Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Uphold or Not to Uphold: Prophets and Their Unfulfilled Prophecies

So I'm a little frustrated. I got it in my head that I'd try to do a post a day, and despite it's absurdity I'm ridiculously stubborn, so I probably won't settle for twice a week or something until I utterly fail at my newly adopted once-a-day policy. In any case, I feel like I've somewhat left my Joseph Smith prophecy posts hanging. They were started because of an individual on YouTube who had asked me questions about the nature of a prophet. He has since sent a rather lengthy response which I intend to address, unfortunately I'm relatively erratic when it comes to the subjects of my posts, and I've just moved on to other things since my prophet series.

I had thought to write little bits on a post made on a LiveJournal I read years and years ago, but since then the account has been deleted, and subsequently, so was the post. Because the post was just a re-post of something someone else posted, I thought I'd find the source post, but I haven't been able to find it. The LJ post I had read was entitled, "A Faith of Lies." The writer was upset because some of their family had joined the LDS Church.

But, I think I'll post little bits of my response to what this YouTube person had to say to me recently...

He thanked me for my response and promptly asked: "If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and that thing does not come to pass, should I uphold him as a true prophet? Do you think that's OK?"

This is very much an individual matter. I would never presume to have any kind of power over other people's choices, nor would I ever try to force someone to "obey" me.

Now I defer to the scriptural history of a prophet. A prophet was not originally a man who could "predict" the future, rather they were seers. Now you must be thinking, "Hey, I read the post you wrote about the term 'prophet' and 'seer' and you said they were..." blah, blah, blah. According to scripture though, this seer/prophet was one who the Lord chose to show himself to in a vision, who he chose to speak with. It's only relatively later that the scriptures show a change in the prophet's role: to that of the Lord's mouthpiece (see also: Jer. 1:9 and Isa. 51:16). If you've really read through the Old Testament (and I confess I've not read it cover-to-cover) you know the real task of the prophets was to foretell of the Messiah, and re-align the people to God, to remind them of His commandments. However, the prophets would, on occasion, foretell of events to come in the near future to enhance their abilities in the eyes of the people. However, these predictions were always secondary to the prophet's purpose.

And onto the meat of my response, turning this into a personal matter, yes, I would uphold the man as a prophet. For those of you who are thinking, "how silly, how misled," I ask this: Do you uphold Jonah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Nathan and/or Samson as prophets? If so, what about Jonah's prophecy to the people of Nineveh that they'd be destroyed in 40 days? They weren't destroyed. And what about Ezekiel and his prediction of the complete destruction of Tyre by the Babylonians? It wasn't completely destroyed, King Nebuchadrezzar didn't receive the riches of Tyre. And Jeremiah prophesied that King Zedekiah would die in peace. Sure, he died of natural causes, but only after the Babylonians conquered his land, killed his sons, and blinded him. Even then, he died while he was imprisoned. Hardly peaceful. Samuel promised that through Solomon, the Davidic empire would be established permanently; that the children of Israel would live in the promised land, stay there, and no longer be afflicted by the wicked. Well, that's is, thus far, not the case. As for Samson, and angel told his mother he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. This didn't come close to happening. Period. No conditions were placed on these prophecies; it wasn't a question of obedience, the prophecy was simply stated and expected to come to pass.

So, do I uphold the previously listed men as prophets? Even knowing about these prophecies of theirs that never transpired? Yes. Do I think it's OK to uphold a prophet who makes a prophecy that doesn't emerge as a recorded event, in scripture or otherwise? Yes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Transition: Man of God to Fraud

Although the title makes it sound like I've lost my marbles and gone apostate, I've not, rather I thought I'd publish something that's been weighing on my mind for the last little while.

There's a person in my life who is very dear to me. Not unusual. This person had an experience with their Priesthood leaders, and instead of viewing that experience as one from which they could grow and improve, they have turned it into a catalyst from which bitterness, anger and self-pity have festered. I won't identify this person in any way more than I already have.

