Do Mormons have more than one god?

I’ve got a page (here), where I allow people to ask questions about Mormonism.  On June 27th, Mitch.4.Him asked the following:

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt taught, “We were begotten by our Father in Heaven; the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father; and again, He was begotten by a still more ancient Father, and so on, from generation to generation”

Isaiah 43:10 says “… before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me”.

I think your real question is “why do you preach polytheism (the belief in many gods) when Isaiah apparently teaches Monotheism (the belief in one god)”? 

Actually, this is a common question we receive from critics of the church who poorly understand Mormonism and incorrectly interpret this scripture.  For Mormons are not Polytheists, and the assertion that Isaiah was teaching Monotheism is an icorrect.  But first let me address the notion of polytheism.

Mormons are not Polytheistic, we worship only one God.  They’re confusing Polytheism with theosis (human deification, or the belief that we can become like God), which is what we really are.  The belief in theosis and being Monotheistic are not mutually exclusive, but are perfectly harmonious, and this scripture in Isaiah happens to point out why (I’ll get to that in a minute).

Additionally the belief in theosis is not, actually, unique to Mormons, but is shared among many early Christians and much of modern Christianity (Eastern Orthodox).

This official statement from the church on the idea that we can become like God was given in response to an interview by Fox News (here):

We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.

This is theosis, or the belief that we can become like God. 

Next, the assertion that Isaiah was teaching Monotheism isn’t accurate.  Actually in Isaiah’s time, they were not Monotheistic either – so he wasn’t saying “there are no other gods”.

What he actually said was that before God, there were no gods, nor will there be any after him.  But if you think about it, God is eternal, which means there never was a time in which God did not exist, so there never was a “before god”, nor a scenario that would be “after God”.  But what then could he be talking about?

Further study of Isaiah reveals that this scripture is a comparison of Isaiah between the God of Israel (YHWH) and Ba’al, a deity worshiped by the Canaanites.  Ba’al had defeated Yaam, his preceding deity, to become chief of the Canaanite pantheon.  And as such, it was assumed he too could be superseded.  But Isaiah wanted to make it clear that YHWH did not replace his god, nor could he be replaced (hence – there was no god before me, nor will there be after me).  For he didn’t oust some prior diety to become God, and nobody else can remove him to take his place.

You’ll notice, therefore, that while he says there were no gods before him, or after him, there was no mention of any gods “during” him.

Hence, theosis, or the belief that we too can become like God, partaking of his divine nature (Peter), and becoming joint heirs with Christ (Paul), is not in contradiction to scripture, for in doing so, we do not replace god, we simply become like him.  Regardless, he is our only God today, and will be our God eternally, our relationship with His is everlasting, but doesn’t preclude our ability to become like him.  We are taught that we should become perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect, that we become joint heirs with Christ, inheriting all the father hath.

What a beautiful and magnificent doctrine, to know that our goal is greater than salvation from sin, but rather ultimate exaltation.

Such a notion expands our minds to behold all new vistas of opportunities, and provides further foundation to the real understanding of the true nature of God (which I’ll cover shortly), and the concept that we must do more than just believe and be baptized (which I cover here).  Actual exaltation and the opportunity for eternal progression requires a higher degree of dilligence, but is within our reach. 

After all, we are children of a living God, and were created in His divine image, is it not fitting that such a loving father would desire that we should inherit all that he hath?

Rusty

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140 Responses

  1. There’s also the assumption of the question asker that Isaiah is dealing with a theologically abstract question of Polytheism vs. Monotheism, which is both reductionist and anachronistic.

  2. Rusty, this is a wonderful explanation of an important doctrine. Clear and succinct for those who are open to accepting a higher understanding. It is important that when studying the Bible that each verse is kept in context of the time period, culture, and current events. Too many times people cling to a literal translation based on a modern view. One must remember that English was not the original language of these ancient texts, and that over the many ages and multiple translations there have been changes and clarifying passages have been lost. Those who are bent on criticizing our beliefs without this sufficient study & understanding display great disrespect & haste to pass judgment. Thank you for all your insightful and respectful articles.

  3. Hi Rusty,

    I stumbled upon your blog from the sign in page. It’s interesting to see a Mormon blogger.

    From my discussion with Mormons (and I mean… perhaps two) I think the problem is not merely a question of monotheism.

    You said:

    “Mormons are not Polytheistic, we worship only one God.”

    But I think this is a non sequitur. It doesn’t follow from only worshiping one God that one is polytheistic. Hence, henotheism (“polytheism” where only one God, who is considered supreme, is worshiped).

    It seems to me that if this is the case that Mormons are indeed polytheists, but not polytheists like the peoples who surrounded the ancient Jewish nation.

    However, I do have some questions for you regarding henotheism. I know that Mormons worship the Father. But I wonder whether Mormons also worship the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a doctrine of traditional Nicean-Chalcedonian Christianity that the Son and the Spirit are worshiped and glorified with the Father.

    Now, in Mormon theology, I believe I would be correct in saying that the Son and the Spirit each have a distinct essence from the Father (because Mormons deny Chalcedonian Christianity which says that there is one God in three persons [one ousia, three hupostasis]). But if Mormons worship in addition to the Father, the Son (and perhaps the Spirit), then it would indeed seem that Mormons are not merely henotheistic, but polytheistic in that they worship more than one God. Could you clarify this for me and give me your thoughts?

    Next you say:

    “They’re confusing Polytheism with theosis (human deification, or the belief that we can become like God), which is what we really are.”

    But I don’t think this is being done. Perhaps with some more uncultured evangelicals. Oftentimes they have an appalling knowledge of doctrine and Church history, and so they hear “theosis” and find it repugnant (when they ought to know that salvation is a process of theosis, or divinization). The problem is a question of nature and grace.

    Traditional Christianity holds that what God is by nature, man may become by grace. Hence, “God became man that man might become God. ” Or as St. Thomas said, “”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.””

    It seems to me that the more serious question for Mormonism is whether God has a nature which is different than man. Consider this. I’ve heard statements from Mormon prophets to the effect that, “as man is, God the Father once was.” And likewise, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ has been exalted and is now like God the Father. Furthermore, each individual Mormon may himself be exalted and become a god the father to his own world. The King Follett discourse, although not Mormon canon, explains something like this. And I think a theology like this is more or less entailed by the Mormon understanding of God, exaltation and the soul– all souls are essentially alike, but differ only according to their level of exaltation. In my own words, the natures of all souls are essentially alike in the way that all individuals of a species (e.g., each dog) are essentially like each other. I quote from the King Follett discourse (by means of illustration of my point, not as if quoting an authority, for I do not think Mormons generally accept it as an authoritative document): “The mind of man is as immortal as God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their friends and relatives are separated from their bodies for only a short season; their spirits existed coequal with God, and they now exist in a place where they converse together, the same as we do on the earth”

    This is what rankles adherents of traditional Christianity. To say that man becomes God by grace is traditional doctrine on theosis. To say that man is essentially like God by nature is completely different. There is no room for this in traditional metaphysics (and I confess to not understanding how this ultimately makes sense). In this way I think the Mormon view of theosis is completely different than traditional Christian view, for Christian theosis is always by participation in the divine nature.

    You seem like a very irenic writer, and I look forward to discussing these things with you. Please give me a message over at my blog when you get around to responding. I’d really appreciate it.

    May God bless you.

    -Rob (“The Black Cordelias”)

    http://theblackcordelias.wordpress.com/

  4. Wonderful comments for a fascinating conversation. Let me address this in parts…, the latter of which you’ll hopefully find helpful in understanding how we find our belief in the nature of god, the separate entities of the Trinity, and theosis supported by true traditional Christianity.

    Part 1 – Monolatry vs Henotheism:

    I’m not sure that you would call us henotheists, but perhaps more accurately monolatrists, for while Henotheism worships only one God, but accepts that others can worship other Gods, monolatry sanctions only the worship of one God.

    What’s more, monolatry is what has been recognized by scholars as most likely practiced in ancient Israel, which then gave way to monotheism as they later demoted the gods of the pantheon to angels. Additionally scholars have surmised that the Deuteronomic Code taught monolatry.

    And Jews at the time of Christ were not monotheists. They believed in monolatry, or the worship of one god, with the existence of others. And it’s important to distinguish the two for the Bible tacitly refers to the existence of many gods, while only sanctioning the worship of one.

    For instance, the Book of Psalms 86:8 “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works”.
    Other scholars also postulate that Exodus 7:11-13 seems to demand a non-monotheistic explanation.

    1 Corinthians 8:5-6 The Apostle Paul says “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ,”

    This appears to be another clear indication of monolatry rather than monotheism.

    Part 2 – Separate entities, and the Nature of God

    Having said that, the scenario you describe where our belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are entirely different entities, doesn’t therefore indicate hard polytheism, but rather further supports monolatry.

    In fact the concept of theosis, or the deification of man, I find supportive of not only the concept of monolatry, but also enlightening in understanding the nature of god and supporting the belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate entities.

    As you mentioned, traditional Christianity teaches “God became man that man might become God”, and as St Thomas said “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”, and St. Athanasius of Alexandria: “God became human so humans would become gods”.

    So we know a man can become a god (theosis – a traditional Christian belief), and in so stating, do we not describe the nature of a god – an exalted man; hence as you reference from the King Follett discourse “as man is God once was”.

    Hence we believe the nature of God and Man are identical, one being in an exalted state, and the other with merely the potential for exaltation, or Godhood, for we were created in his very image.

    This concept is further supported by Paul in saying that we can become joint heirs with him. Unless one believes that somehow that inheritance precludes the ability to have spiritual offspring, create planets, and do all the other things we learn that God has done, then we can naturally see that there’s no contradiction with the teaching that God is an exalted man, and as exalted men, we can become gods.

    And if this is the case, then we learn not only about the nature of God, but also find an immediate inconsistency with the teaching that he is somehow anything other than of flesh and bones, or that he is somehow three beings in one.
    Admittedly, this teaching of three distinct beings and this revelation of the nature of God flies in the face of much of modern Christianity, but then much of Modern Christianity also flies in the face of the early church and it’s doctrine as established by Christ (which I explore here). In fact, in the very Harper’s Bible Dictionary it is recorded that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament”.

    In fact, it wasn’t until the various creeds, beginning with the Nicene Creed, established over 125 years and 4 major councils beginning with the Council of Nicea by Constantine, which was meant specifically to address (among other things) the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity”, did this concept of the all-in-one trinity take form.

    But it was a departure from original doctrine, and find that belief self-evident from from concepts such as theosis, and monolatry, but also from numerous biblical scripture, like “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent”, the baptism at the hands of John where there were three distinct presences (Jesus in the water, the Holy Ghost descending, and the voice of God from heaven), or the experience on the Mount of transfiguration, or the martyrdom of Stephen, just as a few illustrations.

    Christ said “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do”. Does that not indicate that God, at one time, was in the position of the Son now, and that the two are separate and distinct. He also said “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

    Perhaps above all, the deferential subordination to His Father when Jesus said “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God. And his statement “I go unto my Father, for My father is greater than I”.

    Or to whom was Jesus pleading when he said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”, or “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”.

    These scriptures make no sense under the fourth and fifth century, post-creedal view of the Godhead, but for the original Christian followers, and for Mormons (having fully restored the original doctrine of Christ from a state where doctrine was decided by men in creeds, and not by Christ), it not only make sense, but harmonizes as you’d expect with the teaching of theosis, or human deification.

    So it should be seen that the belief by Mormons in the physical nature of God, and the distinct individuality of the Godhead, while first realized by the Prophet Joseph Smith in vision in 1820 where he saw the two standing together, is not solely based upon this revelation alone, but abundantly supported by scripture and doctrine.

    Rusty

  5. There is so much that is hair-splitting within this post and with the responses. Much of what is written assumes a particular position, then finds evidence of it in scripture. For instance, from Rusty’s last post, end of Part I: “1 Corinthians 8:5-6 The Apostle Paul says “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ,” This appears to be another clear indication of monolatry rather than monotheism.”

    Actually, to me it appears to be a clear indication of monotheism, because Paul does not acknowledge even the existence of other gods, rather dismisses it. It all depends upon the pre-suppostions.

    Likewise:

    “These scriptures make no sense under the fourth and fifth century, post-creedal view of the Godhead, but for the original Christian followers, and for Mormons (having fully restored the original doctrine of Christ from a state where doctrine was decided by men in creeds, and not by Christ), it not only make sense, but harmonizes as you’d expect with the teaching of theosis, or human deification.”

    In the dialogue between Mormons and Christians, this is a stumbling block. The creeds are expositions of scripture. To say anything less than the creeds state is to say less than what scripture states. Creeds were Holy Spirit-led exercises.

    Pondering Pastor

  6. I don’t follow how you read that reference of Paul to be Monotheism, at least according to its definition. He says specifically “(as there be gods many, and lords many)”, there is no denial in these words, but then “to us, there is but one”. That’s monotheism by definition. None of that is based on pre-suppositions, but rather the socially accepted definitions of those terms and explicit statements in scripture. Perhaps you could explain how Monotheism is derived from this verse.

    But it’s interesting that you would define these creeds as Holy Spirit led exercises. I understand why it’s viewd that way, but the stumbling block I have is in looking at the actual process by which they were derived. The more I learn (and admittedly, I need to learn more), the less it sounds like divine revelation.

    Divine revelation as shown in scripture came directly to prophets who disseminate the information throughout the church without question or debate. Such was the importance of the role of a prophet, seer, and revelator… to communicate directly with God and pass on the commands/will/mind of God to the people.

    But that’s not how these creeds came to be. At least as I study these creedal creations I find that they’re more based on heated debate and comprimize by churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries. After all, it took them 4 major councils and 125 years of this kind of debating to come up with the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. To me it just sounds an awful lot like formulation of doctrine by committee, a set of compromizes in order to present a unified front, than what the scriptures seem to tell me about true revelation, and the process by which that is given to a prophet of God.

    Hence the discrepencies I pointed out with specific scriptures regarding the nature of the Godhead as three distinct beings. Again, the burden of explanation is not upon Mormons to support their viewpoint of the nature of the Godhead, for our beliefs are harmonious with these scriptures that seem to clearly deliniate distinct beings, but rather on those who believe that somehow they are still one person. It is upon them to describe what specifically is happening in each of these verses, and how it is possible that they indicate a single entity.

    You say that the creeds are expositions of scripture, and to say anything less than the creeds state is to say less than the scripture states. But that was the point of the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary which records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament”. In short, the creeds seem NOT to represent scripture. And what’s more, Harper’s Bible Dictionary was not created by Mormons, but by 180 members of the Society of Biblical Literature, representing some of the best biblical scholarship available.

    So while the Mormon view of the Godhead may be a stumbling block for many Christians, that seems to stem more from devotion to tradition for tradition sake, then solid understanding of church history and scripture.

  7. I understand how the story of the process of the establishment of the creeds does not seem spirit-led. It is often easier to see the work of Satan in those debates, which are said to even result in fistfights! I don’t deny any of that. What emerges, however, is indeed spirit-led. I don’t believe God abandoned that process. I’ve been in plenty of church meetings where there was intense disagreement, and people fighting for their own agenda. I’ve watched with amazement as the process eventually gave glory to God rather than those individual agendas. Often, the outcome has been more surprising and novel than anyone could have predicted at the outset.

    I have less trouble with the work of the church in “committee” than an individual revelation, even if that person identifies themselves as a “prophet”.

    Yes, the doctrine of the Trinity is not found *in that form* in the New Testament. Harper’s Bible Dictionary is right there … but Harper’s is a publication that is “anti-creedal”. It is generated by those Christian churches which also find the creeds suspect. (See, Mormons are not the only ones!)

    But when I say that to say less than the creeds say is to say less than scripture says it is because the creeds take all the passages about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together and without trying to discount any of them, include all of them in some kind of formulation. It is an uneasy and challenging

    To worship God in three persons without the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is to be polytheistic … a perspective that our Jewish brothers and sisters have of Christianity anyway … denying that we have any claim to the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. Mormons are even further from the fold.

    When you say, “Divine revelation as shown in scripture came directly to prophets who disseminate the information throughout the church without question or debate.”, I hope you don’t mean that there was not objection to the prophet’s message. But, then, how can there be debate when a revelation comes to only one person?

    St. Paul suggests that the revelation of the spirit be confirmed by others.

    Pondering Pastor

  8. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
    And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

  9. Rusty–

    Isaiah and the Jews are absolutely monotheists. I think Isaiah 43 is straight forward on its own, but even more convincing are the reactions of the Jews to Jesus’ statements of Divinity: they try to kill him. The issue is that Jesus is in fact claiming he is God, the Jews are in fact staunch monotheists, and they do not believe in theosis– and so they imagine that Jesus is committing blasphemy, a capital offense.

    Also, Isaiah’s point over and over is not that YHWH can’t be superceded like Ba’al was superceded; Isaiah’s point is that unlike Ba’al and the other gods, YHWH is the only Living God. The other gods are pieces of wood and stone. He alone, then, is Savior, because only God can save. If men could become gods themselves, this other major theme is significantly disrupted.

  10. Rusty,

    The serpents original lie to Eve in the Garden was that mankind would “be like God”. The best we can hope for is to have the nature of Christ traded for our own filthy rags and keep our souls from the hell we deserve. The passages you cite only serve to condemn those who teach lies (cf. Romans 1-2, 2 Timothy 3-4).

    Your conception of the Trinity is far from the orthodox tradition. A couple of excellent reads I would suggest to gain some fresh insight on the Trinity and the formulation of the creeds are For Us and Our Salvation by Stephen Nichols, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware. Nichols shows how the creeds were formulated and why (to combat heresy), and Ware does an excellent job of showing the functionality of the Trinity.

    May the God of all truth open His revelation to your mind and soul.

