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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Addition or Attrition?

by Sharon

As I mentioned in a previous post, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley is fond of inviting people of other faiths to come to the Mormon Church. He often suggests something like this:
"We recognize the good in all churches. We recognize the value of religion generally. We say to everyone: live the teachings which you have received from your church. We invite you to come and learn from us, to see if we can add to those teachings and enhance your life and your understanding of things sacred and divine." (London News Service 8/28/1995. Also see Ensign, November 2002, page 78 and Ensign, October 2006, page 5 for similar invitations)

Last week I talked about President Hinckley's invitation for people to come to the LDS Church and bring along with them all the "good" they have received from their non-Mormon churches. But in these invitations issued by President Hinckley there is something else that captures my attention. That is, his suggestion that the Mormon Church can add to the teachings people have received from their own churches.

The idea got me thinking. What sorts of things does the LDS Church have to add? Using the example of someone coming from a traditional Christian church, let's look at a few possibilities.
  • The Christian church teaches there is one book of sacred Scripture: the Bible. The LDS Church can add to that; it has four books it considers sacred Scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

  • The Christian church teaches there is but one true God. The LDS Church can add to that; it has three true gods for this world and an unknowable number of true gods beyond this world.

  • The Christian church teaches two possible eternal destinations: Heaven and Hell. The LDS Church can add to that; it has four eternal possibilities: the Celestial kingdom, the Terrestrial kingdom, the Telestial kingdom, and Outer Darkness.

  • The Christian church teaches there is one salvation, given freely by God's grace through faith, based on the sufficiency of Christ. The LDS Church can add to that; it has two salvations, one unconditional (i.e., resurrection from the dead) and one conditioned upon obedience (resulting in an eternal home in one of the four previously mentioned destinations).

Are these the sorts of things to which President Hinckley was referring? Or might he have been thinking of something more along the lines of adding to revelation?
  • The Christian church teaches Exodus 33:20 is complete as it stands in the Bible:
    "But He said, 'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me and live.'"

    The LDS Church can add to that. The LDS edition of the King James Bible includes an appendix with changes Joseph Smith made to the biblical text. The LDS version of Exodus 33:20 is:
    "And he said unto Moses, Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest mine anger be kindled against thee, and thy people; for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceedingly sinful. And no sinful man hath at any time, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time, that shall see my face and live."

  • The Christian church teaches John 1, verses 1 and 4, are complete as they stand in the Bible:
    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

    The LDS Church can add to that. The LDS version of these verses according to Joseph Smith's corrections read:
    "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God… In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men."

  • The Christian church teaches Ephesians 2:8 is complete as it stands in the Bible:
    "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."

    The LDS Church can add to that. It's Book of Mormon says,
    "…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23)

In these few examples I guess we find that the LDS Church has plenty it can add to the beliefs of one who has been nurtured in a Christian church. But more is not necessarily better.

In reality, when someone with a Christian faith background chooses to join the LDS Church she cannot hold on to her previous faith and simply "add to it." She cannot believe the Bible is God's only complete and wholly trustworthy written revelation to mankind, and at the same time believe it is incomplete and corrupt as the LDS Church teaches. She cannot believe there is one true God over all, and at the same time believe God is but one of many true Gods. She cannot believe salvation is by grace alone, not of works, and at the same time believe that the grace of salvation kicks in only after all she can do. She is required to abandon the faith of her fathers in order to embrace Mormonism.

I wish President Hinckley would be more straightforward in his invitations to non-Mormons; tell people up front that Mormonism is an entirely different belief system than found in the "teachings they have received" from their churches. President Hinckley entices people with an offer of "more;" but what they actually get is a complete doctrinal make-over.

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6 Comments:

  • At November 02, 2006 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are certain things you are right about. The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints can add to most religions not because we have added it, but because other religions lack the complete truth. We do not add to the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is there for the taking, but because you limit yourself to the Bible and do not accept living modern day prophets and revelation, you are left to your own understanding of the Bible. Thus, this causes your understanding to be the interpretations of man, and incomplete truths to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The scriptures you quote do not indicate that the Bible is the complete word of God. Again, man's interpretation.

    The LDS Church is not trying to say more is better, they testify that the complete Gospel is best. Afterall, who looks on a completed 500 piece puzzle with 300 pieces missing and says, "Wow! What a great puzzle." Why would you settle for that when you can have the whole puzzle completed.

    Please stop confusing the issue. Pres. Hinckley is saying that most religions teach people to be kind, and honest, and obedient to the commandments. That is what he is saying to bring with you. The LDS Church can enhance your life.

    Ephesians 2:8 is an interesting scripture. Here is a great example of the interpretation of man. You are under the impression that if you have faith, by the grace of God, you are saved.

    But what about James 2?
    14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
    26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    It is clear, unless you do not believe in the Bible, that faith requires works. You cannot have faith without works according to the Bible. This is why we have modern day prophets. This is why Jesus continues to reveal his truths to them. Lean not to thy own understanding (or the understanding of man). That is what you are doing. You are relying on some person who has read the bible to interpret it for you.

    So in short, the LDS Church does not ADD, thereby creating more as you say... they COMPLETE the truth. Wouldn't you want to know the complete truth of things? Or are you willing to settle for bits and pieces of interpretations of man, which is the state you are in now?

     
  • At November 03, 2006 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous said...
    There are certain things you are right about. The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints can add to most religions not because we have added it, but because other religions lack the complete truth. We do not add to the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is there for the taking, but because you limit yourself to the Bible and do not accept living modern day prophets and revelation, you are left to your own understanding of the Bible. Thus, this causes your understanding to be the interpretations of man, and incomplete truths to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


    Man I dont have the time or space to go over all the problems in great detail with what you said. You could go to my blog to check out some of these problems I adress, But I will say a few things.

