Archive for February, 2013

Words and Music by Lindell Cooley and Lenny LeBlanc

Father I just want to be where You are
My life is filled with everything but You
Lord I really want to see Your glory
Let the fire of Heaven fall on me

Can You feel my passion
Can You see my hunger
Do You know how I long for You
No walls between us
Take away this darkness
Come break this heart of stone
Hear my cry open up the sky

Everywhere I go there is a feeling
That soon we’re gonna see Your kingdom come
Can You hear the sound of desperation
A prayer on the lips of every nation

Lord we really want to see Your glory
So let the fire of Heaven fall on me
Open up the sky

© 2001 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
(as performed on “Open Up The Sky” by Lindell Cooley)

Mormon Reformation

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Mormon Studies
Luther posting the 95-Theses onto the door of Wittenberg Castle Chapel (circa 1517)

Luther posting the 95-Theses onto the door of Wittenberg Castle Chapel (circa 1517)

In 1517, Martin Luther posted a list of 95 Theses on his church’s doors. His actions exposed the corruption of the Catholic Church and started what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation.

Between the hours of 9 PM Saturday, February 16 and 9 AM Sunday, February 17, 2013, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others will post this list of 95 LDS Theses onto the doors of LDS churches around the world. 

PDF (English version)
PDF (Spanish version)

Join the event here – If you don’t use Facebook, you can still participate!

The purpose of this event is two-fold:
1. Educate the membership on hidden and revised aspects of Church doctrine and history.
2. Influence Church leaders to officially address topics that have long been dodged and dismissed.

Please share this site and the event on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and any other social media!

Friend the event organizer on Facebook (Luther Day Saint)!


The Book of Mormon
1. The primary translation method occurred by Joseph Smith putting his face in a hat and reading a rock known as a seer stone. Despite this, the Church frequently misrepresents the method Joseph used to translate.

2. There is no archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon, a fact that seriously undermines its authenticity claims.

3.  The Book of Mormon is filled with anachronisms that also damage credibility as a Divine record.

4. DNA evidence shows that Native Americans do not come from Middle Eastern heritage. Recently, the Church changed its claim that “the Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the American Indians” to the Lamanites “are among the ancestors of the American Indians”.

5. Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to local name and places that Joseph Smith would have been familiar with. Such a resemblance is too close to be a coincidence.

6. The Book of Mormon teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead. Joseph Smith’s early theology also held this view.

7. Rather than translating with Divine help, evidence supports that Joseph Smith plagiarized a significant portion of the Book of Mormon from the Bible, Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews and other books contemporary to Joseph’s time.

8. For a book Joseph Smith claimed to be “the most correct of any book on earth,” it is suspicious that the text has undergone nearly 4,000 changes. Most of the changes, apologists argue, are small grammatical or punctuation fixes. However, there have been significant doctrinal revisions as well.

9. The Book of Mormon includes Biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. These Book of Mormon verses should match the inspired JST version instead of the KJV version that Joseph later revised.

10. The story of Laban in First Nephi illustrates that God’s command must invariably be followed, even if it means committing murder. This is a dangerous message that inspires religious extremism.

11. The Book of Mormon quotes Bible verses written after 600 B.C. In other words, these passages didn’t yet exist when Lehi left Jerusalem.

The Book of Abraham and Other Translation Issues
12. Despite Joseph’s claim that this record was written by Abraham “by his own hand upon papyrus”, scholars have found the original papyrus Joseph translated and have dated it in first century AD, nearly 2,000 years after Abraham could have written it.

13. Egyptologists have found the source material for the Book of Abraham to be nothing more than a common funerary text. Joseph was completely wrong in his translation.

14. The Church has denied that Joseph made Abrahamic claims about the papyrus, but still insists that “a testimony of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its content and power.”

15. Joseph was fooled into thinking the Kinderhook plates were ancient records and even attempted to translate them. This demonstrates that he had no real gifts of translation or Divine revelation.

16. Joseph Smith showed his ineptitude for translation when he declared a Greek Psalter to be Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Polygamy and Polyandry
17. Joseph Smith illegally married at least 33 women, some of whom were as young as 14 years old. Some of Joseph’s marriages were secured by promising salvation or threatening damnation.