    Andrew

  11. Thank you, Andrew, for bringing up this dialogue from the archives. I follow this blog from recent comments, and this one had alluded me till now. And this is a great discussion!

    I love pondering pastors words, especially about how committees (I’ve been on several) seem to bring contention and strife, and then magically emerges the solution clear as day. The old adage, “Two heads are better than one,” works well to find that solution, and as long as everyone has the same goal and don’t get prideful, the end result is better than a dictatorship-type solution.

    But as always, it comes down to whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I think your term, “self-proclaimed” only biases your opinion as all prophets are self-proclaimed. Moses was alone when he climbed to the burning bush, for example. So how can you decipher a true prophet from a wolf in sheep’s clothing? As described above, 2 simple ways: 1) direct personal revelation (confirmation by the spirit), and 2) by their fruits. I suggest picking the low hanging fruit that is available to all–the Book of Mormon. I invite you to read any random 10-page sample from the book. You will find it is easier reading than the Bible. You will find that it testifies of Christ. You will realize that it is a divine work. You will reason that it would be impossible to create such a work within a few months with only a 3rd grade education unless Joseph had divine help. You will conclude that Joseph was a prophet, and therefore, the vision he saw at age 14 put the debate to rest.

    How could a “committee” convince Joseph after he saw two distinct personages that the Holy Trinity is God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost wrapped in one? Because I esteem Joseph to be a prophet, I will shout from the housetops the amazing earth-shattering news. We now know the nature of the Godhead! And re-reading the bible with this in mind, makes sense! Every verse taken in the context of the new revelation Joseph received makes sense. No compromise, no confusion.

    Even if you disagree with my belief in Joseph as a prophet, please acknowlege my stand and reasoning based upon my belief and tell me if my conclusion is wrong. I don’t see Mormonism as descension from the “fold”–I see us proclaiming to our Christian friends the “good news.”

  12. Ryan invited me to reconsider Joseph Smith as a prophet. It’s not quite so simple as he would make it seem for me.

    I’d first have to accept that Old and New Testaments were not sufficient. I’d also have to accept that for about 1800 years, God abandoned the Christian church allowing apostasy and corruption to dominate, despite scriptural promises to the contrary. (God never abandoned Israel for anywhere close to that long.) I’d also have to accept the possibility that the gnostics were the true arm of the church in the early years of Christianity, who were oppressed and condemned as heretics. I’d have to accept that in scripture, Paul is misunderstood and that anything he wrote about grace being sufficient has been wrongly characterized by Christians following him. I’d have to return to a Jewish understanding of salvation, that we are saved through our obedience, and distance myself from Christ.

    If I were to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, all this and much more would have to be amended. I don’t find the argument compelling enough to consider it for more than a fleeting moment.

    What I do believe is that the same factors that produced gnosticism in the early years of the church combined with a particular American individualism produced Mormonsism. Joseph Smith, I believe was an imaginative and creative individual, able to see an itch he was able to scratch. When he did that, it was not as destructive as some more recent cult leaders, unless you count drawing people away from Christianity as dangerous. Christianity’s response to Mormonism was helpful for Mormonism in the early years, resulting in strength on account of persecution.

    For what it’s worth.
    Pondering Pastor

  13. Rusty,

    I don’t mean to come on too strong here, or be rude or disrespectful, but I was dumbfounded by some of your comments here. Your patently dishonest (ab)use of scripture and other texts on this post and comments section is shameful.

    Just a few examples:

    I CORINTHIANS 8:5-6 – For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father…

    How about we stitch these verses back from whence you tore them out?

    I Cor. 8:4-6 – Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol HAS NO REAL EXISTENCE,” and that “THERE IS NO GOD BUT ONE.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

    Paul’s point here in regard to the eating of food offered to idols could not be more explicitly obvious. Paul is arguing that the eating of this sacrificed food is not inherently sinful, because the supposed deities to whom it was sacrificed are fictitious. A biblical author’s recognition of “gods” does not equate to an affirmation of polytheism. It is here (and in similar statements throughout the Old Testament) simply recognizing reality: men worship gods. That’s it. These are not affirmations of these gods actual existence. They are, in fact, the opposite – they serve to demonstrate the difference between the true God of Israel and the false/pretender/non-existent gods of the pagans. To make Paul here say these idols are actually Gods – divine beings that truly exist – or that Gods other than the God of Israel truly exist, is to destroy his whole point.

    ATHANASIUS – “God became human so humans would become gods”

    Of course, Athanasius did not mean that humans would become Gods, in the Mormon sense. He clearly meant, as all early church fathers and Christians throughout the centuries have meant with this kind of language, Christians partake of the divine nature AS CREATURES OF THE CREATOR. As someone rightly noted above, Mormons make the blasphemous error of confusing categories and natures. God is God. We are His creation. God is eternal and has no beginning. We are created and did have a beginning. Etc.

    In fact, Athanasius himself clarified this very thing in his third treatise against the Arians:

    “To become as the Father is impossible for us creatures.”

    “There be one Son by nature…we too become sons, not as He in nature and truth, but according to the grace of Him that calleth, and though we are men from the earth, and yet called gods, not as the True God or His Word…. We are sons, not as the Son, as gods, not as He Himself.”

    To quote Athanasius in the manner you quoted him is to lie (intentionally or not).

    HARPER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY – “The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament”.

    You conveniently (and again dishonestly) quote the first sentence of the final paragraph of this dictionary entry. The rest of the paragraph:

    “Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history.”

    Far earlier, in fact, then those nasty councils.

    And as PP noted, not only are these biblical scholars anti-creedal (I’m not really anti- or pro- creedal; as long as Scripture remains authoritative, I can go either way); they’re anti-Christian. These aren’t believers. These are secular scholars who presuppositionally discount everything supernatural or divine in nature. These folks are no friends of Christians or Mormons. This kind of cherry-picking (dishonest cherry-picking, at that) of naturalistic/secular scholars once again evidences the desperation of the Mormon apologist.

    Rusty, I’m really not intending to be combative. I just can’t tolerate lies. And I don’t mean to call you a liar. (I don’t believe you are intentionally espousing what you know to be untrue.) I would, however, ask you to consider the credibility of those who taught you these apologetic tactics. They should know better.

    God Bless

  14. Rusty, you have the patience of a saint!

    I will be honest, sometimes after having ‘been there and done that’ going round and round on the merry-go-round, I just want to say “very well, have at it, I’m done.”

    You are a fine example.

  15. Did ya’ll catch Rusty’s bait and switch tactics? Rusty said,,,,,,

    “Mormons are not Polytheistic, we worship only one God. They’re confusing Polytheism with theosis (human deification, or the belief that we can become like God), which is what we really are.”

    AND

    “This is theosis, or the belief that we can become like God.”

    BUT THE MORMON CLAIM IS NOT TO BECOME “LIKE GOD”,,,,,, BUT TO BECOME A GOD.

    I got a whole post on this Mormon use of this Non Sequitor fallacy.

  16. Damon…

    Well somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

    I guess I don’t see your “bait and switch”, so I’m hoping you can clarify.

    I stated that we believe that we can become like God. That’s no secret, it’s well known, and taught in the scriptures. And what is God… well, a God of course. So becoming like God would naturally mean what? We become Gods.

    You only see a non-sequiter because you’re failing to draw that statement out to it’s conclusion, since it competes with the docterine to which you’ve become accustomed. That’s okay, new doctrine is often hard to swallow, particularly when it so abrubtly contradicts heretofore held beliefs. Look at how Christ’s teachings were received, or many teachings of his prophets… all too often it’s with this same kind of rankor. Nobody likes having to change their perceptions and world view. But sometimes it’s necessary, and if we don’t, we only doom ourselves.

  17. Rusty,
    I found this blog by accident. I know that HF, His Son, and the HG are all separate beings. That we pray to HF,in His Son name, and that all three are Gods. I am at a loss as to how to explain, that we worship only one God.

    Do we mean, one God , in purpose and spirit, and recognize that each is separate. Don’t ask me why I feel so confused, but I know that we worship Jesus and the Father, with the HG being a verifier of truth for a better word.

    I am having the same discussions with a co-worker. He says he has read the BoM three times. I told him, that I changed the discussion, because I could not change anybody mind. But he sounds a lot like the people who are responding here to your blog.

    I need to do my own reading, but this was interesting reading. As the 1st AoF states, We believe in God , the Eternal Father,and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    Thanks for your time and energy.

  18. As a matter of fact, at this very moment I’m writing a post about this very topic. I should be done shortly, and will post the link here. I’ll also email you a version of it, so you have it there too.

  19. Rusty,

    Well I did do some more reading. John chapter 5. Clearly distinguishes the difference between the Father and The Son.

    So Yes we have three Gods, God the Father, God -Jesus Christ and the God the Holy Ghost, which form the Godhead, which is one in purpose, and we have one God that we worship. For whoever worships the Son, worships the Father. You cannot worship one without the other.

    Also, I think the scriptures are 50/50 when discussing the the three are separate versus the three in one theory. As one reads the Bible, the Three Beings being separate is the only one that logically makes sense.

    I realize that other religions want to call this polytheism, but when the gospel is understood, it is to understand that the Godhead is One Purpose, therefore One God. Just as when a man and woman marry and become one, they are still two separate being, but now are one in purpose.

    Just wanted to let you know, that I did go back and do some reading and studying. I find your blog, very uplifting. I watched again the talk about forgiveness, and it was wonderful. Thank you for the time you put into this site.

    R-

  20. Rusty … I think you’ve been working too hard.

    You wrote, “I stated that we believe that we can become like God. That’s no secret, it’s well known, and taught in the scriptures. And what is God… well, a God of course. So becoming like God would naturally mean what? We become Gods.”

    I used to give my children rides on my back like a horse. I”m a horse!
    Carob tastes like chocolate. It is chocolate!
    I sometimes act like my mother. I’m my mother!
    I’m becoming like my father. I’m my father!

    This line of logic doesn’t make sense.

    If A is like B that does not make A = B!

    So becoming like God means … becoming like God, but not God, because God is god.

    Pondering Pastor

  21. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    Your example is interesting, but still more. You have a father, that you will never be older than. You will have children, and become a father also. Are you now equal with your father? Or simply, your father is still your father, and you defer your respect to him (and become like him) but you are now a father also?

    For those that become a God, it does not mean that they will not have a Heavenly Father (God) still. It only means that have become what He is, but not at the same level.

    R-

  22. Being like God is not the same as being a god.

  23. Then what do you think being like God means? I’m curious.

  24. Glad you asked.

    Using the Bible as a source (since I don’t accept the Book of Mormon as scripture) to figure that out, and just searching the phrase “like God” one comes to the first reference in Genesis 3. The serpent says to the human, “…God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    Therefore, being like God = “knowing good and evil”

    In Genesis 33, we read, Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God– since you have received me with such favor.” (This is an example of searching beyond the phrase “like God”.)

    Therefore, being like God = being gracious and merciful.

    In Exodus 7, God says to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land.”

    Therefore, being like God = speaking for God.

    The phrase “like God” appears in Job 19, referring to the persistence of suffering.

    Therefore, being like God = never relenting

    Later in Job 40, the phrase appears again, this time dismissing that anyone is like God.

    Finally, in Zechariah 12 the phrase appears for the last time in the Bible, and it refers to the house of David exercising God’s judgment on those who have opposed Jerusalem.

    Therefore, being like God = being an instrument of God’s wrath.

    It is impossible for you to find in the Old Testament any reference to being “like God” means to become a god, for that would be blasphemous. In fact, almost every reference to other gods or “ancient gods” has God destroying them. To suggest that Jesus begins something new here about becoming a god would mean that Jesus is not the promised Messiah, but rather a false prophet of another god.

    That isn’t all, of course, and I want to address the quote above from Rusty’s post …

    “We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.”

    But, I’m on my way to a family gathering.

    More later.

    Pondering Pastor

  25. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    I have a question for you. Are Mormons the only ones that believe in Jesus of Nazarath being the Christ, the promised Messiah, and that He is a separate Being from the Father and the Holy Ghost and do all other Christian religion believe in the “Trinity”? Does the question make sense?

    A little background. My parents were both Methodists, and at the age of 14, I was invited to a Mormon Sunday meeting. Everything I was taught, made sense. I have no other way to describe it. It was years before I read the Book of Mormon, and everything in that book, teaches of Jesus Christ.

    If the book is false, why hasn’t another person, done what Joseph Smith Jr did? The statistics don’t support a simple person being able to do something like this. The devil is not going to do anything that will bring someone to Christ, and have them have a broken heart and contrite spirit, Satan is the Father of all Lies and is contention himself.

    So, after having a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and the rest making logical sense to me. I can only conclude, that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith Jr is a prophet of the Lord. Joseph Smith Jr, was not a perfect man, he made many mistakes, and they are found in the history of the Church, there is nothing hidden about his mistakes. But what did he really personally profit from his revelation, but to restore simple truths, esp the Godhead among many others things? There are many bad Mormons, and many good people who are not Mormons.

    But if we (the Mormons) are the only ones who believe that the Godhead is made up of separate Beings , who are one in purpose, then it explains to me, why the other religions fight so hard against us. Because, whether or not we believe in being able to obtain Godhood at some point way in the future, we challenge all that other churches hold dear.

    When Jesus told Mary, John 20:17, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. ”

    You either have to take literally or figuratively
    , I choose to take this scripture literally.

    Respectfully yours,
    R-

  26. Ramona,

    Mormons are not the only group that claim Jesus as Messiah and do not accept Trinitarian doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses would also be included in that category … as are some others.

    I’d like to answer more directly about your phrase, “and that He is a separate Being from the Father and the Holy Ghost”, but you see this actually requires a more technical question. Trinitarian doctrine maintains that there are “three persons” in the Holy Trinity, but one God. The Athanasian Creed of the Christian Church works to defend Trinitarian doctrine. In part, that creed is reprinted below.

    I maintain that in order for a group to be called Christian, there must be adherence to Trinitarian Doctrine. Rusty (and other Mormons) disagree.

    You write, “If the book is false, why hasn’t another person, done what Joseph Smith Jr did? The statistics don’t support a simple person being able to do something like this. The devil is not going to do anything that will bring someone to Christ, and have them have a broken heart and contrite spirit, Satan is the Father of all Lies and is contention himself.”

    People who do not believe Mormons are Christian might answer by saying that there have been others who have created “cults”, even large and powerful and influential cults, (ie Rev. Sun Yung Moon). They might also claim that the devil is successful in drawing people away from Christ by helping them believe in a false (read Mormon) faith. Your claim to recognizing truth or logic is not sufficient to “prove” the validity of a faith.

    You also write, “But if we (the Mormons) are the only ones who believe that the Godhead is made up of separate Beings , who are one in purpose, then it explains to me, why the other religions fight so hard against us. Because, whether or not we believe in being able to obtain Godhood at some point way in the future, we challenge all that other churches hold dear.”

    Please note that you have some commonality with the Athanasian Creed below … and some differences.

    Pondering Pastor

    Part of the Athanasian Creed.
    That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.
    For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
    Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
    The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.
    As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.
    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.
    So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.
    For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.
    The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
    So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
    And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

  27. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    You give a lot of answer. I absolutely disagree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The statement ” Trinitarian doctrine maintains that there are “three persons” in the Holy Trinity, but one God. The Athanasian Creed of the Christian Church works to defend Trinitarian doctrine. In part, that creed is reprinted below.

    I maintain that in order for a group to be called Christian, there must be adherence to Trinitarian Doctrine. Rusty (and other Mormons) disagree. ”

    So are you saying that the Trinitarian Doctrine, is the God in heaven,and is Jesus – God made flesh, and that they are the same being?

    Cults do not bring anybody to Christ, and Lucifer certainly does not. It is absurd to suggest that Satan would draw people to the Mormon church, for what reason? We are to follow Christ, keep the commandments, etc, etc. It is not an easy religion to follow. Much is required in becoming Christlike, including loving those, that do you harm, (with which I am having conflict with a supervisor, because even though I should love her, I want to throw her under a bus).

    Jim Jones, and the other true cults, exploited people, and ultimately brought harm to them. So again, why not another Book of Mormon? One reason is that the BoM makes sense to me, is that Jesus had a covenant with Abraham to teach all the tribes of Israel. So there will be another testimony that Christ taught the other tribes of Israel. Other sheep? How else does this make sense?

    You did not answer the last question about the resurrected Jesus talking to Mary.

    As to Mike Mantoon, it is not worth my time to talk about sexual predators. Joseph Smith Jr was not one, and neither was Brigham Young. Who? ,honestly want to deal with so many women, be truthful. and if you say, they were 14 yrs old, get real, the life span, was about 40, and my aunt was married at 15 yrs, and I myself was married at 16, so please , if we are talking about 9 yr old girls getting “married”, as were the people in Texas being accused of. Then there is a problem. Polygamy is not the issue. The bottom line is this. If the Book of Mormon is true, then it is all true, and through modern day revelations and prophets , we keep on course. If Joseph Smith Jr was “cult leader”, the cult would have died when he did. But it did not.

    If others “break away”, then they truly are a cult.

    But back to the original question? Leaving the Unitarianism and the JW out of the question, are then Mormons the only ones to believe that the Godhead consists of three separate Beings, with one united purpose? The Trinity says three persons, but are we saying three separate beings? Thank you for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Ramona

  28. Ramona,

    I hope I’m not reading a sharp tone in your reply to my note. I tried to answer the question factually without making accusations or condemnations.

    You ask, “So are you saying that the Trinitarian Doctrine, is the God in heaven,and is Jesus – God made flesh, and that they are the same being?”

    If you read the Athanasian Creed carefully, it says that there are three persons but only one God. So are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit one God? Yes. Later in the creed, we read, “And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.” Three separate beings? No. Three persons is the language, one God. That’s what makes the incarnation so important and special. (You are tackling one of the harder questions of Christian doctrine, and it is easy to move into error.)

