Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are Mormons Christians?

How do you define "Christianity"? Obviously, there are many sects who refer to themselves as "Christians" who have radically different opinions on crucial doctrines and they can't all be right. So what's the standard? Only a group who worships the true God can be considered Christian. Does that mean any religion who worships a god with the same name as the God in the Bible is really Christian? Of course not, anybody can give a false god a new name, but that doesn't change what it is. Thus, the only way to test a religion is to hold it up next to the God in the Bible. So... does the god of Mormonism (LDS Church) match the description of God in the Bible? I'll list here the differing viewpoints on one aspect of God's nature that the LDS church holds, and then let you decide how important the difference is. Is it a mere technicality? Or does it make all the difference between worship of the supreme God of the universe, and just another "false prophet" proclaiming another "false christ"?

The LDS church holds several doctrines which differ from those held by Biblical Christianity, but perhaps the most concerning is this: IS God the supreme deity of the universe, or just one of countless gods and goddesses speckled throughout space and time?

Here's what LDS church leaders have said:

1.) According to Joseph Smith: "The doctrine of a plurality of Gods is prominent in the Bible. The heads of the Gods appointed our God for us...you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves...the same as all Gods have done before you" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.370-372, 346).

2.) Mormon Prophet Brigham Young wrote: "How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods" (Journal of Discourses v.7, p.333).

3.) Mormon Apostle and apologist Bruce McConkie states: "Three separate personages---Father, Son, and Holy Ghost---comprise the Godhead...As each of these persons is a God, it is evident from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us...these three are the only Gods we worship" (Mormon Doctrine, p.576-577).

4.) Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt wrote "there are more gods than there are particles of matter" (Journal of Discourses, vol.2, p.345).

5.) Joseph Smith describes the creation of the earth: "And they said, 'Let there be light'...And the Gods pronounced the dry land...And the Gods organized the earth...And the Gods planted a garden in Eden" (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 4:3,10,25; 5:8). A reference to a plurality of 'Gods' occurs at least 43 times in the book of Abraham.

Contrary to Joseph Smith’s claim that this doctrine is ever-present in the Bible, however, it seems evident to me that the Bible has always taught that there is ONE God, and only one:

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

Mark 12:32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself,

Nehemiah 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee.

Isaiah 44:8 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 beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

The typical response to these verses is 1 Corinthians 8:5:

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

While this verse, read out of context as it is shown above, would appear to allude to other gods, the so-called “gods” being spoken of in this verse are clearly identified in verse 4 as the false gods of the heathen. Read the verse in context:

1 Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
1 Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

Your convictions will be stronger if you draw your own conclusions, so I'm not going to spoon-feed them to you. If you want your opinion to remain untainted, then stop reading here, because in the following paragraph I'll offer my perspective.

* * *

The Bible never teaches that there are a "plurality of gods", and to suggest that there is would seem to me to serve only to lower God's stature in the grand scheme of things, but that's just my take on it. As Mormons also deny that Jesus was God in the flesh, deeming him as no more than the first-born of many "spirit children", it would seem to me that the Mormon Jesus is not the same as the Jesus in the Bible. The Jesus in the Bible was prayed to, worshipped, and proclaimed "I and the Father are one". Any Jesus other than the Jesus in the Bible has neither the power nor the right to forgive our sins, and it is for this reason that my sincerest prayers go out to the Mormons... The Bible warns us of false christs in Matthew 24:24 "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Please remember, members of the LDS church are, for the most part at least, sincere and truly seeking the one whom they have been told is "god", and they really are well-intentioned. Likewise, don't get sidetracked trying to convince a Mormon he isn't a Christian, because based off the definition of Christianity that his church leaders have offered him, he is positive that he is and he has a strong testimony to back it up. I have no doubt that a spirit has come to many of them and affirmed in their hearts the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, but this spirit was not the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)The word "δοκιμάζω", translated "Prove", literally means to "test". We are to test the spirits that come to us by the Word of God. This is comparable to the golden lamp stand and bread which were always to be kept in the same room in the temple (see blog entry: You Are God's Holy Temple) The bread represents the presence of God, and the lampstand represents the Word, and they could never be separated. Mormons have failed to test the spirit which "witnessed" to them of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and without realizing this they will never be willing to reject this false Christ and come to know the true God who knows and loves them and wants to save them from their sin and the eternal destruction they have earned, as we all have, because of it.

