Archive for the ‘Christ’ Category

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the eighth in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

34) Use of the cross in Mormon architecture and fashion
In today’s Mormon Culture the cross is treated more like it’s a radioactive or a symbol of shame, not glory. As LdS President, Gordon B. Hinckley said in a 2005 address:

The cross had been the bitter fruit of Judas’s betrayal, the summary of Peter’s denial. The empty tomb now became the testimony of His divinity, the assurance of eternal life, the answer to Job’s unanswered question: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14)… And because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.
(Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Symbol of Our Faith”, Ensign, April 2005) 

However, as Mormon Studies Scholar, Michael G. Reed points out this was not always the case – quite the contrary in fact:

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many Latter-day Saints individually used and promoted the symbol of the cross in its visual and material form. The current taboo emerged among Mormons at the grass-roots level around the turn of the twentieth century, and became institutionalized mid-century under the direction of David O. McKay, president of the LDS Church 1951–70.
(Reed, Michael G. “Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo”, John Whitmer Books. Kindle Edition locations 136-143)

And a 2009 Deseret News article on Mr. Reed’s book explains further:

In 1916 a church asked the Salt Lake City Council to allow them to build a huge cross, “the symbol of Christianity,” on Ensign Peak. “We would like to construct it of cement, re-enforced with steel, of sufficient dimensions that it can be readily seen from every part of the city,” the request read.

That request came from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The cross was to honor the Mormon pioneers.

Even though the proposal was approved by the City Council, the monument was never built.

Today there are no crosses on Mormon temples. Yet two are shaped like a cross. Mormon chapels do not have crosses either. But many have prints of the crucifixion hanging on their walls…

It appeared as jewelry on Brigham Young’s wives and daughters. It appeared in floral arrangements in funerals. It appeared as tie tacks on men’s ties and watch fobs on men’s vests. It appeared on cattle as the official LDS Church brand. Crosses were on church windows, attic vents, stained-glass windows and pulpits. They were on gravestones and quilts.

Even two temples, the Hawaiian and the Cardston, Alberta, Canada Temple were described in a 1923 general conference as being built in the shape of a cross.
(Michael De Groote, “Mormons and the cross”, Deseret News, Sep 10, 2009)

And if any further proof of this is required, please consider the photographs that are included throughout the Deseret New article that I’ve just cited from (link provided above).  This article contains several photographs from an earlier age of Mormon History when the cross was a glory, not the symbol of shame that it is today. They’re interesting, to say the least.

LdS President Joseph F Smith at a funeral in the Brigham City Tabernacle with a floral Cross that’s central to the funeral arrangements.

35) Plain identity of extant Native Americans as Lamanites.
Prior to the DNA evidence discrediting the claim that the American Aboriginals were the descendants of the Lamanites claims that was, in fact, THE official, correlated view of the LdS Church. As the Daily Herald summarized so nicely back in 2007:

“The Lamanites, church members have long believed, are the direct ancestors of the indigenous peoples found in North, South and Central America by European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It’s a matter of some controversy, then, that LDS officials have now changed the text of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, softening the assertion made when the Introduction was first included, in 1981, that the Lamanites “are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” The new text says only that the Lamanites “are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

And the historical record backs their claims and documents this now dust binned doctrine well:

“Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my hold priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fullness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous then the gentiles.”
(Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., 1831 revelation, recorded in a letter from W.W. Phelps to Brigham Young, dated August 12, 1861)

“In addition to this, and to co-operate with it, it has been made known by revelation, that it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial alliance with the Natives; and by this means the Elders, who comply with the thing so pleasing to the Lord, and for which the Lord has promised to bless those who do it abundantly, gain a residence in the Indian territory, independent of the agent. It has been made known to one, who has left his wife in the state of N.Y. that he is entirely free from his wife, and he is at liberty to take him a wife from among the Lamanites. It was easily perceived that his permission was perfectly suited to his desires. I have frequently heard him state, that the Lord had made it known to him, that he is as free from his wife as from any other woman; and the only crime that I have ever heard alleged against her is, she is violently opposed to Mormonism.”
(Ezra Booth, Ohio Star, December 8, 1831)

“After the people again forgot the Lord and dissensions arose, some of them took upon themselves the name Lamanites and the dark skin returned. When the Lamanites fully repent and sincerely receive the gospel, the Lord has promised to remove the dark skin. The Lord declared by revelation that, ‘before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as a rose.’ The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts and delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord. Perhaps there are some Lamanites today who are losing the dark pigment. Many of the members of the Church among the Catawba Indians of the South could readily pass as of the white race; also in other parts of the South.”
(Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, v. 3, p. 123, 1953)

“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation…. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl-sixteen sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents on the same reservation, in the same Hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”
(Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, “Day of the Lamanites”, General Conference, Oct. 1960)

“The Lord has never indicated that black skin came because of being less faithful. Now, the Indian; we know why he has changed, don’t we? The Book of Mormon tells us that; and he has a dark skin, but he has promise there that through faithfulness, that they all again become a white and delightsome people.”
(Apostle LeGrand Richards, Interview by Wesley P. Walters and Chris Vlachos, Aug. 16, 1978, Church Office Building)

“We are greatly conscious of the fact that among the Lamanites – as well as among all peoples of other countries – we have a responsibility to see that the gospel touches their hearts and minds and that they understand it.”
(Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, October 1980 General Conference, Ensign, November 1980, p.76)

“The Lamanites [Native Americans], now a down-trodden people, are a remnant of the house of Israel. The curse of God has followed them as it has done the Jews, though the Jews have not been darkened in their skin as have the Lamanites.”
(Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, v. 22, p.173)

And if that’s not enough, you will find many more such quotes here: http://www.mormonthink.com/QUOTES/native.htm

A map from the December 1975 Ensign Magazine from the article, “Who and Where Are the Lamanites?” by Lane Johnson. Ensign magazine is an official, correlated LDS Church periodical.

36) D&C 89’s encouragement to drink beer.
As Rock Waterman explains:

“God tells us in Section 89 that beer is one of the reasons He gave us barley.

If you didn’t know that, it’s probably because like many latter day saints, you learned all about the Word of Wisdom in Sunday school, but you’ve most likely never gotten around to really reading the thing.

So let’s look at it again. Remember the part describing the purposes of the various grains, the one that begins “Nevertheless, wheat for man…”? Open your scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 and turn to verse 17. Let’s read, in God’s own words, what he created barley for: “…and barley for all useful animals and for mild drinks, as also other grain.”

The early saints would have been astounded that future members would ever conflate their mild barley drink -beer- with the “strong drink” advised against in verses 5 and 7. Early Mormons regularly consumed beer without compunction, as had most of mankind throughout recorded history.

In 1843 the church’s newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, advertised ale and beer available at the Nauvoo Brewery. Joseph Smith oversaw a fully stocked bar located at his home in the Mansion House. In an 1844 journal entry Joseph Smith mentions that he stopped in and “drank a glass of beer at Moesser’s“. He mentions this in passing as if it was no big deal, because to him it wasn’t.

This was eleven years after Joseph received the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, so you can’t say he didn’t know better. The fact is, beer was not proscribed by Section 89; it was prescribed.

Within three years of the saints’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, breweries were operating at the mouths of every river canyon from Logan to Nephi. Most of the saints were immigrants from England, Denmark, and Germany, and these Teutonics brought with them their old-world brewing skills. A sizable brewery once sat close to where the Provo temple is now, and the Henry Wagener Brewery took up a massive 150 acres just across the street from where the “This Is The Place” monument now stands. So many breweries appeared so fast that by 1851 the smell emanating from all these operations provoked the city council to declare them a nuisance. Yet they continued to operate.

Beer was manufactured and consumed by faithful members of the church who never gave a second thought to the idea that there might be anything wrong with it. Most would have applied Benjamin Franklin’s famous declaration regarding wine to their beer and ale, that it was “proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy”.

By the time Johnston’s Army arrived in 1857, ushering in a steady stream of thirsty gentiles through Utah, things really took off for the Mormon brewers. Beer was available everywhere, including the church owned ZCMI where both Mormons and gentiles could stop in to grab a brewski any day but Sunday.

So how did the LDS church membership devolve from an appreciation of beer as a gift from God, to our present-day anathema toward it?

Well, we got the idea from the protestants.

Temperance Nation
By the time of the Manifesto in 1890, the LDS conversion rate was practically nil. All anybody knew about Mormons were that they were that crazy bunch of polygamous weirdos off in the desert. Any growth the church experienced was primarily internal, as pretty much the only baptisms Utahns were performing were on eight year old kids who already lived there. Certainly nobody new wanted to join.

The united states government and the eastern newspapers had painted us such pariahs that we couldn’t get anybody to take our religion seriously on a bet. Missionaries couldn’t get anyone to take a pamphlet, let alone read the Book of Mormon. Proselyting was at a standstill. We needed to find some way to get our numbers up.

Meanwhile back in the states, a huge temperance movement was sweeping the sectarian religious world, a backlash against decades of unbridled American alcoholism and public drunkenness. Public vows of abstinence were all the rage. It was no longer cool to profess Christ on Sunday if you spent Saturday night in a saloon; now a man’s spiritual measure was taken by how vociferously he denounced the demon rum.

The motto of virtuous young women everywhere was “lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine”, and young men, whose lips desperately wanted to touch the lips of young women, dutifully fell into line. It was futile to argue with these women that beer and ale, which were brewed, did not belong in the same class as hard liquors such as whiskey, which was distilled. These young ladies had zero tolerance for any of it, it was all the same to them. Talk to the hand, ’cause the lips ain’t listenin‘.

There was a pious war against booze raging in Christian America, and mild drinks were getting caught in the crossfire.

The debate spilled over into Utah where, though public drunkenness was strictly forbidden, wine and distilled spirits had always been available (some members paid their tithing in wine they made themselves; the St George tithing office reported collecting 7000 gallons by 1887). Still, hard liquor was hardly tolerated by Mormons the way beer had traditionally been.

By 1900, the parsing of the Word of Wisdom was well under way in debate among the leaders of the church. According to BYU Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Alexander:

“…All general authorities were not in agreement on all aspects of the word of wisdom…After he became president of the church, Lorenzo Snow again emphasized the centrality of not eating meat…and in 1901 John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., of the Twelve both thought that the church ought not interdict beer, at least not Danish beer.” Apostle Anthon H. Lund, who happened to be Danish, agreed, especially with the part about Danish beer. So did Mathias F.Cowley and others.

Over the next couple of decades, the Mormon people as a whole jumped on the Temperance bandwagon, and in 1919 Utah enthusiastically ratified the 18th amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages, including beer. Utah breweries closed down and before long all traces disappeared. In time, the descendants of the pioneers forgot they had ever existed. Land once occupied by the sprawling Henry Wagoner Company eventually became home to the Hogle zoo.

The Mormon support of prohibition had a positive effect on missionary work. We could boast to teetotaling Christians that we were way ahead of the curve on the evils of alcohol, having been hip to that scene as far back as 1833. With the hub-bub over polygamy having pretty much quieted down, the church was experiencing a re-branding. Missionaries were no longer fearsome devils come to steal your daughters; they were now those nice young men who didn’t smoke or drink.

Looks like we’d found our gimmick.”
(Rock Waterman, “Too Bad I Don’t Like Beer”, Pure Mormonism website, June 18, 2009) 

37) Paid Clergy.
Mormon scripture explicitly mandates that clergy be paid:

Doctrine & Covenants 42
71 And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned;

72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.