    On what basis do you disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians? If Mormons are Christian then Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians are Christian.

    If Trinitarian doctrine defines Christianity (again, Rusty and other Mormons maintain it does not) then those who are not Trinitarian are drawing people away from the real Christ. That’s what many of the attacks on Mormonism hearkens back to. Some suggest that the devil is always involved where we’ve got to perform properly in order to be made right with God.

    Why not another book like the book of Mormon? Maybe it is because it is unnecessary. We have what we need. The Book of Mormon conveniently fills in some gaps. Is that because of revelation or because of human construction? I’ve read other “inspired” books that made a lot of sense too, but that doesn’t make them authoritative. (Course in Miracles comes to mind.)

    Sorry, I missed the question about Jesus talking to Mary. My answer, I don’t know exactly. I do know that Scripture is not wooden, and when there are idioms of speech and personal relationships involved, language can be quite misleading to those who overhear it. Maybe he was simply talking about ascension, and trying to clarify what it was since it wasn’t a common occurrence. Maybe it is proof that the Trinity is wrong. (I don’t believe that one, nor did the early Church Fathers, but then, many do.)

    Pondering Pastor

  29. Dear Pondering Pastor,
    I appreciate your time in answering my questions, and I would not on purpose use a sharp tone. My apologies if I sounded in anyway offensive.

    I did read the Trinitarian Doctrine and Athanasian Creed. I did not study them, they sound a little convoluted. To use your words, ‘(You are tackling one of the harder questions of Christian doctrine, and it is easy to move into error.)’

    Personally, this is one reason I do believe in the vision that Joseph Smith Jr had, it makes it perfectly clear, and there is no error, that the Father and the Son are two separate Beings.

    I did do some additional reading on the “Trinity”, and it makes me think that basically this is a Catholic doctrine, and as others “reformed” the teachings, this one they kept, because it is a difficult one.

    On the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians (I agree with your statement). I do know some JW, and I do believe that they are Christians (they believe in Jesus Christ , and do their upmost to keep the commandments and be Christlike. I simply, if I was not Mormon, would not be a JW, because I completely disagree with their concept of not participating in the military (among other of their doctrine). It is because we are a free nation, that the JW was allowed to be, and continues to be. Israel has always had an army, and I believe that those who believe in God are allowed to defend themselves when attacked.

    You said ‘ Some suggest that the devil is always involved where we’ve got to perform properly in order to be made right with God.’ I say, the devil is never going to have people act in ways that are contrary to evil. By that, I mean that you know the tree by its fruit. I “think” that the devil, leads people a stray when they think, that abortion is okay, the gay marriage is okay, when “nature is God”, when the devil can convince people that Jesus is a nice fairy tale.

    In my small town, they are more churches than anything else. Even the Baptist do not even agree with each other. So how then do you know “we’ve got to perform properly in order to be made right with God.”

    That is what makes so many people ask questions, and ponder what church to join. That is why the Book of Mormon is so important. Is it a second testament, that Jesus is the Christ, and the teachings are the same. Some things are made clearer, such as infant baptism, the practice of the Sacrament (Communion for others). What happens after death. It establishes again, that Jesus will teach those tribes of Israel.

    What I meant by “another Book of Mormon”, is that if it is that easy to write a book, and create a new religion, then why hasn’t somebody done it, if only to show, that such a book could be written that easily?

    I too have read many inspirational books, esp by C S Lewis. I do not agree with all his doctrine, because I think much was influence by the Church of England, but just about everything else I do. Truth is eternal, and cannot be altered if it really is truth. But the Book of Mormon is not just inspirational; it is another witness that Jesus came to the American continent to fulfill the Law of Moses, and to introduce the concept that the blood sacrifice was no longer needed, but a broken heart and contrite spirit.

    Back to Mary and the Resurrected Jesus. The Bible is almost even on being literal or figuratively. Because of the clarity of revealed revelation and continuing, it is easier for me to know that I do believe it literally. That Jesus really does have a Father, and that Heavenly Father is a separate Being, and He is mine and yours Heavenly Father also.

    There will always be those that character assassinate the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr, but it does not change truth. There are the witnesses of the three who saw the plates and an angel. Then the witnesses who saw the plates and hefted them. Some of these men had falling outs with the church, but none ever refuted what they saw and testified of.

    I again thank you for the time you take to reply to me, have a wonderful New Year.

    Respectfully yours,
    Ramona

  30. This has been a very interesting thread. Pondering Pastor, as always, I am impressed with the respectfulness of your comments and your conviction, even though I often disagree with you. I know I haven’t commented on your answer to my question. I’ve been too busy playing with my grandchildren, and no one comes before them (except my husband). After the New Year, I’ll try to do it justice. I know I must be factual and I appreciate how you make me stretch.

    Ramona, you have done a wonderful job of defending our faith, and I wholeheartedly agree with you! I know you are one of those helpers that Rusty really appreciates.

    What I see here is a debate that will probably never be won, but clarifies what we believe and why. I find it unfortunate that there is a large group out there who feel it is their mission to attack and anihilate us. We have no such feelings toward other faiths. We are not evil. Our fruits prove that we love all peoples and strive to do good to all. We are not perfect, and we all make mistakes.

    Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and many others of our leaders have made mistakes. There has been only one perfect man, namely Jesus Christ. Many lies are told about us, for which there is no factual basis, but are perpetuated by those seeking to destroy us. Unfortunately, many choose to believe those lies without really studying our scriptures and finding for themselves that they are true.

    I testify that anyone who reads, searches, ponders, and prays with a sincere heart, will find that the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are true. I know of no other Church that makes a similar claim. Try it and see.

    When the Savior returns, all doubt will disappear. He just might ask you if you have read, studied and prayed about the Book of Mormon to find out for yourself. What would your answer be?

  31. The more posts there are here, the more it becomes clear that it is very difficult for us to move past our preconceptions. For instance, Margaret writes, “When the Savior returns … Book of Mormon.” That’s not a question I expect to be asked.

    Likewise, “I testify that anyone who reads, searches, ponders, and prays with a sincere heart, will find that the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are true. I know of no other Church that makes a similar claim. Try it and see.” I’ve tried it. It rings false to me. So, it’s not true that anyone will find it to be true, unless you maintain that anyone who does not find it to be true has not read it with a sincere heart. That kind of logic is self-serving, and is also what I’ve heard from Mormons about the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly”, but the definition of “translated correctly” has to do with how Mormons translate it.

    As I’ve read these posts and moved back to the main question, there is no doubt in my mind that Mormons are polytheistic with a hierarchy of gods. God the Father is worshiped. God the Son is worshiped. They are in the minds of Mormons separate and distinct gods. I’m not quite sure about the hierarchy however. Is Jesus higher than God the Father? I doubt most would say so, but in practice, it seems to be so. What I don’t see is worship of the gods the Mormons claim we become (as we become “like god” being a part of this worship.

    Pondering Pastor

  32. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    You are correct when you say, that if you read the Book of Mormon, and still don’t believe, that you must not have had a sincere heart, and that it makes it sounds self-serving to us. (what rings false about it?, I’m curious)

    The issue, the person needs to be questioning also. If someone is perfectly happy with the religion or no religion that they have, why would they bother to read the Book of Mormon to begin with?

    Even with my children, they must decide for their self whether or not the book is true.

    The main point being, if the Book of Mormon is true, then it is all true.

    Jesus is not above the Father, but you cannot worship the Father without the worshipping the Son.

    I asked my 17 yr old, (who goes to the Alabama School of Math and Science, so I do consider her educated compared to some of my other children), what does polytheism means, and give me an example. She said, it is the worship of many Gods, and the example she gave, was the Romans/Greeks, the worship of different Gods that represent many things.

    My daughter and I have not discussed this topic, until then, and only after I was on this blog, and then did my own reading. The Mormons are monotheism, in that we worship the Godhead, which, as you know by now, I believe three separate Beings, but one purpose.

    It also comes back to whether or not; the scriptures are to be taken literally or figuratively. I tend to understand (maybe incorrectly), that that was what the big issue was in the 3rd century, and still I think it was a Catholic doctrine, that other churches as they began to break away , kept it.

    So back to the “Gods”, go back to John 5. It is generally accepted that there is no way back to Father but by Jesus, no other name, no other way. So the only way to worship the Father is through Jesus the Christ. We pray to the Father by way of the Son.

    There is no hierarchy to speak of, except to say, that the Father is the Father , and the Son is the Son, and both are equal in respect. Do you respect your grandfather more than your father, or both equally?

    You asked “What I don’t see is worship of the gods the Mormons claim we become (as we become “like god” being a part of this worship.” From what I understand, that will be quite far into eternity, (in that some will becomes Gods) and that there is eternal progression.

    I won’t worship other Gods, but only my God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, that I worship in the here and now.

    I realize that this is discussion will not change either of ours ‘ minds, but I had never really thought about it, until my co-worker said that he believed in only one God. I thought so do I, and then I began to read again for clarity.

    I do appreciate your time and comments. One day , we will all know, and hopefully be in the same place, with Jesus.

    Do you think that the Trinity started off as a Catholic doctrine, and if so, then why is the Catholic Church not the true and only true church?

    Respectfully yours,
    Ramona

  33. “Do you think that the Trinity started off as a Catholic doctrine, and if so, then why is the Catholic Church not the true and only true church?”

    No, Trinity started off as Christian doctrine. Catholic means “universal” originally and at the time there was really only one church. Roman Catholic distinction begins around 1000 AD as the Eastern and Western Churches moved apart formally. At least that’s the simple answer.

    Pondering Pastor

  34. Ramona was right (in my opinion) when she said that those who were satisfied with their religious affiliation (or lack thereof) probably wouldn’t read the Book of Mormon, and if they did it wouldn’t be with a sincere heart. All other Churches I have looked into either didn’t make sense to me, or had things in them that I just couldn’t accept. My spirit within me recognized the truth in the Book of Mormon and the LDS Church, and the Holy Ghost confirmed it. Nothing any of our critics say can compete with a witness from the Holy Ghost.

    There are many who will find a lot of surprises they didn’t expect when they meet the Savior, if they are blessed to do so. I expect some if I am one of the blessed ones. I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but I do recognize the truth I have found. I look forward to all I will learn if I make it there!

  35. Margaret, have you ever seen a fish flopping on the top of the water before it goes belly up and dies? That’s what your hope of eternal assurance sounds like to me. If that’s all Mormonism offers to me, then I already been on that balancing scale and the weight of my sin condemned me eternally to hell. Do you really know and trust Jesus Christ?

    Expanding on PP’s point earlier, sometimes I hear a song praising Jesus and I say to myself, “man that song is true.” But being true doesn’t mean that it’s God breathed or inspired like the Bible.

    You always talk about this testimony you received regarding the Book of Mormon, but I’ve might have missed you actually sharing the details with us. Could you share that with us?

  36. Randy, I feel nothing like a fish ready to die.

    I feel more like a child who has found something glorious and wonderful! I scratch the surface, loving what I see and feel, and look forward to the time when I can be immersed and know and understand all things. Just knowing that day will come brings me great joy.

    I have shared my story elsewhere on Rusty’s blog. Rather than taking up more space here, when I have more time, I will research where my story is and let you know. If you have more time than I do, you can do it yourself.

  37. Margaret, evidently you had read my post wrong. I hoped to refer to your “hope of eternal assurance” with the dying fish analogy. I am directly pointing to where you had earlier written two “ifs”:

    <if I am one of the blessed ones.
    <if I make it there!

    Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Do you believe that you are a sinner and Christ Jesus is your Savior? If you say “Yes” to this then why the “if”.

    I’m really interested in hearing about this witness you received regarding the Book of Mormon.

  38. OK, Randy, I’ll take a little time now to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

    Yes, I am a sinner. Jesus Christ was the only perfect man, so all of us are. And Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

    The “if” is because just knowing and confessing Christ is my Savior will not get me to where I want to be. We are “saved by Grace after all we can do”. To me that means that we must strive to do good, to follow Christ and live as He lived to the very best of our ability (works). Then His grace can make me eligible to enter in.

    Now, the witness I received of the Book of Mormon (this may be a bit long to adequately explain). It didn’t come easily. It took years of effort on my part and started before I had even heard of the Book of Mormon. Even as a child, I knew that I had a Heavenly Father and that His son, Jesus Christ had lived and died to atone for our sins. I longed to be with them and felt very close to them.

    What confused me was all of the churches and their varying doctrines from congregation to congregation. While in college, I became more aggressive in investigating churches. There were many that I looked at, but none seemed any more true than any other. I really wanted to find the one true church, and that was key to my search.

    Mid way through my senior year in college, I met the LDS Missionaries. They gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and gave me a reading assignment of various scriptures in it. I could tell from the moment I began reading that this was a very special book. I began consuming the book as if I were starving for the knowledge it contained, and really hoped that I would find that it was true. I met several times with the missionaries in the home of a family of members. The time came that they challenged me to be baptized. My family and all of my college friends were very much against me joining the LDS Church. I didn’t want to displease all of them, but it made sense to me to do what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do.

    It was a Saturday, and my roommate and all of my closest friends had gone home for the weekend. I frequently worked on weekends, but this one I was off, and I was alone. I needed to know what the LORD wanted me to do. If I were going to take such an important step that would impact literally every aspect of my life, I had to know that it was the right one.

    I got on my knees by my bed, and pleaded with the Lord for an answer. I needed to know. I literally pleaded for hours before the answer came.

    It is difficult to describe the answer in words. The best I can do is tell you that it started as a burning feeling at the top of my head and moved slowly down through my body to my toes. The feeling scared me at first, as I had never experienced anything like it when praying about other churches. Then, along with the feeling came a knowledge of what it was and what it meant. I don’t remember hearing any words, or seeing any visions, but thoughts came into my mind.

    Different people describe different experiences, but this was mine. The feelings I experienced and knowledge I gained were so strong that I could never deny or doubt it.

    Remember that I really wanted and needed to know if it were true, and did my homework before I asked. That is what “a sincere heart and real intent” are.

    I hope, that by sharing this sacred and personal experience with you, it will help you to understand what it takes to gain a testimony. It doesn’t come, just because you ask.

  39. Margaret, I have read your story and do not doubt your truthfulness. I know you trust whole heartedly in the incident and that what followed as real answers to your sincerest prayers. Thank you for sharing it. Laying it out as you did certainly wishes my reply.

    I was raised in a Catholic home. I performed all the church sacraments, learned about God, Jesus, Mary, and all the
    biblical patriarchs. Yet after leaving the reach of my earthly father, I led a pretty worldly lifestyle filled with drugs, sex, and all the evils. I didn’t care about God because he was nothing to me. My world was just about me and satisfying my lusts. I disguised my lifestyle from my first wife and eventually that even turned adulteress and ended . After that if I couldn’t find free sex then I usually paid for it.

    My older brother ran away from home when he was fourteen. He was my parent’s worst nightmare. I couldn’t even begin to tell you his story, but from what he told me it included selling his body to older men for sex to pay for his addictions. Then one day by the tender mercies of God, he became a bible toting Jesus preaching freak. All the family avoided him like the plague.

    One day I was back visiting my parents and this Jesus freak brother of mine cornered me and asked me if I knew who Jesus Christ was. I replied “Get that crap away from me”, and hurriedly left the house. Many days, months, followed and his question haunted me as I continuously destroyed myself with my lifestyle.

    Well, I did it. I started reading the Bible. Then I really started reading it. Then it just swallowed me up for days and days on end. I can’t tell you the tears I shed as its pure truth convicted me of my sin. I remember reading in bed and had to grasp for air as His Word literally punched me in the stomach. It condemned me to eternal Hell, that was my due. Then there came a hand reaching out for me and it was the hand of Jesus Christ. First He taught me who He was, and what He was like, and that I could trust Him, and that He was who He said He was. And all of this was leading up to a covenant between Him and me. Then I gave myself to him because I was already dead. He loves me without reason.

    Margaret, God is so unexplainable Holy and Pure and likewise so are all of His Commandments.

    How then can a man be righteous before God?
    How can one born of woman be pure?
    If even the moon is not bright
    and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
    How much less man, who is but a maggot—
    a son of man, who is only a worm!

    “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

  40. Randy,

    Let me try explaining the “if” that you ask about. I know that Grace is what Jesus gave to everybody, that He paid the price. I know that He said in John 14:2, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions:’

    I believe that Grace is the gift, the “mansions”, is my reward. There are many types of mansions, so as most of us will agree that faith produces works, and good works continues to strengthen faith, as C S Lewis said, which blade of a pair of scissors is more important. Faith and Works go hand in hand.

    The “if” part. I know that many a person, has gone to war, and not come home. I know many a person, who leads a Christian life, then some terrible happens to them, and instead of helping them, it destroy them, and their faith in Christ. My ‘co-worker’, would say, they never were a true follower if they fell away, and I say, we cannot judge. Pain does more to destroy than inspire.

    So I hold my testimony of the Savior dearly, and do not take it for granted, because I don’t know what lies ahead, and I hope to endure to the end, but some may not.

    I do know that I find my joy in Christ , and serving others. I was looking for something that made logical sense, when I found the church. Then when I read the Book of Mormon, I knew that no “man” could have written this, it would be a novel , if so.

    But the studying of it, supports that the people were following what we call “Judaism” now, for that is what they were practicing when they left Jerusalem, and that is why Jesus visited them to bring them the “gospel’, and all that comes with it.

    The Spirit did bear witness to me, but I know that argument also, but I am just saying the whole of the Church makes logical sense to me. Happy New Year to ya’ll from the deep south.

    Ramona

  41. Randy, your story deeply moved me. It takes courage to share such a story, and even more courage to make that mighty change that you made. I admire you and congratulate you. I’m glad that you shared it.