Often in someone's life when they experience something that draws them into some form of depression, their progression stops. What tends to happen is they end up holing away, shying away from situations where they have be social. This isn't uncommon for people, even those who don't experience clinical depression, who just have a bad day. Some people seek out others who are equally miserable, and others simply become a recluse.

While I'm on the point, not only do miserable people group together to bolster the reasons for which they're upset, but people who share a common belief or hobby do the same thing. A simple example of this is a club. We do this for the same reason above, to bolster each other, and encourage one another. If you're doing something that is "wrong," on the basic, non-religious levels, you'll tend to spend your time with others who are doing that same thing. Why? It's much easier to justify your wrong behaviour if you're around others who are also looking to justify themselves.

I'm going to use an example to illustrate the point of this post. Often in the Church, when someone finds fault with their leaders, it's because the leader has asked the member to do something they don't want to do, or because the leader told the member something they didn't want to hear. People don't like being wrong - that's a basic fact of humanity. When a member receives chastisement, they can take it one of two ways: they can either listen to the advice they're given and humbly submit to the will of the Lord as revealed through that leader, or they can convince themselves that the leader is wrong, that they don't need to listen to their advice, that they're flawed, that for some reason that leader got it wrong.

Which is easier? To change, or to manufacture some excuse that saves you from having to change? Personally, I try to embrace change. As a writer I have the opportunity to create any kind of characters I want. Certain characters are frowned upon, and these are known as static characters. These characters are the ones that never change, there is no character arc for them, they are the same on the last page of the book as they are on the first. To live such a life, I couldn't imagine.

But anyway, tangent aside, let's get some illustration in here. This will be specific and vague all at once, you'll see (and be impressed).

A member goes to their Priesthood leader and tells that leader of the problems they're having. They tell their leader (Bishop, Stake President, etc.) of their abilities and their weaknesses, and then asks for advice, they ask for counsel and direction. The leader thinks about it a moment, and then tells the member that they're loved and appreciated, that they're doing well enough in all areas of their life but one. This one area is known to the member as one of their major weaknesses, and is therefore a sensitive topic, but because the member asked, the leader directs them and tells them that to better serve the Lord (in this example), they need to improve their life in that area. Once the member has improved themselves to a certain point, they're to return to the leader and receive more council.

Now, like I said, this member can either humbly submit themselves to the counsel that was given, or they can come up with some reason to excuse themselves from having to listen to the direction they were given. Let's say that this member chooses the latter. They decide that their leader hasn't got the right to say what they did about their very personal weakness.

This is where I draw my illustration into the story of that very dear person I know. At the beginning of the story I just went through, the member went to their leader. The Bishop or Stake President didn't show up at the member's house and start chastising them, the member went to the leader. By doing so, and by asking for direction, they showed a confidence in that leader's abilities, they demonstrated a trust in that leader, a trust that he was a man of God.

So here's my quandary: At what point did that man cease to be a man of God?

A member goes to their leader, showing humility and a desire to listen to the counsel they would receive (why else would they bother asking?), but after their meeting, it's been decided by that member that the man they went to advice for is no longer called of God. So at what point did this leader who had formerly been considered a man of God cease being so? It never actually happened, save in the mind of the member, and it occurred when that member decided they knew more than him.

Although I love this individual with all my heart, I cannot understand why they would be, at one moment, completely willing to listen and to follow whatever Church leaders told them, whether is was to give a talk, receive a calling in Primary, or to serve a foreign-speaking mission to Japan for 1.5-2 years; and later have decided that those same leaders they trusted, literally with their life, were wrong.

I don't understand it, but I know the underlying answer to my "why" questions. Pride. This individual couldn't stand having someone tell them they couldn't do something because they wouldn't be able to handle it. It boggles my mind. If a prophet of God, or someone I revered as a man of God as called by the prophet, told me I needed to do X in order to be able to do Y, I would do it. Why? Personally, because I've learned through hard experiences that my leaders tend to have the gift of foresight; when I think I see the big picture, I'm often seeing it head-on and not from their perspective, which is often a birds-eye view.

