Church of the Living God

Are Mormons Christians? – pt 5/8

Class description:

They believe in God. They believe in Jesus. They read the Bible and attend church every week. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them on most moral issues as well. But are Mormons Christians? And what is a Christian after all? We will look at the history of Christianity and the history of Mormonism. We will also examine doctrines of both to see where we agree and whether we have any disagreement.

(Recorded 2012-10-07)

Issues addressed in this session include:

  • The Tower of Babel
  • The rise and fall of the Jaredites
  • The Nephites & the Lamanites
  • Jesus Christ: Doctrinal Differences (Incarnation, Atonement, Salvation, Resurrection)
  • Apostasy

Class outline available here

 

Link to all posts related to this class: http://clgonline.org/category/class-are-mormons-christians

 

  • Spencer

    I’ll try and
    go through some of your points and share what stands out to me. Once again, I
    don’t claim to know everything but I’ll do my best to represent my beliefs.

     

    By the way, I
    don’t know your name and I’d appreciate knowing it!

     

    (:56) You would
    think the Christian world would celebrate new facts and new doctrine that sheds
    more light on what we all love!

    (3:44)
    Deseret is a word from the language God spoke to Adam. It’s called the Adamic
    language that we believe was used in the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, we
    believe that in the eternities we will all speak one language that is pure,
    complete, and undefiled.

    (4:00) Why
    is it that when the Book of Mormon has similarities to the Bible, you accuse
    the BoM of stealing details from the Bible? But when the BoM has differences,
    you say they are incompatible. That’s a double standard. The majority of the
    BoM was written when the Law of Moses was still in effect. Naturally, many of
    the miracles and events are similar to what happened in the old world.

    (4:47) When
    studying the scriptures, particularly the BoM, you have to first understand
    that prophets speak by the power of God about things as they were, are, and
    will be. Sometimes they speak about things that haven’t happened yet while
    doing it in the past tense. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was
    bruised for our iniquities…he was oppressed” (Read Isaiah 53 for a good
    example) Obviously, Isaiah foresaw Jesus Christ and described the
    details well before they actually happened.

    (5:40) Even
    if we leave the trinity issue out of this discussion, there are at least 3
    possible reasons why Jesus Christ’s name could appear even before Jesus came.
    #1 If the angel told Mary that his name would be Jesus, that stands to reason
    that the angel knew it well in advance. If an angel knew it, then we can assume
    that the name was chosen well before creation. This same angel or the Spirit
    could have easily communicated that name+title to New World prophets well in
    advance. #2 The BoM was compiled and essentially edited by Mormon himself who
    lived well after Christ. Even if the name Jesus Christ didn’t appear, Mormon
    could have inserted his given name+title based on his knowledge. After all, the
    people in the Book of Mormon had no knowledge of the Book of Mormon. It was
    written for US in our day. #3 Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the
    same gift of God that surely Isaiah, Moses, and Abraham and all the Holy Prophets.

    (8:10) You’re
    misunderstanding how the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith never
    claimed to translate word for word what was written “in reformed Egyptian”
    (That was Joseph’s best guess at what it was based on his elementary
    understanding). Quite the contrary. His associates said that most of the
    Book of Mormon was dictated straight from JS without him looking at anything. Not
    even a hat, stones, or the gold plates. (I’ll find a reference when I find it) And
    yet, he “translated” the BoM in under 3 months, in his early 20s, and as a man
    who barely knew how to read and write. So let me be clear, we fundamentally don’t
    understand the method of translation. All we know is that he did it “by the
    gift and power of God”.

    (11:25) This
    whole discussion on ships, light stones, and air is completely speculative. We
    don’t have a clue what the ships actually looked like… let alone rectangle.
    What we do know is that they weren’t submarines and they were built in a manner
    different than ships at the time because they were taught how to build the
    ships from God and not by man. Nephi had the same experience.

    (12:08)
    Bizarre? That’s insulting given what you know about us.

    (12:25) That
    doesn’t mean United States. It means the entire western hemisphere. In my view,
    the wickedness that has prevailed on these continents has totally disqualified
    the Americas, let alone the United States, from getting special blessings from
    God promised in the Book of Mormon.  Yes,
    this land was an “inheritance” for Israelites who were righteous but in our
    day, our concept of Zion allows for blessings to be given no matter where you
    live.

    (16:20) This
    is one of the greatest stories of Faith in all of scripture. Here was a man
    with hardly any precedents yet he approached God and demonstrated complete
    trust in God’s ability to preserve him and his family on the ocean. If this
    story was in the Bible, it would be celebrated by all Christians.

    (17:10) At
    this point, Jehovah didn’t have a physical body of flesh and bone and blood.
    Remember, he hadn’t been born yet. Rather, he had a spirit body in the image of
    man. On top of that, this is a wonderful story that enlarges our understanding
    of who Jesus Christ was before he was born into mortality.

    (19:20)
    These Jaredite nations lived a long time ago.  Even in the old world there is very few
    remnants of biblical cities and towns. The history of Europe is much more catalogued
    and studied than the Americas. As a matter of fact, we’re barely scratching the
    surface. Modern scholars know very little about the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and
    Incas. The Book of Mormon is always criticized for not having any archeological
    evidence to back it up yet there are hundreds of American ruins from peoples
    and nations who lived during this time period. LDS scholars are such a small
    minority that when we find things, no one pays attention.

    (21:00)
    Watch this documentary which shows some of the work being done to tie Israelite
    peoples to American nations.

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pIBTr-x2gs&feature=plcp

     

    I’ll try to
    finish later. As for now, I want to leave you with one very important scripture
    from Genesis: “Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there
    confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter
    them abroad upon the face of all the
    earth.  (Genesis 11:9) Think about it. 

    • Ha! I can’t believe we haven’t covered that yet. Sorry – I’m Scott. I forget that YouTube is somewhat anonymous. Hopefully the threading Disqus offers will be a better fit for our conversation. You may even want to try making new messages for each point rather than one long thread if that would be easier to follow. We’ll see.  Also – I appreciate you continuing this conversation as long as you have. It has been helpful for me in better understanding your views.

      So – on to a brief response before I get back to work…

      (0:56)We’re back to epistemology here. If we had verifiable evidence, at least on par with the Bible, I’d be right there with you. So, if you can offer sufficient evidence for the BoM, then I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. Until then, I see no basis to consider this information as anything more than the assertions of an individual. Again – maybe he’s right, but I have no way of knowing, so until then I’ll stick with the Bible.

      (3:44)
      That sounds familiar now that you mention it. Thanks for the clarification.