    Ramona mentioned “mansions”. There are “many mansions” in Heavenly Father’s house. I believe that we will go to the mansion that the Savior has prepared for us, the one we have earned and will feel comfortable in. My greatest hope is that I will be surrounded by my family and friends. If I strive to be good and live like the Savior lived, even though I mess up sometimes, I believe He will wipe away the times I gave in to sin, and welcome me into His fold. I am now at a point where more of my life is behind me than ahead of me, and I so look forward to that time. But not yet. I hope to have about another 20 years on this Earth.

    Randy, I would invite you to read the Book of Mormon as I did. If you have read it before, please read it again with a sincere heart and real intent. If you have questions, or want more, Rusty is a great resource, or Mormon.org. I am so impressed with Rusty, his knowledge, testimony and sincerety. I’ve never met him, but would be proud to call him a friend.

  42. Margaret, I’m just wondering why after I shared with you the truth of Jesus Christ, and his love for the wretched sinner why anyone should desire anything else. You rightly say that in the Father’s house there are many mansions, but when Thomas asked how to get there, Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    I read your words as if you are still looking ahead to the atonement. Your big “IF” above… “If I strive to be good and live like the Savior lived, even though I mess up sometimes, I believe He will wipe away”. Margaret that is absolutely working your to heaven. It’s trying to buy your way into the kingdom. It’s a balancing scale where you lay your good works up on the left platter, hoping that it will tip the scale in your favor and you earn the atonement. That is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I believe that He has already wiped away my sin, all of it, now and future. And I stand before God’s throne justified through the blood of Christ. I believe that I am already his child because of Jesus’ work on the cross – not my work. Through His shed blood I have been legally declared as I now live as one of God’s sons. Now that I am His son, shouldn’t I be like Him?

    Margaret, I strongly encourage you to read the Bible and learn of Jesus’ great love for you. His love is endless and reaches beyond any desire you may have to be with family and friends. In His loving arms is where you will desire to lay yourself to be with forever and ever.

    But Margaret, you won’t find him climbing the ladder. That ladder you are climbing is deceiving you. What you think may be progressing towards Him is actually moving away from His love. Jesus is at the bottom of that ladder, where you are broken before Him with all of your sinfulness and unworthiness.

    He is so Holy, that even the stars do not shine before him , how much us who are nothing but a worm in comparison.

  43. Randy, I know that the atonement has taken place, that Christ suffered and died for the sins of all mankind (you and me included). It is there. What I need to do is live my life so I am worthy to take advantage of it. All the desires and passions I have at the time I pass into the next life are the same ones I’ll have when I get there. This life is the time I have to prepare myself to meet God. I need to keep preparing myself until I die. I know that none of us will achieve perfection in this life and that’s where grace comes in.

    Just knowing all of this isn’t enough. I need to show Him by my thoughts, words and actions that I love Him, and am truely trying to be like Him. No unclean thing can dwell in God’s presence, and I don’t want to resemble anything that is unclean.

    I know I will be resurrected. That is His gift to all. Exaltation is what I am striving for.

    This has been discussed extensively elsewhere on this blog. We may not agree, but I still admire what you have accomplished, and wish you many blessings in your life.

  44. Margaret, you are so filthy dirty and sinful that you can’t even feel it’s weight. Just because my outward sin was obvious to all doesn’t mean your inward sin is any less wretched to God. It was once asked, “Can a dead man feel the weight of sin?”

    “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among [1] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

    How much did this woman feel the weight of her sin in the parable compared to Simon. What lifetime of works did she do to earn forgiveness? She worshiped the one she knew was her Savior with a broken and contrite heart!

  45. I can’t argue with anything you just said. We must have a broken heart and contrite spirit, We must have faith and believe that Christ’s atonement can work for us. Then we must confess our sins and truly repent of them. We must also be baptized by one with authority, as Christ was, and then we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, also by one with authority. Weekly, on Sunday, we attend Sacrament meeting and partake of the sacrament and renew the covenants we made at baptism. The Holy Ghost helps us to steer away from the dangers of sin.

    I agree, the woman the Savior spoke of above felt the weight and sorrow of her sins. I, too feel sorrow for my sins, as do you. The things I have done in the past have been forgiven, but as long as we are on this Earth, we are subject to sin. We, (at least I) have to constantly repent and try harder to do better. The Savior has done His part, and now I have to do mine. I must learn of Him, worship Him and try every day to be like Him. We’ve been told that the best way to show our love for the Savior is to serve our fellow beings. We need to wear ourselves out in service and never weary of well doing. I think of how the Savior never wearied of blessing and teaching all who came to Him. I long to be like that, but I am far from it.

    God loves us all with an infinite love, but He does not love our sins. He longs to forgive us, and will if we do our part!

  46. One more thing. I’ve told you what I need to do to be able to achieve exaltation (living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ). What do you need to do from now until you die to acieve exaltation?

  47. Well, first to answer your last question, “What do you need to do to achieve exaltation?”

    I believe Jesus Christ Is and I trust in the promise He offered to me many years ago when I learned of Him and His love. Through knowing Him and His Holiness, it was apparent that only He could save me. If you remember from the story I told you, I was pronounced dead in my sin and undeserving of anything. His offer of salvation did not come with any strings attached. They were just simple questions: “Do you believe in who I am?” and “Do you understand the free gift I offer to you?”

    Now if He would have had the string attached “now you got to do your part”, then knowing who I was at the time, a man bent on his natural self, without even a spark of desire to achieve anything righteous, couldn’t even begin to agree to such a contract. It was beyond any ability I had and I knew I would soon again be destined to the same place I was currently headed for – Hell.

    But His promise didn’t come with those strings. Instead, He said He would take away my stony heart and give me a new one. He would love me like a Father, caring and nurturing me. And I would come like a child. It would be Him shaping and molding me. When I was unfaithful, He would remain true. When I ran into the middle of the street, He would be there to lead me back to safety. When I cursed at Him, He would wash my mouth out with the tears in my eyes. And finally, when I fell into sin, He had it all covered forevermore. Would you not do that for your own?

    Margaret, I really don’t think He wants me to do anything but love him. Which is the beginning and end of everything.

    Holy Father, King of Righteousness, there is none like you. Blessed is your name in Heaven and on Earth.

  48. Randy, first, I’ll kindly ask you to be more watchful of what you say about Margaret, or others who post on my blog (Mormon or non). You don’t know them, and it’s not for you to judge them. Yes, all sin is egregious to the Lord, and we all sin, but to call Margaret “filthy dirty” is something I just can’t allow.

    Still, it seems like your heart is in the right place, and for that I commend you. You’ve accepted the Lord, realized your need of Him, and have turned to Him for help. Those are powerfully positive steps. What remains now is an accurate understanding of who He is and what He has said.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the magnificent wonder of the miracle of the atonement, of its sweeping power and impact, and of the astonishing feelings that come from realizing that even we can be forgiven, that we then fail to see or take the steps necessary to realize those blessings. Perhaps it’s the profoundly human nature of man to just wish it all away, to say that their acceptance of Christ absolves them of any further action. Now that would be convenient.

    But the doctrine of Christ, is not meant to be convenient. In fact, it was specifically designed to be otherwise.

    We know that the path to exaltation is straight and narrow, with few who find it. We know that it is by our faith in Christ that we can be saved AFTER all that we can do. We know that he gave us commandments (things to do). We know that he taught us how to repent, and that we need to repent often. We know that we are judged according to our works (Rev 20:12-15), that it’s not the hearer, but the doers of the law that are justified (Romans 2:13-16, James 1:22-25), that God will render to us according to our deeds (Romans 2:5-11), that we shall be “rewarded according to our works” (Mathew 16:27), and most of all that not every man that claims they accept the Lord shall “enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that DOETH the will of the Father” (Matthew 7:21-23).

    “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man may say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

    Indeed, we must take the crucial initial steps you have illustrated, acknowledging our sins, turning to the Lord, and accepting Him as our Savior, but then we cannot stop. That is the beginning of the journey, not the end. This is exaltation, not the lottery. The road is straight and narrow, which inherently implies that once we’re on it, it’s not easy, it’s not all said and done.

    Unfortunately, many are led into a sense of carnal security under false pretences derived from incorrect or incomplete doctrine. It’s not bad to look and find yourself falling short, the way is straight and narrow. What matters is that you’ve taken the appropriate first steps, you’re on the right path, but you must continue in the faith, receive the ordinances of exaltation by those who have the authority, and endure to the end, repenting all along the way.

    We may be saved by the grace of God, but then, and only then, after all we can do, will we find ourselves exalted, to become “joint heirs with Christ”. My brother, there is an awful lot of work for us to do.

    Part of the responsibility that hangs over us is to give appropriate due diligence to the restored doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. The doctrines that have been restored through direct and ongoing revelation, through a living prophet, according to the Lord’s pattern (that his church be built upon the foundation of a prophet), are clear and compelling. They finally resolve the confusing paradoxes others are forced to simply accept.

    Paradoxes like the belief in the Trinity, an all-in-one God, a single being. Yet the Bible tells us that an apostle saw Christ standing on the right hand of God. That Jesus prayed to the Father, addressing him as a separate person, and asked that He and His apostles might be one, even as he and the Father are one. But clearly, the apostles were separate beings, even as the Lord and His Father are separate beings. At the Lord’s baptism, was there not the voice of God from the heavens, the Holy Ghost descending, and all while the Lord stood in the water? There are countless other scriptural references so clearly representing three distinct personages, and we do not have to accept these paradoxes as unexplainable events.

    Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, as two distinct people, with the Lord standing on the right hand of God, just as explained in the Bible.

    Such is the profound beauty of doctrinal clarity discovered in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and the comforting knowledge that again we may find ourselves led by a living prophet of God, and not a collection of creeds passed down for centuries after heated debates.

    It’s okay to find yourself realizing that what is currently viewed as orthodox, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Remember, the road is straight and narrow. Christ the Lord Himself had to destroy orthodoxy. He’d taught His people through prophets in the Old Testament, but then the time came when the orthodox beliefs departed so radically from the truth that He had to come and establish His church again. It’s a precedence He set Himself. It’s not so strange then, to see the affects of the apostasy today. The eventual departure of truth from mainstream “Christianity” that called for yet another restoration, establishing yet again His church on the earth, based on the same structure as before, with prophets, apostles, and so forth.

    After all, the Lord is eternal and unchanging, so it makes sense that His church today would be based on the same structure as before.

    And so I testify to you that the Lord has once again established the fullness of His gospel on the earth, restored His Church, called living prophets, and restored the priesthood authority. That those like you who have already taken the crucial first steps, might now take the rest… be baptized by immersion by one holding that authority, and continue in the paths of righteousness until we too, may find ourselves on the right hand of God.

    The doctrine is here, you just have to study it with a sincere heart and real intent and base your eternal destiny on your own findings, and not those of anyone else.

    Rusty

  49. Rusty, thank you so much for saying so eloquently what those of us who have the fullness of the gospel know to be true.

    Randy, accepting Christ as your Savior was a huge step for you, but, as Rusty said, it is only the beginning. We must continually prove our worthiness, as it is far too easy to fall back into our old ways. Satan works hard to pull us back into his clutches.

    May God bless you on your journey.

  50. Margaret and Rusty,

    This is perhaps one of the greatest differences between how orthodox Christians and Mormons understand grace. From an orthodox Christian perspective, there is no grace in what Mormons describe. It still depends on human action. Margaret wrote, “We must continually prove our worthiness…”. From my perspective, that means that Christ’s saving work isn’t effective. Randy wrote about humans being “filthy dirty” which means that even our attempts to “prove our worthiness” are tainted by sin, incomplete and inadequate, no matter how good a job we might think we’ve done. To orthodox Christianity, this means that you don’t yet have the fullness of the Gospel (the good news).

    Rusty, please read your Romans quotations again. In that section of Romans, Paul is constructing an argument about the insufficiency of depending upon our own worthiness or adherence to the commandments for salvation. He argues against the very things you are quoting as truth. Romans 3, 4 and beyond talk about the sufficiency of faith, and the difference that Christ makes. Reading Chapter 2 of Romans alone to glean truth is to misread the Bible (and you quoted it twice).

    I’d also encourage you, if you are going to argue against Trinitarian Doctrine, to be careful in your language and get it right. Trinitarian doctrine says that God is in three persons yet there is one God. As the hymn says, “God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” You seem to suggest that Trinitarian doctrine doesn’t allow for more than one “personhood”. On Dec. 28, my post includes the following line from the Athanasian Creed, “For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.”.

    Pondering Pastor

  51. Rusty, I think you are mistakenly separating the sin from the sinner and defining it as something we do rather than something we are. Paul declared “Oh what a wretched man am I”. He did not say “Oh how wretched is my sin.” That’s the beginning of your misunderstanding of who you are in God’s presence. You have not submitted yourself to Christ’s righteousness and instead are still working an external set of requirements and through them establishing your own righteousness. That is exactly why your doctrine can’t answer the question, “What must I do to be saved” other than with “Do all you can do” and then “Hope”. Thus enters the big “IF” I had alluded to in earlier posts. This “IF“ is not written in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Because you have a faulty view of your depravity before God, you still strive to position yourself on His right hand. You view Jesus Christ as your crutch rather than a true Savior. Let me try to explain using the following analogy.

    A man falls through the ice and is drowning in a freezing pond. He tries to tread water but eventually the coldness weakens his muscles and they completely stop working. He falls limp and can do nothing but sink and drown. Now there are two men on the shore each with a lifebuoy. One man throws his buoy, the Mormon Christ” into the water and yells ‘Grab it and swim to shore or else you can’t be saved”. But the drowning man can’t grab hold of it because he is no less a dead man. Then the other man on shore arises and walks out on the pond, dives into the water, grabs the man, and carries him back safely to shore. Now which man was the drowning man’s Savior?

    Earlier I had tried to explain to you that the covenant is now gone internal, made in the deepest part of man. The inner part of man where he knows his true worth before a Holy God, apart from the prideful esteems of oneself and aside of the personal glorification of one’s good works.

    Until you established the first, and accept Jesus Christ and His righteousness, on Him alone as your Savior, then you will continue to read the rest of the scripture as something you “must” do rather than something you “will” do. Turning aside from His endless love for you.

    To the rest of your reply about Joseph Smith and the restored gospel, I find nothing but more “Ifs.” The Mormon Church has struggled to quantify the “If” and because it has left “Christ Alone” it now fails to answer a man’s deepest question “What must I do to be saved” other than with another “If”.

  52. Rusty has eloquently told you throughout the blog what we believe. At this point, I have nothing more to add except to say that I am grateful for the scriptures, knowledge and great leaders we have. And if you knew what we know, you would be grateful, too.

    God bless you!

  53. <Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, as two distinct people, with the Lord standing on the right hand of God, just as explained in the Bible.
    <Yet the Bible tells us that an apostle saw Christ standing on the right hand of God.”

    Rusty, I also want to explain Stephen’s vision for you to
    show how your view is not consistent with the author’s intent. You are looking solely at the vision as some great proclamation to authenticate Joseph Smith’s first vision and because so you miss the whole point of the story. In Scripture the right hand is a symbol of power and authority. What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Ephesians 1:20-22 says, “[God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”

    Now it begins with Act 7:1 “Then said the high priest, Are these things so?”

    Prior to the vision, Stephen is defending himself against the charges of blasphemy. He is preaching to the court that the God in whom he believes is the same God of Israel. “The glory of our God appeared to Abraham”. Note “our God”. He answers the charges that Christianity is not heresy, it is fulfillment. It is not something new that destroys something old. It is something new that fulfills something old. And so he is explaining that he believes in the same God of Abraham, and he defines God in the same terms to them in the court.

    He then charges them with their ever unwillingness to submit to God throughout history and finally the murder of the righteous one and all His prophets. By the time he is done with his defense, his accusers are the ones on trial being accused of blasphemy and murder. They are in a frenzy.

    Now, doesn’t it seem odd that after arguing his “I believe in the same God” defense he would then gaze into the heavens and see Jesus standing, this is where you added “separate from the Father”. Doing so would nullify his whole defense “he believed in our God” and give just reason for his accusers to drag him off and stone him, which they did, but not justly. Instead he cries out “standing on the right hand of God”. His accusers were convicted thoroughly that this Jesus they murdered was standing in position of power and authority on the “right hand of God”. Therefore Stephen’s vision had answered for them the long withstanding puzzle of David’s psalm: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool”. Making his accusers the real enemies of God.

    So you see then, the vision wasn’t given to show Jesus having flesh and bone, or standing separately in body or spirit, but a continuation of Stephen’s defense he had started and laid out from the beginning. And now his charges against his accusers were strengthened with an indictment from Heaven – (Jesus not just sitting but standing.) It was Stephen seeing the court doors swing wide open and his star witness standing there to testify that the charges were true – They were all murderers and have been throughout history. Jesus showed up at the trial and because of the vision his accusers knew they were damned. This is why they dragged him out and stoned him. Just as they knowingly crucified Jesus.

    In Acts 6:15 the chapter before, the author of the story even writes: “And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”
    His accusers already knew before Stephen even began his speech that there was something from divine happening.

    Rusty, so how you extract and hum some two separate beings theology is clearly out of context with the authors intent of the story.

  54. And more so, it’s completely inconsistent with Stephen’s defense.

  55. Pondering Pastor…

    Agreed, orthodox Christianity doesn’t agree with me, but fortunately, my goal is not to submit myself to orthodoxy (nor was Christ’s, or Luther’s for that matter, which is one of the reasons I respect him). But rather my intent is to interpret scripture accurately, and the things I said weren’t my extrapolations, but quoted scripture.

