Archive for April, 2019

800px-Wenceslas_Hollar_-_Abimelech_rebuking_Abraham_(State_2)

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677), “Abimelech Rebuking Abraham”

by Fred W. Anson
One of the most interesting differences between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity is how the Mormon god not only excuses lying but commands it. Please consider this passage from the Pearl of Great Price:

And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon;

Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say — She is his wife; and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise:
Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live.

And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me — Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee.
(Book of Abraham 2:22-25)

But in the Bible the story is different. Notice how not only does God not command Abraham to lie, but actually sets it up so that his lie is publicly exposed in a humiliating manner to teach him a lesson:

And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”

And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?”

And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’
(Genesis 20:1-13 NKJV)

As I said in one of my articles regarding the moral and ethical disparity between the two accounts:

That passage is troubling because it portrays the Mormon god giving a divine directive to Abraham that he lie to Pharoah in a manner that’s quite similar to the way he instructed Nephi to murder Laban. This is in direct violation of the moral criteria that the Jewish God established in the Bible via the 10 Commandments and the Mormon god reinforced via The Book of Mormon. Further, and as a practical matter, it’s vexing because I’ve found that some Mormons use it as a divine justification for lying. In other words, Book of Mormon “Blood Atonement” meet Book of Abraham “Lying for the Lord”.
(Fred W. Anson, “Lying for the Lord: A Grassroots Tale”)

Friends, the Bible is brutally honest. It tells it like it is without whitewash or spin doctoring:

  • Adam and Eve are rebels who corrupted and broke the cosmos through disobedience.
  • Abraham was a liar and someone who created on-going animosity and turmoil in the Middle East that continues until today by taking matters into his own hands having Ishmael via surrogacy with Hagar rather than trusting God.
  • Jacob was a cheater, manipulator, and the polygamous father of a huge, unruly, dysfunctional family.
  • Joseph was such a spoiled braggart that his own brothers wanted to murder him.
  • Shiphrah and Puah, the two Jewish midwives in Egypt lied to Pharoah.
  • Moses was disobedient to God and paid for it with his life and by never entering the Land of Promise.
  • Rahab was a prostitute who lied about the Hebrew spies that she had hidden on her roof.
  • Samson was a fornicator and a fool.
  • Saul was crazed, demon possessed, and insecure.
  • David was a polygamous adulterer, murderer, and ineffective father.
  • Solomon was a polygamist who collected women in direct violation of God’s law – and was seduced into idolatry by those same said women.
  • Ezekiel was a self-righteous Drama Queen.
  • John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus.
  • Peter was an impulsive loudmouth, and a Jewish bigot, who betrayed Jesus three times in one night.
  • The Apostle Paul persecuted Christ’s Church and was an accomplice in the murder of Stephen.

I can go on and on and on, but I think that you get the point. And yet all these men went on to be shown grace, and favor by God despite their glaring flaws! I think it’s safe to say that if God can save these losers, He can save you or me, right?

So when you see sinners doing what they do best in the Bible (sinning) it’s not an endorsement of sin, it’s just proof positive that God can redeem anyone or anything.

And just as lying was not okay for Abraham, neither is it OK for us.  You have God’s Word on it!

LDS President, Russell M. Nelson in prayer.

A Spring General Conference 2019 Exclusive Special Edition Editorial

by Michael Flournoy
Popular Latter-day Saint blogger and Mormon Apologist  Greg Trimble recently published an article entitled, “Take it Easy on President Nelson”, and I would like to echo his sentiments. That’s right, an ex-Mormon like me is calling for the masses to give President Nelson the benefit of the doubt.

Mr. Trimble begins by saying, “I woke up to what I considered some good news from the Church yesterday. But along with it, for some reason, came also a slew of negativity toward the prophet and the apostles.”

I completely and utterly share in his shock. The negativity makes no sense. To illustrate, imagine that Planned Parenthood suddenly reversed their policies and refused to participate in the murder of the unborn. What a day right? Christians would parade in the streets! I mean, forget the fact that Planned Parenthood participated in millions of abortions. Their good would certainly outweigh the bad.

So it is with the LDS church. Yes, back in November 2015 they instituted the policy that children of gay parents could not be baptized, and a lot of people committed suicide because of the hurt this policy imparted, but who cares about that? The church has decided to stand for a good principle, and I applaud them.

Mr. Trimble continues, “Can you imagine the immense pressure they feel as they literally spend their entire lives trying to make the right decision for so many people and knowing that no matter what they do, there is going to be a huge segment of people who are going to be hurt, offended, or angry about their decision? These men are in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.”

Again, Mr. Trimble hits it out of the park. I mean, yes, in theory, it should be easy for the prophet to hear from God and then do it. But do you know how hard it is to hear the still small voice when you’re over 90-years old? It’s stressful when you can’t tell if God said the original policy was “his will” or “evil”. I can totally understand why Russell M. Nelson or any prophet would have sleepless nights over that.

Mr. Trimble makes a solid point that there are a lot of things we don’t know. It’s so easy to pin the blame on President Nelson when he could be innocent.

He says, “We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. We don’t know what situations might have arisen that might have caused the policies of the past. We don’t know what information they have when these decisions are being made. We don’t know if it was a ‘revelation’ regarding the policy or just an honest mistake.”

While all of these are valid options, I think Mr. Trimble is downplaying the greatness of President Nelson. Here’s what we know. When the original policy was unveiled, Russell M. Nelson said it was “the will of the Lord”, and that “each of [them] during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation.” (see (Russell M. Nelson, “An Evening with President Russell M. Nelson”, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 10, 2016, Brigham Young University–Hawaii)

God clearly commanded the original policy that denied baptism for children of LBGTQ parents. But as we all know, even the man upstairs makes mistakes sometimes. All of us, including God, are all on a path to greater knowledge, perfection, and glory. When God repents, the prophet has a sacred duty to take the fall for him.

It takes an unfathomable amount of courage to take one for the team when God misleads his people. So, for all the haters out there, I say leave Nelson alone. He’s a good man, doing his best to keep up with a bipolar Mormon deity. And to Russell M. Nelson I give a standing ovation and shout, “Praise to the man!”

About the Author
Michael Flournoy served a two-year mission for the LDS Church where he helped organize three Mormon/Evangelical dialogues and has participated in debate at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Born into Mormonism, Mr. Flournoy converted to Evangelical Christianity in 2016. Among his many friends, Mr. Flournoy is also known for his dry sense of humor in general and his mastery of biting satire in particular.