18. Joseph Smith married at least 8 to 11 women who were already married to other men . This practice is known as polyandry, for which no reference can be found on the Church’s web site. In some cases, Joseph married the wives of men whom he had sent away on missions.  Brigham Young also married other men’s wives.

19. It is known that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, but it is also true that Joseph was accused of sexual impropriety multiple times in several states before the practice of polygamy was revealed and commanded.

20. Joseph Smith and a young woman named Fanny Alger engaged in what Oliver Cowdery called “a dirty, nasty, filthy affair”. Even if Joseph married Fanny as is claimed, he would have had no civil or spiritual authority to do so.

21. Leaders of the Church, starting with Joseph Smith, systematically lied about practicing polygamy. Even recent leadershave been deceptive about when and why polygamy was practiced.

22. Joseph Smith routinely lied to his wife Emma about his extra-monogamous activities, often making her feel alone, abused and foolish. Why would God reveal a commandment to His prophet that would require such deception?

23. In 1886, John Taylor received a revelation regarding the practice of plural marriage. In the revelation, the Lord told Taylor “I have not revoked this law, nor will I, for it is everlasting.” Four years later, Wilford Woodruff contradicted Taylor’s revelation by issuing the 1890 Manifesto.

24. The Church historically lied and presently still lies in telling the membership and outside media that polygamy ended in1890. In actuality, Church-sanctioned and performed plural marriages continued until 1904 and beyond.

25. Jacob 2:24 reads, “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” D&C 132:38-39 reads, “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon … and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me. David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me.” This is one example of many scriptural inconsistencies in LDS canon.

26. The Church allowed an adulterer, Richard Lyman, to serve as an apostle for 18 years before excommunicating him. Although it appears that fellow members of the quorum did not know about Lyman’s adultery, these “prophets, seers, and revelators” should have had the spirit of discernment to know of Lyman’s unworthiness.

27. Doctrine & Covenants 121:36 teaches that “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven”, and can be “handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” Given this fact, ordinances performed unrighteously (such as those by Apostle Lyman for 18 years) should not be acceptable in the eyes of God or the Church. However, such ordinances are rarely, if ever, re-performed.

The Establishment of the Church
28. In defiance of God’s command to not join any churches, Joseph Smith tried to join the Methodist Church.

29. Joseph Smith told multiple different versions of the events surrounding the First Vision. He waffled on key details including when it happened and what he saw.

30. The First Vision was not taught in church until at least 12 years after it happened. Why would such a miraculous event not be shared at the outset?

31. Between the time of the First Vision and the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud for taking clients’ money under false claims that he could detect the whereabouts of hidden treasure.

32. Several early accounts published by the Church claim that the angel who visited Joseph Smith was Nephi. This confusion calls into question the veracity of an actual angelic visit.

33. Given its dimensions and weight, the Gold Plates would have been quite difficult to transport. So the story of Josephescaping from attackers while carrying the plates is far-fetched.

34. The Church uses the testimony of the Three and Eight Witnesses to support the authenticity of the Gold Plates. But there are significant problems with these testimonies, including that one of the witnesses claimed to see the plates only with “spiritual eyes“.

35. Brigham Young claimed that there was a cave located at the Hill Cumorah containing “wagon loads” of ancient records “piled up in the corners and along the walls”. No such cave has ever been found.

36. Although the Priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made no such claim until at least 1834. Why did it take five years for Joseph to tell members of the Church about the Priesthood?

37. The name of the restored Church was changed several times in the first few years after it was established. Why would a prophet receiving revelation have to revise the proper name of God’s Church so many times?

The Word of Wisdom
38. Joseph Smith smoked tobacco and drank tea, coffee, and alcohol long after he revealed the Word of Wisdom. In fact, Joseph Smith at one time had a bar in his house and also drank wine at Carthage shortly before he died.

39. Although apologists argue that the Word of Wisdom was initially a suggestion and not a commandment, Joseph Smith taught “that no official member in this Church is worthy to hold an office” if he neglects to obey the Word of Wisdom. By his own teaching, Joseph was not worthy to hold his calling of prophet.

40. Joseph Smith and other early leaders taught that because animals had spirits, they should only be eaten in times of “dire necessity”. Not only does the Church ignore this aspect of the Word of Wisdom, it also acts in direct defiance and hypocrisy by owning and operating the largest cattle ranch in the United States.