      (4:00)
      Well said. I can appreciate your view – see if you can understand mine. For one instance – you are making the assertion that these books were written more or less contemporaneously. I have evidence for the dating of the Bible. Archaeology continues to affirm the details set out in the Bible. We have numerous ancient copies of the Bible. The same cannot be said for the BoM. There are no ancient copies. There are no copies in the original language. No one saw it or even mentioned its existence prior to the 1800s. You have to admit that you are accepting the BoM on a different standard than the Bible. Not that this alone disproves it, but it is a fundamental difference.

      As far as your mention that I say differences are incompatible, can you give me an example so I know what you mean?

      (4:47)
      Your comparison is apples and oranges. Certainly prophets in those days foretold future events. No disagreement there. But to draw a parallel, you would have to show me that Isaiah mentioned Jesus’ name, or that his prophecy was given in Aramaic. See what I’m saying?

      (5:40)
      My problem with your possibilities is that they are all merely guesses. You are in effect saying, “well, maybe this is what happened”. I could just as easily say, “well, maybe Joseph Smith made all this up”. Neither of us would have added anything to the discussion because we have just made unsupported claims. However, given that, I’ll grant you that your arguments are hypothetically possible. I don’t think they are plausible, but maybe that’s just me. I mentioned it as an anachronism because I thought it was odd. I’m willing to let this one go though.

      (8:10)
      I don’t think that I am misunderstanding it. I was merely attempting to evade the question since we’ll be getting to that topic next week. 🙂  Everything you have described sounds very familiar. Given that I’m presenting the translation this weekend, if you find that link feel free to send it to me. I’d like to read it.

      (11:25)
      I agree that it is speculative. I did my best to intentionally use words from the BoM so that I could minimize editorial comment. The BoM calls them barges. I described them vaguely since the descriptions are very vague. If I recall correctly, the only elaboration I offered was what it seemed to be suggesting on the face of it, and what I have read on the subject. And admittedly, there is very little info about the Jaredites, and only a fraction of that touches on the details of the journey.

      (12:08)
      I didn’t intend it to be insulting. I looked up bizarre just to check. “Markedly unusual” is the first definition I found. To my reading, much of the Mormon basis for marriage sounds very unusual. Again, this alone doesn’t make it wrong, but it does make the eyebrows arch. Also, my main reason for mentioning it at this point was that I feel the public face the LDS church puts on things like marriage/family are deceptive. They appear to show a traditional family scene, but the ideas and motivations underlying it are anything buyt traditional. Can you understand my reaction? (This topic will probably be touched on, though briefly, in 2-3 weeks. If you have anything that presents a short summary, I’d be happy to review it.)

      (12:25)
      Interesting. That is new to me. Is that the predominant view?

      (16:20)
      “If this story was in the Bible, it would be celebrated by all Christians.”
      Agreed. Yet, it is not in the Bible. So, my skepticism remains. 🙂

      (17:10)
      This section had me confused. The language was not terribly clear, so I mistakenly remembered it as Heavenly Father touching the stones. I see now that it was intended to describe Jesus Christ touching the stones. My mistake. Thanks for clarifying. As far as whether this adds any “understanding
      of who Jesus Christ was before he was born into mortality” will all depend on whether we have any warrant to believe that the book of Ether was inspired and accurate.
      (19:20)
      Fair enough. I’ll concede your point about how far removed we are from the time of the Jaredites. I’ll be curious what you say about the equal lack of support for the Nephites and Lamanites. Given that, I don’t think your claim that LDS finds are somehow ignored. If something were uncovered that offered likely support for the BoM, I’m confident it would make the news. However… here is your moment! Feel free to use this forum to share any archaeological finds you are aware of. I’m more interested in the objective truth than I am in my own opinions.

      (21:00)
      I’ll check out you’re video once I’m finished here.

      …..

      If you do finish watching later, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m flattered that you’re taking the time to watch something so incredibly long that you know you will disagree with. So as long as you keep watching, keep chiming in!

      I’ve read the passage you posted, and I did think about it, but I must be slow. What ought I be taking from it?

      • Spencer

        The point of
        this documentary was to open your eyes to the plausibility of the Book of
        Mormon taking place in the Americas and not to prove with 100% accuracy that it happened in meso-America. Maybe
        one day we’ll be perfectly certain but as for now we’re making progress. You’re absolutely right that it leaves us
        asking more questions than answers. Fabulous! We’re all on the right
        track if we want to know more. Maybe then you’d be interested in Part I of the
        documentary. I gave you Part II. Part I talks about Lehi’s travels through
        Arabia on his way to the New World. It gives several verifiable evidences that
        you said you were looking for. They’re not just guesses, they’re concrete.

         

         

        In response
        to (4:00) I agree wholeheartedly that scripture stories should coincide with archaeological
        findings. That’s why what we’re discovering in the Americas is so exciting. The
        documentary was only an introduction to what is going on. Why isn’t it being
        talked about? Because it would undermine some of the central tenants of
        mainstream Christian views. But the truth is that we’re finding incredible archaeological,
        linguistical, and geographical evidence that perfectly coincides with the Book of
        Mormon account. There is no way a boy from upstate New York, let alone scholars of his day knew about any of this. Joseph didn’t even know there was a wall around the city of Jerusalem! But more importantly, as the video mentions, the Book of Mormon
        isn’t here to convince the world that a small band of Israelites integrated
        into Mayan culture. It is here to convince the world (especially the Jews) that
        Jesus is the Christ and that that He is capable of revealing His Gospel to many
        nations and not just a few thousand Israelites in an obscure little province of
        the world.

         

        “Know ye not
        that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God,
        have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the
        sea, and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the
        nations of the earth?”

         

        “Wherefore
        murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the
        testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember
        one nation like unto another? And I do this that I may prove unto many that I
        am the same yesterday, today, and forever. And because that I have spoken one
        word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet
        finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time
        henceforth and forever. “

         

        For behold,
        I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak
        unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the
        other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall
        write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall
        write it.” (2 Nephi 29:7-12)

         

        Scott, a
        consistent theme that I’m trying to reiterate here is that God’s works are much
        larger than what many previously thought. It makes sense that in modern times
        like these, we’d find more evidence for both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
        I just can’t understand why you would want to confine God’s word to a book only
        a few hundred pages long. He’s so much bigger than that. Even the Bible itself
        shows us that there are many other books that were available anciently that we
        no longer have. Here’s the short list:

         

         

        Book of
        Nathan (1 Chr. 29:29)

        Book of Jehu
        (2 Chr. 20:34)

        Book of the
        law & Book to Shaphan (2 Chr. 34:15)

        Book of the
        wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14)

        Book of
        Jasher (Josh 10:13)

        Book of the
        acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41)

        A revealed
        mystery previously written (Eph 3:3)

        Epistle from
        Laodicea (Col. 4:16)

        Enoch’s
        prophesies (Jude 1:14-15)

         

        Also, in the
        Book of Mormon, several prophets who lived in the Old World are quoted but
        their writings are absent. They are Zenos, Zenock, Neum, Ezias, and Joseph of
        Egypt.