73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

Yet today, despite the clear command of scripture, today the LdS Church denounces churches with a paid clergy in the strong terms:

“Wherever creeds are found one can also expect to find a paid clergy, the simple truths of the gospel cloaked in the dark robes of mystery, religious intolerance, and a history of bloodshed.”
(Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig Ostler, “Revelations of the Restoration”, p. 964, published 2000)

But as D. Michael Quinn explains this wasn’t always the case:

“In the nineteenth-century West, local officers of the LDS church obtained their support from the tithing they collected. As early as 1859, Brigham Young wondered “whether a Stake would not be better governed when none of the officers were paid for their services.” During Brigham Young’s presidency, ward bishops drew at will from the primarily non-cash tithing Mormons donated. President Young complained at the October 1860 general conference “against a principle in many of the Bishops to use up all the tithing they could for their own families.

Even full-time missionaries benefited from tithing funds in the nineteenth century The senior president of the First Council of Seventy commented in 1879 that the families of married missionaries should be supported from tithing funds.55 However, at best that practice barely kept struggling wives and children out of abject poverty while their husbands and fathers served two-year missions.

In 1884, Church President John Taylor limited bishops to 8 percent of the tithing they collected (now primarily cash), while stake presidents got 2 percent of the tithing collected by all the bishops of the stake. In 1888, Wilford Woodruff established set salaries for stake presidents, and provided that a stake committee would apportion 10 percent of collected tithing between the bishops and the stake tithing clerk. At the April 1896 general conference, the First Presidency announced the end of salaries for local officers, in response to the decision of the temple meeting “to not pay Salaries to any one but the twelve.
(D. Michael Quinn, “LDS Church Finances from the 1830’s to the 1990’s”, Sunstone Magazine, June 1996, p.21; audio presentation January 1, 1992)

And right into the dustbin a paid clergy, along with beer-drinking for health, clearly identifying American Indians as the descendants of the Lamanites, and glorying in the cross, swish, swish, swish, it goes. It’s just as Mormon Researcher, Aaron Shafovaloff’s Couplet says so well,

“As heresy is, Mormon doctrine once was.
As Mormon doctrine is, heresy will it become.”
— Shafovaloff’s Couplet

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the seventh in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

30) Women holding, partaking, and practicing Priesthood authority.
Renowned Mormon Studies Scholar, D. Michael Quinn explains;

For 150 years Mormon women have performed sacred ordinances in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every person who has received the LDS temple endowment knows that women perform for other women the “initiatory ordinances” of washing and anointing.1 Fewer know that LDS women also performed ordinances of healing from the 1840s until the 1940s.2 Yet every Mormon knows that men who perform temple ordinances and healing ordinances must have the Melchizedek priesthood. Women are no exception.3

Two weeks after he organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith announced his intention to confer priesthood on women. He told them on 30 March 1842 that “the Society should move according to the ancient Priesthood” and that he was “going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day—as in Paul’s day.” In printing the original minutes of the prophet’s talk after his death, the official History of the Church omitted Joseph’s first use of the word “Society” and changed the second “Society” to “Church.” Those two alterations changed the entire meaning of his statement. More recently an LDS general authority removed even these diminished statements from a display in the LDS Museum of Church History and Art which commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Relief Society.

On 28 April 1842 the prophet returned to this subject. He told the women that “the keys of the kingdom are about to be given to them that they may be able to detect everything false, as well as to the Elders.” The keys “to detect everything false” referred to the signs and tokens used in the “true order of prayer,” still practiced in LDS temples. Then Joseph Smith said, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time …” For nineteenth-century LDS women, Joseph’s words were prophecy and inspiration to advance spiritually, intellectually, socially, professionally, and politically.

Mormon women did not request priesthood—Joseph Smith would soon confer it on them as part of the restoration of the gospel. His private journal, called the Book of the Law of the Lord, specified the priesthood promise in his instructions to the women on 28 April 1842: “gave a lecture on the pries[t]hood shewing [sic] how the Sisters would come in possession of the privileges & blessings & gifts of the priesthood & that the signs should follow them. such as healing the sick casting out devils &c. & that they might attain unto these blessings. by a virtuous life & conversation & diligence in keeping all the commandments.” Joseph clearly intended that Mormon women in 1842 understand their healings were to be “gifts of the priesthood,” not simply ministrations of faith.

Apostle Dallin H. Oaks observed in a 1992 general conference talk, “No priesthood keys were delivered to the Relief Society. Keys are conferred on individuals, not organizations.” The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as organizations are not even exempt from the limitation he describes for the Relief Society. Elder Oaks noted, for instance, that “priesthood keys were delivered to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, not to any organizations.”
(D. Michael Quinn, “Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843”, Chapter 17 of “Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism”, Maxine Hanks, editor)

Quinn then goes on to explain how and why the Priesthood was slowly but surely denied to Mormon women:

By the early 1880s death had taken all the general authorities who had specifically stated that the endowment conferred priesthood upon women. Joseph and Hyrum Smith died in 1844, and John Smith joined them a decade later. Heber C. Kimball died in 1868, and Brigham Young in 1877. Sidney Rigdon had been excommunicated in 1844 but continued to affirm Nauvoo’s “female priesthood” until his death in 1876. In 1881, both Orson Pratt and Joseph Young died.

By 1888 Mormon misogyny was linked with denials of women’s authority, and this resulted in a public comment by Apostle Franklin D. Richards. He said: “Every now and again we hear men speak tauntingly of the sisters and lightly of their public duties, instead of supporting and encouraging them.” Apostle Richards added: “There are also some who look with jealousy upon the moves of the sisters as though they might come to possess some of the gifts, and are afraid they [LDS women] will get away with some of the blessings of the gospel which only men ought to possess.” Because of this “envy and jealousy,” Apostle Richards said some Mormon men “don’t like to accord to them [Mormon women] anything that will raise them up and make their talents to shine forth as the daughters of Eve and Sarah.” Franklin D. Richards is the only general authority to publicly acknowledge that jealousy and fear are the basis for the opposition of some Mormon men against the spiritual growth of all Mormon women.
(Ibid)

In current Mormon Theology Mormon women only have the Priesthood through her husband rather than apart from him, as Quinn explains:

In today’s church a woman who has received the temple endowment has more priesthood power than a boy who holds the office of priest. However, the priest has more permission to exercise his priesthood than does the endowed woman to exercise hers.
(Ibid)

31) The Mormon gospel law of Mormon men forbidden to marry black women.
LdS President and Living Prophet  Brigham Young, couldn’t have been clearer in his March 8, 1863, Mormon Tabernacle address:

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. (Brigham Young, “The Persecutions of the Saints—Their Loyalty to the Constitution—the Mormon Battalion—the Laws of God Relative to the African Race”, Journal of Discourses 10:110)

In 1954, Mormon Apostle, Mark E. Peterson’s rhetoric was less extreme but still to the point:

“I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the oppor[t]unity of sitting down in a café where white people sit. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not. be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, “First we pity, then endure, then embrace.”’
(Mark E. Peterson, “Race Problems – As They Affect the Church”, Address By Elder Mark E. Petersen Given At: The Convention of Teachers of Religion On The College Level, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954)

An inter-racial couple takes wedding photos in front of the Salt Lake Temple.

“When He placed the mark upon Cain, He engaged in segregation. When he told Enoch not to preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation. When He forbade intermarriages as He does in Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, He established segregation. You remember when the Israelites were about to come into Palestine and there were evil nations there, the Lord was anxious to preserve his people by an act of segregation. He commanded His people Israel: “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them. Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.” It was a law for the preservation of Israel and it certainly was an act of segregation.”
(Ibid)

“The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence, at least in the bases of the Lamanites and the Negroes we have the definite word of the Lord himself that He placed a dark skin upon then: as a curse — as a sign to all others. He forbade inter-marriage with them under threat of extension of the curse (2 Nephi 5:21) And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an iron curtain there. The Negro was cursed as to the Priesthood, and therefore, was cursed as to the blessings of the Priesthood. Certainly God made a segregation there.”
(Ibid)

“Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.”
(Ibid)

But in today’s LdS Church not only are inter-racial marriages common but as of June 1, 1978, no one can be denied the Mormon Priesthood based on their race.

32) Couples should refrain from physical intimacy a week or so before attending the Temple.
Church archives document the prerequisites for Temple work during the 19th Century.

From 1868: 
“Pres[iden]ts [Brigham] Y[oung][,] [Heber C.] K[imball] & [Daniel H.] W[ells] Spoke on the impropriety of our youth marrying [for time], instead of getting sealed [for eternity]; also spoke of cleanliness in person before going to get their endowments; a woman should not go for a week after her menses were upon her; a man should not have intercourse with his wife for several days; but should be clean in body and exercised in spirit previous thereto. His clothing should be changed once or twice before going there. —Historian’s Office Journal, Jan. 31, 1868″
(Devery S. Anderson. “The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History”, Signature Books, Kindle Edition location 1470-1482, bolding added for emphasis)

From 1877:
“We herein embody a few instructions which we wish you to strictly enjoin upon the brethren and sisters who come to the Temple to officiate for themselves or their friends: Those who wish to receive endowments for themselves or friends should be provided with oil or means to purchase it. The sisters should be provided with two or three white skirts and the brethren should have their garments to button from the back, clear round and up the front, and skirts made to reach down to the knees or a little below or one may be pieced to this length for the occasion. Before the brethren or sisters go into the Temple to receive their endowments; they must wash themselves all over, perfectly clean, so as to enter the Temple clean. Men and women should have no sexual intercourse for a week or more previous to their going into the Temple to receive their endowments. —Brigham Young, John W. Young, Wilford Woodruff, Erastus Snow, and Brigham Young Jr. to Bishops, Jan. 13, 1877″
(Ibid, location 1649-1651, bolding added for emphasis)

Today, no such restrictions exist.

33) During his earthly ministry Jesus Christ was not only married but also a polygamist in order to fulfill all righteousness in modeling and demonstrating the Plan of Salvation for us – acts which eventually lead to His persecution and crucifixion.
This doctrinal principle was clearly taught in a  discourse by Mormon Apostle, Jedediah M. Grant in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle on Aug. 7, 1853:

The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion was evidently based upon polygamy, according to the testimony of the philosophers who rose in that age. A belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were “Mormons”.
(Jedediah M. Grant, “Uniformity” “Journal of Discourses” 1:346)

And this teaching was validated and reaffirmed in a circa 1857, Salt Lake City address by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Orson Hyde:

“It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it. I will venture to say that if Jesus Christ were now to pass through the most pious countries in Christendom with a train of women, such as used to follow him, fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious ointment, washing his feet with tears, and wiping them with the hair of their heads and unmarried, or even married, he would be mobbed, tarred, and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a rail. What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This be witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God’s commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honour his Father’s law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Saviour with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty. At this doctrine the long-faced hypocrite and the sanctimonious bigot will probably cry, blasphemy! Horrid perversion of God’s word! Wicked wretch! He is not fit to live! &c, &c. But the wise and reflecting will consider, read, and pray. If God be not our Father, grandfather, or great grandfather, or some kind of a father in reality, in deed and in truth, why are we taught to say, “Our Father who art in heaven?” How much soever of holy horror this doctrine may excite in persons not impregnated with the blood of Christ, and whose minds are consequently dark and benighted, it may excite still more when they are told that if none of the natural blood of Christ flows in their veins, they are not the chosen or elect of God. Object not, therefore too strongly against the marriage of Christ, but remember that in the last days, secret and hidden things must come to light, and that your life also (which is the blood) is hid with Christ in God.”
(Orson Hyde, “Man the Head of Woman—Kingdom of God—The Seed of Christ—Polygamy—Society in Utah”, “Journal of Discourses” 4:259)

What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This be witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God’s commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honor his Father’s law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Savior with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty.
(Ibid, p.260)

But today, hardly a peep is said about this essential aspect of fulfilling all righteousness by obedience to the Plan of Salvation. And so it goes: swish, swish, swish when polygamy is a requirement of the gospel, the doctrine is taught. But should the requirement suddenly change – by say, Official Declaration 1 in 1890, for example – then swish, swish, swish it goes right into the dustbin.  Thus the only certainty in Mormonism is that it’s sure to change. And into the rubbish bin goes what was once essential doctrine it lands in the pile marked “heresy.”