So, has that leader really gone from being a man of God to being a fraud? Only in the mind of that one individual. And what will that individual do? They'll flock to others who think the exact same so they can pat themselves on the shoulder and tell each other how justified they are in condemning that leader. Truly, a separation of the wheat from the chaff.

"They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their shepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they." Mormon 5:16,18

The Poison We Call "Sin"

So this morning I've had a few moments to think about the depth to sin. I don't say that meaning "oh, yes, sin is sooo deep, so cool," in the sense that is often used these days when we compliment someone by telling them how deep and mysterious they are. I'll argue the complete opposite for sin, it isn't mysterious at all. By depth, I mean it in the sense that it can pull us in so tightly, to the point that our lips are barely gracing the surface of the water to give us breath.

Anyway, so as I was dreaming away I was awoken by a fist pounding on a door. I thought to myself, "Oh no, I've slept in," because I figured it was my mom banging on my little brother's door to wake him up for one of his classes. So I stared up at my ceiling wondering and listening: I knew I'd learn the truth of the situation given a little time. Yes, it was my mom pounding on the door, and yes, she was trying to wake him up.. But for a reason I didn't expect.

I confess myself gullible. I've been told by a few people I'm not really that close to that they've noticed I tend to "look for the good in people." I work hard at developing that because it's such a rarity in our times. I suppose it means something when someone shouts at another to wake up, bangs on their door and I don't automatically jump to the conclusion that one of them must have done something wrong. Well, that's what I did this morning. Which is why my thoughts on sin seem so revelatory.

As the situation progressed I learned that my mom had had some money in her jacket pocket and that in the course of the early morning, it had gone missing. My mom's main reason for believing my brother had taken the money was due to the fact that the kid keeps such strange hours! It seems to me that he's awake during all hours of the night and early morning, but I won't see him at all during the day until around supper-time. Anyway, the conversation they were having turned to undertones after she demanded he give her the money. It's all the same to me: it left me to my thoughts.

And the collection of those thoughts can be summed up relatively nicely in a single, short sentence: sin is poison. Afterward, before hearing my mom walk down the stairs, I heard her explain why that money had been in her pocket: she needed to pay for parking at the hospital. I don't know if I should given my previous admission, but I assume that if my brother had known that he wouldn't have touched the money, not because he'd eventually get caught, but because innately he is a good person.

No one is perfect, and I'm not posting this experience to show how flawed my sibling is. I could never make the claim that I've never stolen anything, money or possessions; that I've never lied about stealing something or to cover up some stupid thing I had chosen to do. That's a beautiful truth though: we choose.

So as I lay there I wondered something: when do you get to the point where although your initial sin was the width of a string, the sins you commit now are thicker than bound thread (think friendship bracelet width). Why don't we recognize we've fallen down a path that leads to greater sin?

To borrow a metaphor that I've often heard within (but also outside of) the Church, sin is like a frog in a pot. We're taught that Satan, mankind's adversary operates much in this way: when you put a frog in a pot of hot water, it jumps out. However, when you place that frog in a pot of cold water and turn up the heat, it will sit in that water until it boils to death. Gruesome, no? The adversary is similar in that he would never try to prompt me, an active Church member (saying prayers, reading scriptures daily, attending sacrament and other Sunday meetings, youth meetings weekly, etc.), to break the Law of Chastity. That's just a silly thing to suggest to someone in my position. A much better temptation, to get me down that road would be something like this: when I encounter an unclaimed bus ticket for the month, tell me I should pick it up and use it - it would save me money on fares, plus, I could still ask people for bus fare without actually needing it so I could save it for my mission.
Strange, no? Well, remembering what my goals are and what covenants I've made, although it may be a little difficult to say "no," it's do-able. That was an actual experience I had earlier this month, and I puzzled about it for awhile: steal so I could put the funds towards a mission? Such is how the adversary works. He's a walking contradiction.

