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    Archive Section II

    39
    MICHAEL DEBATES MORMONISM & NCCG

    Introduction

    The following is a debate between "Michael" (a Mormon student) and myself on the Answering Mormonism Bulletin Board. It began as a criticism of NCCG by Michael but included topics about Mormonism and the Mormon Church. The cynicism and sarcasm displayed by Michael is fairly typical of Mormons debating on the internet. Michael's contribution appears in brown text.


    The Discussion: Part 1

    Michael

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    Do you not think that it speaks wonders for a "prophet" more impatient than the object of his attacks? Do you not have better to do, honestly?

    I am glad you have taken the time to answer seriously. I am only going on past experience on this BB. Just wanted to make sure that all the issues did not just quietly "slip away" into obscurity to then invite the retort from the LDS, "we dealt with that ages ago" when it is brought up again later.

    I apologize for my leisure, and also for your supposing you've found the Achilles' heel of Mormonism.

    Your generosity in apologising me for others must surely be a new chapter in the ongoing story of Mormonism vs. the rest of the world.

    I suppose my fault comes in making you feel so by taking so long to reply. In particular, I am refering to your recently anxious onslaught of one-line criticisms against the LDS Church, which I believe might have been brought on due to my responses to Greg, which challenges NCCG theology. I'm still somewhat reeling from Greg's announcement, to be truthful. To close this post, I will readress many of those points, which I similarly feel Greg did not adequately answer. In evaluating your late behavior here, I commented as follows:

    "Sociology would teach that your late behavior is a result of anxiety or paranoia, although you will almost certainly demean the scholarship of such a suggestion out of some feigned obligation you must feel to be confrontational at all times."

    A nice mouthful of verbal diahorrea - how about speaking simple English?

    Unexpectedly, you proved me right…

    "Your psychoanalysis is not too impressive."

    And I give you my many thanks, though total disregard, for your opinion.

    And to think I thought Mormons were gentlemen!

    What you cannot but equate to "psychobabble" is a legitimate analysis of behavior. Voluminous shreds of information thrown about rhetorically as you have done is quite erratic for a man one would hope to think could disprove the Mormon Church more effectively and confidently.

    By whose expectations and criteria?

    You anxiously repost the same item of interest, hoping to overcome us (as it is said of LDS apologists in a famous anti-Mormon anecdote) "by sheer volume."

    Wasn't it a Mr. Flashman. who said that? [Ed. 'Flashman' is a regular LDS poster at the BB. His articles are so enormous, consisting for the most parts of lengthy quotations from LDS illuminati that few have the time to sift through it all, except one or two brave non-LDS like 'Dr.Shades' who make excellent refutations].

    But let us not digress into what you will typically shrug off as but another of your "been-there-done-that"s.

    Too kind.

    I recently asked the following:

    "This will greatly benefit me in the legitimacy of my response to your asked-hourly questions... "Chris, do you suppose anything would be written in the Olive Branch if it were not inspired. What would you call the revelators of the sections of the Olive Branch?—prophets?

    Obviously.

    Are all the footnote commentary found in the Olive Branch (IN the secondary scriptures of the NCCG) the product of inspiration, and would only be included there were the person to have had the inspirational foresight enough to know if it were right or not? Can inspiration change?? Can revelation change?"

    Footnotes are not the Word of God though they may, of course, be inspired from time to time. We never made any claim to the final inspiration of the footnotes or articles in OB any more than I suppose Pratt's scripture cross-references and chapter titles in the Book of Mormon are regarded by the LDS as inspired either. Our commentaries are naturally based on on-going revelation, a not too difficult concept for one as erudite as yourself to grasp.

    Perhaps foreseeing what will follow, you quickly jump to the defensive: "You must remember that Mormonism argues out of a different paradigm to NCCG…NCCG and the LDS Church are not arguing out of the same premises so you can't make direct comparisons…"

    Admittedly not on all issues but on certain ones that define what "church", "authority" and "prophecy" are, most certainly yes.

    In light of that, I will attempt to address your criticisms. Note, first off, that Flashman has more than adequately addressed the issue of succession to the presidency, and you've naught to say for yourself,

    I told him that I need time to get through his flood of writings - I've also had to dig out all my old Dialogs, John Whitmer Historical Assocation Journals, etc., and my library is only half unpacked. It will be dealt with - I gave a short courtesy answer to indicate that I was on the job. I could say I have been ill recently but I'd only be accused of being a liar so you may ignore that, even though it's true.

    but, "Was Wilford Woodruff an inspired prophet?" Therefore, against my better judgement, I proceed to topics that will be largely ignored, for there are probably others unanswered you would rather tend to.

    I thought you Mormons were supposed to follow your better judgment?

    You refer to a quotation by Pres. Wilford Woodruff, incidentally enough the same man that issued the famous Manifesto ending polygamy as an sanctioned practice of the Church on earth: "Do away with (polygamy), then we must do away with prophets and apostles, with revelations and the gifts and graces of the gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether." Yet how could a man have commented on something that had not yet been commanded nor revealed?

