Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

“A former Mormon who has accepted Christ is a living testimony of the awesome power of God.”

by Michael Flournoy
If you’re a new Ex-Mormon who has accepted Christ, you probably feel anxious, isolated, and confused. You’re likely still in the process of rebuilding your identity and hurting from relationships that fell apart during your transition. You might still feel the pull of the Mormon church, like an addiction that won’t go away. I want you to know, from one Ex-Mormon to another, that things do get better with time.

Leaving can cause a lot of insecurities. It may feel like you’re treading water. No matter the circumstances, I hope you know how courageous you are. Staying in the boat would have been the easy path. You could have remained, and avoided causing waves. Instead, you chose to follow the truth at what must have been a significant cost. A lot of us lose everything upon leaving Mormonism. It’s okay to hurt and mourn the loss of these things. Sometimes as a new Christian I felt guilty for being depressed because I knew Jesus was worth so much more than I had lost.

I want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay, even as a Christian. It’s natural to go through a healing process, so give yourself time to recover. Cast your cares on the Lord. The same God who raises the dead can take our shattered, burnt, and worn out pieces and make our lives an elegant art piece.

It’s common to experience doubt and fear in this stage of transition. We were taught to believe that everything outside of Mormonism was darkness and lies. They threatened that those who left would suffer more than murderers and adulterers because they who had the greater light would receive the greater condemnation. One thing you will come to realize is God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), rather He motivates us with perfect love.

If the world has turned against you, take comfort in the fact that the world hated Jesus first (John 15:19-20).  If friends and relatives say hurtful things to you then rejoice! In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

In a sense, we Ex-Mormons have “named and claimed” suffering in Christ’s name, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Romans 8:16-17 (ESV) says,

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

God hasn’t brought you to the place you are now just to abandon you.  He has started a work in your life, and He is faithful to finish it (Philippians 1:6). Your identity is no longer in Mormonism, but in Christ alone. That said, there are lessons God wants to teach you from your time in Mormonism and your transition out of it. When all is said and done you will have gained some hard-won wisdom and you’ll be a blessing to those around you.

That’s right, a blessing! It’s so common for us to feel ashamed and want to bury our past. Then we think we have nothing to offer the Christian community. Well, that’s not true at all. A pastor once told me that God can take our greatest mess and turn it into our greatest message. A former Mormon who has accepted Christ is a living testimony of the awesome power of God.

I want you to know that nothing can separate you from the love of God, not even your own sins.  As a new believer, I sometimes questioned my salvation after sinning.  I would think: well salvation is supposed to produce good fruit and yet here I am sinning again, I guess I’m not a real believer after all.  If these thoughts enter your mind, show them the door.  The God who died for us isn’t about to let us go that easily.  We can pull a Jonah and flee from God, but he will leave the 99 to find His wayward sheep.  In other words, you can run but you can’t hide.

Sin has no more power over you because are no longer under the law, but grace (Romans 6:14).  And Jesus’ grace is more than enough to guarantee our safe arrival into the Kingdom of Heaven.  I want you to know that God loves you.  He is always with you, even in the darkest valleys of life, and He will wipe away your every tear when you enter His holy presence. It will be worth it all someday.

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. He had been out of the LDS Church for 2-years and 5-months when he wrote this article. 

It will be worth it all someday,
It will have been worth it to go
The straight and narrow way,
When we finally see His face
And feel His strong embrace
It will be worth it all that day

These present troubles don’t compare
To all the glory our God, He has prepared
And when we finally see His face
And feel His strong embrace
It will be worth it all that day

I can hear the angels celebrate as He calls
My {your} name
I can hear the Father say well done
My good and faithful servant, well done
And it will be worth it all,
It will be worth it all someday
(words & music by Tommy Walker) 

Lt. General Joseph Smith, Command in Chief of the Nauvoo Legion

compiled by Fred W. Anson
Controversy still swirls around if Joseph Smith sent an order to Nauvoo Legion acting General Jonathan Dunham to march on Carthage Jail and free him from what would ultimately be his assassination by an Anti-Mormon mob. FAIRMormon weighs with a resounding negative in this rather lengthy article: “Question: Did Joseph order Jonathan Dunham, head of the Nauvoo Legion, to rescue him?” (please click on link to read and consider this article) 

However, that hardly settles the matter. Below is evidence that counters FAIRMormon’s claims. It’s mentioned in their article but they discount and attempt to explain it away. So I will leave it to you, dear reader, to consider both sides and make up your own mind.