In Christ's Love,
Matthew

Monday, December 10, 2007

You Are God's Holy Temple

I thought this article was pretty awesome and I had to share it with you. (The link is provided at the bottom of the page.)

You Are God’s Holy Temple

I believe that the tabernacle which Moses was commanded to build symbolized God’s favorite dwelling place, which is you. The entire old covenant is symbolic of the reality of the new covenant. We can gain multitudes of revelations and insight from the Old Testament, which applies to the New Testament. The tabernacle had three parts and so do people. The outer court symbolizes a person’s physical body. Inside the outer court is the holy place, which symbolizes a person’s soul or heart. Inside the holy place is the most holy place this symbolizes a person’s spirit, or conscience. There are many examples of the tabernacle, which relate to a person being God’s dwelling place, but I will focus on just a few points here.

The outer court contained the altar and the washbasin. It was the place of sacrifice. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet you to speak with you. (Exodus 29:42) This is where the animals were offered up as sin offerings for the people. This was symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus was to make on the cross once for all. So also our physical body is the place of sacrifice in our life. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1) Much of our obedience has to do with bringing our physical body under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Inside the outer court just before the entrance to the holy place was the washbasin where the priest would wash before entering. As the priest prepared themselves through sacrifice and washing to enter into the holy place so too do we to enter into God’s presence. Whenever you enter into God’s presence, the first thing that happens is that you are reminded of any sin that has not been dealt with in your life. As you repent and accept the sacrifice Jesus made for your sins, you are moved into a greater manifestation of His presence, you come into the holy place.

The holy place is symbolic of our heart or soul. The tabernacle was called the tent of meeting, meaning it was the place to meet with God. We meet with the Lord in our heart. It is the place of ministry unto the Lord and the place we commune with Him. You must enter through your heart into God’s presence. Since your heart is the place you worship your God it can also be the place where we have idols set up to false gods. God wants us to love Him with all of our heart. That means we must remove anything from our heart that draws our attention away from loving Him fully. This is also where we must make sure that nothing is hindering our love to another person.

Inside the holy place is the table of the bread of the presence, the golden lamp stand, and the altar of incense. The bread represents the Word and we know that Jesus is the Word. Jesus is called the bread of life. Only He can give us the bread that satisfies our spiritual hunger.

The golden lamp stand has seven branches for seven oil lamps. The lamp stand was the only source of light in the holy place. The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The seven lamps may represent seven manifestations and revelations of the Holy Spirit in a believer, love, wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord; see Isaiah 11:2. The priests had instruments for trimming and refilling the lamps. They were to keep the lamp burning brightly continuously. In the same way, we must always check our hearts to see if there is any hindrance to the flow of God’s love in our heart. Anything that keeps the fire of God’s love from burning brightly in us hurts our relationship with God and people. Anything that keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love also keeps us from being filled with all the fullness of God. The light also represents revelation. The greater we walk in obedience to God’s love the greater will be our revelation of Him. Allowing God’s love to burn brightly in us will affect the people around us by touching them with light, revelation and love.

Just before the entrance to the most holy place was the altar of incense. The offering of incense represents prayer. Prayer is a ministry that takes place in our heart when we respond to God’s heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The most effective prayers are God breathed and come from His desires to manifest His glory on the earth. Just as Jesus spoke God’s words on earth so must we. God has chosen to use us as partners to accomplish His will on earth. We are to pray the Father’s will, to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Separating the holy place from the most holy place was a veil. When Jesus was crucified the veil in the temple was torn in two. This symbolized that we could now have a restored relationship with our God. Now we have access to the heart of God and He has access to our heart. It could be that the veil in man’s heart came about when Adam sinned, causing a separation between God and man; and soul and spirit.

The most holy place, or holy of holies was where God dwelled in the tabernacle. It is the place of God’s presence in us, our spirit. In the most holy place was the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the law that was given to Moses, Aaron’s rod that budded, and some manna. In the new covenant, God writes His laws on our heart, we receive instruction through the Holy Spirit. Live buds and almonds had sprung forth from Aaron’s rod, a dead stick. This represents the power of God as the source of all life, including the source of life in us. Your spirit is what gives life to your soul and body. It is the breath of God in you. The manna represents God’s supernatural provision of all that we need. The testimonies of what God has done for you are stored in your spirit. They are part of His covenant of provision in your life.