Back to the topic at hand. The depth of sin: how do you take a child who is innocent and honest, and within a handful of years turn them into a thieving liar. Harsh words that I don't direct at anyone, but how is it done? The frog in the pot idea.

During the 179th General Conference, a talk was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (I don't understand why it's so hard for some people to say his surname!) in which he said this: "...what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become."

During a poster sale held in the concourse of my college, I was tempted to buy a poster that reminded me of President Uchtdorf's words: "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

So it doesn't seem too far-fetched that I've come to this conclusion, but you can't take a little kid and turn them into anything. That kid can however, through poor choices, turn themselves into a thieving liar. Whether you're religious or not, I'm sure it's no stretch to accept the fact that there are things which should not be done.

If we use the logic that things which aren't good for people or the society we're in then they shouldn't be done. Simple logic. If it's bad for you, don't do it: For example, drugs have negative effects on people: they should not be used. If you believe marijuana has no adverse effects, but is illegal in your country, you shouldn't smoke it. Stealing has a negative effect on the person being stolen from, it shouldn't be done.

In addition, I'm grateful that we don't just have to rely on societal laws to determine what's good for us and what isn't.

So the next time someone says, "I stole that because I had to," or, "you made me do it," just gently remind them that you can't make them do anything (or I'm sure you'd have made them not do whatever thing was objectionable), and that they're in charge of who they are, what they become.

I can't just finish here. I can't just say, "if you're a failure it's your own fault." There is some kind of solution, isn't there?

Knowing someone who is in the 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous, I know that there are several steps that require the person in the program to make amends. Step 8 requires the person to make a list of all the people they've harmed and be willing to make amends. Step 9 requires that they then make amends.

So how do you fix the negative things you've done? If you believe in the Atonement of Christ then you ask him for forgiveness in full sincerity of heart, and be resolved to not repeat that mistake or transgression. If you don't believe in Christ, then just follow what those in the AA-program do. Make your list, apologize and acknowledge to those you've hurt what you've done to harm them, and then make restitution if possible (pay them back the money you stole, buy them a new stereo to replace the one you busted, whatever). The AA-program is designed in such a way that once someone commits to it, they aren't allowed to drink again. Ever. I think the final secular step in restitution is the same as the one that involves the Atonement: resolve yourself to not repeat those base choices again. If you get back into the cycle that brought you to where you were before you sought forgiveness, you really haven't "quit" that habit, and therefore through your misdeeds have lost the forgiveness you had had before.

Grim topic.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why all the fuss?

When I first had contact with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was from the missionaries - I had never heard any of the anti-Mormon arguments or discussion. Personally, I don't think it would have mattered. A persons religious worship should be between them and God, and when I prayed about the Book of Mormon I really began that relationship with God.
When I did start hearing the anti-Mormon banter, I didn't understand why so many people would be trying to "disprove," or "destroy" the Church! It just didn't make sense to me! It does now.
Those questions, "why are they always hating on us?" ("us" referring to other LDS), "what do they have against the Church?" are naive. Naivety isn't bad, and I'm not trying to insult people who wonder these things. It's all part of our progression. But it seems to me that those questions are not dissimilar from the "why me?" questions.

So why all the hate? Of course there are also other reasons, but it's really no wonder. If you claim to have the fullness of Christ's restored gospel, a claim which if true would mean that all other churches don't have the full gospel, you're gonna end up stepping on some toes. And toe-stepping typically isn't appreciated.

For now, I'm going to step on some toes and sum up every single reason anyone has ever had for leaving or "hating on" the Church. And, I'll do it in one word. So what's today's word of the day?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Comparative Paper: Are Mormons Christian? A Comparison of Essential Doctrines Between the Latter-day Saints and Catholics

I'm taking a short intermission from posting because school has started up again since the Olympics ended (although the Paralympics have begun). This post is a paper I wrote for my western religions class. I'm not going to bother adding hyperlinks in the paper part of it because the sources are all listed at the end.

