"It is so sad to see someone who appears to be intelligent claim that your (web) site is not Anti-Mormon. It is as "anti" as I have ever seen. You can sugar coat it as much as you want. You Degrade the True LDS Church in your twisted writings. The only TRUE church is the one with Jesus Christ at the head and Gordon B. Hinckley as the Prophet. Please know that I love you for you are a child of our Heavenly Father, and I feel the need to remind you that Angels are silent Note taking of all you say and do to stop the work of the true church. Thank you."
Thank you for writing in and sharing the concerns of your heart but lest we misunderstand one another let me say that I am not anti-Mormon but anti- MormonISM. There is a world of difference since I make a clear separation between a person (and their infinite worth) and what they espouse or believe in (which may, or may not, be completely wrong).
Unfortunately (yet understandbly) we tend to blurr this distinction, and the result is not unsurprisingly a reflex self-defensiveness. The Truth, I believe, will always defend itself, quite simply because it is defined as a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ (I am...the truth), and not a Church or a philosophical or theological statement of belief.
The concept of a "true church" is quite meaningless to me though once I held such to be practically sacrosanct and I'll explain why. To begin with, the concept of "church" (the word is derived, interestingly, from the Latin circe meaning a "circus") has nothing to fo with an institution such as the Mormon or Catholic "Church". The New Testament) defines it as one of two things only:
The Church is NEVER defined as an institution nor in terms of the authority structures that Mormons, Catholics, and some others have tried to invest in it.
- (a) The assembly (from the Greek ekklesia) of believers (that is, a group of believers come together to pray, worship, study, etc.);
- (b) The fellowship (from the Greek koinonia), meaning the relationship shared between those thus gathered together through love, service, etc.
The Church, quite simply, it the believers gathered. When Jesus prophesied that the hell would never prevail against the Church (thus, incidentally, knocking the Mormon claim that the Church totally "apostatised" and was "taken from the earth"), He was saying that there would always be true believers, no matter how great the apostacy might be (apostacy is a continuous process). This means to claim a Church to be "true" means that the assembly of believers is true to their Lord in the kind of life they are leading, as well as, of course, in holding fast to the apostolic doctrines of salvation.
This means if someone, from ANY Church, makes a claim that their Church is "true" there is no way that I can possible agree or disagree with this unless I become aware of the collective life of all its people. In the final analysis, it is only God who can know whether a Church (local, the whole denomination, or whatever) is "true" or not.
Most Mormons are not aware that there are nearly two hundred Mormon denominations with most of them claiming to be the "one and only true Church". In fact, the Mormon Church has schismatised more than orthodox Christianity in a comparable period of time (compare 200 LDS denominations in less than 200 years with 600+ Christian denominations in nearly 2,000 years). Mormons have many replies to this historical fact, namely, that the shere size of the LDS Church, and the vast number of its converts is evidence of its truthfulness. Sadly for them Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Assemblies of God (Pentecostal), all teaching radically different doctrines, may make similar claims. Size is not an indication of truthfulness as Jesus Himself pointed out, saying that when He returned the true Christians would be in a tiny, tiny minority. How do we know? Because He said there would be virtually no faith upon the earth, the conditions being the same as in the days of Noah when there were only eight believers out of a world of millions. A criterion of truthfulness based on the Saviour's teachings would therefore be that true Christians would be shrinking in numbers relative to the world population.
Mormon authority claims rest ultimately on the "burning in the bosom" testimony promised by "Moroni" and the D&C and this is the litmus test of truth for them. But they forget that other Mormon denominations, like the RLDS, make similar claims, and can produce scores of people who have had similar "testimonies" of the "truthfulness" of their churches. I know, because I have been both LDS and RLDS. And I have met Mormons from other denominations like the fundamentalists, the True and Living Church in Manti (Utah), and others, who have had similar if not identical experiences to mainstream Utah Mormons. They have seen angels who have told them that theirs is the "only true church", confirmed the "Book of Mormon", and much else. I spent ten years studying these groups. Though Mormons may casually dismiss the experiences of these people as "false", or accuse them of being "liars", such will not do, because I have met these people and they are as sincere and honest as the many LDS I have known. Why shouldn't the Mormon Church be false by the same criteria?
