Mormon Q&A

Due to the fact that Mitt Romney is Mormon and running for president there has been a lot of talk about the LDS Church’s beliefs. So in an attempt to help people learn what the Church really believes I have decided to start this Q&A page. Ask anything you want, within the ground rules; which are: (The ground rules explanation took up too much space so here is the extremely edited version)

1. Be Respectful 2. No hostile arguing, this is not a debate forum, it is Q&A 3. Be patient, I may need to do research. Thats it: ask away

To ask, either add comment or email at dryflypolitics@gmail.com

LDS.org – Official Church Website Mormon.org – To learn more about the church

Q) How frequently do significant/revolutionary revelations from the Prophet come about? How would Mitt Romney handle these revelations as President?

A) Well, I wouldn’t presume to speak on behalf of Mitt, but he, similar to Kennedy, has already vowed that he will not be taking orders from SLC.

As for the first part of the question, the last revolutionary revelation was received in 1978 when the Priesthood was given to all worthy males. However, that is only the last extremely major one. More recently, the First Presidency’s Proclamation to the World on the Family is a prophetic instruction and warning on the family, the creation of smaller temples, and the recent push on food storage, emergency preparedness, and eliminating debt is often considered a prophetic warning.

A key thing to remember is that not every address by the Prophet is going to be groundbreaking and major. The Prophet simply a mouthpiece for God pertaining to issues that affect the world as a whole. However, all who hold the Priesthood, and really, everyone, can draw on the powers of God and receive revelation for that over which they have responsibility. For example, a Bishop has authority to receive revelation from God pertaining to needs of the Ward, a Father likewise for needs of his family, and so on. President Hinckley, however, is the only one given the keys to receive revelation for all of mankind and the Church.
Q) Is baptism for the dead a highly acclaimed practice? Why do Mormons practice baptism for the dead?

A) Yes, baptism for the dead is a “highly acclaimed” practice in the Church. Our youth (ages 12-18) go to the Temple a few times per year to perfom them. Additionally, it is one of the main temple ordinances in the Church, so all are encouraged to participate. It is taught regularly in sunday school or over the pulpit, especially when teaching about geneaology or salvation.

So why do we practice it? We believe that in order for a person to be saved, they have to be baptized. So what about those who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel and be baptized? They are baptized via proxy by people living. Once this baptism has been performed, the person who is dead has the opportunity to accept or reject their baptism as being valid ((This is an important principle to remember, many people outside the Church think that once a person has been baptized for the dead they are automatically Mormon, this is not the case, the dead still have their agency.)) This has to be done by proxy because baptism is a physical ordinance and one must have a physical body to be baptized. As the dead have not yet been resurrected and only have spiritual bodies, they are unable to do it.

The biblical verse we use as a basis of this doctrine is 1 Corintians 15:29, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” This chapter, 1 Corinthians 15 is about the atonement and the resurrection (I address this topic below), in this verse Paul is basically asking, ‘if there is no resurrection, why are we baptizing people for the dead? It would be pointless.’ The “they” in the verse is referring to Christians who are performing the ordinances. This verse, while the only one on the topic in the Bible (at least clearly on the topic), indicates that Baptism for the Dead was a relatively common practice, especially considering Paul seems to refer to it almost in passing. However, this biblical verse is not the only thing we base the practice on, we also have modern-day revelation. Doctrine and Covenants 128 is a MUST read if you are interested in this topic, specifecally verses 6, 12, 16-18, it is fantastic and far better than I can say it.

Now let me share some personal thoughts on this topic. No doctrine demonstrates the love, greatness, mercy, and justness of God more than this. How sad and cold it must be to believe that simply because one is born, say, during the dark ages on a pacific island and never gets to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are damned. Or if not damned, they can only progress so far; but because they have not been baptized they are not entitled to full and complete salvation. Baptism for the dead is a solemn and holy ordinance. What a blessing it is to give all generations of mankind the opportunity to learn of Christ and enter into his ordinances, that all mankind may be judged fairly and enter into exaltation. Surely, it is through the wisdom and mercy of God that this practice has been restored in our day.

Now let me address something from the question as posed by David, one of the caveat lines you wrote was, “…the resurrection of the body being based of acceptance of Jesus Christ…” I feel this doctrine of resurrection needs to be clarified or, at the least, give the LDS belief on resurrection. Because of Christ’s atonement, his death and resurrection, Christ “loosed the bands of death” and all will be resurrected. There is a physical death and spiritual death. Redemption from these is provided by the Savior, however redemption from spiritual death also requires effort on our part, whereas redemption from physical death through resurrection is given to all freely. The bible, while having very little on the subject, makes this clear in Acts 24:15, “And they have a hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” and 1 Corinthians 15:21-23. The Book of Mormon elaborates on this principle extremely well should you care to investigate further: Alma 11: 39-45, Alma 41 (specifically Verse 4, but the whole thing is an enlightening read).
Q) Why is Baptism for the Dead never mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

A) Honestly, I don’t know why. That is a good question. Perhaps the Lord didn’t have them practicing it or perhaps it was simply left out or just not mentioned. However, I like to think that two of the three sources we have to learn the word of God (Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern revelation being the three sources) is sufficient from which to base the practice. If any LDS folks (or otherwise) do have a BOM reference for baptism for the dead please mention it.

