Archive Section II
AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
ANSWERS A MORMON CRITIC
Love is Unconditional
I did find useful information on your page, however. Such as a sentence which sums up pretty well all that is wrong with the Mormon view of salvation. "It is knowing that we have to show God we love him in order to be accepted by him." NO NO NO NO NO.
I am especially incredulous about finding this statement here since Mormons believe that God relates to us as a literal father. What kind of a sick-ass father tells his child "As soon as you show me that you love me I'll accept you." If you really believe this, I hope to God you never have children. God accepts us. He rejects our sin. Only if we hold onto our sin do we get thrown out with it. Good works, and eventual perfection, are a result of our salvation, not a partial cause. If you have to show God that you have faith in Him by being perfect, then we're all screwed. At least, I hope that you would not be egotistical enough to believe that you have ever lived even one perfect day in your entire life, whether before your endowment ceremony or after it. Of course there are people in the church who say they're saved and don't act like it. That probably means (although we can't see into their hearts to know for sure) that they aren't saved to begin with. Or it could mean, well, anything, since we just don't know what their inward spiritual status is.
Works and Righteousness
I assume this is some sort of reply to my earlier postings, although it seems to ignore most of my points. Let me just reiterate my earlier point: WORKS DO NOT MAKE YOU RIGHTEOUS. This is not only a disagreement between you and me, but between you and St. Paul. The Mosaic Law did NOT exist to point people to salvation, Paul is very firm on this. The Mosiac Law existed to show the people where they were falling short. Far from being salvific, the Law "cursed" the people, condemned them. Furthermore, works are not a condition of faith, they are a result. If one has faith, true faith in one's heart and not simply on one's lips, then one will find onesself simply wanting to do good, not as a way to earn favor with God and to experience God's love, but simply because wanting to do good is a natural result of the experience of God's love. Any good parent will tell you that love always comes before obedience. True, the devils believe that Jesus is the Christ as a matter of their intellect, but they don't trust Him, and that is the real essence of faith. An apostsay doesn't mean we lose knowledge OR power (although that may be the reult), it means we lose TRUST. Jesus does not put you on the Way, Jesus IS the Way. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me." Not only is Jesus the Way to salvation, not only is He the Truth of salvation, He is the Life- He and His love is the very experience of salvation. He didn't say "I exist to point you to truths that will enable you to live your own good life." He claimed to BE that life. Hence, I don't necessarily believe all Mormons are damned to hell just for being Mormons or Hindus are damned for being Hindus, but I do believe that LDS teaches things about God which are simply not true and will influence the degree and kind of trust a Mormon will place in Jesus in the wrong direction. The Fruits of the Spirit are not what is necessary to obtain salvation, fruit is used in the sense of being a good product. Once we have the Spirit- i.e. salvation, THEN we shall bear the Fruit of the Spirit. God does not want to simply "stretch" you into being just a better person, He literally wants to remake you. He does not simply want to work with your inherent goodness and proto-Godhood because it is not there for Him to work with, He wants to remove your inherently selfish center (and mine) and replace it with Himself.
On another note, it's odd that you would speak of the Mosaic Law and its ritual requirements as symbolism. Mormonism specifically and explicitly states that full salvation and glorification absolutely cannot be obtained without going through the ritual temple ordinances, even to the point where they must be done for the dead for the dead to receive full glorification. They are clearly not viewed as merely symbolic, but as having inherent power, which is not a Biblical view. Although I think one of the reasons your reasoning has led you in this direction is that you are still a better man than your principles.
And on a final note, it's interesting that this is to date the only lengthy, obviously thought-out reply I have received from a Mormon (except for the one about the passage in the BOM, which I admitted wasn't a good argument) and yet the author still cannot completely resist the temptation to make meaningless personal attacks. I have no idea who Ed Decker and Walter Martin are, and it's absolutely none of my business how "bitter" they may or may not be. It's none of yours either.
But the kind of repentance you're describing is simply another form of works righteousness. We must grit our teeth and overcome our sin and then we will experience God's love. That just doesn't work. Even after we acknowledge and bewail our sins, no matter how sincere we may be, we remain fallen people. Repentance IS the acceptance of Christ, truly, into our hearts. God doesn't condemn us to hell for specific sins, as Jesus said, only the sin against the Spirit cannot be forgiven. To sin against the Spirit is to deny the Spirit's inward testimony to our hearts that Jesus is the Christ AND that he offers complete attonement for our sins. This only makes sense, for by definition the only sin God can't forgive is the refusal of the offer of foregiveness. Once Christ begins to act on our hearts, we find ourselves becoming better people, but it doesn't necessarily happen all at once. To think that one can be saved and simply go on sinning as one pleases (which is to say, go on having onesself as one's center instead of Christ) is a sign that one was never truly saved to begin with. Yes, our behavior must be changed, but it is God who changes it. And you CANNOT tell the inward spiritual state of anyone else by their outward actions or demeanor or anything a mere human can discern about them. Look at King David. He was clearly one of God's chosen, yet he continued to sin. Of course you are going to find people in churches who sin and are hypocrites. EVERYONE, to some degree, sins and is a hypocrite. But once you truly accept Christ into your heart, then NO MATTER WHAT, you are saved, and you cannot lose your salvation. The catch is that it's impossible for human beings to tell which other human beings have truly done that, but it's really none of our business, it's between them and God. We must preach to them, but only God can touch their hearts. Remember the words of our Lord, when He said that some would come to Him in the last days and say, didn't we do great things in Your name? and He would say "I never knew you, depart from me." Notice, He does not say that He knew them once, but then they lost their salvation, He says He NEVER knew them, thus they had never truly accepted Him into their hearts, no matter what the outward appearance may have been.