         

        How much
        better off we would be if we had these! 

         

        Personally,
        I whole-heartedly believe that ancient Americans were visited by Jesus Christ. “And
        other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and
        they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John
        10:16)

         

        “And verily
        I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not
        of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there
        shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (3 Nephi 15:21)

        • But this is where I’m afraid we have a disconnect, Spencer. If I replace every occurence of the word Jaredite or Nephite in the video with the word Martian, it is equally plausible and unverifiable. Can you please give me a specific example of anything that could be called evidence? I watched the 90 minute video and saw zero examples.

          This is the point I keep coming back to, but I’ll say it again. Maybe Joseph Smith’s visions really happened. Maybe they were even true. If I grant you that possibility, what can you give me that qualifies as evidence of any of it?

        • Ok, let me try to work through your responses…

          4:00
          Sorry Spencer, but that’s a cop-out. This is a safe forum. I am 100% comfortable with evidence that disproves the teachings of the Bible. If they’re out there and they can be backed up, lay them on me. So far you have said there is a ton of evidence but that it’s suppressed. Show me this evidence and then we can talk about it. Until then however, you’re just making unsubstantiated claims. 
          “There’s no way a boy from upstate NY knew any of this”
          Knew any of what? Please give me a specific example of a Mayan reference or similar claim that JS could not have known about.

          “Joseph didn’t even know there was a wall around the city of Jerusalem!”
          Don’t you see the trouble here? As I see it you’ve got two major problems. #1 – You believe this statement on JS’s say-so. You can’t use JS’s claims to back up JS’s claims.  #2 – This is a liability, not an asset! You want me to believe JS valued the Bible highly, or was even familiar with it, when he wasn’t aware of a fact that plays predominantly in Jerusalem’s history as recorded in the Bible. How do you see this as a positive?

          Not to be difficult, but everything I wrote that you replied to under this 4:00 marker was in response to your contention that the BoM was written concurrently with the law of Moses. I asked you how you would back this statement up and you replied with a number of other contentions. Does that mean you have nothing to support this claim?

          In response to your BoM and Bible references….
          Ok. One explanation of the similarities you mention is that they are true. Another equally plausible explanation is that JS made it all up well after the fact. Both are equally reasonable given the statements you have made. I realize that you are confident in your beliefs, but I have to repeat my same old question:  based on what? Can you give me the evidence that makes your explanation more plausible than mine?

          “How much better off we would be if we had these!”
          This is the wrong question. The more reasonable question is this: What reason is there to believe that we do have these?

          Your closing…
          I understand you are persuaded that these events are true, and I respect that. I’m not here to belittle or attack. However, the LDS church makes a number of very specific truth claims. It is standard procedure to ask for verification of claims. You firmly believe that Jesus came to America. That’s fine, but what evidence (not belief) can you provide for this truth claim?

          And please understand my reason for asking for specifics here. You make reference to Jesus’ statements such as “I have other sheep”. Can you tell me why I should think Jesus was talking about America and not Australia? Or Venus? Or a secret civilization in the center of the earth? To put it simply – what reason is there to read your foreign meaning into this passage as opposed to any other foreign meaning? And better yet – why ought a meaning foreign to any text be preferred over one that fits the context?

          • Spencer

            I don’t know how you could have got through the video without finding specifics. It’s all about specifics! 

            First of all, let me a make a recommendation to you. As a Christian man, you will find more solace, more peace, and more satisfaction with your own religion if you focus solely on building up your faith and your church rather than trying to tear down another belief system to make you feel better about your own. I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams Jesus wanting us to hold a multi-part video series about the faults of another religion. I understand that it’s popular these days to hate on the Mormons but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for you personally. You should stand above the rest! Many feel threatened because our church is growing in numbers while most protestant churches are loosing numbers. But who cares about numbers! Arming your friends & followers with anti-Mormon knowledge does nothing to promote Christian fellowship, commonality, and any kind of unity Jesus commanded us to have. With that said, let’s get specific.

            Now that you’ve decided teach your friends about the LDS in the name of “helping our Mormons friends and neighbors”, there’s a certain level of accounting you must go through. So Scott, you have somehow got to account for the following:

            1) How did Joseph Smith know ancient Arabian geography and customs? There were no Arabian maps published in the US before the translation of the Book of Mormon. How do you account for Nahom and the land Bountiful that are discussed in the documentary? How could he have gotten this one right? Read the Book of Mormon then follow along on Google Maps. There’s just no way. 
            2) How do you account for Jesus’s statement about the “one fold” and the “one shepherd”. If he wasn’t speaking about ancient Americas, who was he speaking about? During his mortal ministry, he never preached to anyone else. The Book of Mormon answers the question. How do you account for it? He wasn’t speaking about the heathen because they specifically were identified as being outside the fold of Israel.  

            3) This is a new one: How do you account for the “chiasm” in the Book of Alma chapter 36? Scholars know full well that Chiasms are characteristic of near eastern languages and were completely unknown by Americans during the 1800s. How do you account for this considering Joseph Smith was pretty weak with the English language, let alone Semitic languages?

            4) How do you account for the missing scriptures that I listed previously? Where did they go, why are they not important, and why are they not included in the Bible? How does this allow for the Bible to be complete and still the “full Word of God”?

            5) How do you account for Amos 3:7? Why does it not apply today? 

            6) Where did the Book of Mormon come from? There’s no way Joseph Smith could have written it. If he did, he would have had to known the following without a library and hardly any formal education: Metallurgical practices in antiquity, Semitic language structures, ancient Arabia geography, biblical history (Joseph’s mother said he read the Bible the least out of all her children) including Israelite worship, marriage, and death customs. He would have had to write it in under 3 months, in his 20s, with an elementary education, under intense persecution, and with no manuscripts, research, or books to help him. (When he was translating, his family and companions noted that nothing but the gold plates were on the table). If your only explanation is that the devil gave him the book, then how do you account for the fact that the sole purpose of the book is to testify of Jesus Christ especially in light of Matt 7:15-20 which clearly states that only good fruit can come from a good tree?