Q) Is it possible for me, as a non-Mormon, to go to Heaven after I die and be in full fellowship with Jesus Christ?

A) Yes, in full fellowship. “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.” After “judgement day” (we call final judgement) all will be forgiven through the atonement of Christ and will go on to a place far better than we now live – heaven. Now, we also believe that in order to progress and attain all that God has prepared for us, you need to have performed the ordinances and proven your worthiness. In other words, there are different glories (or levels of progress?) that can be attained in heaven. The grace of Christ saves us and returns us to heaven, our efforts then move us on through the ranks if you will. (hmm, that is the first time I thought of the role of Grace vs. Works like that. Already a good day when I learn something new!)

Q) I was told (on a tour of the beehive house) that children are baptized at age 8. What is the fate of children that unfortunately die before age 8. Are they saved even though they are unbaptized? (Brad, I am getting to your other questions, this one I could answer pretty quick).

A) Yes, we believe that 8 years old is the “age of accountability,” children under the age of 8 are not accountable for their actions, at least with God. Therefore any child that dies before age of 8 is saved (D&C 137:10). Since they cannot commit sin there is no reason for them to be baptized. Coupled with this we do not subscribe to original sin in that the Atonement of Jesus Christ took care of that for us. Hope that answers your question. See LDS Doctrine and Covenants 68:25,27

Q) Do you consider the nature of the Jesus Christ of Mormonism and the Jesus Christ of Christianity to be the same? (Brad, I will get to your other two questions soon, they are more complex)

A) Similar but not the same when it comes to his nature. This question comes down to the debate between the Trinity (God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost) being all the same person) and the Godhead (Three separate and distinct beings). As I understand it, mainstream Christianity believes the Trinity definition. I believe that the justification for this comes from (among other verses) the first chapter of John: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Pretty good support. Also see John 10:30

The LDS belief is that of the Godhead. Three separate and distinct beings whose purposes are all united to those of the God the Father. The reason for this is simple and unequivocal, there is no interpretation needed; and that is Joseph Smith’s first vision. In this vision Joseph saw both God and Jesus Christ (v. 16 & 17 in link above). Immediately, the doctrine of the Trinity was disproven, indeed God and Christ are separate. Now, I know that non-Mormons do not necessarily believe this, so there is scriptural support:

Christ’s intercessory prayer in John 17, especially verses 20-23. In this Christ asks that his disciples be one in him as he is with the father. If they were the same person, is Christ asking that all of his disciples be metaphysically merged into the same person also? Of course not, he is asking they be one in purpose and glory as he is with the father. An analogy would be that of a sports team. A group consisting multiple individuals under one title, with one purpose.

Other verses: John 5: 19-23; John 14: 6-13; Acts 7: 55-56; Romans 8:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-4.Q)

Q) After the resurrection, when Jesus showed himself to the disciples, He told Thomas to feel the prints in his hands and the wound in his side. Now, when Jesus arose to be with his Father, what did he do with his body? Is it just hanging in some closet in heaven?

A) Christ is in his body. We believe that both God the Father and Jesus Christ have tangible bodies of flesh and bone, though perfected, in heaven. We further believe that all mankind, following the resurrection of the dead will have their physical bodies restored in a perfect state and we will live in these bodies in heaven for the eternities.

Q) I have read, and re-read, the first two chapters of Genesis, and three things are striking:

1. The progress of creation explained in chapter 1 (water to fish to birds to cattle to man) is technically parallel to scientist’s explanation of geology and evolution.

A) This is really interesting (in no way is what I am about to right the official stance of the Church, it is purely my ‘theory’ or, perhaps, speculation). I have also noticed this trend. I sort of think that both science and religion are not as separated on the issue of creation as most would like to think. I do not think that it is out of the realm of possibility that God placed a organism in the water and commanded that it grow, develop, and evolve. God is wise, he will utilize the most effective and simplist method to accomplish his means, there is no reason to believe the creation was any different. However, this ‘evolution’ does not extend to mankind. The creation of man was specially handled by the Father and Son.

2. After creating man in verse 27, verse 29 says, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Am I wrong, or does this seem like early man was a fruit and nut gatherer – exactly as scientists have claimed?

A. Sure, why not. This is more of a food for thought question; fun to think about, but really neither here nor there in the scheme of things.

3. Does this mean that Adam was not the first man? The six “days” of creation ends in chapter 1. Indeed, chapter two begins “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” But with the beginning of verse 4 it seems that the author tells of a different kind of created man, a man to “till the ground” – a smart, farming type of man – exactly as scientist gave claimed. This man was different than the earlier fruit and nut gatherers. For this man, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (See 1 Cor. 15:45)

A. Adam was indeed the first man on the earth, however another food for thought question that can be taken from this is “are all mankind decendents of Adam or after Adam’s creation, he being the first man, did God create others to help populate the earth faster? (This question would fall in line with the rest of your question as you posed it). The Church only teaches that Adam and Eve were the first people on the earth, they do not dive any deeper than that, thus there is no clear answer. It is an interesting thought, and would help explain the rapidly populated earth. Personally, and this is purely me speaking, I am inclined to believe that all mankind stems from Adam and Eve (65% of me). The other 35% of me believes that the other option is quite possible, but there is little to no scriptural basis to this that I have seen, it only makes sense to me when looking at it in a purely academic and logical setting.