Allen J. Stout 
(December 5, 1815, December 18, 1889. A former Danite and member of the Nauvoo Legion, Joseph Smith’s private militia)
Now, there began to be excitement in the regions round about, so that the [Nauvoo] Legion was called out, which occupied my time as I had command of one company of footmen. The mob was determined to have the Prophet and we were determined they should not, so we kept under arms day and night for many weeks, but finally Joseph and Hyrum gave themselves up to be tried by the persuasion of false brethren and were taken out to Carthage.

And while they were in jail, Brother Joseph wrote an official order to Jonathan Dunham to bring the Legion and reserve him from being killed, but Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders, and we were kept in the city under arms, not knowing but all was well, until the mob came and forced the prison and slew Joseph and Hyrum Smith and wounded John Taylor severely.
(Allen J. Stout, “Manuscript Journal, 1815-89”, p. 13)

T.B.H. Stenhouse
(21 February 1825 – 7 March 1882. Early Mormon convert, pioneer, and Missionary)
As the shadows on the prison walls, announced the receding day, the approach of death was sensibly felt by the Prophet and his friends. Dr. Richards, one of the apostles, proposed to Joseph that if his life might be accepted in the Prophet’s stead, he would freely give it. The apostle Taylor asked only permission, and “in five hours he would take him from his prison.” These were no idle offers. Life and deliverance were his for half a word; but at this critical moment Joseph seemed to forget all thoughts of life and of the world. It is claimed by the believing Saints that he had premonitions of his approaching end, and that on some occasions previous to the Expositor difficulty, he had spoken of the termination of his mission. So long had his bow been strung to its utmost tension, that this feeling of indifference can readily be appreciated without either miracle or divine manifestation; but to him and his, impressions had special interpretations. Add to this the galling humiliation of being chided by some brethren as a “coward” when he attempted to escape on the presentation of the sheriff’s writ, and then the weariness of earthly things is easy to comprehend. Life at last had lost its charm; the charge of cowardice had stung him, and he was ready to die. It was neither want of friends nor want of ability to secure his escape. He was weary, and with his fertile faith it was easy to listen to the suggestion of those ever-ready words – “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Besides, a “prophet” never dies. The portals of another world hail him as the advancing conqueror, and the field of his labours becomes more extended. Joseph was ready for the change.* It is stated that on leaving Nauvoo for Carthage he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer morning. I have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me He was murdered in cold blood.”’**

*Notwithstanding this apparent readiness to meet death, and the deep and clear divine impressions claimed to have been imparted to the Prophet of his forthcoming end, it is understood that he managed to send from prison a communication to the Mormon officer in military command at Nauvoo, to bring with all possible dispatch a portion of the Legion to protect him from treachery, and from that assassination which he had then so much cause to apprehend. This military commander put the Prophet’s communication into his pocket and gave no heed to the call for help. No one was acquainted with the contents of the paper, and the officer was, therefore, he presumed, safe in disregarding it.

After the Prophet’s death, by some accident or other, this communication was lost and was picked up on the street and read. The intelligence that Joseph had called for aid and none had been rendered him was soon bruited among the Saints, and excited their deepest indignation, as they were not only ready to march at a moment’s notice, but were eager for the opportunity.

Some time afterwards, when all was quiet, this coward and traitor as some of the Mormons called him, or “fool and idiot” as others said, was sent on a mission to the Western frontiers, accompanied by a faithful elder. While travelling alone with his companion, he fell ill and died, it is said of dysentery. His companion buried him.

**“Doctrine and Covenants,” p. 335.
(Thoma B.H. Stenhouse, “The Rocky Mountain Saints [1887]: A Full & Complete History of the Mormons from First Vision of Joseph Smith to the Last Courtship of Brigham Young & Development of the Great Mineral Wealth of Utah”, Kindle Locations 2698-2725. D. Appleton and Company. Kindle Edition)

Fawn Brodie
(September 15, 1915-January 10, 1981. Mormon Historian, infamous Biographer of Joseph Smith, and niece of 9th LdS President, David O. McKay)
Dull and heavy-spirited, the prisoners finally sent for some wine, and all except Hyrum sipped a little.* When Richards handed the bottle to the guard, he started down the stairs. At that moment there was a noise at the outer door, followed by shouts to surrender and the sound of shots.