41. Brigham Young owned a distillery in Utah and sold whiskey to saints for Pioneer Day celebrations.

42. The official change of the Word of Wisdom from principle to requirement came with no claim of Divine instruction. On the contrary, the shift seems to have taken place for political reasons surrounding Prohibition and desire for mainstream Christian acceptance.

The Temple
43. Members are taught to believe that Joseph Smith received the endowment through revelation. However, much of the temple ceremony was copied directly from Masonry.

44. The Church requires an oath of commitment from temple participants before the participant knows to what he or she is committing.

45. Until 1990, the temple ceremony contained violent penalties requiring members to make symbolic gestures of slitting their own throats and bowels. Recent Church leaders have been dishonest about these penalties.

46. The removal of these penalties, among other changes, came not by revelation but as a result of a 1988 survey that found that many members were uncomfortable with the endowment.

47. As disturbing as the temple penalties are, the fact that the ceremony changed is also troublesome because Joseph Smith taught that “ordinances instituted in the heavens are not to be altered or changed.”

48. Leaders of the Church have allowed baptisms for dead Holocaust victims, despite promising not to do so.

The Death of Joseph Smith and Succession Crisis
49. The Church portrays Joseph Smith as a martyr jailed and killed for being a “lover of the cause of Christ”.  He was actuallykilled for destroying private property, trying to marry other men’s wives, sharing Masonic secrets, anointing himself King of the world, and other reasons.

50. Church leaders teach that Joseph Smith destroyed the Nauvoo Expositor because it told anti-Mormon lies. In actuality, the newspaper truthfully exposed the Prophets extra-monogamous relationships, among other clandestine behaviors.

51. Joseph Smith claimed that he was going to Carthage “like lamb to the slaughter”. What the Church doesn’t teach is that Joseph had a gun in jail and shot several of his attackers.

52. Joseph Smith set apart his son, Joseph III, to succeed him as prophet. Brigham Young admitted this, but ultimately refused to cede his own leadership to Joseph III.

Failed Prophecies, False Doctrine, and Modern Revelation
53. Joseph Smith taught that the moon is inhabited, and that its inhabitants are 6 feet tall and dressed like Quakers. Brigham Young also taught that the moon is inhabited, as well as the sun.

54. Through revelation, Joseph Smith assembled an army of saints to walk to Missouri to redeem Zion. Known as Zion’s camp, this march resulted in the death of 14 men and did not accomplish what it set out to do. However, the church still teaches that this chapter of church history was actually a test for future leaders and ultimately a success.

55. After Joseph Smith’s prophecy to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon failed, he explained it away by saying thatsome prophecies come from the devil.

56. Joseph Smith made a number of other prophecies that never came to pass. Apologists use manipulative tactics to justify Joseph’s failures.

57. Brigham Young taught that Adam is our father and God, a teaching that later prophets have admitted as not true. More broadly, apostles have told us that the Lord permits false doctrine to be taught within the church.

58. Wilford Woodruff pronounced “the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray.” Unfortunately, this promise has been proven to be untrue.

59. Members of the Church are taught that prophets talk to God and speak for God. But some modern-day prophets admitted that they had never seen, heard, or received revelations from God.

60. The Quorum of the Twelve and members of the First Presidency are sustained as “prophets, seers, and revelators”. Regardless, they haven’t prophesied, seen, or revealed much of anything over the last 100 years. 

Revising and Suppressing History
61. The Church has changed the dates of events in the D&C in order to make Joseph’s conflicting claims appear more plausible.

62. In the 1980’s Church leaders bought forged documents that they believed to be authentic, with the intention of suppressing them. Not only does this event discredit the notion that the Brethren have the spirit of discernment, it also shows the extent to which the Church will try to hide information that disproves the Church’s exclusive Truth claims.

63. The “Teachings of Brigham Young” manual dishonestly implies that Brigham was a monogamist by listing only two non-concurrent wives. Church editors have also changed all of Brigham’s mentions of “wives” to “wife”.

64. For years, Church leaders have told the untrue story that Thomas B. Marsh left the church over “milk strippings”. In truth, Marsh left in large part because he didn’t agree with the violent practices of the Danites.