28 responses to “Mormon Q&A

  1. Jay

    Do you have any problem with the Book of Abraham not matching the text on the original papyri that Joseph Smith had?

  2. Brad

    Swint,

    I will say I enjoy talking to you. You are one of the very few Mormons I’ve met who can actually engage in a discussion with a Christian (though I’ve been called other things, as well – I like the term “anti” best!), without getting upset or overly defensive. I think you know I disagree with you, and I know you would disagree with me, but I still think we can logically discuss these issues. What is my goal? As a Christian, of course it would be to show you that I believe the Mormon church is wrong in it’s beliefs. Given enough time and an open mind and seeking heart of a Mormon, using the Bible, history and logic it is actually not too hard to show that. What is often missing is the open mind of the Mormon, however. If they would be willing to look outside of the LDS umbrella, outside of everything they’ve ever been taught in the LDS church, and look at the issues from a new basis, it’s much different.

    “We (Mormons) believe all three are equally divine, as you put it – “1 God manifested in 3 separate yet equally divine Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Yeah, that’s exactly what we believe. I think it just that our interpretation is slightly different, very slightly. When you say “equally divine Persons” do you mean literally three separate beings? If yes, your belief is the same as ours.” (Swint)

    I think part of the difficulty is that Mormonism has tried to wrap its mind around something that the human mind can’t be wrapped around, namely the existence of the Trinity. It doesn’t seem logical that there can be 1 God, manifested in 3 persons. Logically, that would seem to dictate that there would be 3 beings, and thus 3 gods, not just 1 God. But therein lies the problem – there is only 1 God! The Bible is crystal clear about that. I can’t explain fully how it functions, b/c I can’t fathom it. The best description is that of an apple – you have the skin, the meaty flesh and the core (3 different “parts” of the apple – but you still have just one apple. It’s a concept we can’t fully understand.

    I would ask the question this way. Is Jesus God? Yes. Is Jesus God the Father? No. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit God the Father? No.

    What would you say to that?

    “…while I mentioned the J.S. evidence, I gave significant evidence of my beliefs from the bible. In fact, (and this is what I find funny) last night when I was studying my bible on this issue, I honestly could not understand how people thought that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (Ghost?) are the exact same being. It was my impression that the bible whole-heartedly supported my position.” (Swint)

    You give some evidence of your beliefs from the Bible, but they are from the bent of Mormonism, and not always exactly what was intended by the Bible. I know you believe that there are numerous different interpretations of the Bible, and I would agree. However, that doesn’t mean that all the interpretations are right. I believe there is one correct interpretation of Scripture, and that it is knowable. This involves not just reading the Scripture to see what you think it says, but looking at it in it’s original language, in its proper context (not just the surrounding verses but also the whole Bible), and as it relates to the general doctrines of Scripture. Here’s some Scripture to show that the Bible speaks clearly about the Triune nature of God:

    #1 The Father is God (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17, Isaiah 64:8)

    #2 The Son is God (John 1:1-3; John 20:28; John 10:30; Hebrews 1:8)

    #3 The Spirit is God (Job 33:4; Job 26:13; Acts 5:3,4)

    ……….. but………….

    #4 There is only ONE God (Deut 4:35;Deut 6:4; II Sam 7:22; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:8; Mark 12:32; Gal 3:20; 1 Tim 2:5)

    Christians didn’t just magically arrive at the Trinity from any council (Nicene or otherwise, though it wasn’t even officially the Nicene council where this took place, by the way) – the council edicts simply affirmed doctrine and beliefs that were ALREADY present and believed, and had been since Jesus’ time. I’m not a Christian, nor do I hold to any set of beliefs, b/c some council told me to, but b/c the Bible says it is true! If you disagree with the above Scriptures and their presentation of God as a Triune being, I’d love to hear why.

    “Finally, I understand your argument about manuscripts for the Bible and so forth. I do not question the divinity of the Bible in any way. I also understand non-Mormons concerns about Joseph Smith and his teachings. Ultimately that comes down to a matter of faith, it is not something that I can “prove” to you is true. But pointing out his experience is essential to understand why we are 100% confident on this doctrine. One must admit that IF what JS said he saw did indeed occur, than the complete debate is moot, God the Father and Jesus Christ are separate individual beings.” (Swint)

    I am glad you don’t question the Bible – the evidence is far too overwhelming to do so, faith aside. But the problem is that the evidence DOESN’T similarly exist for J.S or the BOM – that is why you are relegated to HAVING to take it on faith, b/c the other methods by which the Bible can be proven true don’t hold water with the BOM. I don’t understand when you say “pointing out his experience is essential to understand why we are 100% confident on this doctrine.” I’m not sure what you mean by that. I would agree that IF J.S. saw what he did, and IF it was directly from the God of the Bible, then yes, the debate would be moot – you are right. However, IF that were the case, then the Bible itself wouldn’t be true, as it would contradict its own teachings about the nature of God. And since we know the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, ever (b/c God inspired it – 1 Tim. 3:16 – and b/c God doesn’t lie – Titus 1:2), then the Bible must be true about what it says, so if anything else contradicts the Bible, then either we believe the Bible, or the other, but can’t believe both. Again, this is why the doctrine of the Trinity is EXTREMELY important, b/c more hinges on it than just a thin difference in wording.