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the sixth in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

24) God has always been God.
Originally the gospel truth in Mormonism about God was that He was always God. Psalms 90:2 and Moroni 8:18 reflect this and Missionaries taught this truth about God for several years. For example, the 1835 Lectures on Faith, Lecture three clearly states:

The Lectures on Faith, Lecture 3
13. First, he was God before the world was created, and the same God he was after it was created…

15. Thirdly, he does not change, neither does he vary; but he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday, today, and forever; and his course is one eternal round, without variation.

And the immutability of God was consistently still reaffirmed in the other unique Mormon scripture of the day. Specifically:

“God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
(Moroni 8:18)

“For behold, I am god; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
(2 Nephi 27:23)

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
(2 Nephi 29:9)

“For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever , and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?”
(Mormon 9:9)

“And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchanging Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”
(Mormon 9:19)

“For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.”
(Moroni 7:22)

“The Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity…”
(Mosiah 3:5)

“By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them.”
(D&C 20:17, 1830)

“From eternity to eternity he is the same and years never fail…”
(D&C 76:4, February 16, 1832) 

But this doctrine was dramatically changed by Joseph Smith in 1844 in both the King Follett Sermon and the Sermon Grove. Consider this excerpt from the former:

“God himself WAS ONCE AS WE ARE NOW, AND IS AN EXALTED MAN, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another.”

“In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I AM GOING TO TELL YOU HOW GOD CAME TO BE GOD. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US; YEA, THAT GOD HIMSELF, THE FATHER OF US ALL, DWELT ON AN EARTH, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible”
(see “The King Follett Sermon”, Ensign magazine, April 1971; caps added for emphasis)

25) The superiority of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible over the KJV Bible.
It’s clear that Joseph Smith full intended his “inspired” translation of the Bible – known as “The Joseph Smith Translation” (JST) in the LdS Church – to displace the King James Version (KJV) when it was completed. And, yes, he did say that it was completed – not just once but twice. First, he wrote this in his personal journal, “I completed the translation and review of the New Testament, on the 2nd of July, 1833, and sealed it up; no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion” (History of the Church, vol. 1, p.324)

Then, in a letter dated July 2, 1833, signed by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and F. G. Williams, the following statement is found:  “We this day finished the translation of the Scriptures, for which we return gratitude to our Heavenly Father …”
(History of the Church, vol. 1, p.368)

Further, unique Mormon scripture is filled with commandment after commandment that exalts the JST over all other English translations of the Bible and stressing the importance of its publication and distribution:

“… I have commanded you to organize yourselves, even to shinelah [print] my words, the fulness of my scriptures …”
(Doctrine & Covenants, 104:58)

“…. the second lot … shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures … “
(Doctrine & Covenants, 94:10)

“…. hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph,… and publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth”
(Doctrine & Covenants, 124:89)

Further, as late as the 1980s, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie testified, the JST is “a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Doctrines of the Restoration: Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie”, ed. Mark L. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989, p.289)

Finally, the JST translation published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka, “RLDS” now known as The Community of Christ, aka “CoC”) has been validated by LdS Scholars. Thus Brigham Young’s original claim that it was maliciously corrupted by Emma Smith and the RLDS has been completely discredited. This was the conclusion of LdS Church Scholars, Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews who were hand-picked by the General Authorities of the LdS Church. Robert J. Matthews, the head of the LdS Team stated in the April 1977 issue of the official LdS Church publication “New Era”:

“…research in the past few years with the original manuscripts has indicated that the Inspired Version of the Bible, published by the RLDS church, is an accurate representation of the sense of the original manuscripts prepared by Joseph Smith and his scribes. Furthermore, it seems to be increasing in use and acceptance in our church today.”
(“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Apr 1977, p.46)

And elsewhere Matthews said:

“I have examined the original manuscript carefully, comparing every word with its published counterpart, and I feel that the printed editions by the RLDS church are correct and careful representations of the Prophet’s work.”
(Matthews, Robert J., “A Bible! A Bible!”, Ensign, January 1987; p. 90)

And yet despite all this, and in defiance of claimed commandments via revelations from God in their own scripture, the modern LdS Church continues to use the KJV Bible rather than the JST. This, despite the fact that other Mormon Denominations (such as the aforementioned RLDS/CoC) have made the JST their chosen, preferred translation for their churches. Still, into the dustbin, the JST goes! It makes no sense, does it?

Room in Johnson home where Joseph Smith worked on The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

26) God’s uniqueness lowered.
Mormonism originally taught that there is only one true Lord Almighty God as the Bible does:

And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.”
(The Book of Mormon, Alma 11:26-29)

“Fear ye not; neither be afraid. Have not I told thee from that time and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.”
(Isa 44:8 Joseph Smith Translation) 

“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and an everlasting King; at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
(Jeremiah 10:10-11 Joseph Smith Translation) 

However, after the aforementioned King Follet Sermon and Sermon in the Grove, Alma 11:26-31 was changed to teaching that there are many, many, many Gods – an infinite progression of gods. This planet’s God, Elohim, even has Gods above Him.

Consider Mormon Apostle, Orson Pratt in 1854:

The Gods who dwell in the Heaven from which our spirits came, are beings who have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state. Their terrestrial world was redeemed, and glorified. and made a Heaven: their terrestrial bodies, after suffering death, were redeemed, and glorified, and made Gods. And thus, as their world was exalted from a temporal to an eternal state, they were exalted also, from fallen men to Celestial Gods to inhabit their Heaven forever and ever.
(Orson Pratt, “The Seer”)

And Mormon Apostle, Milton R. Hunter in 1945:

No prophet of record gave more complete and forceful explanations of the doctrine that men may become Gods than did the American Prophet, and, furthermore, he definitely pointed the course which men must follow. A small portion of his teachings is as follows:

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. . . .

They shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? “Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself.”

So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all of his children.  Thus we do not become Godlike in this world, nor Gods in the world to come, through any miraculous or sudden gift, but only through the slow process of natural growth brought about as a result of righteous living. Some people may think that when they die they will instantaneously get rid of all their bad habits and become purified. Such is not the case. We can become purified in this world, and the same holds true in the next life, only through repentance; that is, overcoming our faults and sins and replacing them with virtues. Charles W. Penrose sustains these thoughts in the following words: “Men become like God not by some supernatural or sudden change, either in this world or another, but by the natural development of the divinity within. Time, circumstances, and the necessary intelligence are all that are required.
(Milton R. Hunter, “The Gospel Through the Ages”, p.116, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition)

And, finally, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie in 1966:

Commonly we are in the habit of considering man as a human being only and stopping there. Actually the gospel perspective is far broader. In the language of Adam, two of the names of God the Father are, Man of Holiness, and Man of Counsel (Moses 6:57; 7:35); that is, God is a holy Man, a Man who is perfect in counsel. All beings who are his offspring, who are members of his family, are also men. This applies to the pre-existent spirits, including those who rebelled and were cast out with Lucifer to suffer eternally as sons of perdition (Isa. 14:16); to embodied spirits living on earth as mortal men; to translated beings such as those who are awaiting the day of their resurrection; and to the beings whom we call angels, beings who either as spirits or having tangible bodies are sent as messengers to minister to mortal men.

Even mortal man has a higher status than a finite perspective sometimes gives him. Speaking of such earth-bound creatures the scriptures say: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. 8:4-5.) The marginal reading, giving a more accurate translation, reads: “Thou hast made him but little lower than God [meaning Elohim].” Man and God are of the same race, and it is within the power of righteous man to become like his Father, that is to become a holy Man, a Man of Holiness.
(Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine (Second Edition, 1966)”, p.334)

“The Gospel Through the Ages” by Milton R. Hunter, pp.114-115 (click on image to zoom)

27) Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are/were Polygamists.
Once Joseph Smith lowered God the Father to be only an exalted human male, and that he ( Smith) could become also a god, it came as no surprise when Mormon leaders started teaching that God the Father was married to a Goddess. After Brigham Young’s public announcement in 1852 that the LDS were practicing polygamy, he defended their practice by teaching that even Jesus Himself was a polygamist. Not surprisingly Brigham endorsed the teaching that Heavenly Father was also a polygamist, and allowed several of his under officers and some others to teach such:

For example, on October 6, 1854,  Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde stated,

How was it with Mary and Martha, and other women that followed him [that is, Christ]? In old times, and it is common in this day, the women, even as Sarah, called their husbands Lord; the word Lord is tantamount to husband in some languages, master, lord, husband, are about synonymous… When Mary of old came to the sepulchre on the first day of the week, instead of finding Jesus she saw two angels in white, ‘And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?’ She said unto them,’ Because they have taken away my Lord,’ or husband, ‘and I know not where they have laid him.’ And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.’ Is there not here manifested the affections of a wife. These words speak the kindred ties and sympathies that are common to that relation of husband and wife…

Now there was actually a marriage; and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified.
(Orson Hyde, “The Marriage Relations” Journal of Discourses 2:81-82)

And in the same year, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt concurred:

“One thing is certain, that there were several holy women that greatly loved Jesus — such as Mary, and Martha her sister, and Mary Magdalene; and Jesus greatly loved them, and associated with them much; and when He arose from the dead, instead of showing Himself to His chosen witnesses, the Apostles, He appeared first to these women, or at least to one of them — namely, Mary Magdalene. Now it would be natural for a husband in the resurrection to appear first to his own dear wives, and afterwards show himself to his other friends. If all the acts of Jesus were written, we no doubt should learn that these beloved women were His wives”
(Orson Pratt, “The Seer”, p.159).