65. Brigham Young said “I have never preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.” Despite this prophetic utterance, later church leaders have dismissed as non-scriptural the Journal of Discourses, from which this quote and many other of Brigham’s teachings come.

66. Boyd K. Packer and other church leaders have openly advocated obscuring and editing history by teaching us that“some things that are true are not very useful.” 

67. The Church stifles honest scholarship of Mormonism, going as far as excommunicating people who find and publish history that contradicts the Church’s narrative.

Other Dishonest Practices
68. The Church reports inflated and inaccurate membership numbers.

69. The 12th article of Faith states that “we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” One way in which the Church ignores its own counsel is by baptizing illegal immigrants, and even giving them leadership callings.

70. The Church has knowingly allowed and at times encouraged unethical missionary recruiting practices including baseball baptisms in the U.K. and soccer baptisms in Latin America.

71. Leaders pursued plans to build a nine-story addition to the Missionary Training Center, despite having promised that no MTC building would ever exceed four stories.

72. Church leaders teach members to bear testimony in order to obtain one. This is a manipulative practice that leads toconfirmation bias.

73. When asked whether Mormons believe that God was once a man, Gordon B. Hinckley dishonestly said “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it.”

Violent History
74. Brigham Young and other Church leaders taught that some sins were so serious that they were beyond the reach of Christ’s atonement. These sins, Young taught, could only be atoned for by literally spilling the blood of the sinner upon the earth.

75. In the past, the Church tried to deny Young’s violent teaching. Now, most leaders admit that it was taught but denounce it as a false doctrine.

76. The Church has never truthfully admitted to, or apologized for, its involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a tragedy in which 120 emigrants were brutally slaughtered by Mormons at the command of Church leadership.

77. Brigham Young wrote a letter to Bishop Warren Snow of Manti, approving of violent actions taken by Snow. The Bishop had castrated a young man who was courting a woman Snow wanted to take as his own plural wife.

Treatment of Blacks, Women, and Homosexuals
78. Even though Joseph Smith ordained a black man to the priesthood, the Church institutionally denied individuals of African descent full blessings of membership for over 100 years.

79. For many years, leaders of the Church taught that dark skin is a curse that is caused by inferiority and sub-par valiance in the pre-existence. Some leaders have even suggested that dark skinned “members of the Church are changing to whiteness and delightsomeness.”

80. Despite overwhelming evidence of racism in the early modern Church, leaders continue to claim that the reason for the priesthood ban is unknown. As such, the Church has never admitted error or apologized for excluding blacks from the priesthood.

81. For many years, Church leaders taught that African Americans could only enter the Celestial Kingdom as servants.

82. Unbeknownst to most members of the Church, early Latter-day Saint women were given a form of the priesthood, which they used to bless others by the laying on of hands. Despite this precedence, women in the Church today do not hold the priesthood.

83. The Church has a long history of discriminating against women and teaching that they are to be subordinate to men.

84. In campaigning against marriage equality on Prop 8 in 2008, the Church violated requirements of  tax exempt organizations. These actions contradict the charge to obey, honor, and sustain the law.

85. Many homosexual members feel guilt, depression, and shame as a result of the stiff anti-gay rhetoric taught by church leaders. Some have even been driven to suicide.

86. In the 1970’s, LDS-owned Brigham Young University conducted electroshock therapy on gay students to try to make them straight.

Finances and Commercial Ventures
87. The Church refuses to disclose its finances, even to its tithe-paying members. This fact is even more discouraging given President Hinckley saying that financial “information belongs to those who made the contribution”. 

88. In Kirtland, Joseph Smith set up an illegal bank that ultimately failed and caused many of the saints to lose their money. There is also evidence showing that Joseph intentionally misrepresented the solvency of his institution.

89. Despite being “lay clergy”, mission presidents receive a significant amount of financial benefits from the Church. What is more disturbing, however, is that these leaders are explicitly told not to disclose information on funds received, even to tax advisers or the government.

90. The Church spent billions of dollars for the recently completed City Creek Center. That the “only True and living Church on the face of the earth” would spend so much on a self-serving, for-profit venture is discouraging.