    “Finally, as I mentioned above, the overall theme is not trinitarian in the Bible, it is quite debatable and far from conclusive. Keep in mind that the doctrine of the Trinity did not become mainstream until the Nicene Creed, over 300 years after the Christ. Why are they the foremost authority on biblical doctrine? For that matter, why does the Christian coalition (or whatever organization oversees doctrines for “Christian” church) have a monopoly on saying what doctrine is correct and what isn’t when there is significant evidence supporting both sides of the issue in the bible and such leaders do not claim any sort of prophetic revelation? At least we claim to have direct revelatory communication with God. I guess, we can at least say ‘because God said so.’” (Swint)

    As I mentioned above, no creed or council is the foremost authority on Biblical doctrine – only the Bible itself is.

    We have the Bible today – there is no longer any need for any further revelation, as everything we need to know is contained in the Bible alone. Further, anything a “prophet” says should be 100% in agreement with the Bible, else he would be a false prophet. Also, any predictions the prophet gives should come true. If they don’t, we can see that they are a false prophet (from Deuteronomy). Lastly, the Bible, NOT any prophet, is and should be our final authority. Didn’t Paul commend the people of Berea for checking what he said against the Word of God to make sure he spoke the truth (Acts 17:10-11)? He also stated to those in Galatia that if anyone, including himself, should teach another Gospel, that person should be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). In everything, Paul kept pointing people to the Bible as the final authority, not to himself. That’s a big difference from the way the LDS church operates.

  3. Swint

    Brad,

    Thanks for your comments, I have really enjoyed our correspondence also. I just want to comment on your goal. I appreciate that you do not believe in the Mormon Church and you wish to see me (or other Mormons) have our eyes opened and for us to leave it and join Protestantism, I can respect your position. But you need to know that there is absolutely nothing you or anyone else can say or do (except direct revelation from God) that could make me lose my faith in or leave the LDS Church. I have heard it all; all of the “anti,” I have been to other churches, talked with protestant pastors and evangelicals, talked with the Catholics, read half of the Koran, etc. I am more confident now that the LDS Church is God’s true and only church on the earth than I have ever been. I have no doubt. I have had too many spiritual experience through scripture study and prayer to question otherwise. In his history, Joseph Smith said:

    “Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

    While I have not seen a vision, I feel the same way. I cannot deny it, if I did I would offend God and be condemned by him.

    I am confident, just from our few discussions over the last week that neither you nor I will change the other’s mind. We are firmly rooted in our faith. I think this is one of the reason why you feel that Mormons will not discuss religion with you or at least won’t really answer your questions because they know that it does not matter what they say. Most likely you already know the answer to the questions you are asking, so why spend the time in a futile effort of answering questions when it is just as likely that emotions and contention could arise. I bet most LDS people will talk your ear off about their faith if the felt a person was genuinely interested in what we believe and if they felt there was a chance the questioning individual might be open to our beliefs. Why spend 20 minutes discussing doctrine when it is clear that neither party is going to budge, it is a waste of time. I do it because it is fun, I develop new insights into our doctrine, and it always strengthens my testimony in my own faith. But most LDS are not as comfortable as I am. The reason for this is often because we are constantly ridiculed for our beliefs, why open ourselves up to more of it?

    Finally, what our discussion has evolved into is pretty much I was hoping to avoid, except without the contention. I really want this Q&A to simply be telling people what we believe and why, they can take it for what is worth and make a comment giving an opposing view, but I want to avoid these discussion on the page purely because of space. (The comments section is huge right now). So, I would love to continue our discussion, I find it thought provoking and fun, but if we could do it via EMail, I would really appreciate it. Drop me an email at dryflypolitics@gmail.com. Let me know what you think of this. I definitely want to continue our discussion though. I am glad that you have enjoyed it also. Thanks.

  4. rationalzen

    From the commenter formally known as Pugs: (I’ve now evolved into rationalzen, and by evolve I mean I registered with the site and pugs already exists)

    Brad:

    I just thought that I’d comment on one small sentence in a great work of text above.
    “The Bible is probably the best evidence-backed book ever written.”

    I would disagree with this statement 100%. The Bible is not in fact evidence backed, it’s a self sustaining witness. While there is certainly evidence that the book has existed for a long period of time, there is little to no evidence on the contents therein (at least the contents regarding divinity).