    Here, I confess, you have lost me. One minute he was taking Stance A and next Stance B saying the exact opposite. To this equation you must also remember to add the uncanonised (not surprisingly) revelation by John Taylor (27 September 1886) and Woodruff's own revelation dated 24 November 1889 - both in SLC - in which the 'Lord' clearly states that polygamy (on earth) will not be done away with under any circumstances, and that the US Government would suffer dire consequences if they meddled in Deseret affairs:

    "All those who would enter into My glory must and shall obey My law (on celestial marriage/polygamy)....I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting; and those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof. Even so. Amen" (Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, Apr.1, 1892, at BYU; also original MS in LDS Church archives).

    I think you know what the LDS leaders at this time taught - and it is more than the one statement I quoted by Wilfold Woodruff. If I had time I would do a Flashman for you but for now I just give you a tidbit as it gives the general gist.

    The prophets, I seriously doubt, could have supposed that their various discourses were to be had for all time, or that all of them were to be addressed to all men and women of all generations.

    I don't get that impression reading Brigham Young. He seemed most keen that his discourses should be recorded for posterity because he believed them to be scripture and taught the Mormons to view them as such. As for the other prophets we are, of course, only speculating.

    Nonetheless, that isn't the crux of Pres. Woodruff's statements. Speaking during a time that polygamy was being practiced, for man to "do away" with polygamy would be for man to brush aside the counsel of the prophets and apostles, and therefore do away with their religion altogether. However, God has a disposition to do as he will when he will. That is to say, the LDS religion will not end because God issued a new revelation to the Church.

    Taken within the context of the Taylor and Woodruff revelations this cannot be the meaning though I can see how you could force such a meaning out of it.

    I have also written earlier that no revelation was ever needed to start or end polygamy since it was an earlier mandate that has never been revoked [Ed. NCCG accepts that polygamy is a biblical law]. I cited the adultery dilemma posed by this changing doctrine. The laws of marriage have been established from the beginning, which basically is that polygamy IS marriage with monogamy as simply a one wife polygamous marriage.

    Congruently, do you suppose the New Covenant Church of God should end because God issued a new revelation that the Sabbath say should be observed on Saturday?

    Not quite the same because we never had a revelation telling us to observe it on Sunday. We were, by our own confession, blinded by tradition, but that was our fleshy interpretation. We worked on our assumptions. However, the Saturday Sabbath mandate was in the Bible and Olive Branch all along.

    Remarking on change in prophecy in general, you said: "Of course, if God is expanding what has already been revealed, it can be changed. But if "new" revelation contradicts what God has already revealed, making the Word of God void, then the "new" revelation must be false."

    Very poor. You must suppose that the New Testament has made the Old Testament "void," and that the New Testament is "false???" The Testaments of the Bible themselves evidence dispensationalism, and indicate that new revelation supercedes the older.

    You must be careful here. New revelation only "superceeds" old revelation if the old was a shadow or a type of something greater, like the ceremonial aspects of the Torah which were pointing to Christ. But the polygamy issue is wholly different because there never was a law giving any man or prophet the right to change God's marriage laws. They were always there. Yes, there are dispensations, but they are not disjunctive. Thus circumcision was a covenant in the flesh that became meaningless because it was fulfilled in Christ whose mark was transferred to the heart.

    Even the title of your Church: "New Covenant Church of God" suggests a covenant only now being revealed.

    True. But then the revelation is unfolding towards completion, not regressing as polygamy to monogamy was.

    The covenant of circumcision was ticketed in the Old Testament as an "everlasting covenant," yet was done away in Christ.

    There is a long footnote in the OB explaining what "everlasting" means (p.81ff, fn66) in the Hebrew, being 'ad or olam meaning any period whose limit is not fixed. Thus a better rendition of the passage would be "age-long", or in other words, until the end of the Mosaic dispensation. Thus circumcision was not "everlasting", but "age-long".

    And even the NCCG embraces as their foremost and founding principle: "revelation."

    In a general post to the board, in essence attacking other Christians as well, you condemn the D&C as "uninspired" because it endorses Sunday as the Sabbath day. However, this is only following on the heels of a 1999 revelation to the New Covenant Church of God, which states emphatically that Saturday is the Sabbath. This seems to contradict the official position of the NCCG as printed in the 1997 edition of the Olive Branch:

    "That the restful and peaceful atmosphere may be preserved (Rev. 1:10) the Sabbath day shall be observed according to the customs of each land where a universal day of rest is to be found, and should ideally either be on a Saturday (the original Hebrew seventh day Sabbath) or a Sunday (the "Lord's Day" or first day of the week—Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10; Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:2,9; Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1, 9). Therefore in Israel and Ethiopia, for example, where the Hebrew Sabbath is followed, Saturday should be observed; and in Christian, and formerly Christian, lands where Sunday is observed as a day of rest, Sunday should be observed. Firstborn colonies shall, in contrast, observe the Hebrew Saturday Sabbath if possible. Where there is doubt, the local apostle shall render a decision after consultation with local leaders and the Patriarchate."

    Absolutely. This was a position hammered together from what we already knew. It was only partly inspired and has now been superceeded. But this footnote did not claim to be a revelation in its own right, as I have explained above. This footnote is now void. We have moved from shadow to full light. Can we be criticized for this? It is our repentance, God has corrected us, and we have moved on. But if we had moved BACKWARDS - from Saturday to Sunday, then I would say we were in deep trouble.