“We have now clearly shown that God, the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity, by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born… We have also proved most clearly that the Son followed the example of his Father, and became the great Bridegroom to whom kings’ daughters and many honorable Wives to be married.”
(Ibid, p.172)

A few years later on July 22, 1883, future LdS President, Wilford Woodruff recorded the words of Joseph F. Smith in his journal. At the time Woodruff was an LDS apostle while Smith was a member of the First Presidency serving as the second counselor to President John Taylor. Woodruff wrote:

Evening Meeting. Prayer By E Stephenson. Joseph F Smith spoke One hour & 25 M. He spoke upon the Marriage in Cana at Galilee. He thought Jesus was the Bridgegroom and Mary & Martha the brides. He also refered to Luke 10 ch. 38 to 42 verse, Also John 11 ch. 2 & 5 vers John 12 Ch 3d vers, John 20 8 to 18. Joseph Smith spoke upon these passages to show that Mary & Martha manifested much Closer relationship than Merely A Believer which looks Consistet. He did not think that Jesus who decended throug Poligamous families from Abraham down & who fulfilled all the Law even baptism by immersion would have lived and died without being married.
(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal 8:187, July 22, 1883, spelling left intact as cited on the Mormonism Research Ministry website)

28) Mormonism’s early Trinitarianism
The Book of Mormon does indeed state plainly that One God consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that is, the Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, albeit with a strong modalistic skew. Here are some key passages with caps added for emphasis:

“And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, UNTO THE FATHER, AND UNTO THE SON, AND UNTO THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH ARE ONE GOD, in a state of happiness which hath no end.”
(Mormon 7:7)

“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, THIS IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, AND THE ONLY AND TRUE DOCTRINE OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH IS ONE GOD, WITHOUT END. Amen.”
(2 Nephi 31:21)

“And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST ARE ONE; AND I (Jesus) AM IN THE FATHER, AND THE FATHER IN ME, AND THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE.”
(3 Nephi 11:27)

“And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for THERE IS A GOD [notice: singular not plural], and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.”
(2 Nephi 2:14)

“For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, IF GOD [again, notice: singular not plural] being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?”
(Jacob 4:9)

…Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. AND THE HONOR BE TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH IS ONE GOD. Amen.
(Testimony of Three Witnesses)

And then there’s this from an official LdS Church publication from 1832:

“Through Christ we understand the terms on which God will show favour and grace to the world, and by him we have ground of a PARRESIA access with freedom and boldness unto God. On his account we may hope not only for grace to subdue our sins, resist temptations, conquer the devil and the world; but having ’fought this good fight, and finished our course by patient continuance in well doing, we may justly look for glory, honor, and immortality,’ and that ‘crown of righteousness which is laid up for those who wait in faith,’ holiness, and humility, for the appearance of Christ from heaven. Now what things can there be of greater moment and importance for men to know, or God to reveal, than the nature of God and ourselves the state and condition of our souls, the only way to avoid eternal misery and enjoy everlasting bliss!

“The Scriptures discover not only matters of importance, but of the greatest depth and mysteriousness. There are many wonderful things in the law of God, things we may admire, but are never able to comprehend. Such are the eternal purposes and decrees of God, THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, the incarnation of the Son of God, and the manner of the operation of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men, which are all things of great weight and moment for us to understand and believe that they are, and yet may be unsearchable to our reason, as to the particular manner of them.”
(Joseph Smith, Jr. (Editor), “The Evening And Morning Star”, Vol. I, INDEPENDENCE, MO. JULY, 1832. No. 2. page 12, caps emphasis mine)

But today’s LdS Church denounces any form of the Trinity in the loudest, most strident terms. Consider this from Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie:

“This first and chief heresy of a now fallen and decadent Christianity—and truly it is the father of all heresies—swept through all of the congregations of true believers in the early centuries of the Christian era; it pertained then and pertains now to the nature and kind of being that God is. It was the doctrine, adapted from Gnosticism, that changed Christianity from the religion in which men worshipped a personal God, in whose image man is made (Gen. 1:26-27; James 3:9; Mosiah 7:27; Ether 3:15; D&C 20:18; Moses 6:8-9), into a religion in which men worshipped a spirit essence called the Trinity. This new God, no longer a personal Father, no longer a personage of tabernacle (D&C 130:22), became an incomprehensible three-in-one spirit essence that filled the immensity of space. The adoption of this false doctrine about God effectively destroyed true worship among men and ushered in the age of universal apostasy”
(Mark L. McConkie (Editor), “Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie”, pp.69-70)

1830 Mormonism v. Modern Mormonism.

29)  “Divine Investiture” is well buried, as in never clearly identified as “The Doctrine of Divine Investiture.”
Here’s an explanation of this doctrine from a Latter-day Saint source:

Neal A. Maxwell summarizes the concept:

Divine investiture is defined as that condition in which –in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. … Thus. .. Jesus Christ spoke and ministered and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority and Godship is concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.”

The concept was first explained in a 1916 First Presidency message drafted by James Talmage: “The Father and the Son’: A Doctrinal Exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve”. It was “subsequently championed by Joseph Fielding Smith and, to a much greater extent, by his son-in-law.”

It is well known that the 1916 doctrinal exposition “came about as a response to questions about the Godhead.” Members were confused about conflicting views of God between the Lectures on Faith, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and later important sources of doctrine. The doctrine of divine investiture is seen by non-Mormons as an effort to account for the modalism of the Book of Mormon, wherein the person of the Father is indistinguishable from the person of the Son, as well as to account for tension heightened by the Elohim/Jehovah distinction, a convention which, like the divine investiture concept, was created in 1916. That the Son, being Jehovah in the Old Testament, demands and accepts prayer and worship, would be awkward for LDS theology, since the Father is the one who is to be worshiped and prayed to.

Mormons Ari D. Bruening and David L. Paulsen (BYU professor) both admit this was a new doctrine, although both disagree that it was needed to reconcile Book of Mormon passages:

“None of these doctrines, excepting perhaps divine investiture of authority, was new at the time [1916]. Divine investiture of authority is the process by which the Father allows the Son or the Holy Ghost to speak in his name, as if the Son or the Holy Ghost were the Father. This doctrine provides an interesting explanation through which to understand the apparently modalistic verses in the Book of Mormon, but it certainly is not a necessary explanation; the Book of Mormon itself describes Christ as creator (see Mosiah 3:8) and as father of those who abide in the gospel (see Mosiah 15:10–11). Thus, the principle of divine investiture of authority was a new doctrine, but it was certainly not a doctrine needed to reconcile ‘contradictory Book of Mormon passages.'”

Mormon Jeffrey D. Giliam writes:

“This principle [of divine investiture] was obviously invented (at least partially) to help harmonize the doctrine that Christ is Jehovah. Thus Christ can call himself the Father whenever he wants. This doctrine has been taken to the extreme wherein we now say that all revelation since the fall of Adam has come through the Son and not the Father. If the Father wants to reveal something, He send[s] Jesus to do it (again). If the Father appears to someone, it is only to introduce Jesus and let him take over.”
(MormonWiki, “Divine Investiture”)

In other words, the doctrine was originally developed in Mormonism as an attempt to reconcile Joseph Smith’s original modalistic trinitarian with the hedonistic polytheism which came later, and then that historic reality was denied. And what better way to deny it than to just sweep it in the dustbin? So there it goes into the dustbin and right down the memory hole as if it never happened at all.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.”
(Proverbs 25:11 NKJV)

by Michael Flournoy and Fred W. Anson
In part one of this series we considered some of the harsh “scorched earth” methods, behaviors, and tactics that Christian Mormon Critics often engage in that either drive Mormons deeper into the LDS Church or ensures that when they leave it they go, Atheist, Pagan, whatever rather than anything Christian. 

In response, we outlined and considered a better way: God’s way: The way that we see Evangelism modeled in the New Testament. That model we summarized in the following five concepts:  

1. Love them
2. Listen
3. Promote the good they do
4. Curb your ego
5. Keep it positive

In Part One we briefly mentioned how in Mormon Culture, orthopraxy (the correct practice of what one believes) trumps orthodoxy (correct belief). In other words, Mormons won’t care about what you believe and why it’s better than what they already believe until they see that you care about them as a person. Treat them badly and no matter how right you are, they won’t listen and they won’t care.  

So that’s the concept and theory, now let’s talk about how to actually do in the real world, shall we? Let’s do orthopraxy! 

Keepin’ it Real: The Orthopraxy of Paul
Here’s how Paul described his approach in scripture: 

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
(1 Corinthians 9:20-23 ESV)

Paul didn’t shun outsiders. He embraced them to the point of joining their tribe, in a sense. His methods are bound to make my Evangelical counterparts uncomfortable, but it’s brilliant. It destroys the “us vs them” mentality.

This puts the Christian on the same playing field as the Latter-day Saint. It makes them a friend instead of a foe. It was this type of believer that had the greatest impact on article author Michael Flournoy’s journey from Mormonism to grace. 

In contrast, other Christians have told us that they refuse to respect a false religion. We’re not suggesting they should. However, there’s a difference between respecting falsehood and being respectful in dialogue.

Do the Mormons in your life know you love them? When was the last time you jumped to a Mormon’s defense when you saw them being mistreated? When was the last time you offered them an encouraging word? When was the last time you prayed for them by name and asked God’s mercy upon them? Are you preaching in a spirit of rivalry or out of love? When was the last time you challenged a fellow Evangelical for Mormon Bashing Latter-day Saints? 

Keepin’ it Real: The Orthopraxy of Jesus
Whenever we hear Christians speculate how Jesus would have evangelized Mormon we tell them that we already know because He showed in scripture. Let us ask you this, who does this sound like? 

    • They’re heretics yet they claim that they are the only true and living church.
    • They claim that all other churches are apostate.
    • The founding of their religion was strongly opposed, criticized, and denounced by the established church at that time.
    • Many members claim to be from the House of Joseph – descendants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
    • They have a view of God that differs from the larger mainstream orthodox church’s view.
    • They believe in pre-existence.
    • They claim that the current church’s scripture is corrupt – deliberately infused with an apostate agenda. That is, it’s truth intermingled with the vain philosophies of men, not God.
    • They claim to be the sole possessors of the original, pure and uncorrupted Bible – a bible which discards books in the established church’s canon, and that is very different on key points of doctrine relative to that canon.
    • They have additional sacred texts which, while not formally canonized, maintain a quasi-canonical status.
    • Critics claim that portions of their theology is syncretistic, incorporating outside cultures and religions.
    • They have their own priesthood system.
    • They have a temple system that deviates strongly from the Levitical system given in the bible.
    • They claim that their temple, rather than the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, is the correct place set apart by God for special ceremonies and worship.
    • Outside critics and scholars throughout history have disputed the veracity and historicity claims of their scripture as well as their origin story.

They, of course, are the Samaritans of Christ’s day – who did you think we were talking about? But joking aside, it’s not hard to see how much the Samaritanism of Christ’s day parallels today’s Mormonism. And in the fourth chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus, using the Mormons of His day, models for us how to reach Mormons of our own. So, let’s compare how Christ ministered to the Mormons of His day with the new model that was given in Part One, shall we? 

1. Love them
If there’s anything that we’ve learned in Mormon Studies, it’s that many Evangelicals love, love, love to Mormon Bash. Even if what they’re saying is bigoted, prejudiced, or downright wrong, bash they will – you know, almost as much as the Jews of Jesus’ day loved to bash Samaritans. Consider this:

Later authorities [such as Rabbi Jehuda the Holy a 3rd Century Rabbi] again reproach them [the Samaritans] with falsification of the Pentateuch, charge them with worshipping a dove, and even when, on further inquiry, they absolve them from this accusation, ascribe their excessive veneration for Mount Gerizim to the circumstance that they worshipped the idols which Jacob had buried under the oak at Shechem. To the same hatred, caused by national persecution, we must impute such expressions as that he, whose hospitality receives a foreigner, has himself to blame if his children have to go into captivity. The expression, ‘the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans,’  finds its exact counterpart in this: ‘May I never set eyes on a Samaritan;’ or else, ‘May I never be thrown into company with him!’
(Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”In Judæa and through Samaria – a Sketch of Samaritan History and Theology – Jews and Samaritans chapter) 

Yet in the face of this extreme – one might even say, excessive – bigotry and prejudice we see Jesus showing this morality challenged, untrusting, skeptical Samaritan woman love, respect, and acceptance. Put yourself in her place as you hear these words:

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”’
(John 4:9-15 NKJV)

In the face of an ugly and sarcastic verbal “shove” from the Samaritan Woman, how did Jesus respond? He offered her a gift, He showed her love and compassion.