The next line of defence is the question of "keys", i.e. who has the legitimate priesthood rights. This is a can of worms (it's one reason I became RLDS) because inspite of vigorous apologetics and the massaging of historical facts, Joseph Smith never resolved the issue and designated serveral, including Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith III, Hyrum Smith (assassinated), and others. More importantly, the Bible teaching on authority rests upon entirely different criteria to the Mormon Church's - authority rests on the Spirit and the fruits of an individual's life, not on a visible institution. The "true church", if such it may be called, is simply the collective body of those who are true to Christ, born again by the true Ruach haQodesh/Holy Spirit (and not fooled by psychic counterfeits, of which there are many), which is never fully organised on this world, the Kingdom of God being a heavenly phenomenon in any case ("My Kingdom is not of this world", Yah'shua/Jesus said ... yet).
What about the goodness of the people? Well, there are many, many fine Mormon people - clean, decent, upright who genuinely love God. But there are the same in many, many other Churches too. Righteousness crosses denominational boundaries because it is something that ultimately belongs to God and not to any "institution".
I am, of course, thankful that you love me, and I believe I can truthfully say the same for you. Which is why I am taking the trouble to share this letter with you and to tell you some of the discoveries of life I have made as a former Mormon, Reorganized Latter Day Saint, Anglican and now what I prefer simply to call myself as "Christian". I am more than accutely aware that the angels are, as your hymn says, "silent notes taking" and that no man can ultimately prevent the Truth from revealing itself. Which is why I am not afraid to openly discuss any aspect of my faith, for the bottom line is not the defence of an institution (in my case) but the person of the Son of God.
Churches change - some come, and some go. The LDS Church has changed almost beyond recognition in one century, something fundamentalist Mormons are at pains to point out in their attempt to be faithful to the the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
In conclusion, I would say that there is much good in the Mormon Church and much that all Christians could imitate, but there is much I would not wish to impose on anyone, and especially the LDS claims to priesthood authority. The New Testament clearly teaches that the Priesthood is not conferred by the laying on of hands but is a gift of the Spirit - all who believe hold the Priesthood (of which there is only one, the Melchizedek - the Aaronic was abolished) to one degree of another. The only thing conferred by the laying on of hands is priesthood office (elder, teacher, apstor, etc.). The whole concept of a Priesthood being transmitted by the laying on of hands in a legalistic fashion is a Catholic heresy and originated with a group of angels and their offspring called the nephilim, or nephi's for short (note that the first angel who visited Joseph Smith was called Nephi, which may be verified from his uncensored diaries, before he changed it to "Moroni" in order to fit in with the Book of Mormon story), a name which dominates the Book of Mormon, as you know. For the whole story see our webpage at http://www.nccg.org/nefilim.
Mormons, like Catholics, the good and the bad alike, are under a clever counterfeit system of priestcraft which binds them down and prevents them from seriously examining the origins of their religion without going through huge guilt trips. These things are fully explained on our main LDS homepage at http://www.nccg.org/LDS-Page.html.
I realise that you will have many feelings in reading this ranging from pity to anger though I am equally sure a part of you is curious. Remember this though: that the New Testament teaches that there there is no fear in love, and your own prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Latter-day Saints should search for the truth wherever it may be found, something Brigham Young endosed too (though both contradicted themselves at other times).
It is the "truth" which will make you free - not a Church but a Saviour. The Church - that is, the Church described in the New Testament - is merely a vessel - human beings, who are temples of the Spirit, and is not an end in itself.
Check your Bible, free from Mormon presuppositions (remembering that Biblical Christianity predated Mormonism by 1,800 years), and see for yourself.