So, just a note: I realize there's a lot of fractures in my discussion. I had a difficult time consolidating information and staying away from deep doctrines. When I talked to my older brother about the paper topic, he asked if I was going to write something in there about polygamy. While this was a doctrine in the early years of the Church, as I told him, the point of this paper wasn't to discuss the "absurdities of Mormonism," (Farkas & Reed, see sources) as some have put it, or the controversies. Again, while I've no doubt it would interesting, this is not a paper on controversies.

Also, ignore the formatting issues, I don't feel compelled to fix it up. Oh yeah, and it's absurdly long.

And aside from all that, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

In Christendom, there are an overwhelming number of individual churches, almost all of which branch from early Christianity. After the martyrdom of Jesus Christ, it becomes difficult to trace what happens, not necessarily to Christ’s disciples, but to the church that Jesus Christ organized while he yet lived. Most of present-day Christian churches have their origins from the Ecumenical councils called by the Roman emperor Constantine (most of which were organized after the Great Schism). There are however, a few denominations within Christianity which claim some form of restoration, like Protestantism, but there appears to only be one which claims to be a full restoration of Christ’s early church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter referred to as the LDS), commonly called Mormons, has its roots in New York where founder Joseph Smith asserts his visitation by God and Jesus Christ, and the eventual re-establishment, or restoration of Christ’s early church (Nelson 3, 17-18). The purpose of this paper is not to examine the validity of the LDS church, but to determine the major doctrines which set it apart from what are currently the accepted doctrines of Catholicism (as Catholicism and Mormonism are the second and third largest branches of Christianity, respectively)(Pew) and most non-denominational Christian faiths.

Seemingly vital to any Christian faith or religion is the belief that the Bible is the word of God, the men leading you have some kind of authority to do so (sic not just men with good ideas), and that God has revealed Himself through scriptures and His prophets and is somehow guiding the affairs of men. Catholics and the rest of Christendom accept the Bible to be the word of God, some believe in its inerrancy (Gerstner), and others take it literally. Catholicism holds that scriptures are documents received from God, and are the property of their church, although only appointed teachers may officially instruct from them (Maas). LDS have declared that they “believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith 1:8). Those of the LDS faith not only utilize their Bibles as scripture, but believe in a very open canon and a constant and continuing flow of revelation from God, both on a personal and on a church-wide level (Church of Jesus Christ 128-129); these doctrines carry back to the days when the church was organized in 1930 [edit: 1830]. LDS believe that God will answer their prayers, and directs their church through men (sic prophets) who have received Christ’s priesthood (Nelson 15-16), which is authority given to man to act in the name of God (Ballard 39). Not only this, but LDS claim additional scripture to the Bible, known as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (Bushman, 44-45). These are three major distinctions between the LDS and the Catholics. Put into perspective, and with no disrespect, one might venture to say that the LDS one has the opportunity to be a progressive faith, whereas the Catholic one is a relatively static faith. Although the Bible states that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8), mankind is constantly changing and needing, in layman’s terms, advice from God as they, and as the world continually changes.

Despite the changes facing mankind, what defines a Christian is based on the doctrines established by the early Ecumenical councils, something which has not seen much change. One such doctrine established involves the godhead, or the relationship between God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Catholics and some traditional Christians hold that these three members of the godhead are three individuals, who are of one substance (Joyce). What this means, in an overly simplistic explanation, is that although they are distinct from each other, they are indeed one in the same and that God is the Holy Spirit, and is Christ. This doctrine also supports the accepted doctrine that Mary is not just the mother of Christ, but through extension of the Trinity, is also the mother of God. There are two examples in scripture used to establish the doctrine of the Trinity, the first is used to establish the divinity of Christ and their “oneness,” and the second is used to show that Christ is on the same level, and is indeed also God.

2 Corinthians 13:13 (2 Cor. 13:14 in the King James Bible follows)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the charity of God and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

This scripture is used to illustrate the divinity of Christ, being mentioned in the same sentence with God and the Holy Ghost, as well as the idea of their being three distinct persons. Additionally, in Psalms, another scripture is used to illustrate that when David praised the Lord, he was doing so in such a way that was reserved for God alone.