    I’m not saying I don’t see the wisdom in the orthodox view. If I sat in council with a number of other prominent church leaders with the intent of creating “standardized doctrine” that would define orthodoxy, and my livelihood and power depended upon the marketability of my doctrine, I too would be sorely tempted to adopt such convenient doctrine. It’s always been curious to me, learning about how hotly debated most of these creeds were (such as the Nicene Creed). These church leaders who were prominent, trusted and respected enough to be included in the councils, yet disagreed with the doctrine, but were simply outvoted. Doctrine simply shouldn’t be subject to committee. Committees may be fine for many things, but the fallibility inherent in them makes them tremendously ill suited for determining doctrine, and I personally don’t feel comfortable basing my eternal exaltation on something that was decided in a committee. Hence, I have very little regard for orthodoxy for the sake of orthodoxy.

    This is but one example. I simply listed scripture, and the conclusion you drew was that orthodoxy wouldn’t agree with me.

    I’ve read Romans, and don’t find any instances where the clear meaning of the actual words I quoted were somehow explained away. Rather, I find this specific instance to be compellingly representative of what I find in orthodox teachings. Where great lengths are taken to explain away words in scripture that would otherwise be plain and precious. This instance isn’t isolated.

    Look, for instance, at Randy’s last reply.

    Stephen says “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56

    Sounds pretty clear, but it took him almost 700 (693) words to attempt to present an alternate way of looking at it so that it would sound as if the Son of man were NOT actually standing next to God, even though that’s exactly what it said.

    The problem with orthodoxy is that it gives us these skewed lenses through which we must attempt to interpret scripture. So rather than reading a scripture, and taking it for exactly what it says, if what we’ve found flies in the face of what a creed told us to believe, we must therefore find some other way to interpret it, and the interpretations become all the more convoluted.

    Even repetition doesn’t work. I quickly referenced no less than four distinct instances in the Bible (although there are many more), where someone reading without the lense of orthodoxy would clearly understand three distinct persons, or Gods, yet it took almost 700 words to explain away just one of them. Randy didn’t endeavor to adress the other three, or it would have been longer still.

    As I mentioned before, one of the things I love most about the restored doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that suddenly the doctrine is clear, it makes sense, the paradoxes created by trying to interpret scripture while twisting them to fit within the lense of orthodoxy goes away, and everything makes sense.

    Randy, my reply to you is the same, I just referenced scripture. You came back endeavoring to refute my stance, but didn’t address the scriptures. You can build analogies about freezing people to fit anorthodox lense if that’s what helps you stick to orthodox views, but the scriptures remain, and to me they are clear.

    (For other readers, simply re-read my last comment and remove yourself from any predispositions created by what you’ve been told to believe, look at the scriptures I reference, and see for yourself if they seem clear enough).

    Things don’t have to be so confusing. In fact, they can be clear and simple. You just have to take off that lense.

  56. Listen Rusty, whether it’s explaining in 693 words or 1000 words. It’s looking at the phrase “on the right hand”, reading where at other times it is used in scripture to see how it was understood to be heard. It’s letting the text speak from beginning to end, in this case it starts way back in chapter 6 verse 15, rather than pulling words out of context 56 verses later where you have interpreted them literally and added the words “separate” and “Father”. Those two words are not in the text, and are so only if you and Joseph Smith put them in there. And if you do then you change Stephen’s defense and give the court just reason to stone him.

  57. Dear Pondering Pastor and Randy,

    I have a couple of question, kind of off the current subject. When Jesus comes again, do you expect every person who ever lived to be resurrected? Yes or No. If so, with a body that can be touched, like when Jesus showed Himself to the Apostles (esp. doubting Thomas). Do you expect to know your earthly Mother and Father? Will you know them as that, or just an angel? Also, what do expect Heaven to be like? Do you expect to go to Heaven or Hell, immediately after death? Or do you expect to have a final judgment sometime afterwards? If there is to be a final judgement, where are you in the mean time?

    I find it fascinating that so many people of other religions read this blog.

    And I want to add, Mormons do NOT believe that you can “work” your way into heaven. Each must personally accept Jesus as their Savior. The works and faith issue, go back to C S Lewis. Which blade of the scissors is more important?

    And while I’m here, I searched for the word “Father” in the New Testament. There are at least 140 instances. A good one is John 8:28. (Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.) I think I understand about the Trinity, but the part I do not understand, that if They are not Three Separate Beings, is Jesus praying and talking to (and about) Himself? Did Jesus teach Himself? If the Godhead is not three separate Beings, then how do these scriptures make any sense?

    Respectfully,
    Ramona

  58. Again the vision wasn’t given to declare some “Oh wow look two personages – See See!” , rather Jesus appeared in the vision to vidicate Stephen.

    “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”

  59. Oops, last night I accidentally posted my reply on the wrong post. I’ve added it here in the appropriate spot (4 comments up).

    Randy, the scripture says verbatim: “And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

    There are times when words are used figuratively, such as when you’re teaching a principle, and there are times when they’re not, such as when you’re about to die, and are describing what you saw. I can understand if you’re forced to adapt meaning to fit an orthodox lens, how that would be as good a way to do it as any, but I don’t buy it. He said he saw, and it’s backed up by the other references I listed, which you aren’t addressing.

    To your point of “the vision wasn’t given to declare some “Oh wow look two personages…” that’s because to him, that wasn’t a surprise. It wasn’t declared as though he had just learned some new thing, because they’d been taught that, it wasn’t until centuries later, through the creeds, that the orthodox view of the trinity was established, overlooking the scriptures that speak to the contrary. In fact, Stephens nonchalant mention of it reinforces the fact that it wasn’t something that surprised him.

  60. Additionally, to Ramona’s point, Mormons don’t believe we’re saved by works, we’re saved by Christ. That doctrine is unequivocal within Mormon teachings, but we also read the rest of the scriptures that show that there’s more than just faith that is required, in short, we don’t pick the most convenient scriptures and ignore the others, they must all be taken. Just look at the list of references I provided, those again are not my exrapolations, but simply quoted scripture. Here they are again…

    We know that the path to exaltation is straight and narrow, with few who find it. We know that it is by our faith in Christ that we can be saved AFTER all that we can do. We know that he gave us commandments (things to do). We know that he taught us how to repent, and that we need to repent often. We know that we are judged according to our works (Rev 20:12-15), that it’s not the hearer, but the doers of the law that are justified (Romans 2:13-16, James 1:22-25), that God will render to us according to our deeds (Romans 2:5-11), that we shall be “rewarded according to our works” (Mathew 16:27), and most of all that not every man that claims they accept the Lord shall “enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that DOETH the will of the Father” (Matthew 7:21-23).

    “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man may say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

    Plus, he tells us “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” I don’t know about you, but for me, that means I’ve got some work to do. Clearly, reading these passages I wouldn’t come away thinking “all I have to do is believe”.

    But this is a good example of a larger point. When you actually find out why we believe what we believe, it makes sense. It’s not like we just came up with this stuff. It’s all in the scripture. So many just discount it because it’s unorthodox. But as I’ve stated numerous times throughout this blog, it’s a catastrophic mistake (in this case, eternally catastrophic) to cling to orthodoxy for the sake of orthodoxy. That’s for lemmings.

  61. Rusty, I am aware how the text reads by itself. My argument is how you had craftily inserted the words “Father” and “Separate” to authenticate your Christology. Some translations read “at the right hand” while others use the word “on”.

    Using your verbatim argument, how could you then find fault with another man’s literal reading and him arguing that the Father didn’t complain so then Jesus doesn’t weigh much. That man would say, it says it right here verbatim, Jesus was standing on the Father’s hand. This is silly.

    Rusty, leave the story as is. It has nothing to do with the nature of Christ.

    From Rusty: On? Which translations say “on”? So instead of “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” you’re saying it says “… I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man on God”?

    That’s weird. What translation is that in? Or do you just mean that the word “standing” has been removed, in which case the meaning is unchanged?

  62. “When you actually find out why we believe what we believe, it makes sense.”
    “And if you knew what we know, you would be grateful, too.”

    Above are two statements pulled from Rusty’s and Margaret’s earlier comments. They both claim a higher knowledge and elitism that we lesser humans haven’t yet understood. Quite frankly comments like these and their hatred for anything except their own orthodoxy should be warnings to us.

    From Rusty: Ironic isn’t it, that you’re accusing us of hatred for anything except our own doctrines, yet it’s you here on a Mormon blog, spending so much time battling our doctrine, attempting to refute it. From your comments, you’d expect that it were the other way around. I must say, it doesn’t do much to establish your credibility, but we can look past that.

    Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” And gnostics in ancient times are people who had the secret knowledge, they were really in the know. They weren’t the common, the hoi polloi, the common people, they weren’t just the average Joe and Sally, they were people who had the elevated knowledge, who had ascended knowledge. They were transcendent people. The rest of the people were the uninitiated.

    What we have here are people who have attained the secret knowledge, who go around telling you haven’t rightly been baptized, or if you have had spiritual experience with the Book of Mormon, or the temple rituals etc. etc…. If only you knew! It makes everybody who hasn’t had those experiences feel like a very common and sort of low-level, lower caste type Christian because they hadn’t had any of the elevated knowledge.

    From Rusty: It’s an interesting, if dramatic, consipracy. Yet, when Christ taught, did he not teach in parables, commenting that he who has ears to hear will hear? It’s not conspiracy, it’s life. As in the days of Christ, some will hear the truth, and believe, others will hear the truth, and not, and even though those that hear continuously endeavor to impart of their knowledge and testimony, they can’t force people to believe. Yet still, the conspiracy idea is fun.

    Listen, if the spirit that is at work among a people operates as a spirit of love they devote more space to it and so insist much more largely on Jesus Christ it than all the rest. When the spirit that is at work among the people brings many of them to high and exalting thoughts of the Divine Being and His glorious perfections; when it works in them an admiring, delightful sense of the excellencies of Jesus Christ, representing Him as the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely; when it makes Him precious to the soul, winning and drawing the heart with those motives and incitements to free love of God and the wonderful dying love of Christ — it must be the Spirit of God.

    “We love, because He first loved us,” The spirit that makes the soul long after God and Christ must be the Spirit of God. When we desire the presence and communion of the Savior, acquaintance with Him, conformity to Him, a life that pleases and honors Him, we must be under the influence of His Spirit.

    There is also a counterfeit love that often appears among those who are led by a spirit of delusion. There is commonly in the wildest enthusiasts a kind of union and affection arising from self-love. It is occasioned by their agreeing on issues where they greatly differ from all others and for which they are objects of ridicule from the rest of mankind. That naturally will cause them so much the more to prize those peculiarities that make them the objects of others’ contempt. And you will find this here and all over these posts. There is little about Jesus Christ and His love for you. But you can read invitation after invitation, thousand and thousand of words to written to lure you to Joseph Smith, his vision, his teachings, and ultimately at the core of his gospel, a false hope.

  63. LOL, Well arent we quite the little conspiracy theorists. It rather cracks me up actually, and for it’s entertainment value I’ve decided to let it stay. Have you really exhausted your capacity to discuss the topic doctrinally (which is what I’ve done). You write as though you’re speaking to the lone reader out there who may be following along, which is great, the persistant nature of these posts and their associated coments is compelling, but do you realize that I’ve given you sound, doctrinal and scriptural rebuttal to your comments, but rather than address them you’ve chosen to instead call me a hateful elitest and propose a grand conspiracy? It doesn’t reflect well on the soundness of your argument if you’ve so soon exhausted your capacity to address the issue with scripture, discussion, and doctrine?

    Still, it’s been valuable. I just think our readers deserve more than that as your final reply. How about addressing the scriptures I’ve laid before you?

  64. Already been down that road Rusty, and here is how you work it. I know that for you to stay on top of your game you will take 5 or 10 verses from scripture and challenge someone to explain them. If they only explain one, then you continue to reason yourself superior until they have soundly explained all of them. Or in the case of this discussion, you smear any explanation with buzzing words like orthodoxy, or belittling the author using too many words. It’s a cycle you use over and over.

    You hate even the smell of Jesus Christ because you are your own Grand Marshall.

    Did not Jesus say “Ye are Gods”

  65. A SOFT answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

  66. Randy, we don’t hate other churches and those who believe orthodox Christianity. If I did, I’d hate 99% of my family and most of my friends. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we hate them.

    And we certainly don’t “hate even the smell of Christ”. We love him and spend our lives worshipping Him and trying to be like Him.

    We don’t have “secret knowledge”. What we know is out there for anyone to study and learn. In fact, we love to share what we know, we delight in sharing it.

    Many are not interested in what we have to share, and that’s their right. We can still respect each other. There is no reason to be hateful. I don’t agree with a lot of what Pondering Pastor says, but I do respect him, because he is so respectful of us. I also admire the positive steps you have taken in your life, and hope you can find it in your heart to respectfully disagree with us. I think that inside, you, and many others who comment here, mean well and don’t really mean to come off as being so angry.
    Peace!

  67. Randy,

    Why do care and monitor this site? Jesus said a house divided will fall. If what we are doing is contary to Christ’s teaching, then why does the Church continue to have those who seek truth join, and why do you care, as long, as they are following and worshipping Christ versus doing evil?

    Ramona

  68. This is why Romona!

    When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

    Then Jesus said “Woman, let me introduce you to my friend Rusty!

    Rusty said to her, “it’s easy to get caught up in the magnificent wonder of the miracle of the atonement, of its sweeping power and impact, and of the astonishing feelings that come from realizing that even we can be forgiven, that we then fail to see or take the steps necessary to realize those blessings. Perhaps it’s the profoundly human nature of man to just wish it all away, to say that their acceptance of Christ absolves them of any further action. Now that would be convenient.”

    Ramona, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
    To seek and save those who are lost! Those He saves worship him, follow him, and obey him for what He has accomplished. It’s a covenant made in the heart. This is the Jesus Christ in the Gospel. Anything added to or taken away is a lie from the pit of Hell.

  69. Randy,

    Its RAmona not Ro, but just the same. What do you feel we are taking away from Jesus Christ? WE do worship Him, follow Him and most definitely obey Him, have the gift of repentence when we mess up. If
    is “a covenant made in the heart” , then why was it necessary that Jesus be baptised, except to set the example for everybody?

    Ramona

  70. Ramona,

    Did John say, “Look Jesus is showing you what you must do saved? “ Or did He say “Jesus is giving you an example? “
    “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

    The baptism of Jesus is the official declaration from heaven of God doing away of the old mosaic covenant given to Israel and establishing of a new, better, and everlasting covenant through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

    “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

  71. Randy,
    John may not have used the words you say, but then why did others get baptised?

    Also there must be hundreds if not thousands of other denominations, but mainly because of the Trinity, (let’s start there), we are leading people to hell?

    Ramona

  72. I’ve been away from here a while. I realized I’ve not answered some questions and don’t want it to seem that I’ve abandoned them.

    (Dear Pondering Pastor …,
    I have a couple of question, kind of off the current subject. When Jesus comes again, do you expect every person who ever lived to be resurrected? Yes or No.)

    Absolutely yes. Some to live eternally with God. Some to live eternally in hell.

    (If so, with a body that can be touched, like when Jesus showed Himself to the Apostles (esp. doubting Thomas).)

    In a transfigured body, probably like Jesus. (Please note that there is no reference in scripture to Thomas actually touching Jesus. Did Jesus move through the wall/door of the locked room? He ate a fish. He told Mary not to touch him. I don’t know if the body of resurrected Jesus can be touched.)

    (Do you expect to know your earthly Mother and Father? Will you know them as that, or just an angel? )

    Probably yes and no. There is a passage in scripture which suggests that these relationships won’t have the same meaning in heaven. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, that will be the predominant relationship.

    (Also, what do expect Heaven to be like? Do you expect to go to Heaven or Hell, immediately after death? Or do you expect to have a final judgment sometime afterwards? If there is to be a final judgement, where are you in the mean time?)

    I don’t know, other than it is more than words can describe. Yes/no. Death stops the significance of time. Therefore, for me it will be instantaneous, even if it takes 1000 years. Judgment comes at a later date for all. Where are you in the mean time? Dead. God has the power to bring life out of death. To suggest that there is some place we have to be in the meantime is to deny God’s power of life.

    (And I want to add, Mormons do NOT believe that you can “work” your way into heaven. Each must personally accept Jesus as their Savior. The works and faith issue, go back to C S Lewis. Which blade of the scissors is more important?)

    C S Lewis probably “rolls over in his grave” knowing that Mormons quote him, and misquote him. He was unabashedly a grace-oriented Christian.

    Then you go on with more Trinity questions. I’m not inclined right now to argue that one. It has been a long week.

    Pondering Pastor

  73. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    Thank you for your time, and truth is eternal, what C S Lewis is correct for all Christians.

    But again, I find you opinions and answers very interesting.

    Sincerely
    Ramona

  74. Ramona, I think you have a great knack for asking the very best probing questions. They help us all to clarify just what we believe. I’m sure you are giving Rusty some ideas for future posts. When we take the time to understand each other, there is more peace, even if we disagree.

  75. Margaret,

    Thank you for kind comments. I am grateful for the “restored” not “reformed” gospel. I would rather believe in eternal families, and know that I will know my mother and father, than to really not understand.

    God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow , to leave us without guidance (a Prophet ) doesn’t make sense, to have so many denominations, that teach so many slightly different things, and this not be an issue to all Christians, doesn’t make sense. So I would rather have a logical and true gospel, than one that is so open to change. I understand your questions that lead you to the same place as me.

    I go to church, with a friend from high school, (30 yrs ago), and while we each went our separate ways after high school, he came into contact with the missionaries, and was converted. His father is a preacher with the Church of Christ. Our Bishop was a baptist before believing in the Book of Mormon, and being converted. In the deep south, most of us, are converts from other religions.

    There has to be something here that others are looking for. No secrets, except the fullness of the Gospel, that does say we will all be resurrected with bodies that can be touched. Keep in mind Jesus comment to Mary, was touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.

    Jesus told the thief on the cross, today thy shall be with me in Paradise. Later there is reference, that while Jesus was dead, that He was teaching the spirits that had been “prison” since the days of Noah. With the fullness of the Gospel, these and other parts of the New Scriptures make total sense.