    We’ve no evidence of talking donkeys, global floods, daily creation, perpetual meal and oil, water into wine, resurrection of immortal beings, walking on water, spit filled clay healing blind people, humans being cast into fires without being burned, humans being turned into pillars of salt, surviving in a fish’s digestive track for three days, and so on and such. The Bible speaks of so many super-natural things that can never be falsified by evidence that you can’t believe it’s a credible book without faith. To think otherwise puts you into one of three categories: 1) You’ve not actually put thought into the marvelous claims of the Bible (let alone the internal inconsistencies). 2) You’ve not actually read the text. 3) You have very little scientific understanding, and logical base.

    In reality, you probably fall into some combination of the three.

    There is no shame in relying on faith for your belief. That is sort of the basis of Christianity, remember it is by grace through FAITH. Where one runs into problems is to attempt to critically look at one Christian’s beliefs without critically looking at your own. I believe that’s referred to as a double standard around some circles.

    I do applaud a discussion of other’s beliefs without contention (it’s so rare to find that these days amongst Christians), I just don’t think that you’re really thinking about things without bias.

    RE: The Trinity
    We members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “mormons”, do not subscribe to any one of the typical Christian Creeds. We do however accept and believe parts of all the Christian creeds. I believe that when one examines the LDS beliefs regarding God the Father and Jesus Christ with rational thought, one finds that the LDS believe the same thing that ALL Christians believe save one: We believe that we humans are created in the image of God, which means that for God to have an image there must be some physicality to his existence. God the Father is not some grey goo, invisible, intangible, being. He is what the scriptures say he is, a Heavenly Father who loves his spiritual children that are created in His likeness.

  5. Brad

    Rationalzen,

    Thanks for the comments.

    When I said that “the Bible is probably the best evidence-backed book ever written,” I guess I should have been more clear, or else not made the statement. I didn’t mean to imply that there is evidence for EVERYTHING in the Bible – for example, the things you mentioned, there is no current scientific evidence for. I agree with that. What the Bible DOES provide is very strong eye-witness testimony to many and most of the things that DID happen. The fact that these eye-witnesses existed can be also proved through extra-Biblical works, not just the Bible itself. So I guess what I meant to get across is that the Bible doesn’t have to be taken SOLELY on faith, there is evidence for many things that are written in it. I would agree that faith is the key component, however.

    “In reality, you probably fall into some combination of the three.” (rationalzen)

    Actually, though you don’t know me (thus I think it would be hard to make any claim about where I fall), I have extensively read the Bible, and know science fairly well, so I would say I fall in none of those 3. I just didn’t phrase my statement or my thought very well – I suppose I can be found guilty of not having the best grammar.

    “I do applaud a discussion of other’s beliefs without contention (it’s so rare to find that these days amongst Christians), I just don’t think that you’re really thinking about things without bias.” (rationalzen)

    NOBODY thinks about things without bias. We have leanings one way or the other, and those leanings tend to drive our thoughts. When you speak about Mormonism, you speak from a Mormon bias. When I speak about Christianity, I speak from a Christian bias. Our biases don’t make us wrong. If our biases are based on disputed facts or incorrect beliefs, then our bias is inappropriately based.

    “We members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “mormons”, do not subscribe to any one of the typical Christian Creeds.” (rationalzen)

    I don’t subscribe to a creed, either. I don’t need to. The Bible has everything in it that is necessary, and the creeds only serve to officially state what can already be seen clearly in the Bible.

    “I believe that when one examines the LDS beliefs regarding God the Father and Jesus Christ with rational thought, one finds that the LDS believe the same thing that ALL Christians believe save one: We believe that we humans are created in the image of God, which means that for God to have an image there must be some physicality to his existence. God the Father is not some grey goo, invisible, intangible, being. He is what the scriptures say he is, a Heavenly Father who loves his spiritual children that are created in His likeness.” (rationalzen)

    Here’s where we disagree (as I’m sure you guessed I might say). We simply don’t believe the same. “We” being defined as you and I specifically, and also Christianity and Mormonism generally. We don’t. Mormonism has a different view about the Trinity than is found in Scripture. Look at the verses I gave a few posts back (rationally, since that’s the keyword these days), and tell me what conclusion that you come to after reading those verses. Read John 4:24, and tell me what that says about God.

    I believe Mormonism has tried to fit God into what it thinks He ought to be (specifically, what Joseph Smith thought he should be, what he could wrap his mind around), and that simply doesn’t equate to the God of the Bible, unfortunately.

  6. rationalzen

    Brad,
    Here are the quick hit thoughts I had while reading your statements:
    [We have leanings one way or the other, and those leanings tend to drive our thoughts. When you speak about Mormonism, you speak from a Mormon bias. When I speak about Christianity, I speak from a Christian bias. Our biases don’t make us wrong.] – Brad

    I speak with an LDS bias for sure, when I’m speaking about LDS topics. I don’t however attempt to tell others what they do or don’t believe based on what I believe. I have never once told someone they are not a Christian because they don’t believe like me. That type of bias in thought and speech does make you wrong (proverbial you).

    [We don’t. Mormonism has a different view about the Trinity than is found in Scripture.............Read John 4:24, and tell me what that says about God.]-Brad

    I’ll edit your quote for accuracy: Mormonism interprets the nature of God found in the scriptures differently than I do. I say it this way because for every verse you think you can provide me that says God is this and that, I can provide an equal or greater number that clearly state that God has a physical state. You probably wouldn’t accept them, but they are there.