I agree that sexual immorality is disgusting and that most churches need to talk about the reality of sin more, and I could go on and on about the disgusting immorality of professing Mormons who "marry" twelve year old girls and bomb community centers (okay, there was only one of those kind of Mormons I'm aware of.) but the fact is that I CAN'T SEE INTO ANYONE ELSE'S HEART. And neither can you. Furthermore, I don't want to, I think if I could I'd find inside just about everyone thoughts that would shame hell. But God loves us anyway. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, not that the world might perish, but should have everlasting life. God didn't give His Son so that He might be able to love us. His love came first. His acceptance of us came before our acceptance of Him. And in our hearts He will be the one to change our behavior and outlook and our very nature. Imagine your heart is a cottage in need of repair. Jesus comes in as the fixit man. He doesn't just patch up the roof and plaster the walls, though. He started knocking out walls and throwing up whole new wings and terraces and patios, even towers and big gates. He makes you into a palace. After all, He's going to live there.
You see LDS miss the point:
The Gospel is the message about the RESTORATION of a direct relationship between God and man.
Man had a DIRECT relationship with God in Eden.
Man fell from that relationship by trying to be a god himself.
God started His plan to restore a relationship with mankind through Abraham by faith. Next, God founded a nation called Israel. Israel had a system of culture, priesthood, a temple and traditions that pointed towards a
coming Savior that would RESTORE man's broken relationship with God.
Why God set-up a priesthood system, that would pass away when Jesus came
- God founded a Nation and Religion
- that would bring forth a Savior
- The Nation was Israel
- the Savior is Jesus Christ
Priesthoods are substitutes for the(lost) direct relationship between God and Man!
Priesthoods, and Rituals are supposed to work together to relink man and God. Or to bridge the Gap between Man
The temple explained
The temple symbolically showed the separation Man and God through divisions of space. Only priests could go
inside certain places and spaces that represented God's set-apart territory.
In the temple rituals about the RESTORATION
through the coming Savior happend.
The word "Religion" means to RELINK.
Religious things such as: priests, temples, rituals, good works- are RELINKers and are symptoms of an indirect,
distant relationship with God.
[Mosaic] Temples were designed to pass away after a Jesus came.
When Jesus Christ came into the world and died on the cross the
religious(RELINK) system of Israel was fulfilled and ended.
You need to know that Jesus is the fulfillment, and end of the system of
Priesthood, and Rituals.
You need to know that the Old Testament Priesthood and Rituals were
pre-Christian symbols that served to point ancient people's attention towards
the RESTORATION of a direct relationship with God through the coming
You may be wondering...
If Jesus is another link between God and Man, how did He
restore the DIRECT relationship between mankind and
Jesus is God.
God Himself came as a Man to Restore the relationship.
The Trinity verifies--Who Jesus is The Trinity is a tool or indicator, not a model of God. The Trinity is a Symbol or
Token that points toward a transcendent quality of God that is impossible for the human mind to understand--yet
it is real because the token (called the Trinity) is an indicator that detects its reality.
Jesus was hated and killed, not for what the taught, but rather for WHO He claimed to be (GOD).
Scriptural Ping-Pong vs. Whole Theology
No, it's YOUR job to show references that support YOUR views. I mention the entire books because you can't get the point of the Bible just by going to scattered, isolated verses. You really need to read most, if not all of it. Yes, that's a tall order, but welcome to the real world. No one ever said figuring out the truths of the universe would be easy. If you read the Bible, what you get is the basic outline that the other Steve described. I was of course writing with a tinge of sarcasm. Maybe it wasn't mean enough for you to recognize it as such.
In the first place, I never said LDS was abominable, it is only in error. In the second, as I said, the other Steve presents an outline of the Bible. You cannot pick out a few isolated verses as a reference for the ENTIRE BIBLE. You have to actually read it, or at least several books of it, to check against the outline. I didn't just pull those books I mentioned out of my butt. The Bible presents us with the story of God creating humanity, man breaking the link to God, and God eventually reforging the link. In Genesis, we get God creating man, the Fall- man breaking the link, the call of Abraham- God's first step to reforging the link, then in Exodus the covenant and Leviticus the institution of the ritual requirements- more steps in reforging the link, then Isaiah pointing towards the coming of the messiah- who would fianlly reforge the link, with the minor prophets backing him up, then the Gospels- the actual reforging of the link. I'm sorry I can't just point to a single verse that contains all the truth of the Bible. I'm afraid you're actually required to use your brain.