    Pondering Pastor, I do appreciate your faith, and hope to see you on the other side, if I make it :)

    Ramona

  76. Ramona are you saying that John may not have used the words “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And if so, if we worship the same Jesus Christ, why are you even questioning the verse?

  77. I think you might have been mistakenly had these in mind instead.

    Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!

    I Nephi 11:32 …And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world…

    I Nephi 13:40 …that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world…

    From Rusty: You’ve misquoted (as Ramona points out below). The actual references are…

    Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!

    I Nephi 11:32 …And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world…

    I Nephi 13:40 …that the Lamb of God is Son of the the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world…

  78. ????
    I Nephi 13:40 …that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world…
    ????

    Wouldn’t this suggest that Jesus (Lamb of God) is one person with the Father?

    Pondering Pastor

  79. Good morning,
    Okay, boy did I get myself into something; ya’ll have been working on this one.

    Let me point out first that you misquoted it by leaving out of your quote the part “the Son of”

    (I Nephi 13:40 …that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world…
    ????
    Wouldn’t this suggest that Jesus (Lamb of God) is one person with the Father?
    Pondering Pastor)

    The correct version:
    “that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father,”, so let me put the whole verse out here.

    1 Nephi 13:40

    40 “And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall bestablish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. ”

    When over and over in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, there is any reference to being One, whether it is a husband and wife, or the Father and the Son, or even the Apostles , this is one in purpose. And one real good example is the husband and wife. (there are others)
    Gen 2:24 ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.’

    Ramona

  80. You know then, that in the original 1830 translation of the Book of Mormon, the word “Son” was not there and later added?

    I think you have a log in your eye !

    From Rusty: It was added by Joseph Smith, the same one who translated it, and who, after reading the first translation realized the passages were unclear for what the original passage actually said.

    Thank you for providing another illustration of how in the lack of substantive arguments, resort to spun-up, over dramatized half-truths. It’s unfortunate you’d do stoop to doing that (and to use it to attempt to set a trap), because it naturally leaves our readers with a tainted lense through which they must view the rest of your comments.

    What’s more, the “log in your eye” comment is a bit ironic. You’re the one here casting accusations, yet that very reference is about removing first the faults in your own life, before you seek to identify them in another’s. You’re reinforcing that lense I mentioned earlier, which erodes the very validity of your arguments. Notice how Pondering Pastor is able to debate doctrine, without being caustic? Because of that, and particularly over time, he garners the respect of our readers. You may want to do the same if you wish your comments to be viewed with any ammount of respect.

  81. LOL

    so I guess you and your wife are ONE person walking around?

    Ramona

  82. Ramona, if your answer to the question somehow substantiates your view of the Godhead, then I don’t follow your reasoning. Woman was first formed out of the man, yet man is propagated from the woman. Aren’t we one flesh?

    From Rusty: Good example, of man and woman being one flesh, yet still two distinct beings. Not sure how that supports trinitarian doctrine, but I’m glad you brought it up.

  83. Randy R

    I have truly tried to understand the Trinity Doctrine. Which is a man-made doctrine of the third century. So It comes down to this.

    If you believe the Trinity, then you are of the “Christian” faith. Pick whichever church that you best feel comfortable with, with whichever pastor you most agree with.

    Or you can believe in Joseph Smith Jr s’ , first vision, where the Father and the Son show him that they are Two separate Beings. It’s one way or the other.

    If the revlation given to Joseph Smith Jr is true (and I do believe this), then the Book of Mormon has to be true, and everything else. It is all or nothing.

    That is why is so critical for “Christian Othordoxy” to dis-credit the mormon church. Bottom line.

    Somebody loses money, whenever people began to realize that the Trinity doctrine is not sound (or any other doctrine , such as baptism (is it immersion or spinkle, do you baptise babies or not etc etc ) and are then converted to the “retored” not “reformed” church.

    And from about the 3rd century on, people began to realize that certain doctirne didn’t make sense, so they again “reformed” the doctrine, untill now, where you have countless churches, all preaching just a little different.

    Such where you have churches, that obvisouly believe in the Trinity, but want to have active Homosexuals as clergy. Which clearly goes again the Bible.

    Tell me, why I have some many different Baptist churches in my small town, if all “Christian” believe the same thing? If they were to all agree (talking about the Baptists), then maybe a preacher ot two would be out of a job? Maybe because, when people disagree, there is no one really with authority to make clear any issues.

    We have One President of the Church at a time, under the authority of Jesus Christ.. If it doesn’t come from the First Presidency, then it doesn’t count. No local person in leadership dicates what will or will not be.

    So when people attack Joseph Smith Jr, pick just certain scriptures out of the Book of Mormon, read the “journal of discourse” of different Prophets of this church (which is not considered Scripture). They pick and choose things to dis-credit the church.

    How can you have so many different churches, and since the Trinity is the central theme, (whether the congregation understand the Trinity or not), and one church not be more correct than another?

    Truly sincerely,

    Ramona

  84. One thing I love so much about the LDS Church is it’s stability. I can visit relatives in NY or Florida or go on vacation anywhere, and I will hear the same lesson in Relief Society (or Priesthood meeting for men) and Sunday School that I would have heard at home. The manuals are the same throughout the Church. If it’s the first Sunday of the month, it will be Fast Sunday (we fast 2 meals and donate the cost to the poor). The organization is the same everywhere. The Lord’s Church is a Church of order. I don’t have to worry if doctrines and procedures will be different. They are the same throughout the Church. Great care is taken to insure that. That is one of the many signs of the true Church.

  85. Wow! These last two posts are full of unbelievable propaganda and falsehoods and half-truths! I don’t even know where to start. I’ll wait until tomorrow.

    Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty: Welcome to our world. Not fun.

  86. Not sure where you disagree. It’s true that the manuals are the same. We all know from attending any kind of classes that 2 teachers teaching the same lesson from the same book will vary somewhat. The information taught, however, should be similar.

    I have traveled some, and every Ward or Branch I have attended is basically the same. Our doctrines, teachings and organization, come from our Scriptures and Prophets. I know that they are inspired and come to us from the Lord to our Prophet.. I’m not saying mistakes are never made. Some have been documented, but they are corrected as soon as they are found.

    I suppose you are thinking that if doctrines, beliefs and procedures aren’t inspired, it doesn’t matter how uniform they are. I’d have to agree. I believe ours are inspired.

  87. Dear Pondering Pastor,

    I wrote a lengthy one before the short one I posted on the blog, that you just read. So since you are considering how to respond, I will post my original thoughts for you to ponder

    Keep in mind I mean no offense as this is a discussion, and some of the conclusion that I have come to.

    I am a little slow on the draw, but I think I have this figured out. I have two choices.

    I can believe in the Trinity, (The Trinity doctrine basically says that there is one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Hence God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three, but they make up one God. Each is co-equal and co-eternal. God is described as a class or family made up of these three personalities.) from http://www.heaven.net.nz/writings/trinity.htm

    The New Testament does not use the word “Τριάς” (Trinity) nor explicitly teach it, but provides the material upon which the doctrine of the Trinity is based (Wikipedia)

    Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early third century, is credited with using the words “Trinity”, “person” and “substance” to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “one in essence – not one in Person”. (Wikipedia) (me here- interesting point, “not one in Person”.

    About a century later, in 325, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and adopted the Nicene Creed (Wikipedia)

    So we conclude that the Trinity is a man-made doctrine.

    Okay, so here I go, and please don’t take offense.

    If I choose to believe in the Trinity, then basically I can choose from any number of churches available in the area which I live, which all teach just slightly different things. Like I could smoke and drink, or maybe even dance at one church, but maybe the Pastor wouldn’t let me at a different one. Or I could choose to be non-denominational, and just go and believe. Sit and listen to a sermon, or maybe that church has a lot of good programs that help people, and I could choose to participate Depending on the church, my money offering could be whatever I want it to be. If I don’t like the personality of the Pastor or Minister, I can simply choose to go to a different church. Whether it be Methodist, Baptist or Presbyterian. I can choose to baptized by immersion or sprinkled, or still choose a church depending on which person plays the piano best if I want. Because I know people who go from church to church, till they find the one that they are comfortable in. And if by chance the wife happens to be a good pianist, they can get a job also. So if I believe in the Trinity, then my choices are seemingly endless. In our area, if the congregation doesn’t like the preacher, they run him off, and find somebody else. The choices never end, as long as I believe in the Trinity. And the Trinity, already established, is a man-made doctrine.

    Or I can believe in Joseph Smith Jr s’, first vision. This shows that the Father and the Son are separate and distinct Beings.

    If I believe this, then I know that the Book of Mormon is true.

    I believe that families can be forever, that I will know my mother and father , as my mother and father. I can believe in a resurrection that will be a perfect body and soul back together, just as was Jesus resurrected. I can believe in the Priesthood, that all can men have it, who are worthy, and by Priesthood, I mean the power to act in the Name of God here on Earth, to give blessings for the sick, to baptized with Authority, such as was in the case with John the Baptist.

    I know what is expected about tithing, it comes from the Old Testament, and as never been done away with. And tithing is a tenth. No more, no less. I can believe in a Savior that atoned for my sins, even if I had been the only person to have sinned. That He loves me, knows me, and through Him, I have the gift of repentance and forgiveness, clearly taught, and that through Him, I am saved from damnation. But in return, I am commanded to go to church each Sunday to partake of the Sacrament. To pay tithing. To honor my husband as the head of the home. To have responsibilities in the church, that I do not ask for, and am not paid for, even to clean the church when needed. To practice the word of wisdom, which includes more than not smoking, or drinking coffee or alcohol, and it comes with a promise from the Lord of health, which by the way, has now been scientifically proven to be correct. I have a true and living Prophet that directs this church, of which we believe that Jesus Christ is the Head of, the He still gives continuing revelations. I go to this church because it is true, not because it is easy or convenient.

    To believe in the Trinity, is like a house of cards. If it is not true, then there is a BIG problem. That is why there are so many anti-mormons, who use character assassination of Joseph Smith Jr, try desperately to discredit the Book of Mormon , use polygamy in an ugly way, and use any method possible to destroy the “restored” not “reformed” church.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does have the fullness of the gospel, the plain and simple truths that were lost during the centuries of the dark years.

    The majority of Christians, if you asked them , do not truly understand the Trinity, but just accept it.

    But those that do understand it, must defend it with all they have, or it takes away everything they believe, and only leaves the choice of nothing or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    Sincerely,
    Ramona

  88. Ramona, I think everyone searching for truth have asked themselves the same question. Why is it there are so many different beliefs? I think the conclusion you have drawn seems to discount the reality that have been many schisms within your own church. If I, being an outsider, used the same drawing when viewing your faith, then I could likewise conclude they are all wrong. Once again, that log is still in your eye.

    A church is not a McDonald’s either. Serving up the same Big Mac and fries that taste the same everywhere are not the marks of a spirit filled church.

    Good comment. That’s why again, it can’t be about “orthodoxy”, but about studying out the doctrine for yourself, praying about it, and finding out for yourself. It is impossible to have everyone, with a neverending supply of variables to our lives, agree on any one thing, let alone religion. Therefore each must be individually responsible for their own search, irrespective of any and all other opinions.

    It brings us back to the core, we can debate the doctrine of the trinity, and we’ve presented the clear scriptures substantiating our belief in three separate beings (which you’ve still chosen not to address… the scriptures that I quoted), but all that does is help people realize that in spite of it’s unorthodox nature, it’s not unreasonable. But man does not get converted to Christ, nor recognize His doctrine through intellectual argument. We may resolve some philisophical or religious misunderstandings, but the conversion only happens through a direct and individual confirmation of the Holy Spirit.

    This is why we (as Mormons) continually endeavor to bring it back to a single, consolidated point of focus…. was Joseph Smith a true prophet of God? Is the Book of Mormon true? The only way to know is to really read, really think, and really ask.

    I continually find it interesting that the focus of an “anti’s” message is so opposite, they’re not content with “Just pray, find out”, but instead insist on direct frontal assaults (which interestingly never lead anywhere). It’s precisely the kind of behavior you find when you’ve found someone guilty of something and confronted them.

    What is there to lose by simply saying “pray”? Why is it that it can be enough for us (and the church continues to grow), but it’s not sufficient for our opposition?

    I guess it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t work regardless.

  89. Randy,

    Any “church”, such as the “FLDS”, or any breakaway, is considered an apostate church.

    If your statement is true, then we can only go back to the basically Catholic church, since it claims to be continueous from the time of Peter.

    True doctrine doesn’t change, just to suit the “taste” of the customer.

    Ramona

  90. OK, here is my attempt. I’ll go ahead and number them so that it makes it easier to refer back. First, Ramona’s post.

    1. Trinitarian Doctrine: The post indicates this is a “man-made” doctrine of the 3rd Century. This equals at best a “half truth”. The word “trinity” does not appear in scripture. But this unique relationship between the persons of God (singular) exist throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and throughout the New Testament. It is often in “pairs” but each possible “pair” is represented. True Christian interpretation of God is in unshakable continuity with that of Hebrew Scriptures. The formulations of the doctrine in the 3rd Century attempt to summarize what Scripture says about this one God we worship. It is my experience that Mormons have a lot of negative teaching about the Holy Trinity and take a much easier path (while at the same time talking about following Jesus requires obedience and not following an easy path.) I’ve yet to see an honest dialog about the Trinity between Mormons and Christians. It is essential for Christians because to believe otherwise is to believe in more than one God. Hence the question of this thread, “Are Mormons polytheistic”.

    2. The “Pick a church and a pastor” comment rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve tried to be respectful here. It might just be me, but it sure sounded like “pick whatever you like because you are wrong and it makes no difference in the end”.

    3. Joseph’s Smith’s first vision showing two separate beings (Jesus and God the Father) isn’t hard to arrive at even from orthodox Christianity. It isn’t that unique. But to claim that if that vision is “correct” then all of the Book of Mormon is correct is like saying that if I’m right about one thing early in my life, I can never be wrong. It’s all or nothing. Come on, the modern Mormon Church has moved away from some of Joseph Smith’s teachings. It is pretty hard to defend this illogical “logic”.

    From Rusty: Not sure what the difference is. My only response would be “okay, so pray about both”. That’s the approach I would suggest anyway. I guess the basic premise is simply that if he was a prophet, then the work he did was true. It doesn’t make him infallible (look at Moses), but was Moses still a prophet. You bet.

    4. The attempts by orthodox Christianity are not to discredit Mormonism. This is the “persecution” thinking that has valid roots, but is misunderstood by the “victims”. Orthodox Christianity desires that those who have been misled by Mormon leaders and Mormon theology about God might be drawn back into the “fold”.

    From Rusty: As I describe in another comment below, that’s mighty noble, and may be true for you, but is not the norm. If it were, you’d expect equal effort being put into combating other religions that break from the norm, yet that’s not what I observe. Out of curiosity, how much time do you invest in refuting other religions blogs outside of this one?

    5. This money comment always fascinates me, and when it is especially focused on the Trinity, it is even more confounding. (I once served a Trinity Lutheran Church and had someone ask me if Lutherans believe “this Trinity nonsense”. He was a long time member.) But what you do when you accuse orthodox Christian leaders of simply being in it for the $$$, you discredit or discount our faith and living out our faith. It really is disrespectful. Should I say that the Mormon Church is interested in monopolizing power in a location like Salt Lake City, Utah, or eventually the World? It can look like that, and I’ve had people tell me it is difficult to be a business person in Salt Lake City if you are not Mormon. This is just as false as orthodox Christian leaders being in it for the money.

    From Rusty: Funny you should mention that. I was having this discussion with my boss (the owner of the company) just last week. He started the company in Salt Lake, then moved to Oklahoma City. He’s not Mormon, but has said numerous times that it was easier being “not Mormon” in Salt Lake City, than being “not Catholic” in Oklahoma City. That he didn’t drive down the street in Salt Lake City being bombarded with actual BILLBOARDS telling him he’s going to hell, and that from a business standpoint, working in Utah was far from difficult, Utah employees are some of his best. It’s why he kept an office here when he moved back to OKC to be with family.

    Are things here decidedly inclined toward Mormon viewpoints? Sometimes, in Salt Lake City less than half the population is Mormon, so it’s not as stark as you might think. Still, I don’t see how we’re talking about the same thing, but that’s okay. We’ve addressed this in the “Commercialized Religion” post.

    6. Only very rarely are differences over the Holy Trinity related to denominational differences. Mostly those differences have to do with behavior, how people were treated, localized situations and politics, and the like. I have no trouble acknowledging all sorts of denominations as truly Christian. There are fewer divisions that it might appear to an outsider. I question the values of a church that makes the message of the Gospel “we have it right and everyone else has it wrong.”

    From Rusty: Was that not Christ’s message?

    7. The question about homosexual pastors is an interesting one. It comes about as our society wrestles with how to respond to a plea for tolerance. What should the guiding principles of the religious faithful be? Should it be welcoming of the neighbor? Should it be confrontation of “sin”? Just what does scripture say and does it apply? Example: An interesting challenge comes when people say scripture says marriage is between one man and one woman … but that’s not clear in scripture either. Longstanding tradition, yes. Scripture is mixed. The matter of homosexuality when viewed from scripture is likewise not “settled”.

    8. As a pastor, I know I don’t have to compete with other churches or other denominations. In the US, there are only about 30% at most who are affiliated with any church, and in many places, that is as low as 10%. There are plenty of un-churched people who need to hear the Gospel. There is greater demand for pastors than there are pastors available (at least for Lutherans). This is not job security for me and the people I know.

    9. Backing up to the “From the 3rd Century on”. It didn’t start with the “Trinitarian Doctrine” as you suggest. Read scripture again. Read Acts, read the Corinthian Correspondence, read Galatians. It exists in the first century too.