It was not the Nauvoo Legion galloping up for a dramatic rescue. For some reason never divulged, Jonathan Dunham had pocketed the order and neglected to act upon it**, and no other man in Nauvoo knew of his prophet’s peril. It was the men of the Warsaw militia, who had marched out of the town as a token to the Governor, waited until he was well on his way to Nauvoo, and then come roaring back to join the Carthage Greys.

* According to John Taylor’s account. History of the Church, Vol. VII, p.101.

** This story is told by Allen J. Stout in his manuscript journal, 1815-89, a transcript of which may be seen in the Utah State Historical Society Library. See p. 13. It is confirmed by T. B. H. Stenhouse in his Rocky Mountain Saints (New York, 1873), p. 164.
(Fawn M. Brodie, “No Man Knows My History (Illustrated): The Life of Joseph Smith”, Kindle Locations 8842-8854. Barvas Books. Kindle Edition)

General Joseph Smith reviewing the Nauvoo Legion – which at the time was larger than the Illinois State Militia.

A Prayer of Release for Former Mormons and their Descendants

by Tracy Tennant
The following is a prayer of release for former Mormons and their descendants. This can be used in conjunction with healing and deliverance ministry sessions or can be used by individuals who have left or are in the process of leaving Mormonism, or those with Mormon ancestry.

As with all forms of inner healing, forgiveness is key to breaking any “legal” rights the Enemy (unclean spirits, etc.) have to harass us or keep us in spiritual bondage. Being able to forgive LDS parents and/or ancestors for their participation in Mormonism is essential to being set free. So is forgiving yourself! Forgiveness can be stated out loud in private or in the presence of other Christians. This prayer should be spoken out loud.

Praise be to You Lord my God, King of the universe! I come to You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to seek cleansing and deliverance from the spiritual bondage of Mormonism and the curses related to the temple ceremonies.

I renounce every oath and vow made by my ancestors and myself as Mormons and rebuke every spiritual power consequently affecting me and my family.

I renounce my baby dedication into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the status of being “born in the covenant.”

I renounce my baptism and confirmation into the Mormon Church, and all priesthood blessings I received by the laying on of hands from Mormon priesthood holders.

I renounce the temple initiatory “washing and anointing,” and the sealing of the anointing,  done for myself and on behalf of the dead. I renounce the prayers, proclamations, and pronouncements made over me during the initiatory ceremony.

I renounce the New Name given to me in the temple.

I renounce the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty.

I renounce the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty.

I renounce the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or sign of the nail, with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty.

I renounce the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Patriarchal grip or sure sign of the nail, with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty.

I renounce all oaths made in the Temple, and all their accompanying signs, blessings, and penalties (curses).

I renounce all vows made at the various altars of the temple.

I renounce the True Order of Prayer spoken around the altar in the temple.

I renounce all covenants made to obey the five Laws given in the temple ceremony.

I renounce all the work done at and through the veil, with all the names, signs, and tokens.

I renounce all vows made over the altar during the sealing ceremony, with all its names, signs, and tokens, and any soul ties that were formed as a result.

I renounce the false marriage covenant of Mormonism, the “New and Everlasting Covenant,” and any unholy soul tie formed.

I renounce all temple work done by me on behalf of the dead.

I renounce all secrecy, work, rituals, vows, pagan symbolism, bondages, and blessings and curses of the Mormon temple ceremonies done for myself or on behalf of my ancestors and for the deceased, both known and unknown to me.

I renounce all sacraments, oaths, vows, covenants, promises, penalties, curses, prophecies, blessings, pronouncements, and laying on of hands done under the authority of the Mormon Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.

I renounce and reject Mormonism and all false teachings, rites, and ordinances therein.

Father God, I ask for the holy blood of Your Son, Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) to cleanse me from all residue of Mormonism. Cleanse my spirit, soul, and mind, my will, emotions, and every part of my body that has been affected by my participation in Mormonism. I ask You to dissolve all legal rights over me obtained by the Adversary and all unclean spirits; in Jesus’ name, I pray, amen!

(originally published on the “Equipping Christians” website. Republished here with the permission of the author.)