    You here provide an option, and even Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2, which note that the saints communed and offered up their tithes on the first day of the week. However, this "inspired comment,"

    Please be fair. We have already said that the footnotes are not revelation. Indeed, with respect to other writings not of the revelations proper, we wrote: "All excerpts from the Church Consitution are subject to possible modification at Conference" (p.lxvii).

    as it were, is superceded by the 1999 revelation that Saturday is the Sabbath that should be observed throughout the NCCG. The stipulation that Sunday should be observed as the Sabbath "in Christian, and formerly Christian, lands where Sunday is observed as a day of rest" belies your recent comment to an LDS reply on the issue of polygamy, something along the lines: "Since when do the laws of man take precedence over the laws of God?"

    I've answered this already. We were moving from dawn to noonday - the Mormons moved from noonday to dusk (and here Wayne [Ed. a fundamentalist LDS] would probably agree with me). The difference is in the DIRECTION of movement PLUS the fact no revelation was needed on a practice already clearly mandated in the bible that required no "keys" to implement. God gave the keys to the human race. There is a world of difference between our understanding of the Sabbath issue and the Mormon polygamy one.

    We have also corrected our erroneous interpretation in the footnote based on wrong assumptions. There is a whole series on the Sabbath which you may now read at:

    The Sabbath

    Obviously, since you once made allowances for the laws of the land to "compromise" celebration of a Sunday Sabbath in the NCCG, you can offer the same courtesy to Latter-day Saints, who ended their practice of polygamy in 1890.

    I think not, for the reasons stated above, since the issues are not directly equatable in terms of progress, regress, or adding a statute that was nowhere mandated.

    Now, to the New Covenant Church. You commented the following: "…you constantly insist that we are made in your image. We aren't. We reject your image."

    Bold enough, although my original charge was that the NCCG is borrowing the most complex and ritualistic aspects from Mormonism, orthodox Judaism, and Catholocism, and has essentially formulated the most pompous religion on the face of the earth.

    You don't seriously expect me to comment on that, do you? Who would you say has the most pompous claim - the LDS who say they alone are right and everyone else is wrong and can't be saved outside the fold, or NCCG who recognises itself as an equal amongst many and accepts that a person can be saved and obtain the highest rewards in its church, another church, or possibly (in special circumstances) in no church at all?

    For example, the celebration of the Lord's Supper is also referred in the NCCG as "Holy Communion/Eucharist," referring to the blessing of the bread and water as the "liturgy," part of which reads as follows:

    These alternative words have been added so that those coming out of other traditions know what we are talking about. When Mormons talk about "the Sacrament" most other Christians have no idea that they are talking about the Lord's Supper. For the record, we refer to it as "The Lord's Supper" but also call it 'Communion', 'Eucharist' and 'Sacrament' depending on who we are talking to. Our language is cluttered with religious words which mean different things to different bodies of people.

    ELDER: "Blesséd art Thou, O Lord God of Israel, who maketh bread to come forth from the earth. We give Thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge Thou hast made known unto us through Thy servant Jesus.

    CONGREGATION: "Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever."

    ELDER (whilst breaking the bread): "As this broken bread, once dispersed over the hills, was brought together and became one loaf, so may Thy Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom."

    CONGREGATION: "Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen."

    The congregation shall then recite together aloud the sacramental prayer for the bread under the leadership of the administering Elder:

    "Holy Father, we ask Thee in the Name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that we may eat in remembrance of the body of Thy Son which was broken for us; and witness unto Thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that we are willing to take upon ourselves the Name of Thy Son, and always remember Him, and obey His commandments and keep His covenants which He hath given us, that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. Amen"

    I'm sorry, but very clearly, the blessing prayers of Mormonism with a twist equates to the NCCG liturgy of the Lord's Supper. And hints of the ceremonial refrain of the Catholic mass is seen also in the ordinance.

    [Ed. The NCCG Liturgy of the Lord's Supper has already undergone two revisions since the first edition of the Olive Branch.]

    You may read into it what you will. We have always stated that the substance is more important than the words and that the words may be changed. Yes, you are correct, there are borrowings from many traditions in these prayers, but they are not necessary for salvation. They are simply a way of focusing on the Lord's Supper. We have a shortened version too. We do not claim that these were the words used in the NT Church (because we know they weren't) or from any other time. But we believe we have considerable freedom in this area. The most important element of the Lord's supper is that it is a memorial of Christ's death. We are not stuck with the problem that Mormons have, say, with the Book of Mormon because they must prove some sort of historical precedent for their practices (like building a Nephite temple similar to Solomon's in a ridiculously short period of time with unskilled labour).

    You know, Michael, we could as well look through your Hymnal and point out the numerous Protestant and Catholic hymns you have borrowed, but what's the point? Only the Jehovah's Witnesses have gone to the trouble of writing 100% new songs for their church and they are, frankly, colourless. You Mormons have borrowed as we have, recognising the inspiration of many writers, and that's fine. Methods of worship have changed over the centuries and we are given considerable licence in this area.