The Mormon Reply
1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
So, throw out the New Testament of the Bible, as the Lord has commanded His People not to add to His Word....
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
So, throw out the Book of Mormon, as the Lord has commanded His People not to add to His Word....
So, where do we draw the Line?
Look at verses 1 and 2 of Deuteronomy 4 TOGETHER. I am making commandments for you to follow in the land I am about to give you. Don't add to the commandments I am giving you. In other words, the Law of Moses (the word WHICH I COMMAND YOU) has been given, don't change it. This doesn't mean God can never say anything ever again. And no, this also doesn't mean that Jesus was wrong to throw out the prohibition against eating pork. Jesus does not add to or take away from the Law, he fulfills it. The Law still exists, but it is no longer our curse. Thus, we no longer need ritual requirements to draw close to God, we have Jesus for that. The verses in Revelations say don't add to the propechies of THIS book- i.e. don't make any more prophecies about the end times, they are already given to you. If you look around, you can see that cults which are the most violent and destructive are those that are the most obsessed with making new prophecies about the end times. If there really were people who came out of Israel and came to America and established a God-centered society, there'd be no reason not to look upon their writing as God-inspired. It is, however, blasphemy to regard fiction about God as fact, THAT is the reason to throw out the Book of Mormon.
I would not have you or anyone else on earth place their ultimate trust for salvation in any of the hundreds of Christian sects or Judaism or Islam or Scientology or "religion" at all. Place your trust in Christ, and in Christ alone. However, there are different ways Christ reveals Himself to us- the two main ones being the church and the Bible. (and no, let's not get into the whole Protestant/Catholic split over relative authority here.) I also use reason, although I know that eventually reasoning will fall short. (However, I would like to make the point that while faith clearly must go beyond reason, faith will never simply contradict reason, it is beyond, not below it.) If you wish to know Jesus, then He must be made known to you. (Not necessarily in an intellectual sense entirely) The four basic ways God uses to make Himself known to people are: the Bible, the Church, reason, and personal experience. Of these four, personal experience is the least reliable when used entirely on its own. In fact, only using one of the four can and does lead people astray. Anyone can grab isolated quotations from the Bible, wrench them out of context, and use them to justify an awful lot of weird doctrine. The Bible must be approached with the aid of the other three ways. Similarly, relying entirely on church authority has led many astray down through the ages. Relying on reason alone is insufficient because our minds are not perfect. Relying on feelings alone is insufficient because, as the Bible, the experience of the Church, and reasoning will all tell us, similar feelings can be produced by widely disparate causes. I once had really great feelings, almost like I was high, one time after I committed a charitable act. However, I have had similar feelings when I was intensely sexually aroused. (No, I didn't get an erection after being charitable, but many of the feelings were identical.) Each of these four must be judged against the other three. The Bible doesn't tell us that feelings and prayers are not to be trusted, but it does tell us that the human heart is a factory of idols, and cannot be left to itself.
Also, you need to understand that most of the autrhors quoted make a very clear, very large distinction between God with a capital G and god with a lower case g. They are two entirely different orders of being.
All of those authors maintained the distinction between God and man. They also maintained the distinction between God and fully glorified (in Mormon doctrine, deified) man. This is why they refer to God in heaven with a capital G and glorified men as gods with a lower case g. They are not, and never will be, anywhere close to the same thing. This is not some great secret, esoteric doctrine which the churches attempt to water down for the masses. It's been there, plain as day, for 2000 years. You can go read it in C.S. Lewis in plain modern english. Maybe some people don't bother to do that, but that's not the churches' fault. The church has never taught that creation is "worthless," it comes from God. Sure, certain individuals in certain churches at certain times down through the ages may have denigrated aspects of creation, but it has never been the teaching of the church as a whole. If you actually read the Bible you will notice that God is referred to as our Father only beginning in the New Testament. The term Father is used to indicate a pattern of relationality as realized in Jesus. As Jesus is the Son (note the capital S), we are to be made into sons (note the lower case s). God is not our Father inherently, elsewise he would be described as Father all through the Old Testament. (Okay, I haven't read the entire Old Testament, maybe in some isolated places some prophet does call God Father, but it is nowhere close to the primary way He is referred to.) God becomes our Father because we have clothed ourselves in the garments of righteousness of His true Son, Jesus. We become like God in the sense that our inherently flawed human natures are replaced by Christ's perfect nature. But this doesn't make us into Gods who go take over our own planets and populate them with people embodied by having sex with our eternally pregnant wives. The church fathers went to great lengths to disasociate the Christian concept of God from the anthropomorphism of the surrounding pagan cultures' deities.
And incidentally, if you do think your own righteousness is a necessary prerequisite to glorification, I'd worry about that last paragraph.
Not all the views in this posting are necessarily those of the New Covenant Church of God. We agree, though, with the basic thrust.
This page was created on 5 May 1999
Updated on 10 March 2001
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