    10. Regarding one person as the “vicar” of Christ, one “point person” under Christ with the authority of Christ. It is a very attractive and desirable thing to have. Roman Catholics call him the Pope. But then, you don’t recognize his authority. Lutherans have appealed to scripture as that authority … and our challenge then is different interpretation of scripture. We all need to be careful. Our nation is built upon a “balance of power” principle because we recognize that lodging that much authority in one person risks sin entering through that one individual. Mormons have recognized this potential also, but continue to assert that this is the living Prophet of God. We also need to recognize that one primary leader who does not allow individual difference is one of the definitions of a cult. There is always danger in human institutions (including calling someone a living prophet) because of sin, especially if they claim their authority comes from God.

    From Rusty: Again, having a prophet doesn’t mean he’s infallible. There was only one perfect person, but there have been many prophets. Transaltion, the prophets aren’t perfect. Never were. But that doesn’t invalidate the need for them, nor the direct instruction from the Lord that we should be built upon the foundation of prophets, and the revelation in Revelations of the return of the prophets.

    11. This is connected with 10 above and also Margaret’s post. The order and unity of the church. When you don’t have a trained clergy, it is so much easier to maintain control from the top. When you continue to lift up this continuity as a value, you imbue the leaders with even more authority and control than you might realize. You also discount the gifts of the people of God, and restrict the working of the Holy Spirit within the church. Is it a value? Of course! Does it have a down side? Your leaders won’t reveal the down side, there is too much at stake for the unity. St. Paul bumped into this very order and structure. If the leaders of the church had pressed harder, Paul would not have been permitted his mission to the Gentiles. His was not the focus the leaders of the church in Jerusalem wanted. They believed they had a word from God. In fact, Paul was summoned to account for what he was teaching and was restricted. His approach with other teachers of the Gospel was a bit different.

    12. When I suggested propaganda, I was referring to the constant teaching by the Mormon leadership about the value of this kind of unity, of this kind of consistency. It is always “spun” as a value and as a sign of God. The pharisees also had unity and consistency and predictability, but Jesus challenged that at every turn. Yesterday’s “speaking of faith” on NPR addressed the importance of doubt in matters of faith. The lack of doubt does not necessarily indicate strong, useful faith … but often the opposite.

    13. Finally, people who are orthodox Christians and people who are Mormon often fall into the sin of creating caricatures of one another and one another’s positions on important matters. Ramona’s post especially I believe fell into that category.

    From Rusty: I agree, we’re all guilty of that. I am, for sure.

    Attempting to be Respectful,

    and succeeding

    Pondering Pastor

  91. I have a request to help move further along. Since we all read and write in English, from now on could everyone refer to our Savior as “Jesus Christ”. I would like for him to have a name. Is everybody OK with that?

  92. Respectful Pondering Pastor :o),

    Wow! there is so much to respond to.

    1. I don’t have much to say on the Trinity/Godhead subject. Obviously, I am LDS and the Godhood is what I accept as truth.

    2. Pick a Church and Pastor-I know that goes on, at least in small town America. I saw many in my hometown change churches, or simply stop attending if they didn’t like the Pastor. I once saw the majority of a congregation (my mother included) go to the Pastor and tell him he’d better change or move on. I really liked the Pastor, but he ended up moving on. LDS Bishops are not chosen by the congregation, but by our leaders. I have to admit there are some I have liked better than others, but I have sustained them because they were called of God. If there is a legitimate reason why they should not be a Bishop, there is a way to have them removed, but not just because you don’t like them. If they commit an illegal or immoral act, they are removed and often excommunicated.

    3. Joseph Smith being a Prophet, and the Book of Mormon being the Word of God are 2 statements that are dependant on each other. If one is true, then so is the other. It doesn’t mean that Joseph never made mistakes, but if he indeed had the first vision and became a Prophet, then the Book of Mormon is true. I first prayed about the Book of Mormon and then knew that Joseph must have had the First Vision and was a Prophet.

    4. I have NOT been misled!

    5. I have known enough Pastors to know that they are not just “in it for the money”. Unfortunately, their livelihood depends on being a popular Pastor. This is not so with LDS Bishops. His motivation is his love of the Savior and his children. I’m not saying that Pastors don’t love the Savior and his children, but having his (or her) livelihood connected to it is definitely a factor.

    6. There is good in almost all Churches, and even in other religions. Since we have the “restored” gospel, we have more of it. That’s what sets us apart. Again, you have to gain a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon to agree with that.

    7. Same sex attraction is a trial that some, unfortunately, have. We know from Sodom and Gomorrah how the Lord feels about those who act on those urges. We believe that the homosexual matter is settled.

    8. See #2

    9. This is a matter of interpretation for you, but we have the advantage of the Gospel in it’s fullness.

    10. The only way I can answer this one is that the Prophet is appointed by our Heavenly Father and the Savior to be their spokesman. If he ceases to be worthy of that calling, he will cease to have it. The Lord will not allow an unrighteous man to lead His Church!

    11. The control at the top is Jesus Christ, as this is His Church. The Holy Spirit works very freely on all levels. Each member who has a calling has the right to revelation regarding that calling. Besides my callings, I an entitled to revelation as a wife, mother and grandmother. I in no way feel stifled by our leaders, as they “teach us correct principles and we govern ourselves.”

    12. Our unity is our strength. We aren’t blind followers, we are encouraged to question and find out for ourselves if a principle or doctrine is correct. Our unity comes because of that. I have tested our doctrines more than once and find I am always right to stick with our leaders.

    13. There is some truth to this one. Seeking to better understand each other, and be respectful is the key, as you and Rusty have so well demonstrated.

  93. Randy, our Savior is Jesus Christ. I think we all know that. I once saw a list of 206 names that He has. I like to call Him the Savior because to me, that’s what He is. I do it out of respect.

  94. Margaret,

    So very well said. At this moment I cannot think of another thing to add.

    And I agree, that using the title of Jesus the Christ (Jesus Christ), because it is such a revered name, that using Savior (to me), keeps it more revered, and does not make it so common, if that makes sense to you.

    Pondering Pastor and Randy

    I do appreciate your attempt to answer what you know and understand, and are willing to particiapte in this discussion. I do not doubt your love for the people you serve, nor your devotion to our Lord.

    But I still stand by all or nothing. If Joseph Smith Jr saw what he did, then it makes the Trinity as corrupt doctrine. It does not make the people corrupt.

    I do have more question, and maybe something to add to Margaret comments later.

    Ramona

  95. Ramona, my only mission here is that you may know Jesus Christ as Savior. When God established the old covenant with Israel, He did so in front of many witnesses. Similarly, after Jesus had fulfilled the new covenant, Acts 1:3 says to us that “He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them.”

    “Many infallible proofs” – I find it difficult to believe God had delivered a vision to Joseph Smith, a vision that is contrary to everything that was commonly believed at the time, without a cloud of witnesses. The only one I know of is some burning sensation we hear about often.

    I have been reading through the Book of Acts with Paul’s missionary journeys. Many times he would spend weeks reasoning with the Jews in the temples. He boldly testified in front of kings. Yet, I never read anyone believing his testimony by receiving a burning sensation. Where is the biblical evidence for such?

    From Rusty: For those catching up, Robert answers this three posts down

  96. Randy

    I do know Jesus Christ as my Savior.

    So are you saying that if God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ had appeared to a multitude of people, and dispelled the Trinity doctrine, then you would believe it?

    But since it happen to a boy, who prayed to know which church to joined, because they all taught something a “little different” (like McDonalds), you refuse to believe it?

    I am quoting you now “I find it difficult to believe God had delivered a vision to Joseph Smith, a vision that is contrary to everything that was commonly believed at the time, without a cloud of witnesses.”

    Why is a “cloud of witnesses” needed? Did not the tribes of Israel as they left Egypt, and had miracles day and night, still they murmured, and were unfaithful.

    What this vision did, was to correct corrupt doctrine about the Godhead. Jesus was already an established fact, but this vision clearly showed that the Father and the Son are two separate and distinct Beings.

    In what we call the Articles of Faith, the first thing we teach, is that we believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.

    This vision did not need to have to be with a “cloud of witness”. As a boy of 14 yrs old, as soon as he told a preacher, he was an outcast, as he was questioning the Trinity, without realizing it, and the preacher treated him a liar.

    Keep in mind, when Moses was talking to the “Burning Bush”, there was not a cloud of witnesses. When an angel appeared to Zacharias about his son John,(there was no cloud of witnesses)and still Zacharias was troubled and asked questions, and of course we know the rest of the story.

    As you continue along the line, you then have the Book of Mormon, which had three witnesses’ that saw an Angel, the golden plates and other items.

    The Book of Mormon, still makes logical sense, that Jesus had a covenant to teach ALL the TRIBES OF ISRAEL, not just Judah.

    The Book of Mormon teaches and preaches that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ, and no other way. It is not just an “inspirational book”, it is a second witness, that Jesus of Nazareth, is the awaited Messiah, the Christ, and that the Bible is not a book of fairy tales. Truly some people believe that is Bible is just a fairy tale.

    Then you have eight witnesses who also saw the golden plates and hefted them. Only truth can maintain itself, all lies will begin at some point to fall apart.

    So if the eleven people who saw the plates, and an Angel, and other items are they all liars too? Do you think that a “conspiracy” could continue, that somebody would not say it was a fraud?

    The eleven witnesses, even though some fell out with “restored church”, never refuted what their testimony of what they saw and felt, and many came back to be re-baptized.

    The Trinity is the man-made doctrine that is corrupt, and has been since the 3rd century. That is why people try to dis-credit whatever they can about the Mormon Church. If Joseph Smith Jr saw the Father and the Son, and I believe he did, then the Book of Mormon has to be true, and the Trinity Doctrine, is then false doctrine. What other choice do you have?

    Respecfully,

    Ramona

  97. (Returning to the theme of this thread) And if the “Trinity Doctrine” is false, then what we are left with is polytheism. Hence, are Mormons polytheistic? Yes. And if polytheistic, then not a valid branch coming out of monotheistic Judaism.

    Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty: However you choose to label it, validity is not synonymous with orthodoxy, as I’ve addressed earlier.

  98. Randy,

    You stated:

    “Yet, I never read anyone believing his testimony by receiving a burning sensation. Where is the biblical evidence for such?”

    One of the best accounts of such a witness is after Christ had walked with and taught the disciples on Emmaus road after his resurrection. Remember that “their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” After sitting at meat with them, their eyes were opened, they knew him, then he vanished.

    Their first recorded to comments to one another, as they tried to make sense of what just happened, were, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

    It was a witness that they connected with truth and with the Savior himself.

    Robert

  99. Pondering Pastor,
    I do agree we are at the same starting point. But I looked up the definition of polytheism.

    “The deities of polytheistic religions are agents in mythology, where they are portrayed as complex personages of greater or lesser status, with individual skills, needs, desires and histories. These gods are often seen as similar to humans (anthropomorphic) in their personality traits, but with additional individual powers, abilities, knowledge or perceptions.”

    For example the Walt Disney movie Hercules.

    Back again, please reread John 7 and 8. Just because the Father and the Son are separate beings, but one in purpose does not make it polytheism.

    Jesus says, you cannot worship the Father, except through the Son. They are one in Purpose, but separate, otherwise, the scriptures just do not make sense.

    Critics of the ‘restored’ church not another ‘reformed’ church must attack something. The Trinity is the heart of the Orthodox Christian religion and to be corrupt, would be a massive downfall for all the other churches.

    So having read the Book of Mormon, due to looking for answers that made sense, I had a reason to pray to know if it was true. Again, if somebody is happy where they are, so be it.

    But to have so many people openly hostile to Mormons, can only mean that they feel threaten by the Mormons. Not because we lead people from Jesus, but we take them there, so there must be some other reason.

    PS (I have had the burning sensation also in my bosom to know that it is true)

    Ramona

  100. Ramona,

    That’s as much logical “dancing” as you claim for Trinitarian Doctrine. Polytheism = more than one god. Simplest definition. Purpose or of one mind not withstanding. Yes, Greeks understood their gods were competitive. That doesn’t mean that all polytheism is competitive.

    And no, it is not because Mormons attack the Trinity or lead people away from the churches that there is “hostility to Mormons”.

    It is usually because Christians understand Mormons to be worshiping “false gods” and claiming that they worship the same God Christians do. If someone claimed your earthly father as their own and told you that you were mistaken about who your parent was, you might be “hostile” too. That’s what Christians experience with Mormonism. “Someone has stolen my Lord and I don’t know where they’ve laid him!”

    Pondering Pastor

    From Rusty: But it’s not that simple, I could say Mormons=Christians… simplest definition. The bottom line is that Mormons worship one god, and one god only. Call it what you like.

    Your explanation for “hostility to Mormonism” is a high-road, and one that I believe may be genuine for you. But of those that have attacked me, that is not the norm. Just look at the nature of the attack, and ask yourself if that was done in love. No, more often than not, attacks against Mormonism are not nearly so noble. But that’s okay. Orthodox believers attacked Christ too, so we’re in good company. By virtue of simply “being attacked” doesn’t make you right, but it also doesn’t make you wrong. It should make you wonder, and want to find out for yourself though.

  101. We are all children of the same Heavenly Father, and He loves all of His children. We are all brothers and sisters. Jesus Christ is the Savior to all. They both have separate bodies of flesh and bones. The Holy Ghost is the testifier and is a spirit being. They are 3 separate beings, yet are one in purpose, and that purpose is to help us to return and live with them forever.

    Now, exactly what in that do you disagree with?

  102. Pondering Pastor

    “It is usually because Christians understand Mormons to be worshiping “false gods” and claiming that they worship the same God Christians do.”

    What is false about Jesus Christ and Heavely Father being separate?

    Jesus is Jesus is Jesus. Tell me what we do that is against what Jesus taught?

    Ramona

  103. hedezhong,

    Your translation of Luke 24:32 is poor and misleading at best. Is this what they teach you?

    Randy

  104. Randy,

    If you’re going to say it’s poor, or incorrect, then you should also say how, and interpret it correctly, otherwise, and again, we’re left to assume you simply refuse to address scripture except to just say that our interpretation is wrong “just because”.

    His was a valid response, but you replied with “na uh…”

    I’m interested in your interpretation.

  105. I’ve been in New York and have been unable to follow much of the latter portion of this thread as it’s unfolded. Becasue of the complexities of attempting to address comments so far up in the thread, I’ve taken the liberty to simply add comments where I felt appropriate.

    If you simply scroll up, you’ll see where my comments are highlighted with yellowish-tanish-something color.

    But overall, I still end up with one main comment I wanted to address independently, and which brings us back to the subject at hand.

    PP

    You said above in defense of the Trinitarian doctrine: “The formulations of the doctrine in the 3rd Century attempt to summarize what Scripture says about this one God we worship”.

    But the scriptures I quoted here (and others) don’t, in summary or individually, establish that view.

    You say that you’ve yet to see an honest discussion of the trinity between Mormons and Christians, but that’s what we’re trying to do here. I’ve offered several scriptures specifically contradicting the notion of the trinity in an endeavor to clarify why Mormons believe what we believe. But interestingly, and despite this long thread, and my many requests, those verses have yet to be addressed or explained.

    It doesn’t paint a positive picture for the opposing viewpoint… belief in the Trinity. If Trinitarian doctrine is true, there must be a clear explanation for these verses, and I’m inviting you (or someone) to share it for the record. Otherwise, we must assume there is no answer.

    Here are some verses that need to be answered:

    Stephen saw Christ standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55)

    When Jesus prayed to the Father, he addresses Him as a separate person.

    The Lord asked that He and His apostles might be one, even as he and the Father are one (clearly, the apostles were separate beings, even as the Lord and His Father are separate beings). (John 17:11, 21-23)

    In that same set of verses Jesus says “I come to thee”, and “thou has sent me”, which clearly indicate separate beings in separate locations.

    At the Lord’s baptism, while Jesus stood in the water, the Holy Ghost descended in the form of a Dove, and the voice of the Father was heard from above introducing His Son. (Matthew 3:16-17)

    That same language of God introducing His Son was found on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).

    In Matthew 26:39-42 the Lord cried “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt”, and later (v. 42 “they will be done”. How are there two separate wills if they are the same person?

    John 12:28 “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Again this clear reference to the Father speaking separately and independently from the Son.

    There are references such as John 8:28 “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me”.

    John 20:17-18 “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father”. The reference again seems clear, two distinct persons. But he continues… “but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God.”

    John 14:28 “For my Father is greater than I”.

    You can say that I like to quote single scriptures, but clearly I cannot quote the entirety of scriptures in the comments, so if these are out of context, then please clarify the context and their meaning.

    I’ll do the same.

    Trinitarians refer to John 10:30 “I and my Father are one.” As I’ve said before, we cannot cherry pick scripture, but must take all scritpure together, and let them establish the truth, and in the light of all the other scriptures I’ve mentioned and more, you’re left to understand that being “one” must mean that they are one in some other way, such as in purpose, in meaning, in intent, etc. And when you look at the actual text, you find it supports this view. Looking at that word “one” in greek was “hen” which was neuter, not masculine. (If you’re not familiar, “neuter” means “noting or pertaining to a gender referred to things classsed as neither masculine or feminine”). If they had meant numerically one, the word would have been “heis”, but “hen” is actually a term meaning “we are together”. They are united. The Union of the Father and the Son does not diminish the difference or individuality of each. In fact, the whole notion of “union” presupposes differentiation. Two or more things becoming one.

    And John clarifies this statement in John 17:21-22 when citing the intercessory prayer where Christ pleads with God that His apostles might be one “even as we are one.”

    Will someone explain these verses and how they support a trinitarian view? I think our readers need to see actual scripture addressed. And these are the actual scriptures that need addressing.

  106. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

    It’s an expression to explain how they were feeling when Jesus was talking with them. Like in “you make my heart sing.”