            7) How do you account for the fact that the Christian churches of today do not resemble the church Christ established? There are no sacraments of water and wine, many are not baptized even when the Bible clearly states its required, there are no prophets, no 12 apostles (the Book of Acts clearly shows that it was meant to continue beyond Judas), no Seventy, no unity, and no Priesthood? If Jesus’s church survived apostasy, why are all the central features of his church stripped away? If you aren’t Catholic, then where is your authority? 

            8) How do you account for the way that the Book of Mormon has brought millions closer to Jesus Christ? Why would the devil write a book or sponsor a book that makes him lose power? How do you account for the miracles of the Restoration including the hundreds of prophecies made by Joseph Smith that actually happened and are happening?

            9) How do you account for the testimony I have? The Spirit has opened my eyes, filled my nights with vivid dreams, spoken to my heart, buoyed me up, brought vision to my mind, and testified in only a way that the Spirit of God can, that Jesus is the Christ and that He has restored His church in its fullness to prepare the souls of men for His 2nd coming in glory. You can’t. You can’t account for this because it’s my own experience. That’s the whole point. Every person must come to know God for themselves. My testimony isn’t built on a foundation of archaeology, billion to one changes of getting archaeology right, miracles experienced by someone else or even words uttered millenia ago recorded in a book. My testimony is built on faith. Faith isn’t just a belief. It’s evidence. It’s evidence directly from God. It’s specific. It’s tangible. And it’s available to all people. Once you have evidence, everything else is just an appendage and only adds to your faith. 

            Scott, I feel like if Jesus himself came down and handed you the Book of Mormon, you wouldn’t be convinced because it’s not what you’ve grown up to believe. I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Do as James directs in James 1:5. Do as Moroni does in Moroni 10:3-5. Do what Moses did on Sinai. Do what Nephi did after hearing his father’s dream. Approach God directly and get a direct answer. Jesus Christ was resurrected into life not death making him able to speak today! He lives  and can settle questions, disputes, and confusions. He can speak to your heart and your soul in a way that makes sense to you. He doesn’t always answer immediately but to the humble seeker, He always answers. 

          • But I am building up my faith. I’m not sure how you would come to another conclusion. I’m also not tearing down any religion. I am merely looking at the claim “Mormons=Christians” to see if it is a factual statement. I can’t count how many times I have said, “Maybe Mormonism is true. Maybe JS had these experiences. But that is not the question today. The question is whether Mormonism and Christianity are identical.” This is not an attack – it’s an observation.

            You say you can’t imagine Jesus wanting us to do such a thing. Consider this: Jesus himself, as well as the gospel writers told us to expect false teachers. Paul told us to ‘take every thought captive’. Peter said to present a defense for the gospel. This is all that we’re doing here. This series is merely an examination of a set of teachings to see whether they correspond with scripture. This is the same thing the Bereans were praised for and that we are told to do. And I’m not picking on Mormonism by any means. We’ve looked at a number of different belief systems. Mormonism is just the topic currently in the news. That’s all. Nothing personal. Entirely factual.

            I am going to have to cry foul on the tone of this comment though. I’m “hating on the Mormons”? On numerous occasions, I have gone out of my way to defend Mormons. I’ve shot down any mockery or suggestion that Mormons are unintelligent. If you want to keep making these sorts of allegations, you’re going to have to give examples.

            As to your specifics, briefly…

            (1) The parallels you mention are quite vague and require a significant amount of assumption to get to your conclusion. However, for simplicity, I’ll grant you this one because I don’t see the claim as bearing any weight with respect to the veracity of JS’s visions.

            (2) I’m no theologian, but I think this one is relatively simple: the dispersion (and later, by extension, the Gentiles). This is clear by Jesus’ own words and the actions of the disciples. Just a couple…

            “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” – Mt 10:6″to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” – Ja 1:1
            Accounts such as Peter & Cornelius – Acts 10

            In every case, I’ll take the answer that fits the context before I’ll import another meaning foreign to the text – especially if it was made 1800 years later and with no confirmation. I submit that the burden of proof is on the one making the more extraordinary claim.

            (3) Same as #1

            (4) Already answered in previous discussion.

            (5) Covered his previously as well, in some depth. I think you want to be careful with these claims. If you want to judge JS as a prophet based on OT standards, he ought to have been stoned many times over.

            (6) The easiest solution is that he made it up himself. And you can’t say he couldn’t. The BoM’s writing style is very unsophisticated. It is also loaded with repetition and plagiarism. I’m not sure where the 3 month figure comes from – there is no reason he couldn’t have been working on this from 1820 all the way through 1830.

            (7) Your premise is incorrect. You state the current church does not reflect the church Jesus instituted, but then point to two categories of evidence. One, assertions that are untrue (such as ceasing of communion and baptism) and two, criteria Jesus never established (apostles, prophets, priesthood, etc.)

            (8) That is your contention, not mine. I believe it has brought no one closer to Christ. Before discussing this topic, we need to talk about who is Christ, and whether the Christ that Mormons draw near to is the one described in the Bible.

            Do you want to talk about the piles of specific prophecies JS made that were proven false? If you want to go down the topic of prophecy, we need to look at everything – not just the ones that support your position.

            (9) You’re right. I have not had your experience. I respect the deep meaning that it has had on your life, but emotions can be misleading. How can I account for it? The same way I account for things I have been sure of based on my own gut feelings that later proved to be wrong. This is precisely why inner assurance is not enough. It must correspond with reality. If I have 100% confidence that a plane is trustworthy even though it is in horrible disrepair, will my faith overcome the facts? Faith is not a magical force. It s not a feeling, and it is certainly not blind. The only faith of any value is trust well placed. That means the object of my trust is sound. That means that the trust I have corresponds with reality. If it does not, it is not true. Faith is not evidence. Faith is what we do with evidence. This is our fundamental disagreement right here. Jesus’ own model was to give people proofs. It is not unreasonable to expect Christianity to hold up to scrutiny. Mormonism, if true, should be abel to withstand the same.

            As to your closing, we’ve already covered this ground as well. I have done what you described, except I have not limited God as you have. Mormons ask for assurance that the BoM is true. I haven’t restricted God. I ask him to show me everything that is true. And he has already said that the starting point is to measure things against his word. When following that standard, the BoM does not hold up. So let me ask you this – why would you think that God would contradict himself? And what makes you sure that he won’t do it again? See, I do believe that God has spoken. But I have yet to be presented any evidence that he did so through Joseph Smith.

          • Spencer

            Scott, I’m glad you’re in design and not accounting.