91. Even if no tithing funds were used for City Creek, as the Church claims, nearly all non-tithing funds in possession of the church are derived from tithing.

92. The Church, which preaches and expects modesty in dress and abstinence from alcohol, is hypocritical in its advertisingof the City Creek mall.

Defending the Faith
93. The Church relies on FAIR, FARMS and other apologists to defend the faith, but intentionally keeps some distance in order to maintain plausible deniability.

94. Church leaders often teach us that “warm feelings” are more valid in determining truth than actual, verifiable scholarship.

95. The Church ignores the issues and questions of sincere truth-seeking members of the Church. We earnestly petition the Church to provide official, honest, and complete responses to these issues.

(this page has been cross posted with the kind permission of

Alexander Campbell (circa 1855)

Alexander Campbell
(circa 1855)

by Fred Anson
The following list summarizes Campbellite doctrines, and indicates where they can be found in The Book of Mormon:  

1. A Great Apostasy necessitating a Restoration of the doctrines and practices of New Testament Christianity.
Campbell referred to this as a restoration of the “Ancient Order of Things.” Early Mormon Leader Sidney Rigdon referred to it as a “restoration of all things.” References in The Book of Mormon include the following: 1 Ne 12:11; 13:26; 2 Ne 26:9-10, 20; Hel 13:5.

2. Restoration and Gathering of the Jews.
1 Ne 15:19-20; 2 Ne 29:43 Ne 29:1.

3. Imminent millennial reign of Christ.
1 Ne 21:26.

4. Campbell’s followers used the “Bethany dialect,” and especially what was referred to as the “word alone system.”
This is a belief that religious experience came from hearing the divine word alone. Alexander Campbell referred to this concept in his remarks on the Bible Dec. 1, 1828.
(see “Campbellism Examined” by Jeremiah Bell Jeter, Sheldon, Lamport, & Blakeman, 1855, p.161 and p.270 )

Mosiah 26:15-16 reads:
“Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi. And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone, which thou hast spoken unto them.”

5. Sacrament prayer and partaking of the sacrament bread and wine as a memorial rite in frequent gatherings.
Moroni 4:3, 5:2, 6:6.

6. Rejection of infant baptism and original sin.
Moroni 8:1-12, 14, 20, 22.
This doctrine is at odds with Methodism. This is relevant because of Smith’s documented attraction to Methodism, even during the translation process.

7. Adult immersion for the remission of sins as the central ordinance of the Gospel.
3 Ne 11:26.
This elevation of the importance of baptism happened at a time when practically no other group of Christians made baptism that important or so easy to obtain. Calvinist churches demanded proof of a spiritual conversion experience before acceptance into a congregation. Campbellites merely asked for a statement of belief, and baptism was possible at a moment’s notice. In Mormonism, acceptance of The Book of Mormon qualified a new convert for immediate baptism, quick confirmation, and speedy ordination of male converts. This was a useful strategy for rapidly acquiring new converts among those who had been turned down for membership in other faiths.

8. Missionaries of the church should provide their own support.
Mos. 18:24-26; Mos. 27:4-5; Alma 1:3, 26; Alma 30:31-32; 2 Nephi 26:31 — and the clergy as well — Alma 1:3. Alma 35:3, 1 Nephi 22:23.

9. Elders set apart by the laying on of hands.
Alma 6:1.

10. Speaking as if authorized by Jesus Christ.
— Words of Mormon 1:17; Mos. 13:6; Mos. 18:13; Alma 17:3; 3 Nephi 5:13; 3 Nephi 11:25; Moro. 7:2; Moro. 8:16.

11. Reference to “the Holy Spirit” as a kind of shared divine nature.
1 Nephi 2:17; 2 Nephi 2:28; Jar. 1:4; Mos. 3:19; Alma 5:46; 11:44; 13:28; 18:34; 31:35
Ideally, data on beliefs, such as the information on Campbellism summarized above, should be analyzed in the context of the major beliefs of each of the Christian sects in North America 1820-30. The relative uniqueness of each belief or practice could then be determined. However, in the absence of such data, it is reasonable to assume that those best qualified to compare Mormonism with the beliefs of other religions at the same time and place would be those living in that same time and place. Among them, Mormonism was quickly branded “Campbellism Improved.”
(see ; retrieved 2011-03-28 )