2. Listen
One of the most stunning aspects of Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan, to us, is His restraint. His self-control and compassionate patience in listening to this woman laying out her self-righteous religiosity convicts and challenges me:

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
(John 4:16-20 NKJV) 

Wouldn’t Jesus have been well within His rights to blast away both at the woman’s compromised morality and her horrible theology at this point?  And really what could she do but just sit there and take it? After all, she was dead wrong and He was absolutely right, correct?  Instead, what did He do? He listened. Yes, He also spoke the truth but He did so in a spirit of love and compassion, not condemnation. He did as He has taught us: He turned the other cheek (see Matthew 5:38-40) and turned away wrath with a gentle answer (see Proverbs 15:1)

3. Promote the good they do
Notice Christ’s response in the face of the religious dogma that the Samaritan woman spews at him in the following exchange:

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:19-24 NKJV) 

Did you see that? Wouldn’t Christ have been perfectly justified in launching into an apologetic about how the false temple of Samaritanism on Mount Gerizim was unbiblical and the seat of, and the idol for, their false religion at this point? Wouldn’t He have been right in pressing in on her ignorance regarding what scripture really says about true and proper Temple worship?  But what does He do instead? He commends her. He implicitly commends her for her devotion to God in the midst of her ignorance. He commends her for being a true worshiper who is being sought by God. Yes, He commends her for her love of the truth. He found the good in the midst of the bad and promoted it.

In fact, this is a common pattern that we see throughout the Bible when it comes to how Christ presents the Samaritans. Yes, they were heretics. Yes, they were in a cult. Yes, they were following compromised scripture, false prophets, and worshiping in a false temple that was in the wrong place according to God’s Word. But even in the midst of this sick, dysfunctional mess, how does Jesus so often speak of them in public? Answer: They’re the-wrong-in-orthodoxy, but right-in-orthopraxy good guys – at least as compared to the right-in-orthodoxy, but wrong in orthopraxy guys that are in front of Him, that is.

Still, doubt us? Then lest us give you these three words: The Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37). And let us pose just one question: Who was the good guy in that story, the two biblically orthodox, mainstream religious guys (the Priest and the Levite) or the fringe heretic (the Samaritan)? We rest our case.

4. Curb your ego
What comes next in this exchange is the real stunner to me:

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
(John 4:25-26 NKJV) 

And there it is, Christ’s first explicit declaration that He is the Messiah in the gospels. To a woman. A sinful woman. A half-breed Jewish/Gentile mongrel of the type hated by His people. A sinful mongrel who was born into the religious cult that she is still ensnared in.

Now, given that, wouldn’t the egotist have lead with the “little” fact that they are the Chosen One? Wouldn’t they have presented their credentials to gain the advantage? When she went into her previous tirade about the Temple and how wrong those apostate Jews are versus right we true God worshiping Samaritan, if you were Jesus wouldn’t you have been tempted to say, “Well, that’s all well and good, but hey lady, I’m the Messiah! How do you like them apples, little girl?” We confess, to our shame, that we probably would have.

But not Jesus, he checked His ego at the door and left it there. Yes, that’s right, God Almighty, Lord of the Universe, checked His ego at the door for the sake and out of His love for the Samaritan woman that was right in front of him. One word, and it falls far short: Wow!

5. Keep it positive
Rewind the tape again and consider how Christ first presented His message to the Samaritan woman: He offered her a gift, living water. He knew her need and met her exactly where she was at right then and there – physically (thirsty), spiritually (ensnared in a false religion), and emotionally (looking for love in all the wrong places). And what did He offer her? He offered her hope and life. Through the Messiah (Himself) He offered a way out.

Friend, is this the way that Christ first approached you? It’s sure the way that He approached us – Michael, the militant Mormon Apologist, and Fred the militant Atheist. And we are hardly unique, are we? After all, doesn’t Paul tell us that’s it’s the patience and kindness of God that leads to repentance (see Romans 2:4)?

One thing that we like about “The Chosen” TV series – in fact, maybe the thing we like most about it – is how Christ is portrayed as a genuinely warm, approachable, and attractive person. One can’t help but feel drawn to Him and His message as He is presented in this series. Do you think that real historic Jesus was any different? We don’t. As the saying goes, which draws more flies: Honey or vinegar? Based on your own reading of the gospels do you think that Jesus was vinegar or honey to those who heard His voice? Let’s consider what the text actually says in light of that hovering question, shall we?

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:34-42 NKJV) 

Again for emphasis, “we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world”. Friend do you think that Christ’s words were honey or vinegar to these Samaritans? Were they honey or vinegar to you when He called you? For Michael, the militant Mormon Apologist and Fred, the militant Atheist, those words were honey in the midst of vinegar. We were drawn to Christ because He was far, far, far more attractive than what we currently had. Case in point: Fred is fond of saying that Atheism, for him, was like ordering a pizza and eating the box instead of the pizza. And Michael has said similar things about the Mormonism that was crushing him under the weight of ordinance, commandments, and constant, unrelenting unworthiness.

So my Mormon Bashing Evangelical friend, we will end this with this: Are you Christ to your Mormon friends and family members? Are you honey or vinegar to your Mormon friends and family? We encourage and exhort you: Be Jesus. Be honey. Be the Good Samaritan to the Samaritans. Be a Mormon in order to win Mormons.

An artistic, moving, and powerful depiction of the Woman at the Well story from “The Chosen” TV Series. (click to view)

 About the Authors
Michael “The Ex-Mormon Apologist” 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.

Fred W. Anson is the founder and publishing editor of the Beggar’s Bread website, which features a rich potpourri of articles on Christianity with a recurring emphasis on Mormon studies. Fred is also the administrator of several Internet discussion groups and communities, including several Mormon-centric groups, including two Facebook Support Groups for Ex-Mormons (Ex-Mormon Christians, and Ex-Mormon Christians Manhood Quorum). Raised in the Nazarene Church, Fred later became an Atheist but then returned to the Christian faith during the Jesus Movement in 1976. 

Why the Book of Mormon Jesus isn’t the Christ of the Bible

by Susan Grape
There are three reasons why the Jesus in the Book of Mormon is not the Christ of the Bible:

  1. The biblical history of the tribes of Israel, and the claims of the LDS1 position
  2. Jesus descending out of heaven to the Americas after his Ascension
  3. The character of the Jesus in the Bible vs. the Jesus in 3 Nephi


1. The biblical history of the tribes of Israel, and the claims of the LDS position
Israel’s history after Solomon’s reign
As a consequence of Solomon’s idolatry in his later years, the nation split apart. The northern kingdom, “Israel,” was torn from the rule of Solomon’s descendants and consisted of ten tribes. The southern kingdom, “Judah,” was left for his line to rule and consisted of two tribes. (1 Kings 11:26-39)

The northern kingdom would have had God’s blessing if their king and the ten tribes remained faithful, but Jeroboam did the opposite of faithfulness by immediately erecting a pagan altar with pagan priests to attend it (1 Kings 12:25-33). Within four centuries Israel and Judah became so idolatrous, that Israel was exiled in 722BC by the Assyrian Empire, and Judah was exiled by the Babylonian Empire around 588BC. The purpose of Judah’s exile was to purge idolatry and preserve the righteous by removing them from Jerusalem to avoid the destruction of the conquering nation. (Jeremiah 24)

Both nations were exiled within the boundaries of Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied among them (Ezekiel 4:1-7) concerning God’s promise of restoring Israel after Judah’s 70-year captivity. He proclaimed the twelve tribes would rise up together, united (Ezek. 37:1-14) and return to the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 36) as one nation, under one king (Ezek. 37:15-24).2

Ezra however, recorded that only 52,000 men returned from three tribes, so where were the others? Many supposed the missing tribes were absorbed into the cultures they were exiled in; that is until the indigenous peoples in the Americas were discovered. A new theory developed that assumed Native Americans were descendants of the tribes of Israel.

This theory began to fade away as the sciences of linguistics, migration, and genetics gave concrete evidence that Native Americans were not of Israelite origin. Sometimes the sciences aren’t trusted because they aren’t divine revelation; however, the Bible is, and it divinely reveals what befell the tribes.

What happened to the tribes after Solomon’s reign?
Usually, populations increase as time goes by; but this did not happen with Israel or Judah:

  • Wars were the biggest reason for the population reduction of Israel. (2 Chron. 13:13-17)
  • The northern kingdom lost people, even entire tribes to Judah until they only had 10,000 soldiers left when Assyria invaded them. (2 Chron. 11:13-15, cf. 16-17, 12:7; 15:9-15; 17:14-19; 1 Kings 12:24; 2 Kings 13:7)
  • Even though those who joined Judah caused Judah’s population to increase, by the time of Babylon’s last invasion, several devastating wars had reduced its numbers by the hundreds of thousands. (2 Kings 24:3-4; 10-15; 2 Chron. 24:23-24 with 25:5; 2 Chron. 28:5-6; Joel)

After the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles, scattered tribes did not become geographically lost

    • Some were never deported. (Jer. 39:10; 40:7; 2 Kings 25:22; 2 Chron. 30:1-6, 10-11, 18; 31:1 1 Chron. 4:41-43
    • Two-thirds of those in Jerusalem died during Babylon’s second deportation. They died at other times as well: Israel, 2 Kings 13:7; and Judah, Ezekiel 5:11-12; 6:8-10.
    • Some, not listed in Ezra, returned at different times than Ezra’s, Zerubbabel’s, and Nehemiah’s groups did. (1 Chron. 9:1-3)
    • The Book of Esther records where the locations of the exiles were; and, where they remained. (Esther 1:1, 3:6-15; 8:7-14; 9:16-32)3
    • From Esther’s era until the New Testament period, the Bible reveals that they continued to migrate/flee all around the Mediterranean. Acts 2:5-12; 13:5-6, 14-15; 14:1; 16:1-, 14; 17:1-2, 10, 16-17; 21:2; James 1:1.


H
ow the lost tribe theory in the Book of Mormon claims a relationship to the tribes of Israel
The Book of Mormon’s narrative begins around 600 BC., with the story of Lehi, and his remnant that left Jerusalem after Babylon’s first exile. It is one thing for a small group of Jews to become isolated in a remote area. It is quite another story when the claim is that God commanded a person to leave Jerusalem and go to a new “land of promise.” This parting from Biblical principle and history begins in 1 Nephi 1:4:

“For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days)…”

Lehi (and family) were living in Jerusalem when Zedekiah was king! Lehi was righteous, rich and had trained skills (1 Nephi 1:1, 15; 2:4; 1 1:2-3, 1:16-17) His relative Laban was so wealthy, he owned a guarded treasury house, was a man of valor and an officer (1 Nephi 4:20; 3:31-4:1, 8-9) Nephi was highly skilled (2 Nephi 5:15-17)

But, the residents of Jerusalem during the early reign of Zedekiah were poor, unskilled, and unrighteous! Why? During the previous king’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar deported all the noble, all military officers, all who were strong for war, and all craftsmen and smiths—10,000, with their families to Babylon, leaving only the “unrighteous” poor behind (2 Kings 24:8-18; Jer. 29:6).

Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah on the throne after this deportation.

The people that the Book of Mormon claims were at Jerusalem were there at the wrong time. They fail authenticity.

In this “land of promise” – that is, the Americas, starting around 588 BC (1 Nephi 2:11-20) – Lehi’s descendants grew and split into two nations and were ruled by their own kings. By 400 AD, one nation was wiped out of existence, and the other utterly lost its faith, language, and identity.