    Similarly in the verse 31 before Luke uses, “Then their eyes were opened” He doesn’t use the phrase to indicate that their eyes were physically shut.

    Rusty, your Acts 7:55 challenge is getting tiring.

  107. “But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world is crucified in unto me and I unto the world.”

    The cross, it standeth fast,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    Defying ev’ry blast,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    The winds of hell have blown,
    The world its hate hath shown,
    Yet it is not overthrown,
    Hallelujah for the cross!
    Chorus:
    Hallelujah, hallelujah,
    Hallelujah for the cross;
    Hallelujah, hallelujah,

    It shall never suffer loss!
    It is the old cross still,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    Its triumph let us tell,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    The grace of God here shone,
    Through Christ, the blessed Son,
    Who did for sin atone,
    Hallelujah for the cross!
    .
    Twas here the debt was paid,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    Our sins on Jesus laid,
    Hallelujah, hallelujah!
    So round the cross we sing,
    Of Christ, our offering,
    Of Christ, our living King,
    Hallelujah for the cross!

    Goodnight for Tonight!

  108. Randy. I understand your fatigue of this scripture and the others that you’ev neglected to discuss. They’re not convenient, and stand at odds with some very close and important doctrine. Even the very heart of orthodox Christianity.

    Take as much time as you need. I’d be happy to leave you to ponder these apparent incongruencies for as long as you’d like. I’m sure others are doing likewise.

    The scriptures are before us, and they seem perfectly clear. None of them were my interpretation, but rather simply the words out of the Bible. But they’ll each need to be addressed, if we are to be convinced of this Trinitarian doctrine.

    For while they are individually impactful, the aggregate effect presents an overwhelming argument. Which, granted, is daunting, if one intends to dispute it. Perhaps that’s partially why it was so hotly debated in the council of Nicea and the many councils and arguments after that before it was accepted as orthodoxy. Clearly, there were other “founding fathers” who read the same scriptures and felt at odds with the doctrine. But somehow, the need for unanimity overpowerd the need to preserve correct doctrine for the business of the church to withstand the troubles of the day. Why else would the men who argued so strongly against it, for so long, have finally abandoned their better judgment? I’ve always wondered how many of those original councils who argued against trinitarian doctrine actually placed more importance on the doctrine as they saw it, and left, instead of caputulating to a hard-won agreement among peers.

    I guess in the end it doesn’t matter. It’s not what others believe that matters. But rather what we believe.

  109. Rusty,

    My applause, you sound as great as Rush Limbaugh.

    Ramona

  110. For Pondering Pastor

    Rusty replies have been interesting and most articulate, but I would like to go back to some other statements you made earlier, not about the Trinity.

    You state:
    (“The question about homosexual pastors is an interesting one. It comes about as our society wrestles with how to respond to a plea for tolerance. What should the guiding principles of the religious faithful be? Should it be welcoming of the neighbor? Should it be confrontation of “sin”? Just what does scripture say and does it apply? Example: An interesting challenge comes when people say scripture says marriage is between one man and one woman … but that’s not clear in scripture either. Longstanding tradition, yes. Scripture is mixed. The matter of homosexuality when viewed from scripture is likewise not “settled”.)

    Now, I know that Margaret answered it correctly, (“Same sex attraction is a trial that some, unfortunately, have. We know from Sodom and Gomorrah how the Lord feels about those who act on those urges. We believe that the homosexual matter is settled.”)

    A small poem I learned a long time ago:
    Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
    As to be hated need but to be seen;
    Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
    We first endure, then pity, then embrace. Alexander Pope

    So if you feel the matter of homosexuality is not settled by scripture, then does that type of thinking tend to open the flood gates of all other forms of sexuality? (Give an inch , take a mile concept); Look at MTV or VH1, and the issue of bi-sexual is all over the place. So if one tends to feel that society needs to respond to a plea for tolerance, where is defining point, of saying what is sin or not sin?

    Next issue: Family on the other side.
    You said (“Probably yes and no. There is a passage in scripture which suggests that these relationships won’t have the same meaning in heaven. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, that will be the predominant relationship”)

    I have a very good friend , and I had her read this blog. She asked me this question, about this statement, the family relation.

    “If we don’t know each other when we get to heaven, as he believes then what comfort is that for mothers like me who have buried their children. Since I won’t know Nic, it won’t matter? There will be some kind of “blessed amnesia” and I won’t care that I don’t have my child again? Then what is there to look forward to? I know that it will be wonderful to be in the presence of God the Father and with Jesus but why do they allow us to form these family units here on earth and even encourage them in the scriptures and yet dissolve them in heaven? How do people who believe that way find comfort when they bury their children?”

    I am interested in your point of view.

    Respectfully yours,
    Ramona

  111. Rusty, none of the verses above challenge the Trinitarian doctrine. In fact they strengthen the argument. Your perceived nervousness with the Nicene document is understandable for it counters all that Mormonism upholds.

    Again, regarding Stephen’s vision, I had explained the vindication of Stephen as the intent of the Luke’s message. So my challenge to you is this, in 693 words are less, please give us your overview of Stephen’s defense before the court starting in chapter 6, then answer for us why they carried Stephen out and stoned him?

    Then we can move on to the others.

  112. That’s your response? Perhaps another will step forward where you’ve been unable or unwilling.

  113. No Rusty, it’s the beginning and my offer to you to begin debating these properly. I did my explanation now you can do yours! This way you can’t be accused of taking verses out of context.

  114. He sends the snow yet we shovel it away from our paths.

    He sends the rains yet we scurry for shelter under our umbrella.

    He lights the sun yet we shade our eyes.

    He sends the winds, yet we anchor our feet.

    He upholds the elements perfectly, yet a little this or a little that, we curse Him with our tongue.

    Who are you that you should make God in your image?

    “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

  115. Sound good, I’ll put it in it’s own post. And in doing so, I’ll surface this list of scripture at a higher level where it’ll get more exposure. This thread is over-long. We’ve now started posting riddles and songs.

  116. Ramona,

    (About family in heaven) Did you read my yes and no? I know that this is an issue for people. But it is not based on what we want. It is based on truth and what is revealed. Now, Jesus was recognized after his resurrection. That is an encouragement for recognizing. But he was unrecognized too. That speaks to something else. Mormons have lifted family as of ultimate importance. But in Christ, there is no distinction. Will we recognize. I think so. Will it matter? I doubt it, because all eyes on on the Lamb. Carrying our earthly realities into heaven makes heaven less than heaven. Will we have the same feelings for everyone in heaven? I believe so. I write this based on what scripture says, not what I want it to say.

    Pondering Pastor

  117. Rusty,

    You say Mormons worship one God and one God only. What is the name of that God?

    Pondering Pastor

  118. The reason for this question is not to bait anyone. I’m finding that there is a trinitarian doctrine in what I’m hearing from the Mormons, and I just want to get a better handle on this. It’s not just Jesus alone, is it? Or is worship reserved for Jesus only? You worship the Father through the worship of Jesus?

    An intriguing question: If it took several centuries for the orthodox Christian church to develop the doctrine of the Trinity, I wonder what lies in store for Mormonism as it matures.

    Pondering Pastor

  119. Pondering Pastor

    What do you call God? For He has many names, but we do believe that the Father is Heavenly Father , such has when Jesus prayed, He taught,

    Our Father which art in Heaven

    and we know that we only have access to Heavenly Father through the Son, so everything we do is in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the “price” for our sins, and we become “born again” because of Him, so He also is a Father.

    So yes, this is what caused the council of Nicea to have such problems. But that does not justify the need for the Trinity Doctrine. The two are One in purpose, but separate Beings.

    Ramona

  120. Also , reread John 8

    “24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
    25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
    26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
    27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
    28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do anothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. ”

    If you worship the Father, then you worship the Son, and if you worship the Son , then you worship the Father. They are united, for One Purpose,

    ” For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”

    Ramona

  121. John 8

    These are a series of challenges from the Jews.

    A challenge from the Law
    A challenge for authority

  122. Mary

    And Jesus spoke the reply,

    Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do anothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. ”

    written in red, if you are Baptist.

    If the Trinity teaches, one Being, three personalities, then this statement that Jesus makes, absolutely makes no sense at all.

    Ramona

  123. John’s Gospel is interesting in these ways. In John 1, the Word is God, and the Word becomes flesh (Jesus). All through John, Jesus uses the “name of God” in reference to himself, “I am”.

    Ramona, you keep dismissing Trinitarian Doctrine, but that doctrine clearly states _three persons_, one God. It is really a short step from three persons, three gods (that it sounds like you are defending, with one purpose or mind) to three persons, one God.

    Pondering Pastor

  124. You can’t have it both ways. Three people can have united view and be one, But three person cannot be one, with just different personalities.

    “My Father hath taught me.”

    If you believe in the Trinity, then you have to believe that Jesus , acting out the part of the Father, taught Himself while He was acting out the part of Jesus.

    That is a circular pattern, and doesn’t make sense, if the Trinity “that doctrine clearly states _three persons_, one God”,

    Then three persons, is three Beings, and is One God yes.

    That is why the vision to Joseph Smith Jr again, was so needed to dispel the Trinity, and show that there are the Two are separate and distinct Beings.

    Ramona

  125. I love how people make rules God has to follow.

  126. PP

    I thought about it half the night,

    You said “_three persons_, one God’’

    I said “three persons, is three Beings, and is One God’

    And I feel like I should clarify this three persons, is three Beings, and is One Godhead, which is One Purpose , One God

    This morning I read from you

    “I love how people make rules God has to follow.”

    And I agree, and has we have all clearly come to the agreement that the Trinitarian doctrine is a man-made doctrine, the “Christian” churches are making rules for God to follow.

    You can see this, by how each accepts the Trinitarian doctrine, but then chooses however else they want to do things, and that is why is sooo many denominations. Correct?

    When in the latter day, God clearly shows in the vision what is true and what is false to “set the record straight”.

    Since if “the vision” is accepted to be true, then the Pope can no longer be the Pope, because the Catholic church would be proven to be wrong, and all other “Christian” churches would have to accept, that they also follow corrupt doctrine.

    So we back again to the house of cards. The Trinitarian doctrine must be defended at all costs, regardless of who or what is attacked.

    Scripture,( and Rusty made a small list), clearly shows that there must be three separate Beings, not just split personalities.(Call it however you want, if they are three separate Beings, the opposite being is three Personalities)

    Review the list again. One of the clearest is the baptism of Jesus, with the Father speaking from the Heavens, and the Spirit in the form of a dove.

    If they are not three separate Beings, then please explain what this is.

    Thank you, and I go enjoy having somebody to discuss with.

    Ramona

  127. hello everyone I’ve been reading this thread for a while now and I must say its very interesting. I am a christian who found himself liking a mormon girl very much and I feel like us viewing Christ differently and all is going to hurt us.

    Sorry for going off topic I just wanted to throw that out there.

    I’ve done some research and found that the Bible and BoM contradict with one of another…and to find out that the BoM was made 600 years before the actual work of God…could someone clear that up with me?

    Im only 20 and very well rooted in my belief…but I’m not as good talking about as Randy and PP and the rest of you.

    I hope this thread is not dead.

  128. I don’t think anything on this blog is dead. I don’t know many details about why Rusty’s been gone, but I do know he intends to be back. I hope it’s soon.

  129. Margaret, what would you say about a non mormon guy and a mormon girl in a relationship?

  130. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s an individual thing. I know several such couples who have successful marriages. It requires a lot of love and tolerance.

    The blessings of a Temple marriage are amazing, and although there is always hope, it would be hard to face the possibility of missing out. The ideal, by far, is the couple sharing the same beliefs and goals.

  131. Yea good point haha..the whole temple thing comes from the BoM i guess right? which in my case doesnt make sense at all.

    I believe PP talked about the whole heaven and our relationships there earlier..

  132. Daniel,

    Thanks for coming by. It takes a lot of courage and respectable intent to do what you’re doing… researching another religion for someone you love.

    Here are my thoughts on the matter, for whatever value they may be…

    I believe that God is the divine architect of our lives. That means that there will be times when he will bring you to encounters that will open your mind, or present you with opportunities to learn things that he feels are important.

    So, I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the potential of your relationship based on differing beliefs. It very well could be that she was meant to be an instrument in bringing you to this point, where you yourself are asking the critical questions about Mormonism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    But, and this is important, the answers you seek must be obtained because you seek them, they’ve got to be for you, not for her. I’ll be more than happy to answer any and all questions you have. Just go to the “Ask a Mormon” page and ask whatever you will. I’ll see them all, and respond accordingly.

    Regarding a non-Mormon guy and a Mormon girl hooking up… that can be a challenge. Your religion makes up a central part of who you are. It’s core to your definition of self, your definition of others, and your view and approach to life. I’ve been married now for coming on 20 years, and I can say that there are enough differences between a man and a woman that love each other, that having a solid, consistent, shared foundation of religion is crucial to overcoming life’s many challenges and obstacles.

    I’d encourage you to ask the questions you need to ask, and see if the differences in your beliefs are irreconcilable. You may find that you’re not so much different after all, or you may find that they represent a certain and sure barrier that you’ll always face. Either way, it’ll allow you to move forward more educated, and I certainly believe she’ll appreciate the fact that you respect her enough to enquire about her religion.

    To address some of the things you’ve stated though… The Book of Mormon and the Bible do not have any contradictions. Rather, the contradictions you find will be in other denomination’s interpretation of the Bible with the clear teachings in the Book of Mormon. But this will not be due to contradictory principles and teachings, but rather the result of the counsels of men and their subsequent decrees and creeds having departed from the original context of the Bible.

    I’d be happy to address any of these you wish.

    Temples, for instance, are not specific to Mormons, but are found in the Bible as well. I look forward to many a good conversation as we discuss these.

    Warmest regards,
    Rusty

  133. Hey Rusty glad to see a well written response haha
    We (me and her) are just going to be friends which isn’t what we want but its the only way we can still be happy with each other cause i would rather being friends with then not at all.

    We are booth rooted pretty deep in our beliefs. There are several things that rang a bell with be and the BoM. Im just going to number them

    1. In the History of the Church (think thats what its called) pg 408 and 409 says that he did a better job the Paul and Jesus for keeping the church together. Thats what he said himself in short.

    My thought on this is for a man to say he did something better then Christ throws up a red flag for me.

    2. There isn’t any creditable evidence to the events and places in the BoM

    Unlike the Bible you can actually go and visit the places that Jesus walked and all they other stuff in the bible..

    3. This one kinda goes back to couple of stuff you guys talked earlier…but the thing about doing works is part of our salvation it just seems that plays a part in what you guys believe

    Ephesians 2:8 9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Galatians 6-8

    I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    Going back to number 1 i also read (im pretty sure comes from the same book) that Joseph Smith said that there are people on the moon dress like Quakers that live for 100s or 1000s of years

    If you can clear those points up for me I hope i didn’t say anything offenseive

    Thanks Rusty for you time by the way. =D

    Oh hope my typing made since my fingers aren’t s fast as my head sometimes haha

  134. haha the last line i meant to say sense* =)

  135. Fantastic questions. I’m heading to my son’s soccer game right now, but I’ll respond tonight. Thanks for asking them.

  136. take your time

  137. On the one hand, something I DO know about is the reference to Ephesians 1: 8-9. This brings in that old question of _context_ into play. You should recognize that Paul is directing his remarks to those at Ephesus who are called Judaizers by Bible scholars. These were a body of believers who would have any converts to the new Christian faith become Jews first. This meant that any real commitment meant they’d be circumsized and follow the rest of the laws of Moses in the transition to being disciples of Christ. Paul had fought the battle over circumcision before, and you should recognize that he won on part of the squeemish adherants. But the meat of the issue is that by no means would their works (in the Mosaic law) carry much weight in the walk to salvation. Works in general _are_ required of all saints (read believers, as ‘saints’ is Mormon-speak) as you will see in James’ epistle (brother of Jesus) and elsewhere. To be sure, one could hardly read the first chapter of First John without believing that the ‘walk’ portrayed in vs 6 & 7 involves anything but work. You see.

    As to the Quaker clones on the moon, I believe that a newspaper of the time wherein scientists had postulated just such a thing, Brigham Young made reference to the article, but he was not the author of said idea. For what it’s worth.

    Keep up the good works,
    Steve F

  138. Just to clarify —

    a) Sorry about that ‘meat of the issue’ remark; I couldn’t resist.
    b) The reference should read Ephesians 2, not 1.
    c) I got connected (not ‘hooked up’, _pa-lease_) with a Mormon girl in high school, and have changed my life because of it. Don’t be wimpy about your studies because the word Mormon is attached. Get in touch with your spiritual side and FOLLOW.

    Regards

  139. Hey Steve thanks for the reply I’ve been checking every day haha.

    To me as long as we christians live a good life and live and good life and believe in Christ and the Word thats all we need. Its not like doing good works is a bad thing its just not really tied in to the whole “are you going hell or heaven”.

    I just think its weird that a man can say that hes better the Jesus in keeping the church together.

    I would suggest doing some actual research on Joseph smith with other resources

    On the other hand I respect the family aspect of your religion especially in todays world. Thats a big problem here in the US the parents want some ones to to teach their kids whats right and whats wrong.

  140. I’m so sorry. As you see from my most recent post, I’ve been working feverishly on preparing the new blog. This post has now been moved over, along with all its comments (see it here).

    Now that the transition is done, I’ll begin answering these questions. Most of them have already been answered elsewhere on the blog, almost all of them in fact, but usually always in conversations in the comments on posts, so they’re nearly impossible to find.

    So, instead of answering them in the comments, I’ll simply create a new post for each one, and answer them one by one, allowing us to create comments and conversations specific to each unique question.

    Thanks for your patience. And I look forward to the conversations we’ll have on these answers as I roll them out as unique posts.

    Rusty

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