About the Author
Tracy Tennant holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication; Associate of General Studies, with a focus on early childhood education; and Certificate of Achievement in Practical Nursing. Her greatest accomplishment is being the mother of ten children. While an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 26 years, Tracy held many positions, including: Young Married Adult Activities Leader, Primary Teacher, Nursery Assistant, Assistant Ward Librarian, Ward Bulletin Specialist, Cub Scout Den Leader, Ward Music Chairman, Visiting Teaching Supervisor, Relief Society Teacher, and Relief Society President, among others. Tracy was a frequent vocalist and speaker at special youth and adult firesides.  She was serving as Relief Society President when she left Mormonism for a Biblical faith in Jesus Christ in November of 2000. She currently writes, blogs, and speaks on motherhood, family, and health, as well as shares her experience and knowledge of Mormonism.

nephi_EDITED

Nephi writing.

compiled by Fred W. Anson
Latter-day Saints like to describe the Lord’s restoration and/or continuing revelation as “line upon line, precept upon precept”. Here’s how this phrase appears in the Book of Mormon (italics added for emphasis):

2 Nephi 28
29
Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Like the Book of Mormon, this phrase only appears in one place in the Bible – twice in Isaiah chapter 28. Here’s the passage for your reference (again italics added for emphasis):

Isaiah 28 KJV
5 In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,
6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

So you see, in that biblical passage, “line upon line, precept upon precept” Isaiah is saying that God’s people are under His judgment and His curse rather than under His blessing and favor. Paraphrasing, it means, “Your hearts and minds and the minds of your leaders are so dull and slow that I have to teach you like a small child or like a drunken, irrational fool who must be spoken to slowly and distinctly so that you ‘get it’ – that is, word-by-word and guideline-by-guideline.”

And then the Lord goes on to declare judgment on these dim-witted people who are rejecting His clear warning. Again paraphrasing, “And since I can’t seem to get through to you all doing this, maybe the foreign-tongued invaders that I’m sending in judgment upon you will get my words and requirements through your thick skulls after you’ve been captured and conquered!”

This, friends is a mocking and pointed declaration of judgment on Isaiah’s audience, it is not a nice sweet little sermon about the Lord’s will unfolding via continuing revelation. God is expressing His frustration with His covenant people in the harshest, most direct, and graphic terms possible. He is calling them immature, idiotic fools publicly, right out loud, and to their face. This is even clearer in the NIV translation of the Bible (yet again, italics added for emphasis):

Isaiah 28 NIV
5 In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
9 “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”
11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.

As well-known Bible Expositor, John MacArthur observes regarding the key points in this passage:

28:6 spirit of justice. In that day of Messiah’s reign, the empowering Spirit will prevail in bringing justice to the world (cf. 11: 2).
28: 7 priest… prophet… err. Drunkenness had infected even the religious leadership of the nation, resulting in false spiritual guidance of the people.
28: 8 no place is clean. When leaders wallowed in filth, what hope did the nation have?
28: 9 weaned from milk. The drunken leaders resented it when Isaiah and other true prophets treated them as toddlers, by reminding them of elementary truths of right and wrong.
28:10 precept upon precept… there a little. This is the drunkard’s sarcastically mocking response to corrective advice from the prophet. Transliterated, the Hebrew monosyllables are Sav lasav, sav lasav, Kav lakav, kav lakav, Ze’er sham, ze’er sham. These imitations of a young child’s babbling ridicule Isaiah’s preaching.
28:11 another tongue. Since the drunkards would not listen to God’s prophet, he responded to them by predicting their subservience to Assyrian taskmasters, who would give them instructions in a foreign language. The NT divulges an additional meaning of this verse that anticipates God’s use of the miraculous gift of tongues as a credential of His NT messengers (see notes on 1 Cor. 14: 21, 22; cf. Deut. 28: 49; Jer. 5: 15; 1 Cor. 14: 21).
28:12 the rest… the refreshing… not hear. In simple language they could understand, God offered them relief from their oppressors, but they would not listen.
28: 13 Precept upon precept… there a little. In light of their rejection, the Lord imitated the mockery of the drunkards in jabber they could not understand (see v.10).
(NKJV, The MacArthur Study Bible, eBook: Revised and Updated Edition (Kindle Locations 107516-107537). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition)