They likewise fail authenticity, for this defies God’s promise of preservation; and, restoration His reuniting the twelve tribes as one nation under one king on the mountains of Israel4 (Ezekiel; 36, note: vv. 8-11, 24, 33; 37:1-24; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Isaiah 10:20-22, 51:11; Daniel 9, note: vv. 2, 24-25). Those who remained in foreign lands never formed another nation because they were ethnically and spiritually linked to that one nation, and journeyed there if possible to attend the high festivals. (Acts 2:5-12)

This map of the Persian Empire shows that the tribes were never really lost. Some isolated pockets of Jews such as the modern expatriate communities in India and Africa have been confirmed as Jews. Their locations are exactly where the Book of Esther says their ancestors were deported to during the exile (see Esther 1:1; 3:6-15; 8:7-14; 9:16-32). (click on image to read the Wikipedia article about these recently found lost tribes)


What about the “other sheep?” (John 10:16)
Latter-day Saints claim that Jesus had to preach to these alleged tribes so they could audibly hear his voice in order to become one with those in Jerusalem:

“Other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice…” (John 10:16)
”… And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand…and they all shall have one shepherd.” (Ezekiel 37:16,24)
“… But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd…” (3 Nephi 16:3)

John 10:16 does not correlate to 3 Nephi 16:3 because it is based on Isaiah 56:1-115 not the Ezekiel passage. It’s about the blind man Jesus healed that the false shepherds, the Pharisees threw out of the synagogue; and, their failure to tend the sheep (John 9:35-10:18). Jesus, therefore, was not privately instructing His disciples how “lost” Israelites must literally hear His voice! Instead, He was rebuking the Pharisees for hindering the Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah; and the Gentiles because they turned the Court of the Gentiles into a marketplace (John 2:13-16; Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:45-46, cf. Isaiah 56:7). In verse 16, Jesus referenced Isaiah 56:8 to the Pharisees: “The Lord God which gathereth the out casts of Israel saith, ‘Yet will I gather others to him, besides those that are gathered to him’.”

Due to their rejection of Him and bad shepherding, Jesus was rejecting their leadership. He would now be the True Shepherd and unite the “others”—believing Gentiles (John 2:12-16, 3:16) with the “out casts of Israel”—those thrown out of the synagogue. All the “sheep” in both folds (Acts 2:5-12; Acts chap. 10) would now be one fold. (Eph. 2:11-19)

2. Jesus descending out of heaven to the Americas after his Ascension6
3 Nephi 11:8-12 states that Jesus Christ bodily descended “out of heaven” “after his ascension” in the same way Acts 1:9-11 describes. Then, he did such works as preaching repentance, the gospel, teaching, instituting baptism, and calling twelve disciples. (3 Nephi. 8-28)

Jesus taught, however, that it was “expedient” that He must “go away” so the Holy Spirit would come and “guide them into all truth.” (John 16:7-14; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3). So after Jesus ascended, the Spirit is the one who teaches truth and glorifies Christ through:

  • Christians preaching the gospel to ALL nations through planned missionary journeys, daily witnessing, and also unplanned ways like persecution and “accidents” like Paul’s shipwreck. (Matt. 10:6-7; Matt. 28:19-20)
  • Spirit-led visions and miracles. Paul had a vision, then went to Ananias and was converted (Acts 9:3-7; 22:4-16; 26:9-18). Paul was forbidden to go to Mysia, but was beckoned in a vision by a Macedonian to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). Phillip was told by an angel to head south. After witnessing to an Ethiopian, he was miraculously taken away by the Holy Spirit to another city to preach there (Acts 8:26-40).

The redeeming work of the Son for all of Israel (and Gentiles) took place on the cross. Since His Ascension, Jesus has “sat down” (signifying His earthly work is complete) on the throne, and the Holy Spirit now reveals who Christ is.


Verses used to support the claim that Jesus left heaven after His Ascension (like 3 Nephi describes) are not proof texts for that belief
First, 1 Corinthians 15:4-7 (KJV) reads as follows:

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

Jesus did not have to descend out of heaven to show His self to the 500 because they (excluding Paul) saw Him before He ascended during the forty days He was still on earth.

Next, Revelation 1:10-18, which reads as follows:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

John saw Jesus; however, Jesus did not bodily descend out of heaven. Instead, John was “in the Spirit” and saw Jesus in an apocalyptic-style vision.

An Eastern Orthodox fresco of Paul’s Conversion on the Road to Damascus. Artist and location unknown.

Next, there’s Christ’s Post-Ascension appearance to Paul (see Acts 9:3-7; 22:6-9; and 26:12-14). Jesus appeared to Paul after His Ascension. All three accounts of Paul’s vision explicitly document what he saw:

“…suddenly there shined round about him a light from HEAVEN…heard a voice” (see Acts 9:3&4)
“…suddenly there shone from HEAVEN a great light round about…heard a voice” (see Acts 22:6&7)
“…a light from HEAVEN…heard a voice” (see Acts 26:13&14)

And Acts 9:7 adds that the men with Paul also heard the voice, but saw “no man”.

3 Nephi 11:8-12 claims:

“… as they cast their eyes up again towards heaven, behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him and they durst not open their mouths… it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them AFTER his ascension into heaven.” Then, they touched his wounds. (vv. 14-15)

This was not a vision; it was a narrative; and, it matches the description of how Christ will bodily descend out of heaven at the Second Coming in Acts 1:9-11. This is especially so because just before his descent, he avenged the blood of the saints. (3 Nephi 9:5-11).

Then there’s the word “appear/appearance” in Paul’s accounts

In the first two accounts of his vision, Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles—through Ananias. In Acts 26:12-19 Paul shortens his testimony by stating that Jesus said, “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose to make thee a witness…” (v. 16), making it sound like Jesus physically appeared and preached to him. First, verses thirteen and fourteen verify that Jesus appeared as “…a light from heaven…heard a voice”. Second, the other two accounts explain that that message was given to Paul through Ananias.

Finally, there is Acts 23:11 (KJV) which says: “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

This was more than likely a manifestation. Unlike the Mormon Jesus, the Biblical Jesus is omnipresent; and can manifest himself somewhere while His resurrected body is in heaven.  More important, this encounter lasted a few seconds to simply assure Paul; unlike the narrative in 3 Nephi, where Jesus continued his work and was there for several days.

These “appearances” of Jesus after His Ascension in the Bible were not ones of Him bodily descending, so they do not conflict with Jesus remaining in heaven “till his enemies are made his footstool” (Ps. 110:1-31 Cor. 15:25-26). The story in 3 Nephi is in opposition to this.


3. The character of the Jesus in the Bible vs. the Jesus in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon

The Biblical Jesus who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-17) is now our advocate with the Father. So, unlike the Old Testament’s era of justice and retribution, (i.e. the Flood); or, the final judgment at the Second Coming, we are now in a period of grace. This New Testament Era centers on Jesus who came to “give us life more abundantly,” therefore, mercy is prevalent until He returns. The character of the Book of Mormon Jesus is different. In 3 Nephi, before he left heaven (right after His ultimate act of grace and love—His death on the cross), the Book of Mormon Jesus is pouring out wrath in the Americas comparable to the Apocalypse:

The Book of Mormon Jesus

    1. Killed those who murdered the prophets and saints to avenge them. (3 Nephi 9:5-11)
    2. Killed multitudes for doubt (3 Ne. 8:3-4) and wickedness by burning, drowning, and burying them and their cities. (3 Nephi 9:3-11)
    3. Killed multitudes around the time of his death. (3 Nephi 9-12)
    4. After he died, many were buried in the earth. (3 Nephi 9:5-8)
    5. When the earth stopped shaking (3 Nephi 10:9) he summarized his killing and destruction to the grieving, remorseful survivors, and then told them to repent so he could heal them. (3 Nephi 9:13)
    6. Wept over them after he killed them (3 Nephi 10:4-6)

The New Testament Jesus

    1. Reserves vindication for the martyred saints until His Second Coming. (Revelation 6:9-11; 19:1-8)
    2. Called the wicked who scorned the prophets, rejected Him to His face, and successfully plotted to kill Him, “hypocrites”, and held their generation responsible for the deaths of the saints. (Matthew 23:34-36)
    3. While dying on the cross, He forgave those who physically crucified Him. (Luke 23:33-35)
    4. When He died, the earth shook and many rose from the dead. (Matthew 27:50-53)
    5. Did not kill and destroy to bring about repentance. In fact, His disciples asked Him to destroy some who rejected Him, and Jesus told them: “the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56)
    6. Wept over them after pronouncing judgment and allowed them to live. (Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 23:37)

Clearly, the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is another Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible. Mormon leaders were quite right when they said:

“In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages’”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the LdS Church, “Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads”, Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7)

“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the LdS Church, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90)

“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
(Bernard P. Brockbank, LdS Seventy, “The Living Christ”,  Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p.26)

The nutshell version of the last section of this article.

NOTES
1 Latter-day Saints (LDS); aka, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church.
2 The two sticks in Ezek. 37:15-22 are not the Book of Mormon (the stick of Joseph), and the Bible (the stick of Judah) becoming one as the LDS Church claims. Verses 18-22 explain what they are: the two divided nations! “…Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? God will make the two sticks “one stick,” and that one stick is “one nation, [not books/scrolls] in the land on the mountains of Israel and one king shall be king to them all and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”
3 Non-Biblical reference: The Works of Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Books X-XV.
4 The idea of a second promised land has been a foreign notion to Jews (and Christians) throughout history. All of the Old Testament prophets were in divine agreement that Israel’s only inheritance forever was the land of Canaan; and, that they would return to that same land promised to Abraham as one restored nation.
5 Isaiah 56:1-11 (KJV) reads as follows:

Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.
His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

6 S. Kent Brown, “When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?” in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 146–156.

About the Author
Susan Grape grew up in a non-churchgoing 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.

The gospel of Imputation v. the gospel of Amputation

“And he said unto me: Behold, there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
— 1 Nephi 14:10

by Michael Flournoy
The above verse is perhaps the truest statement in The Book of Mormon. There are only two churches: the church of God, and the church of the devil. But how do we differentiate between the two?

Doctrine and Covenants 18:5 sheds some light on this. It says: Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

In other words, the gospel and the church are fundamentally connected. Thus, a true church cannot have a false gospel and vice versa. By honing in on the gospel itself, we can determine whether a church is from God, or of the devil. It should come as no surprise, that there are only two gospels: amputation and imputation.

The gospel of amputation says we cannot be saved in sin, so we must eradicate it from our lives to be worthy. Imputation is the opposite. Instead of taking something off, it’s about putting something on, namely the righteousness of Christ. This gospel teaches that we can be saved despite our sins because Christ’s worthiness is accredited to us vicariously.

At their most basic definitions, one gospel says man participates in his salvation, the other says we do not. Thus, the truth cannot exist outside these dimensions, and it cannot be a combination of the two as that would be a contradiction.

The Amputation Heresy
A Latter-day Saint might argue that their covenants and ordinances place them outside the bounds of amputation theology. However, there are two types of sin. There are sins of omission and commission, so in order to amputate sin from our lives, not only must we stop doing bad things, we must stop not doing good things. Since LDS covenants are considered good things that are required to gain the presence of Heavenly Father, they fall directly in line with amputation.

Some Latter-day Saints have adopted the idea that imputation occurs at some point in their journey to exaltation, like at baptism. The problem with this is Jesus is an infinite being of infinite righteousness, and infinity can’t be divided. The moment Jesus gives us any percentage of His righteousness, He gives it all. So, if imputation occurs at baptism it negates the need for any ordinances afterward. To say otherwise is to deny the total worthiness of Christ.