    Full membership in the NCCG also forbids the intake of "caffeinated tea or coffee" and that the member is "not addicted to other caffeinated substances like cola or chocolate." The first three of the "first principles of salvation" in the NCCG are: "Faith in Christ; Repentance from dead works; Laying on of hands for 1) Healing of the sick; 2) Blessing of children; 3) Ordination to Priesthood Offices; 4) Confirmation (Chrism); 5) Other special blessings." The apostolate of the New Covenant Church was once called the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles." Similarly, "councils" were once "quorums," "evangelists" were once "seventies," "Firstborn colonies" were once "stakes," "local colonies" were once "branches," the "pastorate" was once the "branch presidency," and on.

    Does no one see the blatant Mormon influence here??

    No doubt. We don't deny this. We have ALWAYS made it perfectly clear that we started off in the Restoration tradition. Everyone has to start off from somewhere. An examination of early LDS history reveals quite clearly that many of the LDS practices were basically Protestant in the beginning. Moreover, we have never universally condemned Mormonism but have freely admitted that some of it is inspired, and much of that freshly so.

    But if you look at the basis of our religion you will find it RADICALLY DIFFERENT from Mormonism. Some shared terms, yes (since that's where we started) and yet we have progressively moved away as the Lord has gradually reformed us and restored that which isn't even remotely in Mormonism but was a part of early Christianity.

    This doesn't even touch on the NCCG's endorsement of BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD.

    Yes, we started out on Restoration premises but our concept of baptism for the dead is RADICALLY different from the LDS one. We practive baptism by immersion too like Pentecostals and Baptists but that doesn't mean we are made in their image either. We have actually never practiced baptism for the dead and have no revelations in the OB for it so it is likely never to be implemented. There are other better explanations for the passage in 1 Corinthians and indeed you will find these on our main homepage.

    [Ed. NCCG rejected the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead in 2000 and the article in the Olive Branch has since been removed].

    No work starts in a vacuum and if you read the preface to the OB you will find we have freely confessed our beginnings. But we have changed enormously in 13 years. Just as the LDS church became more and more occultic as it evolved so we moved more and more away from LDSism. Even the NT Church started out as basically a Jewish sect and is so called in the Acts of the Apostles. These are realities. The Lord must start somewhere. Never has he had a blank sheet though to be sure at times there has been less clutter than at others. That is why we have been spending so much time "getting it right" before launching out on our world mission.

    [Ed. NCCG is to be 'launched' in 2001].

    They even have an outline of their personal beliefs, referred to as the "Articles of Faith." How much less can you "reject" our image, Chris??!!

    Now that is not a Mormon invention, Michael! Come on! That is just simple English language. We have two sets of Articles of Faith which may be found at:

    The Apostles' Creed

    and

    Forty NCCG Articles of Faith

    which aren't REMOTELY similar to the Mormon ones. True, in our early days, we started off with Joseph Smith's Wentworth Letter (using the original one used by the RLDS before Brigham Young changed it) and as we moved away from Mormonism modifed it further until we threw it out altogether. The two sets of articles above are the ONLY ones we acknowledge, the first being the only Creed we have and the latter just being my personal expansion of it in areas I feel to be important. WE SHARE THE SAME CREED AS ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY. That is the reality.

    Does it not say something for the Church if even one of "the Six" will lie to you?

    I'm afraid I don't follow you.

    I think it is important for our readers to understand some things about NCCG prophets. Errors and misunderstandings seem to be inevitable.

    Of course they are. But there's a difference between matters which affect salvation and those which do not. That difference must be clearly brought out in comparing claims to "prophethood" especially as the LDS Church places such a high premium on it.

    For instance, observe this link, where the prophet Christopher Warren apologizes for his not fully understanding prophecies he previously received the month before. Therefore, if our own critics who claim to be prophets do not fully understand their own prophecies, then to what end do they criticize Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or Wilford Woodruff for not knowing when Christ will return? or not knowing that the practice of polygamy would end on earth?

    But that's the whole point - if they were prophets they would have known that polygamy was instituted from the beginning as an eternal sacrament and didn't need anyone telling God's people whether they could practice or not. That's tantamount to a prophet coming and saying, "OK, you can commit adultery now, that's OK" and another prophet coming along and saying, "Nope, sorry, adultery's out". And then to be told it "wasn't appropriate for the time". Errors and misunderstandings about things which are not a matter of salvation is one thing but changing the Word of God is another. The Ten Commandments are fundamental to all dispensations (including the Sabbath Commandment, incidentally) yet if polygamy suddenly becomes "adultery" is that not to change one of the commandments? Adultery has always been adultery in every generation and God has never redefined it. Either polygamy is adultery or it isn't. Today if a Mormon practices polygamy he is excommunicated for adultery and for not "sustaining the brethren" even though God has never given anyone the mandate to change his marriage laws. A little different from receiving a vision as I did, admitting I did not fully understand it, and announcing the PROBABILITIES of its outcome and being honest enough to admit I wasn't sure. Yet compare with Joseph Smith's visions of the 12 LDS apostles in the celestial kingdom when, as we know, most "apostatised" and died outside the LDS Church. When I challenged this BB on this many months ago, Wayne was the only one who offered an "explanation", viz. that it was a "REVELATION OF HOPE", a totally new concept without biblical warranty. A better explanation would have been that it was his own wishful thinking.

