geocities.com/rameumptom/bom/apostasy.html.

    Now, let’s get back to temples. Ancient historical writings do talk about such rites. The second century book Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs says concerning the priestly ordination of Levi.

    “And I saw seven men in white clothing, who were saying to me, ‘Arise, put on the vestments of the priesthood, the crown of righteousness, the oracle of understanding, the robe of truth, the breastplate of faith, the miter for the head, and the apron for prophetic power.’ Each carried one of these and put them on me and said, ‘From now on be a priest, you and all your posterity.’ The first anointed me with holy oil and gave me a staff. The second washed me with pure water, fed me by hand with bread and holy wine, and put on me a holy and glorious vestment. The third put on me something made of linen, like an ephod. The fourth placed . . . around me a girdle which was like purple. The fifth gave me a branch of rich olive wood. The sixth placed a wreath on my head. The seventh placed the priestly diadem on me and filled my hands with incense, in order that I might serve as priest for the Lord God. (Testament of Levi 8:2-10.)”

    2 Enoch 22:8-10: (A 2nd century Slavic text) says “And the Lord said to Michael, “Go, and extract Enoch from [his] earthly clothing. And anoint him with my delightful oil, and put him into the clothes of my glory.” And so Michael did, just as the Lord had said to him. He anointed me and he clothed me. And the appearance of that oil is greater than the greatest light, and its ointment is like sweet dew, and its fragrance like myrrh; and it is like rays of the glittering sun. And I looked at myself, and I have become like one of his glorious ones.”

    Again, medieval Jewish text attributed to the second-century A.D. Jewish Rabbi Akiba, in which, in the day of redemption, the Lord will be seated in Paradise explaining the Torah when he hears voices from Gehenna answering, “Amen.” In response, he sends the angels Michael and Gabriel with keys to open the gates of Gehenna and bring out these repentant souls. The text continues:

    “What, then, do Michael and Gabriel do? In that hour they got hold of the hand of each one of the wicked and pull them up, like a man who raises his fellow man and pulls him up from a pit . . . And Gabriel and Michael stand over them in that hour, and wash them, and anoint them with oil, and heal them of the wounds of Gehenna, and clothe them in beautiful and good garments, and take them by their hand, and bring them before the Holy One, blessed be He . . . And when they reach the gate of the Garden of Eden, first Gabriel and Michael enter and take counsel with the Holy One, blessed be He, answers them and says: “Let them enter and see my Glory.” (Midrash Alpha Beta diRabbi Akiba.)” John A. Tvedtnes, Early Christian and Jewish Rituals Related to Temple Practices.

    If you recall Jack, the whole premise behind the need for a restoration was that many important and sacred things were removed from scripture. Are these some of those things? I don’t think so but they address some of the things that were. They establish by means of historical writings that they existed if not in this form then another. I think writings such as these and many others establish that Joseph Smith did not just make up a bunch of stuff and create his own religion out of whole cloth as some claim. Is this conclusive? I don’t think so. But it is another evidence that the case against Joseph Smith is being dismantled a piece at a time.

  8. jackg said

    Well, that was a lot to digest. I’m still spinning. Anyway, I just want to say that I don’t believe in the premise of such important things relating to salvation being taken out of the Bible. Anyway, that’s it for now. Gotta take my daughter to an orthodontist appointment and to digest everything. BTW, I’m getting married Saturday, so I might not be able to put as much thought into all this at the moment, but I’ll try.

  9. AlexM said

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Amie said

    Thank you so much for writing what us (I am also a mormon) mormons believe. I have been searching the internet for things about Joseph Smith Jr. and most of the things are false. Thank you for lifting my spirits.

  11. JLFuller said

    Amie
    You are welcome. I have discovered that the negative things written about Jospeh are almost always written by anti-Mormons. That means they are not just people with a different view althought there are some exceptions. These people primarily are former members who have been excommuinicated and are angry and have an agenda to destroy the church by distorting our message. Just keep that in mind when you hear or read some their stuff.

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