Even if Latter-day Saints embrace imputation, they still fall under the dominion of amputation theology because imputation cannot occur until man does something first.

With amputation theology, your worthiness hinges on your obedience. So as long as you have sin in your life, you’re in trouble. With imputation, sin doesn’t harm salvation, because worthiness hinges on faith.

This puts a damper on LDS efforts to say we believe the same thing. In fact, the divide between these gospels is so great that Mormons have more in common with every religion on earth than with Biblical Christianity.

This is a major problem, because in Galatians 1:8 Paul says, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” In Galatians 5:4 he says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”

When Paul spoke about the law and grace, he was talking about amputation vs imputation. Even though Latter-day Saints don’t follow the law of Moses, Paul’s statements still condemn them on principle.

Romans 3:19-20 says: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The law reveals God’s standards and is meant to stop our mouths and make us guilty before Him. Ironically, the covenants of the restored gospel do exactly the same thing. And assuming God doesn’t change, whether He reveals His standards through the law or LDS covenants, it still condemns us.

The gospel of amputation is an impossible gospel – because no matter how hard we try we can never eradicate the sin from our lives. 1 John 1:8 says: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Thus, a gospel that can’t save us despite our sins cannot save us at all.

The Gospel of Imputation
In Romans 3:23-25, Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

There are a number of doctrines being stated here. None of us are up to achieving God’s perfect standard, and as a result, we are pronounced guilty. God’s grace is given as a gift to us, even though we don’t deserve it. And grace is received through faith. There is no mention of baptism, endowment, or temple sealings.

In Romans 4:4-5 Paul says, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

The message is simple. Faith is not an action word that includes LDS covenants or obedience. It is completely separate from anything we do. If we will just believe, we will be counted righteous.

Of course, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible corrupts Romans 4:5, changing it to say that God does not justify the ungodly. Not only does this go against the context of Romans 4, but it also doesn’t make sense. Why would God need to justify the godly anyway?

During his ministry, Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:12-13).”

The restored gospel is a doctrine of sacrifice. Latter-day Saints must abstain from tea, coffee, and alcohol. They must sacrifice 10% of their incomes to the church. They must sacrifice Sunday as a holy day to the Lord. In the temple, Latter-day Saints covenant to consecrate their time, talents, and anything else the Lord has blessed them with, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation (Lectures on Faith 6:7).” This is not the gospel taught in the Bible. Jesus doesn’t require a gospel of sacrifice. He gave us a gospel of mercy.

Here’s the million-dollar question for Latter-day Saints. If there are only two churches and only two gospels for these churches to be founded on, then where does that leave you? Either Christianity is true, and you believe in a false gospel, or you are right and so is every other religious group on earth that teaches man must do something. Either way, it’s a lose-lose proposition, because the gospel you claim was restored already existed long before Mormonism came on the scene.

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

For it’s only in Your will that I am free,
For it’s only in Your will that I am free,
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

(words and music by Robin Mark)

Revival In Belfast

As originally performed on “Revival in Belfast”

A Response to Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s “Behold the Man” 2018 Easter Sunday Address

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaking on Easter Sunday at the April 2018 General Conference.
(click image to watch the full address)

by Fred W. Anson & Michael Flournoy
For me, Fred, every General Conference there’s always one speaker that I always look forward to hearing from, Dieter F. Uchtdorf. To say that he’s my favorite Mormon Leader is an understatement. In fact, I once offended an entire Internet group by suggesting that all the other Mormon leaders with seniority in front of him should choose the right by stepping aside and letting him assume his clearly rightful place as the President of the LDS Church. The non-Mormons were offended that I would implicitly endorse the LDS system of church governance and the Mormons were offended that I would suggest that their system is anything less than ideal. Toes stepped on all around. Well done, Fred!

My enthusiasm is due to what I see as his clear focus on Jesus Christ and His redeeming grace above all else. In my opinion, if there is any voice in General Conference that can be counted on to exalt Jesus it is Dieter F. Uchtdorf. So you can imagine my excitement when there was a buzz on Facebook that in his Spring 2018 General Conference – on Easter Sunday, no less – address Elder Uchtdorf, had preached the clear, pure, gospel of the Bible. And we can see why they would come to that conclusion when words like this are spoken:

To find the most important day in history, we must go back to that evening almost 2,000 years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus Christ knelt in intense prayer and offered Himself as a ransom for our sins. It was during this great and infinite sacrifice of unparalleled suffering in both body and spirit that Jesus Christ, even God, bled at every pore. Out of perfect love, He gave all that we might receive all. His supernal sacrifice, difficult to comprehend, to be felt only with all our heart and mind, reminds us of the universal debt of gratitude we owe Christ for His divine gift…

Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins.

All of them.

On that most important day in history, Jesus the Christ opened the gates of death and cast aside the barriers that prevented us from passing into the holy and hallowed halls of everlasting life. Because of our Lord and Savior, you and I are granted a most precious and priceless gift—regardless of our past, we can repent and follow the path that leads to celestial light and glory, surrounded by the faithful children of Heavenly Father.

Because of Jesus Christ, we will rise from the despair of death and embrace those we love, shedding tears of overwhelming joy and overflowing gratitude. Because of Jesus Christ, we will exist as eternal beings, worlds without end.

Because of Jesus the Christ, our sins can not only be erased; they can be forgotten.

We can become purified and exalted.

Holy.
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Behold the Man!” Spring 2018 General Conference)

But friends, there are some real problems here! For a start, not only does the Bible affirm that the atonement took place on the cross, not the Garden of Gethsemane, so does the Book of Mormon:

“And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world”
— 1 Nephi 11:33

“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world”
— 3 Nephi 11:14

And there’s a good reason for this, though the difference between Gethsemane and Golgotha might appear to be a trivial technicality, it underscores the vast differences between orthodox Biblical Christianity and Mormonism. By situating it at Golgotha, mainstream Christianity locates the atonement in the sacrifice of Christ; by situating it in Gethsemane, Mormons locate the atonement in the obedience of the believer.

It’s the difference between grace and works. On the one hand, there is the truly finished work that the believer looks to in faith; and on the other, there is the completed demonstration that the believer aspires to recreate (albeit metaphorically). In the latter, Christ might show the way, but he stops short of becoming the way, thus the believer is thrust back on his own efforts to secure the goal. As Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker noted, Mormonism is more about attainment than atonement, (Adam Gopnik, “I, Nephi: Mormonism and its Meanings”; The New Yorker, August 13, 2012). But such a focus denies the Christ-centered redemption narrative that’s at the very core of the gospel message and so rightly cherished by Christians the world over.

Further, and in the end, Elder Uchtdorf shifts the focus of his address off of the exaltation and glory of Jesus Christ and places it squarely on what Christ can do for us:

So, when you ponder the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, what do you see?

Those who find a way to truly behold the Man find the doorway to life’s greatest joys and the balm to life’s most demanding despairs.

So, when you are encompassed by sorrows and grief, behold the Man.

When you feel lost or forgotten, behold the Man.

When you are despairing, deserted, doubting, damaged, or defeated, behold the Man.

He will comfort you.

He will heal you and give meaning to your journey. He will pour out His Spirit and fill your heart with exceeding joy.

He gives “power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

When we truly behold the Man, we learn of Him and seek to align our lives with Him. We repent and strive to refine our natures and daily grow a little closer to Him. We trust Him. We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and by living up to our sacred covenants.

In other words, we become His disciples…

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that the most important day in the history of mankind was the day when Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, won the victory over death and sin for all of God’s children. And the most important day in your life and mine is the day when we learn to “behold the man”; when we see Him for who He truly is; when we partake with all our heart and mind of His atoning power; when with renewed enthusiasm and strength, we commit to follow Him. May that be a day that recurs over and over again throughout our lives.

I leave you my testimony and blessing that as we “behold the man,” we will find meaning, joy, and peace in this earthly life and eternal life in the world to come. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Behold the Man!” Spring 2018 General Conference)

So, in the end, the message preached here is that when we “behold the man”, Jesus Christ becomes something of a magic talisman or cosmic “turbo button” that we can push to get past our problems and press on to both temporal and eternal achievement and accomplishment. In such a scenario God gets pushed right off of the throne of our lives so we can sit down.

This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, this is the gospel of I, me, mine. It is a false gospel.

Further, despite Elder Uchtdorf’s use of the scripture elsewhere in his address, this is not, “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26), this is the gospel of “It’s all about what Christ can do for me!” And, speaking as those with Mormon family and friends, it is this false gospel that breaks our heart.

For you see, the gospel isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus. Perhaps another German said it best when he so plainly and directly stated, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” And his words are even more powerful and plainer when considered in their full context:

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship”, p.71, Nook edition)

A gospel than culminates in the garden rips the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ out of it. Mr. Bonhoeffer, might not be the Bible but he most certainly understood this. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
— Galatians 2:20&21 KJV

Or, better yet, consider the words of Jesus Himself:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
— Luke 9:23&24 KJV

Garden theology and cross theology are completely at odds. The disciples were with Jesus in the garden. They were admonished to watch and pray. An angel came and strengthened Jesus. If the atonement happened in the garden, then Jesus was incapable of ransoming mankind alone. He needed help. This gospel makes grace an enabling power instead of a saving power, and salvation becomes a joint effort.

Cross theology has Jesus suffering alone. He even calls out saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” No one is present to strengthen the Savior or lighten his load. The burden is His, and His alone to carry. This gospel crowns him King of the Jews, the author, and finisher of our faith, and the sole rescuer of men.

Garden theology is a gospel of never-ending striving. In Mormonism, Jesus bled from every pore as He took the sins of mankind, but even after that he said to Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11)  Speaking in the future tense, he admitted he yet had a cup to drink. He describes this bitter cup in 3 Nephi 11:11 as “taking upon me the sins of the world.” Mormonism, therefore, is a theology of never truly having salvation. Just as Jesus still had to drink the bitter cup, Mormons still have to keep the commandments and endure to the end. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and salvation is always something you aim for but can never possess.

Cross theology has Jesus definitively saying, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) It is a gospel of peace and rest, a gospel of trust, knowing that God has our salvation firmly in His grip. Salvation is a gift, it’s something believers can possess and be assured of in mortality.

Perhaps most dangerous of all, garden theology makes Jesus into a mere man. In the garden, he says to God, “Not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) This is a theology where men are on a journey to become Gods themselves, and Jesus is on the same path trying to align Himself with the Father. In this vein, in the aforementioned 3 Nephi 11:11 passage Christ even goes so far as to say, “I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” which implies that the atonement was a contest of his will v. Heavenly Father’s. Cross theology, in contrast, has Jesus in full submission to the Father. The wills are aligned. Jesus even says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23:34). In this theology, Jesus is already one with the Father. He is already fully God.

I, Michael, always thought it was amazing how Pontious Pilate could stare Jesus, the author of all truth, in the face and say, “What is truth?” It was this utter blindness that led him to say, “Behold the man!” What irony, that Pilate said these words, and nearly 2,000 years later they were repeated multiple times by a Mormon “pilot”. The true gospel of the cross does not inspire us to behold the man, it inspires us to behold the Son of God!

Garden theology teaches that God’s work is to exalt mankind. Everything is filtered through this lens. Every trial we go through is about our growth and learning. In cross theology, everything is for the glory of God alone. We are bidden to take up our cross, for only in losing our life can it be found – a paradox that requires a total and complete trust in God alone, even when the trial makes no sense to us or others. Thus, the gospel isn’t about personal achievement, it isn’t about self-actualization, it isn’t even about achieving personal perfection, it’s about dying to self, and being resurrected to live in Christ (see Romans 6:1-11). If the atonement culminates by simply achieving a life of self-glorifying obedience to religious laws and ordinances, then what need is there for the cross at all?