    The verse you provided is a great example how one can interpolate their own philosophy into scripture reading and believe that’s what is REALLY being said. Example John 4:24, God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit…….

    If this verse is saying that God the Father has no physical presence because the words say “God is a spirit” then we must use that same understanding for the rest of the verse. “they that worship MUST worship him in spirit”. Here it clearly states that one must be devoid of physical nature if we are to worship God. That eliminates, me, you and everyone on Earth (at least until we die and leave the body interred). I highly doubt that to be an accurate interpretation of the verse, but that would be the consequence of reading it the way I believe you are (applying unbiased criteria to the interpretation).

    I would actually interpret that verse to be talking about the carnal nature of man, and having to shed that nature to properly worship God.

    [I believe Mormonism has tried to fit God into what it thinks He ought to be (specifically, what Joseph Smith thought he should be, what he could wrap his mind around), and that simply doesn’t equate to the God of the Bible, unfortunately.]-Brad

    Again, what I’m getting at is most Christians that critique the LDS belief system do so without applying the same standard to their own beliefs. You believe that LDS are trying to fit God into some man’s interpretation, yet at the same time believe in a doctrine that required a council of scholars to debate the nature of God and come to some sort of conclusion about the topic due to the unrest and divisions in understanding of the topic. Seeing how both the LDS belief of the nature of God is as equally supported in scripture as the Trinity, isn’t it POSSIBLE that the adoption of the Trinity was simply a bunch of men that fit God into their own interpretation?

    If you answer the final question with ‘No’ then you’re not being intellectually honest, if you answer with ‘Yes’ then there really shouldn’t be a divide in doctrine between Mormonism and Christianity (as you described it).

    ~RZ

  7. rationalzen

    [RE:The Bible......Which discretionary translation becomes absolutely correct or does no such translation exist?]-RZ

    I’ve not met anyone that believes that members of the LDS Church (the Mormons) are not Christians that can actually answer that question. I don’t really know why that’s the case, but it’s true in my life up to this point.

  8. Jon H.

    To all of the above so far,

    I am not in the same league as far as articulating as you all are–although I have my good moments. If I ever knew what a indefinite article was I don’t any more.

    I am LDS and stumbled on this site per a link. About 36 years ago I read about the 325 AD Nicean Creed. I have a feeling those ( above) discussing it may lack additional info to speak accurately. What I share with you, you will wisely want to study yourselves for more clarity than my older brain can recall.

    First , I seem to recall that this great meeting of churchmen was not called by any leading churchmen. It in fact was called by a smart leader we all know as Constantine (a pagan). He had political and community rivalries that kept his empire from being united. He and other of his leaders studied the issues and it was not hard to discover that religion was absolutely at the heart of the problem. Different leaders in different villages and towns had a myriad of conflicting beliefs–it was a very broad, major mess. Angry arguments, threats, estrangements, even fights and deaths, hatred simply brewed more hatred and insulting divisions with in and throughout the Empire. (One day web surfing I found a site that claimed that there were 34,000 christian denominations in the world, with about 1000 churches claiming to be the one and only true church–not a lot of clarity in the Bible even today).

    Continuing… so, Constantine “ordered” the Nicean meeting on fear of incarceration, bodily injury and worse. I forget how long they met and I may be wrong but I think at some junctures in the debates the door were locked or guarded. During this period of months(?), factions disagreed greatly. Some escaped and some were killed by the emporer because they refused to change and compromise. As the disagreements raged so did the emporer’s anger and threats of death etc. Finally, there were two major factions (among the many) that it came down to. The two main leaders were I believe Athanius and Arius. I forget who won out. But the one that did had the support and input of the emporer. At that point of decision the debate was to stop. It did not completely, and there were deaths. The final decisions were the emporer’s (the pagan). Constantine really didn’t care what beliefs won out because those who took political strategies won. Truth was altogether, another issue. He who politiced the best was “right” and had the “truth”. The object-national unification was eventually reached over years. There was a part two to the Nicean meeting swith further doctrinal melding some 50 years later.

    The variety of doctrinal tenents initially brought to the table were fairly broad and hundreds of years old. They included beliefs of many kinds–including some akin to what today are “some” of the LDS beliefs. However, those along with others were eliminated and ruled as heritical.

    Today, the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church or another (my poor memory) geographically further away from Rome still holds a human deification type doctrine.

    Going back to the 325 AD meeting…the various doctrines brought forth initially by the many,many factions had root in ancient scripture, and ancient records of long standing antiquity amongst those calling themselves Christians.