    The polygamy issue is an important one, not because I am personally interested in it, but because Wilford Woodruff's action was direct meddling in an eternal commandment, as it was Joseph Smith's for claiming that he had the keys to permit the doctrine when ANYONE has the right to.

    Here we have Chris criticizing the LDS prophets' "inspirational abilities." What then can be said of Mr. Warren's "inspirational abilities?"

    As I've said above. The Mormon Church claims to be led by Moses-men - institutional prophets who CANNOT LEAD THE CHURCH ASTRAY. This is shere hogwash. EVERY prophet has the possibility of falling and church leaders can lead any church astray, including our own. I have certainly not understood many things and am continually learning. I have also warned our people not to follow Moses-men but to check all things against the Word. I have also advised them to LEAVE if they believe it to be wrong and NOT to join us if they do not feel called here. We regularly send investigators and converts to other Churches. As I said, the whole premis of NCCG and LDS is different. We start from opposite ends, as it were - our qualifications are based only on our light and felicity to the Word- but the LDS begin from legalistic authority given by angels and by the claim that they will NEVER be led astray. History says otherwise (not to mention scripture). Mormonism is "another gospel", brilliantly constructed on false premises, having the appearance of Christianity but in truth being something quite different.

    Chris notes: "You must remember that Mormonism argues out of a different paradigm to NCCG. They say their prophet will never lead them astray." And they never have: they have accordingly delivered the message revealed to them by God as appropriate to those times. Polygamy had its purposes on earth when it was practiced, as does the Manifesto ending the practice thereof. God has his purposes in dispensationalism.

    Answered above. This is just a man-made doctrine, an exigency. With the Mormon doctrine of Priesthood authority you can justify any change you like by saying it was "appropriate to the times" and was a part of "God's purposes".

    You have raised a number of important issues in this post, Michael, and I am pleased that we can grapple with them. We have nothing to fear about being open and honest. I have freely confessed the weakness of our early beginnings - we could just as well have started out of Catholicism or anywhere else. The different members who have come to us have brought valuable input - our current Patriarchate have LDS, RLDS, Pentecostal and Lutheran roots, with wide experience in many other traditions. The Book of Mormom betrays its origins in a Presbyterian background and the Campbellite controversies in which Joseph Smith's spiritual life was birthed.

    An article I highly recommend on the origins of Mormonism by a personal friend in the RLDS Church called "The Latter Day Saints and the Restoration: A Preliminary Exploration" by Steven L. Shields was presented to the 1993 John Whitmer Historical Association at Independence, Missouri and I think may well have been published in their journal of that year. It can be found also in "Restoration: The Journal of Latter Day Saint History", Vol.8, 1995, pp.6-15 (6055 East Lake Mead Blvd. #A183, Las Vegas, NEV 81115-6909 or [email protected]) and is one of the best analyses of the Restoration from a Restorationist looking at all the various explanations from the available data. I think you would find this very interesting. I found that I agreed with 98% of Shield's conclusions

    [Ed. This is now available on the webpage at: The Latter Day Saints and the Restoration]

    I hope this has been helpful..


    The Discussion: Part 2

    My condolences. It seems you've now lost two of your sheep.

    [Ed. NCCG lost two members at this time, one of which was Greg Olson]

    Your wrong lenses - not my sheep - just two who decided to go to a different part of the body of Christ. Sad, yes, but I do not believe they are damned because they are not inside the "one and only true church" anymore. Though I may believe they are called to us, that's my problem, and not NCCG's. I know that's hard for you guys to understand but we are not bound by the legalistic cords that you are.

    I was alarmed by your "official statement" on the teachings of Gregory Olson, which states that the NCCG does not believe that Mormonism is half-Christian and founded on half-truth, as Greg often suggested. The reason being is the definition of Mormonism as appears in The Olive Branch under "A Short Glossary of Important Terms:"

    "A semi-Christian American polytheistic religion."

    By definition, I seem to believe that "semi-Christian" means "half-Christian" or "part-Christian," and by inference, "half-truth," since Christ is the truth (John 14:6). However, no doubt you will try to pawn this off as the error of your past, which has since been corrected (often months before, often at the convenience of confrontation). This has a lot to do with my post.

    Not really, as I shall briefly try to explain. There are two issues here: (1) The FOUNDATION of the Mormon Church which is on the LEGALISTIC AUTHORITY OF A SUPPOSED PRIESTHOOD BROUGHT BY AN ANGEL. This is 100% false and therefore in terms of its "foundation" is it absolutely false; (2) In terms of its TEACHINGS GENERALLY (the legalistic question aside) it is most certainly a semi-Christian Church. As I have tried to explain on other posts (whether you agree or not is another question) I believe Mormonism to be two religions partially syncretised - Christianity and occultism - though never really properly mixing, like water and oil. Part of the reason Mormons are so adept at defending themselves is that they can switch between the two modes depending on the nature of attack, covering themselves with their Christian teachings when their occultism is attacked.