          • What does that mean?

          • Spencer

            I gave you the most specific examples I could think of and you thought they were vague. It doesn’t get anymore technical than metallurgy, geography, and semitic language structures. You can’t account for it. 
            Scott I will say that you aren’t particularly mean spirited in your presentations. I appreciate that. 

            In reference to your last paragraph, what I see is the greatest contradiction is that many things the Lord instituted are no longer existent in mainline Christian churches. I would venture to say that Mormons practice more Biblical Christianity than anyone else. That’s the great irony. We have temples, baptisms for the dead, sacraments, formal covenants, prophets, and apostles. Why would the Lord contradict himself if these practices existed in the New Testament church? And when Mormons do practice ancient laws like Temple worship, we’re accused of doing things that are no longer applicable. It makes no sense! The logic just goes round in circles until you feel like throwing your hands up in the air and giving up. 

          • I’m going to respond in a new comment. Disqus is cramping my style!

    • Ok, I’ve watched your video. After watching, I have more questions than answers. What I saw was a string of people suggesting how the accounts of the BoM might coincide with Mayan history. Unless I missed something, all they showed was either stock photography or Mayan artifacts. Zero Nephite artifacts, zero Nephite ruins, zero cave paintings or inscriptions that mention Nephites.

      I have to ask – what makes this more than a story to you? Of course I understand the nature of belief, and I recognize the personal experience you have which you believe represents God’s affirmation. But what about this video was so compelling that you thought it would answer my questions?

      This video has no examples whatsoever outside of the BoM – only conjecture. Unless I missed something, all this showed was guesses as to how the Nephite story might be reconciled with the Mayan record. If the viewer does not come to this video with a prior conviction that Mormonism is true, I see nothing to lead them even remotely in that direction, let alone persuade them.

      In fact, the video troubles me because it seems to be a concerted effort to make people believe there is evidence where there is none. Two specific examples:  They show photos of golden plates. The clear suggestion is that these are the plates. But on your own views, the plates are gone. Why show them in a documentary as though they exist? Worse yet is this phrase used at 48:07:  “artistic archaeological evidence”. This is a contradiction of terms! If something is artistic, it is not archaeological. If something is created, it is not evidence. I hate to sound harsh, but this strikes me as nothing less than emotional propaganda.

      If I’ve overstated something, please point out where the video presents evidence that I have missed.

  • Spencer

    It looks like my previous post got chopped up a little bit in its formatting. If it’s too hard to read, delete it and I’ll repost it. 

    • Yeah – that’s really weird. Did you type it elsewhere then paste it here? It looks like it got some unnecessary line breaks. Do you see an edit button under the post? I wonder if you can adjust it easily without having to start over. If not, it’s no big deal.

      Let me know when you’re done so I can post some responses.

      • Spencer

        There’s no option to edit but at least I know to not copy from Word anymore. I want to put forth one more article of evidence before the court then I welcome a response.
        I think to date I’ve subjected you to at least 3 documentaries that are over an hour long. For this I apologize. Thanks for entertaining what I’ve put past you. And yet, I’ve stumbled upon another! I absolutely insist that you watch it prior to your presentation on translation. If you do, you’re in a unique position because you’re being navigated past all the fluffery, myths, and sometimes streamlined information surrounding the translation of the translation of the Book of Mormon. This video will let you bypass that and get straight to the meat of the matter even though it’s far from exhaustive (the audience is seasoned members). Not many people get this kind of direct access because it’s hard to find in a sea of misinformation and misrepresentation.

        At this point in our discussions I’m trying to figure out your level of research into Mormonism. I’ve made the assumption that you’ve read the Book of Mormon and studied the primary sources of Joseph Smith’s life. But if you’re relying on Wikipedia, Youtube videos featuring ex-members, and fiery anti-Mormon sermons then the damage is already done and anything I say is probably in vain. I’ve noticed a few myths and misinformation that has crept into your presentations so I would encourage you to get as accurate as you can before you undertake to teach others. 

        The only way to know what a Banana tastes like is to try it yourself. Hearing other people’s experiences with Bananas just won’t do. The same is true of Mormonism. You must talk to Mormons, come to our chapels, read the text of the Book of Mormon, and study primary sources then draw conclusions. You can’t rely on the summaries and opinions of others as your source material. I would never ask an Evangelical or ex-Catholic about Catholicism. I’d go straight to the Catechism and I’d interview a priest. I’ve never been to Michigan so I don’t know if there’s much of a Mormon population but at least you have a friend in me. 

        I’m submitting this video lecture to you assuming you’ve read the Book of Mormon and are familiar with Joseph’s accounts. 

        By the way, how long is this series on Mormonism going to be? I look forward to your next installment. 

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiNgnk_L748&feature=relmfu This is a link to Part I

        • Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to watch this prior to today’s session (#6 – just posted), but I look forward to checking it out. As for the number I’ve watched so far, you’ve certainly put me through my paces! 🙂  Seriously though, I appreciate your suggestions.

          As for my sources. I mentioned what I would consider authoritative in the first session. I haven’t watched or read any of the ex-Mormon stuff out there. Sure I’ve run across plenty of stuff on Wiki, but when I do I look for support from reliable sources. In many cases, I specify my sources in class. For the sake of time though, I’m not always able to do so. In general, my references include the standard works, lds.org, mormon.org, the writings and recorded speeches of LDS authorities (presidents, apostles, apologists, theologians, etc). I have not read the entire BoM, but I have read a good portion of it. Off the top of my head, I’ve read though 1,2,3 Nephi and Ether, as well as specific accounts in many others. I’ve also read portions of PGP such as JS history, D&C for clarification of specific doctrines, and JoD for teachings of certain Mormon leaders. I’ve probably read about a half-dozen books on Mormonism. I’d say I read an equal number of unbiased historical accounts, Christian perspectives on Mormonism, and Mormon accounts of their own history. I think this is only fair in seeking a balanced view.Regarding your banana paragraph…
          I’ve not been to a Mormon chapel because that just wasn’t possible with my schedule. I’ve laid out my sources (again, off the top of my head) in the paragraph above. I also requested Mormon missionaries come to my home via the LDS website. They did come, and I was able to talk with them for a quite a while to gain a better understanding of their views. Hopefully I’ve met your requirements for making commentary on Mormonism. I make no claims to be an authority. That’s why I continually state that I am reporting things as I understand them from LDS documents and remain open to clarification from anyone who offers it such as yourself. So…  thanks for continuing to do so!

    • Nah – I can put up with it. If you want to write your thoughts and then copy/paste (I’ve done the same myself), try a text editor like Notepad rather than Word. Then it won’t add the line breaks.