Friend, the gospel isn’t about using Christ as an enabling power, or a benevolent older brother to guide your way. The gospel isn’t about Jesus punching your E-ticket so you can be resurrected and spend eternity with your family and friends. The gospel isn’t about living a happy, self-actualized, prosperous life in the here and now. The gospel is about dying. The gospel can’t be found in the garden. Nor is it found in choosing the right. The gospel is found on Golgotha. On a cross. In a tomb. In death. The gospel is about dying to self and being raised to live with Christ in His righteousness. The gospel is Jesus Christ. He is the beginning and He is the end. As C.S. Lewis, said well,

Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
(C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics)“, pp. 226-227, Kindle edition)

Friend, He calls to you, to me, to us, and to anyone who will listen, “Come and die.”

The adoration of the magi is depicted in this painting in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

by Graham Kendrick
I discovered this classic in 1990 the same month that we discovered that my leukemia afflicted mother was given only weeks to live. I wept with grief and hope for her then as I listened, played, and sang this song. Now I weep with overwhelming gratitude for myself and my brothers and sister in Christ – including my mother who now watches from the great cloud of witnesses – whenever I encounter it. Because He came and died, my debt He paid, and my death He died that I might live. I can think of no greater gift, can you? — Fred W. Anson

My Lord, what love is this
That pays so dearly
That I, the guilty one
May go free!

Amazing love, O what sacrifice
The Son of God given for me
My debt he pays, and my death he dies
That I might live, that I might live

And so they watched Him die
Despised, rejected
But oh, the blood He shed
Flowed for me!

Amazing love, O what sacrifice
The Son of God given for me
My debt he pays, and my death he dies
That I might live, that I might live

And now, this love of Christ
Shall flow like rivers
Come wash your guilt away
Live again!

Amazing love, O what sacrifice
The Son of God given for me
My debt he pays, and my death he dies
That I might live, that I might live

© 1989 Make Way Music

Other performances of “Amazing Love” by Graham Kendrick
Recorded live in Boston, the album features several recently written songs, two of them brand new, delivering that trademark Kendrick intimacy and richness of content, side by side with some of his best-loved, era-defining classics.

Graham says: “We simply wanted to capture the sound and atmosphere of worship, the sense of being there in the presence of God and in the company of other worshippers. My musicians were on great form and there were some very special moments, so I’m thankful that the tape was running.

Amazing Love (My Lord what love is this) performed by Graham Kendrick, Mark Prentice (Double Bass) and Terl Bryant (Percussion).

by Dave and Iola Brubeck
To say that this is my favorite Dave Brubeck tune is an understatement. I hope that you dig it as much as I do. Merry Christmas! — Fred W. Anson

 The swingin’ instrumental version by The New Brubeck Quartet.

God’s love made visible!
Incomprehensible!
Christ is invincible!
His love shall reign!

From love so bountiful,
blessings uncountable
make death surmountable!
His love shall reign!

Joyfully pray for peace and good will!
All of our yearning he will fulfill.
Live in a loving way!
Praise him for every day!
Open your hearts and pray.
His love shall reign!

God gave the Son to us
to dwell as one of us –
a blessing unto us!
His love shall reign!

To him all honor bring,
heaven and earth will sing,
praising our Lord and King!
His love shall reign!

Open all doors this day of his birth,
all of good will inherit the earth.
His star will always be guiding humanity
throughout eternity!
His love shall reign!

 The traditional vocal version by New York Voices.

Appendix I: A tribute to Presbyterian-friendly Dave Brubeck
by John M. Buchanan, December 14, 2012
Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died Dec. 5, the day before his 92nd birthday. His impact on the world of music in general and jazz in particular was profound, marked by the front-page announcement of his death in newspapers all over the world. Along with millions of others, I was a Dave Brubeck fan, a life-long lover of his music since I first heard it in the late ‘50s, and, I am honored to say, a friend.

Brubeck changed jazz by his “cool” sound produced in collaboration with alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond playing counterpoint to Brubeck’s piano, by his innovative use of unusual rhythms, and by capturing the imagination of a whole generation of college students in the ’50s and ’60s. In the process his 33rpm record, “Time Out,” became the first jazz album to sell more than a million copies.

Following a State Department tour to India and the Middle East, Brubeck began to experiment with unusual rhythmic structures in his jazz composition and playing. His signature piece, “Take Five,” perhaps the most popular jazz single ever, broke out of the standard jazz genre and employed an innovative 5\4, a five beat measure instead of the standard 4. Later, “Blue Rondo a la Turk” was written in a surprising and engaging 9/8. Brubeck once suggested that children sing naturally in 5/4 rhythm and wrote one of his liveliest Christmas pieces, “God’s Love Made Visible,” in that time.

Dave Brubeck, in concert at the 1997 General Assembly. —Courtesy of Presbyterians Today

Dave Brubeck, in concert at the 1997 General Assembly. —Courtesy of Presbyterians Today

Brubeck’s musical and personal life gradually found religious expression. His father, a California cattle rancher, was an avowed atheist. His mother was a Christian Scientist who directed the choir in a local Presbyterian Church, so Brubeck’s earliest religious exposure was to Presbyterianism. His first professional job was playing the organ at a local Reformatory Chapel at the age of fourteen. He remembered favorite hymns sung by the inmates at Sunday services, “Just as I Am” and “The Old Rugged Cross.”

In the middle of his critically acclaimed career as a jazz musician and composer, religious themes and motifs began to appear in Brubeck’s music. While composing a complete Mass, “To Hope,” he was so struck by the beauty and power of the liturgy that he joined the Roman Catholic Church and for the rest of his life was a regular worshipper in his home parish church, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, Connecticut. His funeral was celebrated in that church Dec. 12 and included some of Brubeck’s sacred music compositions including, “The Desert and the Parched Land,” “Psalm 23” and the Gloria from “To Hope.”

I first met Dave Brubeck when the church I was serving, The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, invited him to play during the annual Festival of the Arts. Brubeck agreed and he and his quartet played a magnificent concert of favorite jazz and sacred music with the Morning Choir singing the choral numbers with the quartet.

He returned to play at the church several times and during one of those early visits Brubeck had a minor heart incident and was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for observation on the very day of the concert. It was my duty that evening to greet a sanctuary full of people who had purchased tickets to hear Dave Brubeck and announce that the Brubeck Quartet was a trio for that performance, without Brubeck himself. There was a little grumbling but the trio presented a great concert of Brubeck music.

I asked Brubeck’s manager and conductor, Russell Gloyd, who later married a Fourth Church Choir member and became a faithful church member himself, if a visit in to Brubeck in the hospital would be appropriate. Russell assured me that a pastoral call would not only be appropriate but that Brubeck, a believer and a man of faith, would be grateful.

So, with some fear and trepidation and a bit of awe at the great jazz artist himself, I visited him in Intensive Care. He was gracious, seemingly grateful for the visit as Russell predicted, and we talked about music and faith, and when I asked him if I could pray he immediately agreed. We prayed, and thereafter he began to call me his pastor.

Every time he played in Chicago, we were invited to attend the concert as his guests and to visit back stage afterward. Without fail he would greet me with a lively, “It’s my pastor!” He telephoned once to discuss appropriate scripture passages for future compositions and one of our dearest memories is of a lunch Sue and I shared with Brubeck and his wife, Iola. In addition to being the mother of their six children, Iola was a trusted business consultant and the author of many of the lyrics to his sacred music. We talked, of course, about our six children and theirs and the joys and challenges of parenting, and we talked about music, church and faith.

At the end of my term as Moderator of the 208th General Assembly (1996) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I inquired of Russell Gloyd and Brubeck about the possibility that the Brubeck Quartet might play for the 209th General Assembly (1997) meeting in Syracuse. To my absolute delight, they accepted the invitation and played a wonderful evening program for the General Assembly commissioners and guests. With a local choral group Brubeck presented several sacred works, “All My Hope” from the Mass, To Hope; “God’s Love Made Visible” from Fiesta de la Posada; and a powerful “The Peace of Jerusalem” from The Gates of Justice. It was a memorable evening for which I, and all those privileged to be present, will be forever grateful.

In every age religion and the arts have been partners and collaborators in the great vocation of expressing human wonder and awe at the mystery of human existence, and giving voice to adoration, praise, and gratitude to God: from the ancient poets who wrote:

Sing to the Lord, bless his name…
Let the earth rejoice,
Let the sea roar…
Let the fields exult…
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy,

to J.S. Bach, whose “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” occasionally emerged in the middle of a Brubeck improvisation, to Dave Brubeck himself, who is now part of the music department, instrumental division, in the great company of heaven.

The Rev. John Buchanan is editor and publisher of “The Christian Century.” He is former pastor of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church and served as moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 208th General Assembly (1996).

(this article was originally published on the Presbyterian News Service)

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Appendix II: Iola Brubeck, a Christmas Woman
by Leslie Clay, December 16, 2014
Iola Brubeck, wife of famed jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, was featured in Sisters in Song. Since its publication, she died of cancer in March, 2014. My book didn’t give justice to the great contributions she made to Christian music using the jazz genre. Let’s give her another try.

Iola Whitlock was born in 1923 in Corning, California where her father was a forest ranger. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school, she enrolled at what is now the University of the Pacific in Stockton studying drama and radio production. It was there that she met Dave Brubeck and they married in 1942. While he was shipped out to the European Theater in WWII, she honed her management skills and knowledge of jazz by working in radio. Their 70 year marriage was fruitful both personally and musically. Though they started out dirt poor, literally living for a while in a tin shack with a dirt floor and washing in a nearby stream, she propelled Dave’s career. In 1950, she developed one of the country’s first courses in jazz appreciation at the University of California at Berkeley. Iola lectured while Dave, who was shy, played the piano. This brought them $15 a week and started Iola’s role as lyricist. She suggested that his newly formed quartet do concerts at college campuses. She wrote to every college on the West Coast. Her work as manager, booker and publicist launched Dave’s career. She also was Dave’s chief librettist and lyricist. By the mid 1950s, they were doing well. As champions of racial justice they refused to play at colleges where black musicians were treated differently. In 1958, the State Department sent them on a people to people cultural exchange tour of Eastern Europe, the first time jazz musicians were used as emissaries of the U.S. behind the Iron Curtain. Four years later, Dave and Iola co-wrote a musical, The Real Ambassadors starring Louis Armstrong, a reaction to racial segregation in the U.S. It premiered in 1962 at the Monterrey Jazz Festival to critical acclaim, but it never reached Broadway.

As time went on, she collaborated with Dave on several oratorios and cantatas, including La Fiesta de la Posada (Festival of the Inn) in 1975. Included within this Christmas Choral Pageant is “God’s Love Made Visible.” In a PBS interview, Dave said, “My wife was driving, and I said, ‘I’ve finished this (La Posada).’ And she said, ‘No, you haven’t finished it.’ And I said, ‘Well, what did I leave out?’ And she said, ‘God’s love made visible. He is invincible.’” Her lyrics resonate well with me, from the very title of the piece to the emphasized phrase, “His love shall reign.” Though it could be sung any day of the year, it is still a Christmas song for a Christmas pageant, as it declares, “Open all doors this day of his birth.”

Leslie Clay a musician and the author of the book “Sisters in Song: Women Hymn Writers”

(originally published on the “Sisters in Song” website)

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