Why is this significant?  For two reasons:
 1) It is evidence that The Book of Mormon echoes 19th Century Restorationist theology and religious controversies thus discrediting it’s claim to be an ancient Jewish text.
 As Alexander Campbell himself stated in his review of The Book of Mormon:

“This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies – infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!But he is better skilled in the controversies in New York than in the geography or history of Judea. He makes John baptise in the village of Bethabara, (page 22) and says Jesus was born in Jerusalem, p. 240. Great must be the faith of the Mormonites.”
 (see “Delusions: An Analysis Of The Book of Mormon…” by Alexander Campbell, 1832)

2) Sidney Rigdon was a high ranking Campbellite Minister before he and his congregation (which included Parley Pratt who was an elder in Rigdon’s church) wholesale joined the Mormon Church in 1830.
 (see )

The Spaulding-Ridgon Theory asserts that the primary author of the Book of Mormon was Sidney Rigdon as the result of a secret conspiracy with Oliver Cowdrey and Joseph Smith which began sometime in 1827.  Advocates of this theory point to this internal evidence as a kind of “smoking gun” for Rigdon’s involvement.

“Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon”
by Craig Criddle

Craig Criddle: Authorship – Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon
(video presentation on the Spaulding-Rigdon Theory at the 2009 ExMormon Foundation Conference)

Wikipedia Article on the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement
Wikipedia Article on Alexander Campbell
Wikipedia Article on Sidney Rigdon

(Special thanks to “Uncle” Dale Broadhurst who did the original research on this subject. This piece is but a small expansion on top of the superb foundation that he laid)

Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon

by Fred Anson
I always love it when a rock band gets one right. And why shouldn’t they for as the Apostle Paul explained:

Pete Townshend of The Who

Pete Townshend of The Who

“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”[1]

Theologians refer to this as “General Revelation” which Wikipedia explains like this: 

General revelation is a term used by theologians which refers to a universal aspect of God, of God’s knowledge and of spiritual matters, discovered through natural means, such as observation of nature (the physical universe), philosophy and reasoning, human conscience or providence or providential history. Evangelical theologians use the term to describe knowledge of God, which they believe, is plainly available to all mankind. These aspects of general revelation are believed to pertain to outward temporal events that are experienced within the world or this physical universe.

Within this type of revelation, it is believed that God does not use specific words, or specific actions, but more general or encompassing events that occur in creationconscience, and history.”[2]

So I confess a certain frustration when fellow Christians take diminish or take umbrage at the idea that unbelievers, with whom we share common life experiences not the least being “the human condition”, can find small echoes of divine truths within His fallen creation.

After all, in this life we all live and move within His shrouded presence – infidel and redeemed alike. C.S. Lewis spoke well of our current condition when he said:

“If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next-door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count when the anesthetic fog we call ‘nature’ or ‘the real world’ fades away and the Divine Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?”[3]

Given these realities – not the least being the pervasive pull of sin within us all – is it any wonder that artists so often “get it right” in their but ultimately come to the wrong conclusion in their personal lives?

Consider, for example, the classic rock song “Bargain” written by Pete Townshend of The Who which was original released on the “Who’s Next” album.  Here’s a recent performance:

The Who performing “Bargain” at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000

In case you missed it, those lyrics go like this:

I’d gladly lose me to find You
I’d gladly give up all I have
To find You, I’d suffer anything and be glad
I’ll pay any price just to get You
I’ll work all my life, yes, I will
To win You, I’d stand naked, stoned and stabbed

I’ll call that a bargain, the best I ever had

I’ll gladly lose me to find You
Gladly give up all I got
To get You, I’m gonna run and never stop
I’ll pay any price just to win You
To find You, I’m gonna drown an unsung man

I call that a bargain, the best I ever had

I sit lookin’ round
I look at my face in the mirror
I know I’m worth nothing, without You
In life one an’ one don’t make two
One an’ one make one
An’ I’m lookin’ for that free ride to me
I’m lookin’ for You

The historical fact is that Pete Townshend wrote the song as a song of devotion to Mehr Baba, the spiritual guru that he began to follow in 1968.[4] Of course given the universal nature of human beings the song has been recontextualized in many ways.  It has been sung as everything from a love song to a jingle for a television advertisement.  Perhaps as you were listening to it or reading the lyrics you even recontextualized the piece as applying to whatever, well, whatever.