And renowned Bible Scholar, D.A. Carson and the team of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible confirm, validate and agree with Mr. MacArthur’s analysis in their own award-winning Study Bible:

28:5– 6 Chs. 28– 33 alternate between representing the false leadership of humans and the true leadership of God. It begins here briefly and continues with larger and larger segments. Ephraim’s (and Judah’s) true “wreath” is “the LORD Almighty” (see notes on 1: 9, 24). He can inspire both civil and military leaders.
28:5 remnant. … The drunkenness described here is probably both metaphoric and literal. Because these leaders are selfishly motivated, they are blind to the truth of God’s revelation (29: 9), but they are also prone to the kind of self-indulgence that results in the abuse of alcohol.
28:9– 10 Having no real experience or understanding of God, all the leaders can offer the people are prescriptions from the law to be learned by rote. The Hebrew of v. 10 may well be a mockery of the rote repetitions the leaders offer…
28:11– 13 Since the people “would not listen” (v. 12) to the words of their true leaders, God would turn them over to the Assyrians, who spoke with “foreign lips” (v. 11).
(The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, eBook: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Kindle Locations 161305-161318). Zondervan. Kindle Edition)

Clearly, there is a consensus here on what the term, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little,” meant during Isaiah’s day.

So based on all this expert witness testimony, here’s the question for our Mormon friends: Could you please explain to us how Nephi’s use of the phrase “line upon line, precept upon precept” in 2 Nephi 28:30 isn’t indicative of a people under God’s curse rather than His blessing? Given this what does this say about the state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Is it possible that it too is under God’s judgment and/or curse?

I can’t help but wonder if Latter-day Saints and their church should rethink using this plagiarized and misused biblical phrase, let alone base any doctrine on it given its real and intention and meaning.

It does tend to make one ponderize, doesn’t it?

A mosaic featuring Isaiah.

Abusing James

Posted: April 28, 2019 in Mormon Studies, Susan Grape
Why the Book of James Doesn’t Support Mormon
“Faith without Works is Dead” Arguments

“Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Martyr” (Greek Icon Painting, artist unknown)

by Susan Grape
INTRODUCTION
Mormons believe that “Faith without works is dead”; therefore, salvation/eternal life is not by grace alone (James 2:14, 17, 20, 24). Christians almost always use Ephesians 2:8-9 to refute this. Instead of refuting this with Ephesians 2:8-9, use the unpredictable—James’ epistle. Several specifics affirm that James was admonishing weakened believers to justify their faith, and not instructing them about keeping or receiving eternal life.

HISTORICAL SETTING
James wrote to Jews who had “scattered abroad” due to persecution which arose under King Agrippa I. They were beaten, imprisoned, and some were martyred (Acts 7-8:1). Thus, they stopped doing the works they did when they lived in Jerusalem. There, they established a ministry for widows (Acts 6:1-7) and sold everything they had for the common good. The Church grew quickly because of their love (Acts 4-5). At some point, the outward proof of their faith was replaced with living for personal gain (James 1:9-11, 27, 2:8-9, 4:13-5:1-5), and they became double-minded (1:9-10; 4:3-4; 8-11; 5:4-6).

EPISTLE’S THEME
Not once did James ever explain how to receive eternal life, or that these believers lost their eternal life. On the contrary, he called them brothers (1:2, 16, 19; 2:1, 5, 14; 3:1; 4:11; 5:7, 10, 12, 19) throughout his “wake up call” rebuke (1:26-2:1-26), which exposed their deadened faith and impelled them to live like they once did.

CONTEXT
The meaning of the “faith without works” phrases is based in this background, and also the examples they are embedded in. Each phrase is explained with an example of a person being “justified” (Gk. dikaioo) as in to verify or vindicate. “dikaioo” means:

dikaioo (1344) primarily “to deem to be right,” signifies, in the NT, (a) “to show to be right or righteous”; in the passive voice, to be justified, Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:35; Rom. 3:4; 1 Tim. 3:16; (b) “to declare to be righteous, to pronounce righteous,” (1) by man, concerning God, Luke 7:29 (see Rom. 3:4, above); concerning himself, Luke 10:29; 16:15; (2) by God concerning men, who are declared to be righteous before Him on certain conditions laid down by Him.
(W.E. Vine, “Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index (Word Study)”, Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, position 32421; also see Strong’s #1344

Abraham’s “work” was justified as in verification, not salvation (2:21-23) and Rahab was vindicated, not made righteous (2:25-26). Why verify and vindicate, and not salvation? Because human sacrifice, lying, and betrayal are not “good” works, and therefore could never EARN eternal life! (They do, however, prove where one stands.)