    This is admittedly a little hard to summarise in a few words so if it helps I will redefine for clarity's sake: It is 100% false on its foundation and it is semi-Christian in terms of its general teachings.

    This may not be adequate to you but it expresses in the best way I can put it what we believe. You are free to disbelieve and reject this (as I know you will) but you must at least grant me the right to express as best I can what we believe. That is why so many get confused over Mormonism. To you it is "crystal clear", I know, but for me experience has shown that we're dealing with two religions blended together, though the mixture has changed, as Wayne's presence here proves. No doubt you can level the same accusation at Christianity and I would probably agree with you up to a point.

    I thought it might be of some assistance to narrow in my focus on what you reject as appropriate congruencies between the LDS and New Covenant Churches. I asked the following question of you a second time: "Chris, do you suppose anything would be written in the Olive Branch if it were not inspired? What would you call the revelators of the sections of the Olive Branch?—prophets?" Resoundingly, you answered, "Obviously."

    And to cover yourself in response to my suggestion that the NCCG has changed doctrine according to what appears in a footnote, you issue: "But this footnote did not claim to be a revelation in its own right, as I have explained above. This footnote is now void."

    To what end do you insist that the extracanon of the LDS Church (e.g., Journal of Discourses, Millennial Star) is any more binding to its respective religion than the extracanon of the New Covenant Church (e.g., footnotes as appear in The Olive Branch, the secondary scriptures of the NCCG)? Is this to be yet another double-standard you will establish for youself "in confrontation?"

    I did explain this, Michael, but you seem to have chosen to ignore it. If B.Young had maintained a similar position to myself I would be forced to agree with you. But he said that his sermons were SCRIPTURE just as modern LDS GA's claim their `Conference talks are the Word of God to the LDS people even though they are never prefaced by "Thus saith the Lord." If they want to to claim that, fine, BUT PLEASE DON'T PUT US IN THE SAME CATEGORY.

    Of course many of the footnotes may be inspired but they have never been canonised. We know there are errors and indeed lots of typos (thanks for finding another for me) - believe me, there are plenty more. Please, please, try to understand the difference - WE AREN'T MAKING THE SAME CLAIMS AS YOUR LEADERS ARE. So please don't judge us on the same basis! Is that so hard to understand?

    You say, "We never made any claim to the final inspiration of the footnotes or articles in OB any more than I suppose Pratt's scripture cross-references and chapter titles in the Book of Mormon are regarded by the LDS as inspired either." And why not? I figure that just as any such instrument as references, footnotes, or commentary are deemed appropriate enough to be included in the scriptures, they must have 1) at least been reviewed by the appopriate Church leaders, and 2) they must contain correct and inspired commentary. Obviously such is not the case with the NCCG.

    No, sorry to dissilusion you. We believe that most of it is right, as I have said, but we make no claim for infallibility. We have aimed to guide further, clarify and interpret. We're human and fallible but basically believe we're on the right track. The Church of God is growing in wisdom from one age to another and we fully expect those who come after us to get it even clearer. I'm sorry it doesn't fit in with your expectations but I can't do anything about that.

    So to what does the verse "And now I shall reveal unto you the mystery of the Sabbath which hath been the cause of much fruitless controversy and bitterness" refer to if it does not refer to what the footnote comments on?

    That was our misinterpretation. Actually, the revelation is not about the exact Sabbath day at all but about its spiritual content. I added a commentary about the exoteric aspect of it was was wrong (actually, quoted from another Christian writer).

    Who was the author of the footnote? And what would cause such a person to misinterpret scripture so? Your own scriptures state: "I am Jesus Christ, and I am the Lord of the Sabbath" (with a citation of the wrong verse in the Bible: it should cite Luke 6:5, not "Luke 6:3"). And Sunday, you note, is referred to as "the Lord's Day." I trust despite your celebration of the Hebrew Saturday Sabbath, you nonetheless heed the following: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

    That was erroneous and it has been corrected. You will find this passage clearly explained on:

    The Sabbath - 1 Cor.16:1-2

    I quote the appropriate section for you though it would be better if you read the whole series (which you can't have done or you'd have know what the scripture actually said):

    What Was This COLLECTION?

    We come now to the eighth and last place where the term "first day of the week" occurs in the Bible.

    8. 1 CORINTHIANS 16:2 "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper" (RSV). Often we see this text printed on the little offering envelopes in the pews of popular churches, and we have been told that this text sets THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK as the time for taking up the church collection for the carrying on of God's work, paying the minister, etc..

    Let us begin with the first verse and really catch the true intended meaning of this verse.

    "Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches if Galatia, so you are also to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may propsper, so that contributions need not be made when I come" (1 Cor.16:1-2, RSV).

    The speaks of a collection - but for WHOM - for WHAT? Note it! Not for the preacher - not for evangelism - but "the contribution (collection) FOR THE SAINTS." The poor saints at Jerusalem were suffering from drought and famine. They needed, not money, but FOOD. Notice Paul had given similar instructions to other churches. Now observe his instruction to the Romans:

    "At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been raised (lit. "sealed to them this fruit"), I shall go on by way of you to Spain" (Rom.15:25-28, RSV).