Speaking personally, in my days as a “merry” infidel atheist I would belt out the song to whatever my current devotion was at the time – from girlfriends, to politics, to rock music, to whatever – so for me it became a kind of secular praise and worship song to whatever my idol I happened to be worshiping at the moment.

So you can imagine my shock when, after becoming a Christian, an older, wiser Christian told me (a recent, three-time Bill Gothard[5] graduate no less) that “Bargain” was a powerful “Go for it!” song that reflected Bible passages like . . .

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
— Matthew 10:39 (ESV)

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
— John 3:30 (KJV)

“…you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”
— Luke 14:33 (NLT)

. . . and many, many others.  Gaining that realization, “Bargain” then went on to become a recontextualized “go for it”, song of confession for me as well. And why not, after all didn’t Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, and Fanny Crosby also recontextualize the music of their day – some of it secular with no discernible religious roots – into songs of praise and worship?[6]

And apparently, I wasn’t alone . . .

Resurrection Band (a Christian band) covering “Bargain” in Finland 1990

Now I think I know Resurrection Band well enough to know that they would tell you that the old cliche’ that, “God’s ways are not mans ways”  is true and that one must move past general revelation to special revelation[7] – or even direct revelation[8]  for that matter – in order to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  And, of course, I agree with them completely.  So, one might even feel lead, as I have, to hope and pray that the composer of this classic song might someday make that move himself.

But still you’ve gotta admit, regardless how you contextualize it, this is a truly inspired song!

[1] Romans 1:19&20, New Living Translation

[2]Wikipedia article on “General Revelation”, (retrieved 2012-11-18)

[3] C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” (Macmillan, 1965 edition), p. 168.

[4] “Townshend showed no predilection for religious belief in the first years of The Who’s career. By the beginning of 1968, however, Townshend had begun to explore spiritual ideas. In January 1968, The Who recorded his song “Faith in Something Bigger” (Odds & Sods). Townshend’s art school friend Mike McInnerney gave him a copy of C. B. Purdom‘s book The God-Man, introducing him to the writings of the Indian “perfect master” Meher Baba, who blended elements of VedanticSufi, and Mystic schools.

Townshend swiftly absorbed all of Baba’s writings that he could find; by April 1968, he announced himself Baba’s disciple. At about this time, Townshend, who had been searching the past two years for a basis for a rock opera, created a story inspired by the teachings of Baba and other Indian spiritualists that would ultimately become Tommy.” (retrieved 2012-11-18)

[5] “William W. (Bill) Gothard (born November 2, 1934) is an American Christian minister, speaker and writer, and the founder of theInstitute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), notable for his conservative teachings. Among the several strong distinctives of his teaching have been encouragement of Bible memorization, large families, homeschooling, aversion to debtrespect for authority and extended principles related to identity, family, education, healthcare, music and finances.”
— Wikipedia article on “Bill Gothard”, (retrieved 2012-11-22)

A good analysis of  Bill Gothard’s fallacious and unBiblical view of Rock Music can be found here: (retrieved 2012-11-22)  However, the short version goes like this: “… the Scriptures Gothard uses to make his case against rock music have absolutely nothing to do with music.”

[6] See “Did Martin Luther Really Use Tavern Tunes In Church?” (retrieved 2012-11-22); Also “Are Some Hymns Just Rewritten Bar Songs?” (retrieved 2012-11-22)

[7] Special revelation is a theological term used mainly by evangelical scientists and Christian theologians which refers to the belief that knowledge of God and of spiritual matters can be discovered through supernatural means, such as miracles or the scriptures, a disclosure of God’s truth through means other than through man’s reason. The distinction between Special and General revelation was first elucidated in-depth by the Catholic systematic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas in his discussion of Revelation. This distinction was only then more widely disseminated by evangelical writers who emphasized its scriptural support (e.g. Psalm 19).”

[8] Direct revelation is a term used by some Christian churches to express their belief in a communication from God to a person, by words, impression, visions, dreams or actual appearance. Direct revelation is believed to be an open communication between God and man, or the Holy Spirit and man, without any other exterior (secondary) means.”