James’ exhortation of proving ones’ faith does not contradict the Biblical essential that salvation is through grace/faith alone. Rather, it reiterates that works are a product of faith, and not what obtains or secures eternal life (Eph. 2:10).

Just prior to the “faith without works” phrases, James writes, “If someone breaks Law, the whole Law is broke” which clearly tells us that obeying the Law will not appease or atone for the commandments we have broken; therefore good works will not cover our sins thus earning eternal life.

James 2:14, 17, 20, 24 affirms that James was admonishing weakened believers to justify their faith; and not instructing them about keeping or earning eternal life.

Here, for easy reference (and for your copy and paste use in dialoguing with Mormons online) is the entire second chapter of the Book of James from the King James Version of the Bible.

James 2 (King James Version)
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
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.

About the Author
Susan Grape grew up in a non-church going family. When she became engaged, her fiancé (now husband) and she joined a Christian church. As she was learning about the Bible and Jesus, several friends, and relatives who were either Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Christian Scientist shared their beliefs with her and challenged her to the point that she knew that their doctrine was different enough to question that someone (perhaps herself) had to be wrong. When Mormon missionaries and Jehovah’s Witnesses came to her home, it forced her to study the scriptures to see what the Bible actually taught. That very intense time of studying gave her the evidence for what Biblical truth is. It sparked the desire to reach out to these groups with the Biblical gospel and the Biblical Christ.

Mrs. Grape served as a board member for ten years with Berean Christian Ministries and she currently is in her eleventh year of serving on the board of Christian Research & Counsel. Her husband Brad also is on the board. The Grape’s adult children are professing Christians, and their grandchildren are also being raised in the faith.

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. 

Bo Bartlett, “Forge (Swords Into Plowshares)” (2008)

by Keith Walker
I belong to a number of private Facebook groups populated by Mormons and Christians. One Mormon apologist asked the group members a good question. He asked, “How did you come to hold the religious worldview that you presently occupy?” The instant thought in my mind was, “I worked for it.” I was immediately struck by the irony of my answer, especially when you take into consideration that it was a Mormon who asked the question.

There is a dichotomy of belief between Mormon and Christian thought and this question, and my answer, exposed exactly how different we are and to what depths that difference extends. What I meant by my answer is that I have put a great deal of time and energy into studying, not only what I believe, but why I believe it. I believe it because I worked hard for it. I worked hard to understand it. The Bible is replete with admonition to early Christians to, “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (1 Corinthians 13:5), “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1), “examine the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11), “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The outcome of such study is described in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” In other words, the Christian faith is a reality and there is proof for it, sound reasons to believe it.

What is true about Christianity, and what I have proved to myself about it, is that we do not, nor can we ever, reconcile ourselves to God through our works (Titus 3:5-7). Our works, our performance, our faithfulness, our behavior, has nothing to do with it. The only thing I contributed toward my salvation was the need for it (Romans 3:23). My works, my righteous deeds, are filthy rags and earn me death (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 6:23). This is what I deserve.

What I don’t deserve is to be saved despite my unrighteous works (Ephesians 2:1-9). In fact, the bible says that God justifies, or declares righteous, those who do not work (Romans 4:4-6). The bible mentions two kinds of righteousness in Romans chapter 10, God’s righteousness and our own. Verse three says that if we are seeking to establish our own righteousness, then we are not subjecting ourselves to the righteousness of God. We will either stand before God attempting to establish our own righteousness, (filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6) or we will subject ourselves to the righteousness of God. In other words, we need to repent of our righteousness and accept the righteousness of God provided for us through Jesus! Second Corinthians 5:21 explains that Jesus took on our sin, “so that, we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Our righteousness is insufficient. God will reject it outright. It is only the work of Jesus Christ on my behalf that God accepts. To believe otherwise is to trample under foot the Son of God, consider His blood unclean, and insult the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).