On top of the Ark was the mercy seat, this is considered to be the place where God’s presence would rest. This is a very important key in being filled with all the fullness of God because mercy or compassion is God’s love. Mercy is also associated with God’s glory. When God shows His mercy His glory is revealed. As a temple of God you are to carry the glory of God. And there (at the tabernacle) I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. (Exodus 29:43)

This is God’s desire for you, that His glory fills your spirit, soul and body to overflowing. Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34). God wants you to be a vessel of His glory shining through you and touching other people. Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1 - 2 1)

You can find the full article at:
http://www.seekgod.org/message/fullnessofgod.html

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mitt Romney: America's Next President?

In a conversation I had recently with a member of the LDS (Latter-Day Saints - a.k.a. "mormon") church, the girl I was speaking with suddenly became very serious. She looked me straight in the eyes and said with surprising confidence "I know who the next president will be." While she didn't disclose the name of the candidate she was referring to, the context of the conversation we were having, dominantly religious, made the implication clear.

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and now a semi-dominant candidate for the G.O.P. presidential nomination, has earned much of his popularity, as well as criticism, from his religious stance. As a member of the LDS church, he represents conservative values and, in the eyes of fellow church members, LDS representation in the nation's capital. Is the church's brazen confidence in Romney warranted? In polls of G.O.P. voters, Romney would appear to be steadily maintaining his standing between 3rd and 5th place in the race for the Republican nomination. While considering this things may be looking a little bleak for Romney, the public opinion may shift. He is almost guaranteed the support of the LDS church, a relatively impressive chunk of the U.S. population (as of 2002, mormons made up approx. 2% of the U.S. population). With at least 2 percent of the vote practically handed to him, Romney is bound to continue to build support and may eventually become a more formiddable threat to the prominent G.O.P. candidates such as Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. Will Mitt Romney be the nation's next president? It is not completely out of the question, especially with the enormous financial backing available to him (he raised $23 million in the first quarter, more than any other G.O.P. candidate). Perhaps the better question is "should Mitt Romney be the nation's next president?"


While Romney's mantra throughout his campaign thus far has been that voters should not consider his religion when voting, he also continually seeks, and receives, strong support from his church. The fact of the matter is, religion should NOT be a part of the voters' decisions. In my humble opinion, Romney is an expert at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. I fear that if Romney is elected, it will be because of his religious stance... a point which has been largely undisputed by LDS church members, stating they will vote for Romney because of his membership in the church. If you as a voter wish that Romney be elected, then by all means vote for him. But NOT because of his religious stance. I would implore you to choose which candidate you support based upon political stances, not religious biases (whether for OR against religion). Religion is of course a good indicator of moral perspective, but should only be considered as one of many factors.


Does this mean politicians with religious affiliations shouldn't be president? Of course not! As a Christian myself, I would gladly vote for a Christian candidate, but not simply because he or she is a Christian. I would also encourage members of the LDS church to vote for Romney if they agree with him politically, but NEVER because he is a Latter-Day Saint. Likewise, I am confident that many Democratic voters will vote in favor of Sen. Hilary Clinton, but I also know that a large majority will not do so because they completely agree with her politics, but instead many feminists will vote for Clinton because she is a woman and they are "ready for change". This is a foolish reason to vote for any candidate and these voters will have no one to blame but themselves if they later discover that Clinton varies drastically from their views on key issues.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

1 Corinthians 16:22

I was reading in 1 Corinthians today and I came across Paul's postscript near the end, and it caught my attention. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha." The letter was dictated, but this postscript was written by Paul's own hand, which should give us an idea of how important it is. Anathema means "cast away", and Maranatha means "the Lord cometh". The two together suggest the judgement of unbelievers at the coming of the Lord. Here we see the importance of truly loving Christ, rather than simply praying a "magical prayer" and living our lives in an outwardly righteous fashion. Matthew 7:22-23 states: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy namedone many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." It is our love for the Lord that bears witness to our sincerity, and is of the utmost importance to our own personal assurance that we are truly His.

I don't know about you, but this one really hit home with me. I'd lived for years in what I would now look back on and regard as a "fake" passion for God. I didn't really love God or appreciate what he'd done for me, I had taken it for granted. I can't say for sure what would have happened to me if I'd continued living that way, but judging by this verse, it would most likely have not been pretty. As His word says, we cannot be plucked from our Saviors hand once we are His, but perhaps the question should be, were we ever really His? We must make absolutely sure that we have truly committed to God and made Christ Lord in our lives, it won't be enough to just say it, we have to be genuine.
Any thoughts?