    You said, LDS do not add to the doctrine of God, Please, either your very ignoernt of the LDS faith or your lying. Look at things like the three heavens, these are not taught in the Bible any place, yet LDS needed added revelation to say they exist. these contrdict what Jesus said and taught. The Bible says Murders and liars will not enter the kingdom of God. Yet JS recived a revelation saying these people will enter the first heaven. Who is correct?

    There are 4,000 plus changes in the BoM. this is according to JS the MOST CORRECT BOOK OF ANY, AND MAN WILL GET NEARER TO GOD BY READING THIS BOOK THAN ANY OTHER How is that possible with 4,000 changes, even if they are minor issues? Plus there are at least TEN LDS Core Doctrines not taught in the Bible or BoM. so added Scripture must come into play.

    Then, the LDS removed the Lectures of faith from the D and C. At the time this book was in the D and
    C it was part of Scripture, I own the oringal D and C with Lectures added, not a copy, but the oringal. The LDS removed it because it no longer agrees with all the changes made over the years.

    You say we have to have man intrupet Scripture but not you. Well then, why do you need to listen to prophets and your presidents? Are they not simply telling you what Scripture says. What if you dis-agree with their view?

    Bruce M, in his book Mormon Doctrine, he teaches, that the book of mormon Clarifys with greater clarity HUNDREDS of Doctrins taught in the Bible, I cover this on my blog, not one single mormon has yet to tackle that impossible mission topic.

    I could go on with problems, but I cannot take up tons of space here and go off topic on lots of issues, I do challange both mormons and seekers into the LDS faith to do your homework and search the scriptures. Rick b

     
  • At November 05, 2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow! How insightful. That definately proves that the LDS Church adds doctrine.

    The problem with you Rick is your inability to see passed the surface of any topic. When it is convenient, you take it literal. When it is not convenient, you dig for some 'hidden' meaning that isn't there. This is one of those cases.

    I won't go into depth on the 3 heavens, but it is there; in the bible. But you obviously cannot see it. It was clarified with modern day revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 76.

    Rick said: these are not taught in the Bible any place, yet LDS needed added revelation to say they exist.

    Do not be ignorant of what the scriptures represent. They are litered with prophets of God, testifying of gospel truths. Take for example the unbelievers that were among Moses. He recieved revelation saying that all the people had to do was look to the serpent staff and be saved. But because of the easiness of it and their unbelief, they did not look and perished. This has gone on throughout history. The bible shows many unbelievers. Hind sight is 20-20 and it is easy to believe those that have gone before. You can see the pattern that God has established.

    Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

    That is why you cannot accept the whole truth. You do not believe in the continual need for prophets and their role they play in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You do not understand the bible. Again, you rely on yours and other 'mans' interpretation of it. If you would but turn to the truth, accept that God still communicates with a living prophet, your mind would be open to the whole truth.

    I have pointed out your errors not only in this blog but on your own blog. Yet you still continue to criticise and claim to know the truth. And you have yet to respond to the answers I have provided. So let me end with this.

    Heavenly Father has provided a way, through his Son, Jesus Christ, whereby all mankind can return to live with him. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Jugement, Jesus submitting to the will of his father, and enduring to the end make up the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation is real. There are ordinances that are required to enable us to enter into the presence of God that must be performed by the power and authority of his priesthood. The Church of Jesus Christ was established on the earth while he was yet in the flesh. That same church has been restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. Revelation exists to day as it was established on the earth in ancient days. Jesus Christ is still the head of his church and conducts the affairs of said church through a modern day prophet. That is why we have the need to listen to the prophet. He is the mouth piece of the Lord. Then we can pray to see if what he says is truth, and the truth will be made known through the power of the Holy Ghost. The Gospel is there in black and white. You are either for God, or against him. Do as you will. Tear down the Church of Jesus Christ as you will. But it is His church and contains all of the doctrines and ordinances required for the salvation of your soul.

    Jesus said: Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven.

     
  • At November 08, 2006 9:24 AM, Blogger CCR said…

    I like to simply turn it around & make this offer to Mormons: I hope you'll live the moral dictates of your religion, but come learn from us & see if we can add to your faith the following truths:
    - The Bible is the chief & primary source of special revelation, clearly preserved & transmitted, textually established & competently translated
    - Joseph was demonstrably in error on many counts & thus cannot be taken at his word to be what he claimed
    - Hence his speculations, later forged into doctrine, are to be jettisoned (including temples, priesthoods, endowment, eternal progression, etc.)

     
  • At November 09, 2006 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Roberts said:The Bible is the chief & primary source of special revelation, clearly preserved & transmitted, textually established & competently translated

    If you believe in the Bible, then why would you say: Hence his speculations, later forged into doctrine, are to be jettisoned (including temples, priesthoods, endowment, eternal progression, etc.)

    It comes from the Bible. Solomon had a temple. The Levites worked there. They held the priesthood. They performed work for the salvation of men. It's all in the bible. Why would you kick it out? Do you even know what you are saying?

    Really, if you are going to post, you should come prepared with truth instead of blatant attacks. It's not very becoming of a Christian.

    As for Joseph was demonstrably in error on many counts... which counts? Demonstrate how he was in error, using facts, not just because you think he was?

     
  • At November 17, 2006 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Of course there is a lot to add ,
    that they were deceiveid by a bunch of false pastors money makers , that they were in darkness and there is hope for them , ins´t that good ??????

     

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