Mormonism works (pun intended), the opposite way. The only test for faith that prospective Mormons are encouraged to pursue is found in Moroni 10:3-5. Investigators are told to “ask, ponder and pray” and if they do so with real intent, then God will reveal the truth of Mormonism to them by the Holy Ghost. I have had many Mormons testify to me that they have received a spiritual witness, described as a beautiful feeling, that Mormonism is true.

Investigators of Mormonism are not encouraged to test Mormonism by other means. History, archaeology, textual criticism of the Book of Mormon, prophecy, Joseph Smith’s polygamy or criminal activities, none of it matters when compared to the inward, subjective testimony of what is believed to be the Holy Ghost. Not even the bible.

I had one Mormon lady tell me that I could hand her a “stack of facts” proving that Mormonism was false, but she would still believe Mormonism because of her spiritual witness. Note that she did not say, stack of evidence. She said stack of facts. Speaking from more than 25 years’ experience of talking with Mormons, this is not an uncommon sentiment. There is no work, in the sense of study or research, that Mormons are encouraged to pursue for the purpose of strengthening their faith like they are encouraged to pray. Granted, some Mormons do study and research, but what they learn through these disciplines is always subject to how it makes them feel. Their study is subjected to their feelings instead of having their feelings subjected to their study.

Ironically, Mormons believe hard to believe, as opposed to work hard to believe. The book of Mormon redefines faith as incomplete knowledge. Alma 32:21 says, “And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” In other words, you need to believe something is true without any proof, otherwise, what you believe isn’t done so with faith. Verse 27 of the same chapter explains. “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” Before you can believe Mormonism is true, you have to desire to believe that Mormonism is true. If you follow this prescribed manner of “belief,” then you will come to “know” that Mormonism is true.

Contrary to the Biblical gospel message, Mormons believe their personal works contribute towards their being forgiven. This is one of the many things they “know” is true about Mormonism. In Mormonism, being reconciled to God is not done as a gift, it is done based on their works. Many Mormons would disagree with that last sentence, but the testimony of Mormon leaders is clear.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and it is absolutely necessary for every man and woman in the Church of Christ to work righteousness, to observe the laws of God, and keep the commandments that he has given, in order that they may avail themselves of the power of God unto salvation in this life” (Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church, Joseph F. Smith, p. 243).

“The Lord will bless us to the degree to which we keep His commandments. Nephi … said: ‘For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23.) The Savior’s blood, His atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments” (Teachings of The Presidents of The Church, Harold B. Lee, p.24).

In an April 1998 General Conference address, which messages are treated by Mormons as new scripture, Mormon apostle Dallin H. Oaks said, “As to salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, our answer to the question of whether or not we have been saved is “yes, but with conditions.” Our third article of faith declares our belief: ‘We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.’”

Notice the constant theme. Mormons are told they must keep commandments, do all they can do, and that they are saved by their obedience. Mormons work hard because of what they believe. Here is the contrast. Christians work for what we believe, but what we believe cannot be worked for. We work for our faith (belief system), then believe it. Mormons believe their faith (belief system), then work for it. The difference is, Christians are told to test their beliefs to see if it is true, whereas Mormons are taught to believe it and then they will know it is true. This does not line up with what Jesus did in the first chapter of Acts for those who doubted in His resurrection. He did not tell them to pray and believe. Verse three states, “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Christian faith is an objective faith, there are reasons for it and there is proof. If you don’t study, test and question, but just believe, your faith is dead. It isn’t living and active. It is lifeless and rote.

Caravaggio, “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” (c. 1601-1602)

About the Author
Keith Walker is the President of Evidence Ministries. He was born in Michigan City, Indiana in 1967, born again in Rochester, New York in 1988 and has lived in San Antonio, Texas since 1992. Keith has a twisted sense of humor, a strong sense of justice and an unusual way of looking at things.  His favorite book of the Bible is Romans, favorite color is tye-dye, and likes to compete in USPSA sanctioned handgun matches at the Bullethole Shooting Range.  At present, he is a “C” class Production shooter.

Keith’s personal goals are to raise a God-fearing family, mentor his children to be noticeably different Christians, read the Bible through once every year, increase his handgun proficiency and read one book a month. His spiritual goals are to live a life that will count for something and impact others long after God calls him home. Keith’s gravestone will read: Keith Walker, Born: 9/24/1967, Born Again 9/16/1988, Died: Date, When Jesus comes, I’ll be back.