    Ah! Did you catch it? It was not money, but FRUIT that was being sealed for shipment for the poor saints at Jerusalem! (The Greek word can also refer to GRAIN, wine and other produce which can be stored for a long time without spoiling).

    Now turn back to 1 Corinthians 16. Paul is speaking concerning a collection FOR THE SAINTS. Upon the first day of the week each one of them is instructed to do what? Look at it! Does it say drop a coin in rhe collection plate at a church service? Not at all!

    It says, "each of you is to put something aside and STORE IT UP" (v.2a, RSV). Note it! STORE UP! Store up BY HIMSELF - at home! Not store up at the church house - put something aside - AT HOME.

    Now WHY? "so that contributions need not be made when I come" (v.2b, RSV). Or as the KJV better puts it, "that there be no GATHERINGS when I come". Men GATHER fruit out of the orchard - they GATHER vegetables out of the ground, to be STORED UP. But putting coins in a collection plate at church, or handing in your tithe envelope could not be called a GATHERING, but an offering or a collection.

    Notice further: "And when I arrive, I will send out those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me" (vv.3-4, RSV).

    Apparantly it was going to require several men to carry this collection, gathered and stored up, to Jerusalem. If it were a tithe or offering for the minister or the spread of the Gospel, Paul could have carried the money alone.

    So, once again, the last and final text in the Bible where we find "THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" mentioned, it is a WORK DAY - a day for gathering fruit and food out of the orchards and the fields and gardens, and storing it up. It was to be the FIRST labour of the week, hence the first day of the week, as soon as the Sabbath was past!

    I hope that has been helpful.

    It shouldn't matter to you, anyhow, for "legalistic observance of the Sabbath day belongeth unto the Law of Works but ye are now under the Law of Grace, if ye would but receive it" (Olive Branch 102:34, which seems to be contradicted by Section 205). For what reason does it matter to the New Covenant Church which Sabbath day is celebrated, if we "are now under the Law of Grace"?

    If you'd have read our articles on this you'd have understood. Old Covenant Israel observed the Sabbath as a condition of salvation. NT Israel observes it as a FRUIT of salvation in Christ and as an identifying mark of Israel in the latter days as the revelation we received explains (Sabbath Revelation)

    As for Pres. Woodruff "contradicting" his own self, how is that any different from your own change in position concerning the Sabbath observance?

    At least you're admitting finally he contradicted his own revelations!

    Again, (a) because he was meddling with something the Lord had already established and which noone had anyright to change one way or the other; and (b) because he was making a RETROGRESSIVE step, making something adulterous and thus modifying one of the 10 Commandments.

    We were making a step FORWARDS. Had we been Sabbatarian and retreated to Sunday you could have shredded us to pieces and we wouldn't have had a leg to stand on.

    But, please, read through out series on the Sabbath first before swimming in this one.

    You as a "prophet" must know the difference between speaking as a prophet and not? Why did the Lord not correct you in every instance the you presumed to write, preach, or suggest that the celebration of Sunday as the Sabbath is legitimate?

    Because of blindness, Michael. We are all blinded to some extent in this world. When I was a Mormon and an anti-Mormon would criticise my faith I just would NOT listen. Even when he proved the truth from the Bible, I was blinded by my false "testimony" of the infallibility of the Mormon leaders and of the abolute truthfulness of the Mormon Church!

    And I was blinded by tradition - blinded by my Anglican, Baptist, Mormon and RLDS backgrounds. The Bible says that we are ALL in sin, apostles and prophets alike. Prophets do not have an open channel to heaven on all things at all times but only (a) as God chooses to reveal things to them, and (b) as the prophets humble themselves and lay aside their traditions. Maybe I'm a stubborn prophet (no doubt many would say 'Amen') but I have my stumbling blocks too. Look at Peter the apostle, how he was fooled into the heresy of the Talmudic Judaisers - and yet you LDS claim he was the president of the NT Church! Peter had to be corrected by Paul, and all had to be corrected by the Lord until the Church was fully in place. Yet God worked through their imperfection and endowed them to the extent that they allowed Him.

    This is what we in NCCG and others in the Body of Christ understand prophets and apostles to be. Greg's off to Anaheim because he thinks he's going to find his true apostles - he'll find a mixed bag of souls, many of whom are doubtless called to be apostles, but carrying the clutter of alot of false doctrines and traditions. [Ed. As proved to be the case]. God works with the raw materials of humanity.

    The difference between NCCG and LDS in this respect is, I would suggest, is that we know only too well we could fall and lead NCCG astray, whereas you believe your prophets never could. I don't know how many more boobs we've made - not too many, I hope. I know there's one more area we need alot of revelation on but by and large I think we've been given most of what is needed for God's end-time Church. Time will tell.

    Then why do you expect it of Pres. Woodruff, much less prophets before?

    BECAUSE OF WHAT THE MORMONS CLAIM THEIR PROPHETS TO BE, MICHAEL! How many more times to I have to tell you? They claim they won't lead the Church astray and that the members can have confidence in trusting them - always (and yet, to cover themselves, they tell them to search out all truth). They say - do what your leaders say, no matter whether they are right or wrong, and you will be belssed for it.

    THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE. Greg and Junia have exercised their free will to criticise and to place themselves outside NCCG. That's fine. They must stand or fall on what they say. It may not be as neat and orderly as the LDS system but it does preserve free agency. Greg is misrrepresenting us and for that he is getting the stick from me but I'm not saying - "do as I tell you, and you'll be blessed for it". IF God has called him to NCCG and he's rebelling, then God will cane him sure enough. [Ed. As indeed happened]. If not, then he'll be on the path the Lord wants him to be on.

    This is the difference between LDS and NCCG.

    The double-standard is that the Lord allowed you to error when he should have corrected you so that you would not have lead the members of the New Covenant Church astray between the years of 1997 and 1999 concerning Sabbath worship.

    These are non-equivalencies. And who are you to tell the Lord what He should, or should not, do? Perhaps He had a purpose in allowing the error to continue in those years? It wasn't a matter of salvation anyway but simply a question of more properly aligning us with the end-time Church. But if 'God' had said that we were the "one and only true church" then THAT would merit a sound thrashing and we'd be out on a limb. (There were many of our early ex-Mormon members who WANTED that and we fought a continuous struggle against such).

    What's that?—you learn as you go? I suppose you wouldn't grant the Latter-day Saints the same grace?

    If they were proceeding from a position of expanding knowledge and not contradicting the already revealed word, yes, of course.

    And by the way, in case you fail to remember once again, Pres. Woodruff never presumed to issue the Manifesto as his own, but as revelation from God.

    Of course not. He believed he was being led by God. I do not believe he was anymore than I believe God told Joseph Smith to live polygamy at pain of death or gave him the keys to grant people whether they could live it or not. Because the Lord already mandated the right of ANYONE to live the principle and never gave any man the right to change any part of marriage. Remember what Paul said:

    "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith by giving head to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who FORBID MARRIAGE and enjoin abstinence from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if its is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:1-4).

    Do you see what he said? FORBIDDING MARRIAGE - and that means ALL KINDS of marriage which he has ordained. It's not just a reference to enforced celibacy but to polygamy as well. For a detailed article on this, see:

    Anti-Polygamists

    I maintain that Woodruff and Smith put themselves under the category of those "forbidding" and "permitting" people to marry and on this alone they are not only out of alignment with the will of God (proving that the source of their religion is wrong) but, as Paul says, this is a "doctrine of demons". You may choose to reject this interpretation but you must at least conceed that it is not an impossibility.

    Your quote (from the Journal of Abraham H. Cannon, obscurely enough) says nothing of practicing polygamy on the earth, as you have parenthetically inserted in your beatifully presumptuous paraphrase. Theology teaches that polygamy remains a celestial law.

    You're playing with words, Michael. You have to take the WHOLE CORPUS OF LITERATURE on the subject. Why do you think there are 60,000+ fundamentalist Mormons today? Do you think they are so stupid as to not know what their original leaders taught? This is just a fudge, and you know it. Go any buy one of the books of Ogden Kraut who writes oodles on this subject, or Richard Van Waggoner (sic?) and you will soon see, as you read ALL the pertinent data on the subject, that the saints and LDS leaders alike FULLY BELIEVED and TAUGHT that polygamy ON EARTH was necessary for the highest degree of exaltation and that it was a direct commandment from God. How can Mormons live that commandment today when the only way thet can marry polygamously is in the hope that their wife will die and they can marry another one?

    Michael, there is no Lord's supper ordinance. And actually most of the liturgy we use is one of the oldest Lord's Supper liturgies known, and is cited on p.lvii in the Olive Branch. A.D. 150 is pretty early. As I said, we have a shortened version too. The simple formula used by Christ in the Gospels is enough too, and indeed many Christian churches use it. We use it too from time to time. It's quite different from the Mormon one. I agree a hymnal and an ordinance aren't quite the same. However, the Bible doesn't give formulae in everything - there is a baptismal formula (which the Mormons and RLDS have slightly expanded, including "having been commissioned" or "having authority" - which is fine, except we reject the kind of authority they use) but there is no formula such as is used in priesthood ordinations in the LDS church (as I have commented on in other posts) - no "I confirm upon you the Melchizedek Priesthood", not even in the church fathers.

    So, Michael, where does the sword actually cut in the issue?

    1. Firstly, we have created formulae where none is given but which remains in the spirit of the ordinance;

    2. You have added formulae where none is given (e.g. P'hood ordination) suggesting the kind of authority that the NT nowhere pretends or acknowledges, but actually contradicts.

    I really don't think you have a legitimate case against NCCG practices. You may fault us for errors which we freely confess but which are not regressive but you are obliged, by the nature of your religion, to apologise and cover up every mistake made by yours, otherwise your system collapses. Woodruff and Smith meddled in something God never gave them permission to do. Like the Catholics who prevented their priests from marrying, so Woodruff did the same with the LDS who wanted to enter polygamy and Smith forced people to do something that is a matter of free conscience and which no man may give or take away. God married Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And He is still marrying people today, without the intercession of any priests, churches or governments.

    Such is the beauty of the freedom of Christ's Gospel. And this much I know Wayne recognises for he has at least become free of the millstones of autocratic institutions.

    I hope this has been helpful.


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    Updated on 10 March 2001

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