  • (This is in response to the comment thread at http://clgonline.org/are-mormons-christians-pt-5/#comment-683510246 for those following along)

    Spencer,
    I think you’re still not understanding my point. Having lots of specific details does not make examples more believable. I’m impressed by verifiable evidence, not complicated evidence. What is lacking in all of your examples is corroboration. I’ll expand on this a bit since it seems I’m not communicating the point well…

    • For the metallurgical information you gave to count as evidence, I would have to see the BoM make specific statements that are corroborated by implements found in the Americas fitting that description.

    • For the geographical or historical information to count as evidence, we would have to find corroboration. For example, a Hill Cumorah with an enormous amount of bones, weapons, chariots, encampments and the like. Or archaeological evidence testifying of Jewish architecture, pottery, implements, and diet throughout the Americas. We just don’t see that though.

    • For Semitic language structures to count, you have to present more than one example of what some call a chiasm. And if you want to bring language into it, you would have to explain why Reformed Egyptian has never been found, why examples such as the Book of Abraham are held to when they have been unanimously debunked, why letters appearing in a hat ought to be referred to as translation…

    You say I can’t account for these things, but I maintain that you’ve given me very little to account for. There are numerous alternate explanations for the things you have offered which all seem more plausible than the Mormon hypothesis. I’m simply asking for some form of verification that would satisfy a scientist, a detective or a juror. Does that help explain my lack of enthusiasm over your examples?

  • (This is in response to the comment thread at http://clgonline.org/are-mormons-christians-pt-5/#comment-683510246 for those following along)

    Regarding your last paragraph…

    All you have done is restate what you said before. I asked for specific examples and you haven’t offered any. Let me try elaborating again to see if that helps illustrate the point.

    “Mormons have temples and Christians have abandoned them”
    This is true. Can you show me where Jesus instructed us to continue to have temples? Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple, but gave no indication that it would be rebuilt or even ought to be. He said that when he was destroyed, that “temple” would be rebuilt in three days. If no similar references were made about temples, how are Christians failing to comply?

    “Baptisms for the dead”
    Now this one is really going out on a limb. There are no examples of Christians practicing this let alone being told by Jesus to do so. Why is this a liability for Christianity?

    “Sacraments”
    Sacraments are not unique to Mormonism. What particular sacraments did you have in mind?

    “Formal covenants”
    Not sure what you are referring to.

    “Prophets and Apostles”
    Again, you’re going to have to point to the specific instructions given by Jesus that these were intended to continue. Also problematic for you (in my opinion) is the fact that we don’t see any concern among any of the apostles to replace themselves after they were martyred off. Doesn’t that seem odd on your view?

    “Why would the Lord contradict himself if these practices existed in the New Testament church?”
    You’re going to have to make the case that a contradiction occurred. Keep in mind, much of what is recorded in the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Jesus and the disciples reclined to eat – that is not to say we ought to. Jesus did not marry – that is not a command for us. The Bible describes that some in the early church sold their belongings and shared their things, but nowhere does it suggest that we ought to.

    “And when Mormons do practice ancient laws like Temple worship, we’re accused of doing things that are no longer applicable. It makes no sense! The logic just goes round in circles until you feel like throwing your hands up in the air and giving up.”
    I’d have to hear you elaborate a bit more on this. Not only the fact that these things are not commanded, as I illustrated above, but also your reasoning for picking and choosing. For instance – sure there was a temple in Jesus’ day. They also ate kosher meals, avoided mixed fabrics, spoke Hebrew and observed the Sabbath. I presume that Mormons do not follow these practices. So what’s the difference?

  • Spencer

    Alright Scott, I apologize if I’ve been all over the map and haven’t offered enough concrete examples. It seems that no verse in the Book of Mormon will serve us at the moment so lets turn our attention toward the Bible only. 

    The question up for discussion is “Are Mormons Christian?” Four of the more popular ways people exclude us from Christianity is our doctrines concerning (1) The Trinity vs. the doctrine of the Godhead (2) Faith vs Works (3) The Book of Mormon (4) and additional Revelation through prophets/apostles especially Joseph Smith.  Christians often exclude Mormons because we reject the trinity, see works as important, believe the Book of Mormon, and rely on modern day prophets. 

    What my goal is now is to examine closely Biblical verses that support our claims. I could add a whole host of Book of Mormon verses on top but I know that you are more familiar with the Bible. So I’m going to lay out 4 separate posts addressing the 4 different areas. 

    I would invite you and the people in your class to go through the verses as well. It’s going to be long but I think it’s well worth it because Biblical support is essential to understanding Mormons.

    • Spencer

      The Trinity, the Godhead, and the nature of man.

      We literally believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They are separate, glorified beings. One is literally the Father and one is literally the Son. They don’t exist in the same being but are two separate personages. They are one in purpose and in likeness but are separate. Our understanding of this doctrine is confirmed by Joseph Smith’s First Vision but is founded on what we read in both the Old and New Testaments. 

      Acts 7:55-56 “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God…. and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God”. We have to remember that this is after the resurrection. These two verses clearly show a spatial separation between the Father and the Son.

      Matt 3:17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This verse shows a divide between the Father and the Son. Jesus was literally on earth being baptized while the Father spoke from above in heaven. Compare this story to the story of Lazarus. “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” (John 11:41) Jesus often performed miracles while looking toward heaven. If the Father were in him, why would he look up? 

      Now look at Hebrews 1:1-3. Paul uses the phrase “express image of his person”. Paul is trying to teach us that Jesus’s glorified being looks the same as the Father. They not only look the same but are one in purpose.

      Finally there’s Luke 24:39 “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Mormons are criticized for believing God doesn’t float around the universe (omni-presence) but is an actual being of flesh and bone. This verse shows that Jesus was resurrected into a perfected body of flesh and bone. Why would he be resurrected only to lose his body?

      Now what does this have to do with man? Let’s transition into what this implies for us. The Bible is clear that we are created after the image of God. ” And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) Notice that God said “us” rather than “I”. Why would God talk to himself?

      Most Christians believe that God “is big enough to fill the universe but small enough to fit into your heart” or some similar sentiment. That’s just not true. He is one personage. Exodus 33:11 “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” 

      Finally, we are so often criticized for believing that all of us are literal sons and daughters of God. We don’t believe God is an unknowable or mysterious God but that he is our loving Father. Literally, a Father of our spirits. In other words, we are of the same order or species of God but have not progressed to where our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are. Notice the last word in Acts 17:28 “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Look up the word offspring in the dictionary. 