Psalms 104:31

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

It is widely accepted by Catholicism and most of Christendom that the godhead is three persons in one being, that the Trinitarian God does not have a body, that Christ has a physical body, and is the Son of God (and is the second member of the Trinity), and that the Holy Spirit is also God, as well as the third member of the Trinity.

The LDS on the other hand, view the godhead as having three individual and distinct members who play different roles (Talmage 8, 31-33). In this version of the godhead, God is the Heavenly Father of all the spirits of mankind, who has a physical body. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world but is not only the Son of God; he is God’s first spiritual and literal child. The Holy Spirit is the third member of this godhead, much like within the Trinitarian godhead, but is separate from God and Christ, is a “personage of spirit” (D&C 133:22) and also ministers to men in place of Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:21

And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am

the Firstborn;

This scripture illustrates the LDS doctrine that not only is Christ the Son of God, but also that mankind existed in a spiritual state prior to being born on Earth known as the pre-existence (which will be discussed later). The following scriptures are explanations of the Holy Spirit, the first from Christ, explaining that his disciples will be given guidance after he left (sic was crucified), and the second demonstrates that although the Holy Ghost as an individual can only be in one place at a time, his influence can be everywhere at the same time:

John 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my

name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,

whatsoever I have said unto you.

Moses 5:14

And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and

commanded them that they should repent;

With regard to Mary, LDS believe she was an honourable and chosen woman, and that she was the mother of Christ (Talmage 77-79). They do not accept the doctrine of Immaculate Conception or that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. The latter doctrine is evidenced by the following scripture:

Matthew 1:25

And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

As is understood, and as a brief look at a dictionary will show, the archaic and Biblical understanding and definition of the term “to know,” is to have sexual intercourse. Therefore, this scripture teaches that Joseph did not just stay in a celibate relationship with his wife, but consummated their marriage sometime after the birth of Christ.

It is difficult to fully grasp the concept of the Trinity because God is typically viewed as unknowable and incomprehensible (Joyce). Scriptures have been searched a great deal in order to support the notion of the Trinity because the alternative is not possible; the Trinity needs scriptural basis because Catholicism denies the doctrine of continued revelation, or the idea that God still speaks to man, as well as that of an open canon. While both Catholicism and the LDS share the similar dogma that Christ is the Son of God, there are severe differences in the relationships between the three persons, the roles they play, and the relationship between God, Christ and Mary.

As mentioned earlier, there are several beliefs held by LDS about a pre-existence which is not shared by Catholics, let alone by the rest of Christendom. It may very well be safe to say that unless one has had exposure to this particular LDS belief, one may never have heard of it before. Although in the Catholic faith the only eternal entities are God and Christ (Joyce), the LDS belief is that all members of the human race are children of God, and that before being born on Earth, they lived with God in a state known as the pre-existence (sic pre-Earth life) (Talmage 7, Ballard 70-73). In this state, mankind was presented with a plan in which they would go to Earth with no memories of their pre-life to be tested. This test involved sin, which would separate mankind from ever returning to God post-Earth life, so a Mediator was needed. Christ then, during this council offered to be such a Savior, while Lucifer (who is explained as being Christ’s brother because all of mankind are spirit-children of God) desired only the power of God, and in return would force all mankind to choose to be righteous (Talmage 7-10). God cast Lucifer from heaven and he became Satan, who has only the goal to make mankind miserable (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:27).

This doctrine leads directly into the next, which is in regard to the Fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In Catholicism, the Fall is a mar on humanity, an event for all mankind to be utterly ashamed of. In this view, Eve yields to temptation, breaks God’s commandment to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then seduces Adam into eating the fruit as well (Driscoll). In this, the doctrine of Original Sin has its roots. According to Catholicism, because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, every human being ever born has inherited that sin and has been damned to never be able to return to heaven because of it (although this is where Christ and sacraments step in) (Driscoll).