    Three more things and then you’ll never hear from me again… 1) the term “Trinity” and it’s first recorded origins is not found in scripture, apocrapha, or any ancient records any earlier than about 270 AD (based on my research of about 15 years ago). 2) Some of the distant reaches of the Roman Empire were so far away that enforcing the Nicean doctrine with an iron fist took longer to meld into the various societies such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt. As a result, some of the debated Nicean issues can be seen evolving over a slower period of time than in the closer proximics to Rome. And yes there are evidence of LDS like doctrines found amongst the Coptic writings. 3) Key words: pre-Nicean Patristic fathers or just patristic fathers is good. You can at least learn of some of the names of churchman well before 325 AD who were the sources, origins or just channels for the doctrines initially brought up in Nice. If you get real studious or find very modern English language books with a good index you’ll notice LDS type beliefs in the second and third century AD among others. An interesting source for looking at Evangelical work about LDS beliefs is found at:

    http://www.cephasministry.com/mormon_apologetics
    _loosing_battle.html

    Another interesting location: http://www.fairlds.org/Fair_Reviews/Restoring_the
    _Ancient_Church.html This a non-Mormon reviewing a significant, well researched book by LDS author Barry Bickmore. The reviewer (David Waltz) is very knowledgeable himself and talks of the Patristic Fathers a lot, with sources.
    I too have had very many experiences with the spirit baring witness to my soul and guiding me while teaching others etc.

    Wish you all the best.
    Sincerely,
    Jon H.

  9. rationalzen

    Thanks Jon. Very interesting links.

  10. Avatar

    Hey rationalzen, you mentioned above that you used to go by the name ‘pugs’. You wouldn’t be lospugs by any chance would you? If so, I really appreciate what you’ve posted in the past and for your strong testimony in the restored gospel.

  11. Ken

    Just a couple of things have bothered me:

    1. After the resurrection, when Jesus showed himself to the disciples, He told Thomas to feel the prints in his hands and the wound in his side. Now, when Jesus arose to be with his Father, what did he do with his body? Is it just hanging in some closet in heaven?

    2. I have read, and re-read, the first two chapters of Genesis, and three things are striking.

    One is that the progress of creation explained in chapter 1 (water to fish to birds to cattle to man) is technically parallel to scientist’s explanation of geology and evolution.

    Two is that after creating man in verse 27, verse 29 says, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Am I wrong, or does this seem like early man was a fruit and nut gatherer – exactly as scientists have claimed.

    And finally, does this mean that Adam was not the first man? The six “days” of creation ends in chapter 1. Indeed, chapter two begins “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” But with the beginning of verse 4 it seems that the author tells of a different kind of created man, a man to “till the ground” – a smart, farming type of man – exactly as scientist gave claimed. This man was different than the earlier fruit and nut gatherers. For this man, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (See 1 Cor. 15:45)

    Am I reading too much into this?

  12. Swint

    Ken,

    I have responded to your questions/comments in the primary text above. Thanks for submitting.

  13. prolepticlife

    Stumbled across your blog and just so happened to be doing some study on the teachings of the LDS church this week. I appreciate your answers, because frankly I a lot of what I hear from Mormons lately is something like, “we are just like you, we believe just like you, we are like another denomination of Christianity…” It seems you, at least, are being honest that Mormonism and Protestant and Catholic Christianity are not the same and disagree on the most important issues to our faith and yours – ie. the nature of Jesus and the nature and path to eternal life.

  14. prolepticlife

    Oh, I forgot to say that I don’t think Romney’s Mormonism ought to have anything to do with his run for President. People won’t be able to not consider it and how it shapes his views, but it ought not be THE issue. Jimmy Carter was a Baptist (like me) and I thought he was a horrible President. Ronald Reagan professed to be a Christian, but what brand I don’t know and he was and is one of my favorite political leaders.

  15. jdmkun

    Here are some interesting verses in the Bible concerning the nature of God to show there is strong support for the Mormon view of the Godhead. God is a God of love and not contention and God is the source of all truth. If you seek answers, go to the source–God… “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” (James 1:5)

    Note that although we believe man is literally created in God’s image, God is all-loving, all-knowing, and has a perfect body full of glory. We are human and imperfect.

    Man created in God’s image: Genesis 1:26-27

    Jacob sees God face to face: Genesis 32:30

    Moses and seventy elders see God: Exodus 24:9-11

    God speaks to Moses “face to face” as a man speaks to his friend: Exodus 33:9-11

    God’s hand, back parts, and face mentioned: Exodus 33:21-23

    Stephen sees Father and Son: Acts 7:55-56

    Men made after similitude of God: James 3:8-9

    Righteous promised to see God’s face: Revelations 22:3-4

    Here’s some verses to support that God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate:

    Genesis 1:26 “Let ‘us’ make man in our image” (emphasis on ‘us’)

    Matthew 3:16-17 All 3 manifested during Christ’s baptism

    Matthew 12:31-32 Sin against the Holy Ghost is different than sin against the Son.

    Matthew 17:5 This is my beloved Son…

    John 8: 17-18 testimony of two men bearing witness (Christ and Father distinguished as two men.)

    John 17:11 Christ praying that the church members should be one as Christ and Father are one. (supports the thought to be unified versus being one being)

    2 Corinthians 4:4 Christ in the image of God (refer back to Gen 1:26)

    Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one Spirit, one Lord, and one God and Father of all

    Hebrews 1:1-3 Christ is in the express image of his Father’s person

    Revelation 1:1-8 John speaks of God and his Father (if God is 3 in one, why the ‘and’?)

