14 September 2007

"Test Every Spirit"--Mormonism (part 6)

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.

Today, we are finishing up our look inside Mormonism--its beginnings, scriptures, beliefs about God, and their history. And in all actuality, this has been a very brief look. There is so much to slog through, we probably couldn't cover it in a year. That's why I have the permalink on the sidebar entitled "Are Mormons Christians?" It will be updated from time to time with more glances inside the LDS church.

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Well, besides the Book of Mormon, the LDS church uses a work called the Doctrine and Covenants. Originally, this was called the “Book of Commandments.” And it is supposedly made up of visions Joseph Smith had between 1823 and 1844. There were new revelations added more recently, and we’ll look at those as well. And if you want to learn about Mormon doctrine, this is the place to look. In fact Mormons use the Doctrine and Covenants more than the Book of Mormon. We’re going to see where some of the unorthodox beliefs of the Mormon church can be found.

First, there’s the whole issue of polygamy. Of course, Mormons like to use the less offensive term, “plural marriage.” In section 132, listen to these “revelations” from “God” to the “prophet”:

David…received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon and Moses my servants, as also many others of my servants…and in nothing did they sin…David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me…And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me…if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him…And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

“Hey, Abraham, and David, and Solomon, they had a bunch of wives and concubines! I’m just restoring things!” But nowhere does it say that GOD approved of their polygamy. Remember how I said they use the Doctrine and Covenants more than they do the Book of Mormon? Listen to what it says in Jacob 2:23-27

…behold, thus saith the Lord: This people…seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord…Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have [but] one wife; and [no] concubines

But you see, that’s the Mormon “God”. What does He desire, what does He command? Well, it depends on what day it is, and what kind of a mood He’s in. “I AM the LORD, I change not!!” What He hated yesterday, He hates today and He’ll hate tomorrow!

Listen to these Mormon apostles and prophets:
  • Brigham Young, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” (1)
  • His chief counselor, Heber Kimball said, “You might as well deny 'Mormonism,' and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives.” (2)
  • Apostle Orson Pratt—“…those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they shall be damned, saith the Lord…” (3)
  • And, Michael D. Quinn, professor of American History at Brigham Young University, wrote that “President [Wilford] Woodruff personally authorized Apostle Abraham H. Cannon to marry a new plural wife...” (4)
Now, this polygamy in the Doctrine and Covenants, this was an “everlasting” thing, right? Eh, not so much. In the late 1800’s, Utah wasn’t a state yet. And in 1887, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which basically outlawed polygamy. And if the Saints continued to practice it, Utah would not become a state. And since the Saints were getting by on their own, they really wanted Utah to become a state so they could get money from the federal government. So, in order for Utah to become a state, they had to renounce their beliefs about polygamy. Well, lo and behold, there came a “new revelation.” It is Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration No. 1. These are the words of Wilford Woodruff, President of the LDS church, in 1890:

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to…encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

What does the Doctrine and Covenants say about God’s forgiveness of our sins? Doctrine and Covenants 82:7
“And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”
Former LDS President Spencer Kimball wrote this in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness,
“Numerous folks have…recovenanted that they would live all the commandments…yet many there are who forget their covenants and break the commandments…Of those who break covenants and promises made in sacred places and in solemn manner, we can apply the Lord's words as follows: '... a wicked man, who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom' (D&C 3:12-13).” (2)

In other words, if you repent of your sins, go live the best life you can, then slip in ONE LITTLE AREA, all of your former sins come back to you. WRONG!!! That is NOT the forgiveness GOD promised us in His TRUE WORD!! Psalm 103:12—As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us. If you head out of here, keep going north, as soon as you hit the North Pole, you start heading south. But if you leave here, head west, you can keep going west around this earth 1000 times, and your back will ALWAYS be to the east. And in the same way, when we are in Christ, it’s like God’s face is looking west, and our sins are in the east. Romans 8:1—There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… When we call upon Jesus to be our Lord and our Savior, and we are reconciled to GOD, and sealed to GOD by the Holy Spirit, Christ’s righteousness is given to us, and He does not remember our sins anymore!

Finally, let’s take a quick look at the Pearl of Great Price. It’s kinda like a miscellaneous assortment of stuff. First, there’s the Book of Moses. These are supposed to be things that were removed from the first books of the Bible. In this “Book of Moses”, in the first chapter we find a couple of things that contradict Mormon doctrine. For one thing, “God” says,
“Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?” (Moses 1:3)
Now, the LDS church teaches that GOD had a beginning. Yet it says here that GOD Himself said He has no beginning. Another thing: “God” also says,
“no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth” (Moses 1:5)
So how did Joseph Smith remain in his flesh, on the earth, after being visited by the Father and Jesus? Chapter 2 and chapter 3 contain a revision of the first chapter of Genesis. Only now, every verse says, “I, God, said ‘Let there be light,’” and “I, God, said, ‘Let there be a firmament,’” etc.

Now, hold that last thought. Also contained in the “Pearl of Great Price” is something called the Book of Abraham. This is supposed to be some things shown to Abraham by “God.” Well, in chapter 4 and chapter 5, we have another revision of Genesis. Only this time, the verses start out by saying, “They (the Gods) said ‘Let there be light,’” and “They (the Gods) said, ‘Let there be a firmament,’” etc.

But let me point one thing out to you. In the introduction, it says,
“The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.”
Well, that ain't exactly so. Here’s what happened: in 1835, a traveling exhibit of Egyptian artifacts—including mummies—was rolling through Kirtland, Ohio, which was where the Mormons were settled at the time. The man in charge of the exhibit brought a papyrus for Joseph Smith to translate. This became the “Book of Abraham.” In 1871, the papyrus was lost…until 1966, when it surfaced in a vault at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The LDS church confirmed that this was, indeed, the papyrus that Joseph Smith translated from. He would be vindicated as a true prophet of GOD!! Eh, not so much. According to the foremost Egyptologists, this papyrus was nothing more than an Egyptian embalming manual. The whole thing is a fraud.

One last thing about this Pearl of Great Price. It also contains their Articles of Faith. And the third and fourth Articles of Faith say,
“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

In other words, the LDS church teaches a man-centered salvation. From the Book of Mormon, 2nd Nephi 25:23—“…we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Absolutely not!!! There is absolutely no way that we could ever “earn” our salvation! There is no way that we could “do” enough for GOD to look at us and say, “OK, you've done enough!” But that’s what false religions do. They take the truth of the gospel—that WE cannot make ourselves righteous, that it’s only by the righteousness of Christ being given to us—and they say, “Nah, that’s not enough. You’ve got to do all this other stuff to have evidence of salvation!” But as Paul wrote in Romans 11:5-6--"So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." God does not make us earn His grace. Because we never could! It is given to us freely, that we may bring glory to Him! Hallelujah!

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References:

(1) Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, page 269. link.

(2) Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 203. link.

(3) Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p. 224-225. link.

(4) Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Spring 1985. page 62. link.

(5) Spencer Kimball. The Miracle of Forgiveness. page 57.

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