      The reason Christians were taught to fear God for centuries is because they were told he was unknowable and impersonable. I have a much easier time feeling close to God when I understand that he is (1) literally the Father of my Spirit (2) that he loves me (3) and that through Jesus Christ I can become like him. This is substantial Biblical evidence to support our claims. 

      • It appears that you misunderstand the Trinitarian view. The arguments you have given don’t make the points you seem to think they do.

        “Jesus is the Son of God”
        Agreed

        “They are two separate personages”
        Agreed, I think. (I’m a bit perplexed at the LDS usage of “personage” instead of person. Other than JS’s affection for the word, is there some significance?)

        “They are one in purpose and in likeness but are separate.”
        Agreed.As I said, I think you disagree with a view that is different from the Christian one. The doctrine of the Trinity put simply says that God is one in essence, but three in person. Three centers of consciousness, but one essence. Three roles, but one purpose. Unless you are using different meanings than standard usage, most of what you have presented fits the Christian understanding of the Godhead. (An obvious exception in your meaning of Father and Son)
        ………….

        Acts 7:55-56 // Spatial separation
        There is no contradiction with the Trinitarian view here

        Matt 3:17 // John 11:41
        This is only a difficulty because of your presumptions. You come to this passage believing that the Father is material. Christianity, based on the testimony of the Bible, says that God the Father is a spirit. If that is so, there is no difficulty in Jesus both referring to the Father as being in him and looking up when referring to him. God is not “up”, and neither is he “in” using the spacial definitions. We use that language, but it is merely figurative.

        Hebrews 1:1-3
        You are supposing that “representation” is the same thing as visible appearance. That’s not true. Ambassadors go to other countries as “the exact representation of the USA”, but no one presumes that mean they look exactly like Obama. As far as being one in purpose, I agree! That is central to the doctrine of the Trinity.

         Luke 24:39
        Another example of a presumption you hold about Christian doctrine that is inaccurate. Christian theology teaches that Jesus currently has a glorified body.

        Genesis 1:26-27
        Why does God say us rather than I? It should be obvious based on the issues you’ve raised so far. “God” is not a person, strictly speaking. God is a being, an essence. There are three persons that comprise the essence called God. Therefore, God may be referred to as one (in essence/purpose/being) or as three (in person/roles). This is not a contradiction, it is quite logical. My wife and I may be referred to as separate persons or as a union – horribly incomplete analogy, but hopefully you get the idea. Given this, it makes perfect sense for God to speak to man in terms of being one, but speak in plurality amongst the Godhead.

        “Most Christians believe…”
        That is your claim that I suppose you’d have to defend, but even if it were true it’s irrelevant to your point. Personhood has nothing to do with size or location – that’s a category error.

        Acts 17:28
        This was not a claim of Paul – he was quoting Epimenides (“your own poets”). Paul was huge on building bridges, but don’t mistake that for him agreeing with everything that others said. Also, be careful with just reading an English word and looking up its meaning and assuming that you have the correct meaning in view. Context is king. Also, the bible cannot contradict itself, so we have to see what the message of the entire bible is and whether this fits. For one example, take a look at 1 John 3:10:  “it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil” So, what is it? Are we all God’s kids, or are some of us the devil’s kids? I think you can see that the issue is not quite so easily dismissed.

        Closing paragraph
        Now I’m not not going to let this one go so easily. “Christians were taught for centuries that God was unknowable and impersonable?” Please back this claim up, because it is counter to the entire Bible, which is the very basis of what we know of God. As for your 3-point reasons for loving God, I’d propose that Mormonism has borrowed this basis from Christianity, then altered it. Put Christianly, I’d say that we love God because 1) he created us, 2) he loves us, and 3) through Jesus Christ I can approach him.

    • Spencer

      Faith Vs. Works

      There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding our belief about faith, grace, and works that it’s sometimes hard to wade through it all. I want to dispel those myths using the Bible alone to support our claims. 

      First and foremost, we believe that our works don’t actually save us. Let me draw the following comparison. The Children of Israel didn’t actually save themselves. There is nothing they could individually do to escape from Egypt. God did all the saving. However, the Children of Israel had to participate in their own salvation by moving their feet! They couldn’t just profess to believe in God and hope to be saved. They had to demonstrate their faith by walking through the Red Sea on dry ground. The same is true of us. Our works don’t actually save us but we demonstrate our faith by working! If we worked all our days, the wages we’d receive wouldn’t even be the right currency to buy salvation.

      So what are works? To us works are baptism, repentance, keeping the commandments, keeping sacred covenants, helping the poor and demonstrating love to people. All of these things were commanded by Jesus Christ. Here’s an example: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have lone one to another.” 

      People often use Ephesians 2:8-9 against us “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.” Exactly! As I said, our works don’t do the saving. If they did, we’d all be spiritually competing against each other to reach heaven. But this verse isn’t implying that works aren’t required to demonstrate faith. James helps us in our understanding of that principle. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18) So when people use scriptures like Romans 10:9 against us, they are clearly misinterpreting what a confession is. Confessing isn’t just saying something. It’s doing something! “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

      The scriptures are really just a story of people keeping the commandments or not keeping the commandments. When they did keep God’s commandments, they were blessed and saved. When they didn’t, he destroyed them. Our works are important and in the end, we’ll be judged by the way we worked and not what we just hypocritically professed. 

      “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12-130

      This is why Mormons can’t name a day when we were “saved”. We can’t just say that the day we starting believing Christ was the day he saved us. We have to actually live our lives in righteousness!

      • You’ve just done an excellent job presenting the Christian position! If this is what you believe, then we have little disagreement on this point. The trouble is, what you have just expressed is not the LDS view. In the next couple weeks I’ll be covering it in a bit of detail, but from the LDS standard works. The Bible expresses the biblical view, but we have to look at all Mormon doctrine to establish the Mormon position. I’ll be interested to hear your response to that.

    • Spencer

      The Book of Mormon

      The Bible supports the Book of Mormon. They can co-exist with one another and testify of one another. As a matter of fact, the Bible specifically references the Book of Mormon and also requires it. 

      Ezekiel 37:16-17 “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it for Judah and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it for Joseph the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions. And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”

      Lehi, the prophet at the beginning of the Book of Mormon was a man living in Jerusalem around 600BC. His is identified as belonging to the northern kingdom, from the tribe of Manasseh. Manasseh was the son of Joseph. It was Lehi’s posterity, descendants of Joseph that give us the Book of Mormon. We believe that these two books, the Bible and Book of Mormon are now joined together as Ezekiel prophesied  “which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know of the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever — And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”

      Other Christians have absolutely no other explanation for this verse. 