  16. David Turner

    Hello, I am glad to have stumbled across this site… Now, I am not a Mormon, or I wouldn’t be in the Q&A section, but I do have a couple of questions. It appears to me, that you are highly rational in your answers, and even take some topics in a more liberal stance than doctrine (like creation). So for that reason, I’d really like a couple of answers to questions that have been bugging me. Actually, it is one question with multiple points… I believe that there is a legitimate answer to this question (one to which FAIR and SHIELDS doesn’t suffice). I have had a few Mormon friends, some who have stayed in, and some who have left for various reasons (some not so valid). Yet all of them have two common threads. Baptism for the dead is a HUGE teaching, and Joseph Smith’s propheticalness.

    I pose the following questions, to which I hope you can offer me a good answer to, and that is:
    “First, is this a highly acclaimed practice? Even if only a minor teaching, why do mormons practice baptism of the dead, if the practice for baptism of just the dead was based off of only one verse, and in a discussion of the resurrection of the body being based off of acceptance of Christ, when Paul says I come not to baptize? Also, he never plainly speaks for or against this specific practice, so what is the teaching of the Church for the weight of specific scriptures. Furthermore, if he does accept this teaching, or preach it, then why is the word “they” used? Also, why is baptism for the dead never mentioned in the Book of Mormon? It actually seems that the BOM initially follows the common Christian belief that salvation is for those among the living. Moroni 8:22 “For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also they that are without the law. For the power of the redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing.” I don’t necessarily expect an answer on all these questions, but I am sincerely interested in your answer if it can satisfy my curiosity. I, myself, accept the protestants view of salvation, but I do hold that peaceful religions do hold their own purpose in society, because they will be with us until the resurrection (as you stated, only in the end “will every knee bow and tongue confess”).

    Thank you for your time on these questions! I truly look forward to your reply.

  17. Swint

    David,

    thanks for your questions. I hope I can answer them to you approval. I will have an answer up by Sunday evening at the latest. I know that is a ways away, but bear with me. I am pretty busy. There is also a lot in what you asked also. Thanks

    Swint

  18. Swint

    David,

    I posted an answer to your question at the top of your page. Enjoy.

  19. David Turner

    Sorry it has been so long since I have replied.
    Thank you for your answers, they are well thought out, and while I don’t agree with all the answers, I have found them insightful, and I appreciate your response.

    Thank you again.
    David Turner

  20. AutrePays

    As someone who was raised and confirmed in fairly conservative protestant faith, I feel I have a reasonable handle on the doctrinal beliefs of many of the candidates in the current race. And I think I have a fair grasp of how their actions have or have not matched the beliefs they profess. To a certain extent, I feel comfortable assessing how the faith of various candidates will affect their actions in light of likely future events.

    That said, the key LDS belief in living prophets and ongoing revelation leaves me at a bit of a loss. I have read through President Hinckley’s comments at the last general meeting, and there seems to be nothing revolutionary or exceptional contained within them. But I know that significant revelations, which have required meaningful changes in the lives of believers, occurred with some frequency in the early church history and have continued into my lifetime (such as the ’78 revelation re: Blacks in the priesthood). And I wonder what sweeping changes that Mr. Romney would feel obliged to observe could occur during his time in office should he win the Presidency.

    While I would not be so presumptuous as to ask you to predict future revelation, I wonder if you could explain how frequently significant revelations have occurred in the recent past, and possibly offer an example or two? Thanks.

  21. Thanks for the question. It is very good, I will have answer posted, hopefully, by tomorrow (Tuesday) night, but if not, please be patient with me.

  22. AutrePays

    I know you’re probably busy, and are by no means obligated to spend time on this, but I wondered if you had a draft answer to my question and just hadn’t had time to post it.

    In any case, your answers to the other questions above were informative and I’ve enjoyed reading the campaign coverage on your main blog.

  23. Swint

    AutrePays,

    Thanks, I addressed what I interpreted to be your question at the top of the page here. Here is question as I re-phrased it: Q) How frequently do significant/revolutionary revelations from the Prophet come about? How would Mitt Romney handle these revelations as President?

    Usually, when questions are asked, they are in paragraph form, so I try to break them down into simple Question form just for continuity and ease of read. Check out the first Q & A at the top of the page and let me know if this is what you are looking for from your question. If not or if you want more clarification, please ask!

    Sorry about the confusion, I should have posted a comment letting you know I answered it.

  24. collinevan

    Hey man,

    Thanks for being cool about this all. I’m a member myself. I served in Madagascar. It’s nice to see people utilizing the blogosphere for a good cause. It’s a tricky thing to talk to people online, as many can be closed minded before they even give people a chance to talk openly. You’ve done a great job at adapting to the format and being open.

    I’ll be reading as much as I can.

  25. Connor

    Unfortunately, the “blogosphere” and the internet in general are used to spread propaganda and misinformation about every belief system. I’m surprised no one has brought up “Lying for the Lord” yet. I find it interesting that such a concept could be applied to any number of religions but when I do a Google search, I come up with mainly articles and references to Mormonism.

  26. Swint

    I’m not sure I understand your point, Connor

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