The LDS view of the Fall is quite different and is viewed as a blessing instead of a shame. The view held by LDS is considerably clearer because of their open canon:

Genesis 2: 16-17

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou

mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Pearl of Great Price, Moses 2:28

Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion

over... every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Using these scriptures, LDS illustrate that God gave two commandments to Adam and Eve, to replenish the earth and have children, and to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is reasoned that since they had yet to partake of the fruit, Adam and Eve did not know good, and not knowing good, they knew no evil; the logic being that without experiencing joy, one cannot experience sorrow, so it is with good and evil. These two commandments were contradictory in nature because if they stayed in the Garden of Eden and not eaten the fruit, then they would not have been able to have children. The greater of these two commandments was the latter one, which expected they have children and subdue the earth. Although Adam and Eve were removed from the presence of God, they were then able to experience joy and pain, good and evil, and were able to have children (since they were the equivalent of children when they were in the Garden). Another LDS scripture further supports the LDS doctrine of viewing the Fall as a blessing, as well as illustrates Eve’s view on their decision:

Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:11

Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed [children], and

never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the

eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient”.

Catholic doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin are two which are basically embraced by most of Christendom, difficult as it is to find scriptures to back the concept of inherited sin. But having an open canon, the doctrine of continued revelation from God, and the authority of God for men to act in His name allow members of the LDS faith to experience a dynamic relationship with the stories in the scriptures, as well as with their Savior and God. This is not meant to detract from any relationship experienced between Catholics and their God, but with room for interpretation and clarification from heaven (as through the doctrine of continued revelation), LDS experience a much more progressive religion.

What seems often to be said about the LDS is that they do not believe in the same Christ who the rest of Christendom believes in (Farkas & Reed 24, 39-41).Their antagonists have apparently not had the opportunity to read the following quote by LDS founder, Joseph Smith: "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." Despite the fact that LDS fail to conform to the “norm” of Christianity, they are by all accounts, Christians nonetheless. This author argues that what is needed is a broader definition of what it means to be Christian; just because a faith does not accept all the tenets of the norm does not make them un-Christian, especially considering what Christ preached seemed vastly different from what was accepted during his ministry. For Catholics and the like who worship an individual believed to be able to redeem all of mankind, there sure are a lot of restrictions on what it means to be a Christian. But then again, if the rest of Christianity refuses to accept members of the LDS faith, at least they feel accepted by an individual with more authority than the mobs of the norm.

Ballard, M. Russell. Our Search for Happiness. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993.

Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Driscoll, James F. "Eve." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909.

12 Mar. 2010

Farkas, John R., and Reed David A.. Mormonism: Changes, Contradictions and Errors. Grand Rapids,

Michigan: Baker Books, 1995.

Gerstner, John H.. "Biblical Inerrancy". The Highway Ministry. March 11, 2010


Joyce, George. "The Blessed Trinity." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton

Company, 1912. 11 Mar. 2010 .

Kohut, Andrew. "American's Struggle with Religion's Role at Home and Abroad". The Pew Research

Center for the People and the Press. March 11, 2010.

Maas, Anthony. "Scripture." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company,

1912. 12 Mar. 2010

Nelson, Lee. A Prophet's Journal. Mapleton, Utah: Council Press, 1979.

Talmage, James E.. Jesus the Christ. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, Inc., 2006.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Christ's Atonement

I just had a quick thought while I was getting ready for school this morning, and it's this: How much more does it mean that God offered his Son as a sacrifice, than if he - as most of Christendom believes - was really also Jesus and was just offering himself as a sacrifice? Would it actually mean less if he was his own sacrifice? It's a big deal, saying you'll be sacrificed for mankind.. But why do Latter-day Saints not believe in the trinity? Aside from all the scriptures and restored doctrine... But that's not the point of my early-morning thought.
My thought is this: It does mean more that God would offer his son as a sacrifice for all mankind, and I made a comparison to Abraham and Isaac. How much would it mean if it were Abraham who was asked to sacrifice himself, and how much less would it mean when the angel came and stopped him?

Just a thought.