      Two other verse from the Old Testament signal that the Book of Mormon will come. “Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Psalms 85:11) It was the Book of Mormon that was translated from golden plates that Joseph Smith uncovered. “And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” (Isaiah 29:4) The Book of Mormon does indeed have a familiar spirit to those who recognize the voice of the Lord.

      Finally, the scriptures say that all things should be established by at least two, preferably three witnesses. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (Corinthians 13:1 see also Deut 17:6 & Deut 19:15) The Book of Mormon is “another Testament of Jesus Christ”. It is a 2nd sacred volume of scripture from a separate nation that He Lives! In our church, all things are done by at least 2 people. That is why missionaries are always in pairs. 

    • Spencer

      Prophets & Apostles – Apostasy & Restoration

      The Bible foretells the impending apostasy of the Church and is full of examples why we need prophets and apostles to lead the Church when Christ isn’t present. 

      Apostasy Foretold:
      “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11) This is exactly what happened. From the time of Amos until now, we’ve always had scriptures so this can’t be talking about the written word but a famine of “hearing” the word. 

      “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thess 2:3) The Acts of the Apostles and all the epistles are really just the story of the Apostles trying to keep the church together even though they know apostasy is near. 

      “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Ironically, Christians love to call themselves “traditional” Christians. We should know we’re in hot water when we’re relying on tradition rather than revelation!

      “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29) Notice that the entire flock was universally depleted. 

      Paul also describes apostasy in the last days. See 1 Tim 4:1-4 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. 

      So how did this apostasy happen? “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)

      When Jesus Christ established His Church, he set up a pattern. The apostles were called and they WERE meant to continue. Matthais was chosen to place Judas in Acts 1:21-26. Some use these scriptures to demonstrate that to qualify for Apostleship you must have seen Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry. Then how do you explain Paul who was indeed called to be an apostle even after Jesus’s ministry. “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.” (1 Cor 1:1) Paul goes on to teach us that a fundamental requirement for the Church of God is to have apostles and prophets. See Eph 4:11-14  & 1 Cor 12:28

      Furthermore, the way in which apostles and prophets are called and ordained is set forth. The apostleship is transferred by the laying on of hands. “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:6) “And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6) “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery.” (1 Timothy 4:14) Clearly, the laying on of hands was important. In our day, all ordinances are done by the laying on of hands. (See photos)

      On top of that, prophets and apostles cannot choose themselves. They must be called. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” (John 15:16) “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4)

      In our church, not a single calling is something we can aspire to. We can’t become a bishop, pastor, apostle, or prophet if we want to. We can’t even teach a Sunday School class unless we’re called to do it. Missionaries don’t decide where they go for 2 years. We believe that God calls men, through revelation, and instructs them for the benefit of all men. 

      Finally, I want to address the idea of Restoration. The Bible talks about a time of restoration of all things. 

      “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6) Remember, this cannot be Jesus Christ because it’s “another” and in the context of the chapter, it is talking about the latter days. We believe that this angel is Moroni who gave Joseph Smith the everlasting Gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon.

      “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isaiah 29:14) Verse 13 before it talks about teaching the precepts of men. This verse clearly indicates that the wise scholars, philosophers and teachers of the Gospel will “with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me”. This in so many ways describes the current Christian climate where teachers are more interested in money than honoring God. Indeed, the precepts of men are the creeds of men and not the revelations of God through Holy Prophets. 

    • Spencer

      These replies are sorted newest to oldest so start at the bottom and work your way up. 

    • I appreciate the approach, and look forward to reading your responses.

    • Just one observation before I start into your latest submission…

      In all previous topics, you have presented your case and I have responded with specific challenges and questions. So far they are all still hanging out there. It’s beginning to feel a little like a smokescreen. Hopefully by now it’s evident that I enjoy the debate and don’t mind being challenged. But so far, that’s seeming a bit one-sided. I’ve watched your videos and addressed your points, but it feels like you are avoiding the challenges I’ve offered. Perhaps you can go back and revisit some of them before we go off on yet another topic.

      • Spence Redford

        ~

      • Spencer

        All my answers are in direct response to your specific challenges. It’s just that my answers aren’t what you want to hear. 

        I was hoping that you would read these verses and respond with your own interpretation that is directly opposed to my interpretation. I was hoping this would happen because it proves my point from the beginning. We cannot rely on our own interpretations! Even in context, the written word is so subjective depending on how you read it. I firmly believe in what I’ve said about these verses based on the Spirit, reason, logic, context, and every other condition that I’ve ever been exposed to. But the truth of the matter is that the written word seen through the rose colored lenses of time and language can distort the original sentiment. Even scholars disagree about verses. We aren’t scholars! We don’t speak Greek or Hebrew! We pretend to know the exact circumstances of the Savior’s life or Paul’s life but we just can’t know it unless we ask them directly and they personally respond. Thank heavens for the Word of God but it isn’t an end in and of itself. It’s only a means to an end. 

        As a missionary for my church, I served in Boston, MA. During the course of my mission I encountered people of all levels of spirituality and intelligence. I quickly found that Atheists like to use the Bible to prove God doesn’t exist. They have some pretty convincing material. Muslims believe in the Bible and have their own interpretation for each and every verse. I remember talking to a man who had two PHDs in evolution and philosophy. He was much smarter than me and could use the Bible against me with everything I said. Don’t even get me started with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve talked to them for hours and they stand firm on their interpretations. Unless you’re a member of the Bahai faith who seem to believe in everything, all these faiths can’t be 100% correct. Everyone sounds so convincing. Everyone thinks their belief supersedes everyone else’s. Just because one belief or interpretation that is considered “traditional” or believed by the majority doesn’t prove that it is true. History has shown too many times that the majority got it wrong. 

        You know what I’m going to say next. We have to ask the author himself! If the Bible is so perfect and so complete and so infallible and so finished, then why is there mass confusion on each and every verse? Doesn’t that make God’s word an epic failure? Once again, let me reiterate the fact that our church isn’t founded on the Bible nor is it founded on the Book of Mormon. It is founded on what the Bible and Book of Mormon are founded on… Revelation! It’s more than that. We believe it was founded by Jesus Christ himself to prepare the children of men before his second coming in glory. 

        Scott, the Heavens are open and God is speaking once again. He is revealing new things and clarifying old things. What was once hidden and mysterious is now revealed and understandable. The Lord is gathering his people together and dividing the righteous from the wicked. 

        “The standard of truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” – Joseph Smith 

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