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  1. I’ve talked to many Mormons over the past few years, but I’ve always been skeptical of their claims, including the doctrine of testing a faith or religion with prayer. I was recently talking to a few missionaries and they encouraged me to read Alma 32 to help understand the doctrine. Verses 27-43 helped explain the doctrine, but they also raised more questions. Three of the verses, 27, 33 and 36, describe planting and watering the seed as an experiment. If this is a valid experiment and a reliable way to test if something is true or not, couldn’t it be used to test similar doctrines or claims of truth? Let’s say, hypothetically, that a Mormon used the model of testing truth described in Alma 32 and Moroni 10 to test the Protestant claim that the true Gospel was never lost and never needed to be restored and they receive what sounds like a “No” response. What do they do next? What does Alma say we should do if a seed doesn’t grow? Alma 32 38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. 39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof. So if a seed doesn’t grow, it’s because the person praying didn’t nourish it and their ground is barren. Moroni 10 isn't as clear as Alma 32, but the same implication is there. If someone doesn’t get a “Yes” response to the prayer, it’s because they didn’t have a sincere heart, real intent and faith in Christ. So how does the Mormon get an answer about the Protestant claim? It sounds like this model is saying they should keep praying about it with a sincere heart, real intent and faith in Christ. Is this really a reliable experiment and model for testing truth? What kind of experiments predicts the result before you even start and then blames you if you get any other result? Have you applied these verses to the RLDS church or any other LDS splinter group? If it’s a valid way to support the LDS church, can’t it be applied to those other groups? If you have applied it to those groups, what response did you receive?
  2. (Note: This is an article I wrote several years ago for the Examiner. I thought you all might enjoy it and that it will lead to interesting discussions.) Latter-day Saints love the Bible and believe it as scripture. Indeed, Joseph Smith went so far as to say that we are the only people who truly believe it as it is written. Modern, sectarian Christians hang Bible verses like ornaments on an artificial tree constructed of man-made creeds, ignoring the passages which conflict with or contradict their doctrines. In the process, they have allowed a number of myths about the Bible to be promulgated because it serves their own ends. The following eight myths are summarized from "Here We Stand" by Joseph Fielding McConkie (1995, Deseret Book) McConkie is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. 1. The Bible is a single book McConkie points out that the Bible is a collection of books which were gathered together by men over thousands of years. The Jewish Bible consists of 24 books that Christians call the Old Testament. The actual books that are agreed upon by Jews came from a council in 90 A.D. in Jamnia (near Joppa, Israel). At his council, it became so contentious that it resulted in bloodshed. (McConkie, 36) Christians have divided these 24 books into 39 and ordered them differently. Their version of the Old Testament comes from the Greek Septuagint, which was rejected by Jews, because of the influence of Greek thought and the inclusion of the Apocrypha. Catholics accept the Apocrypha as scripture because they sustain otherwise unscriptural doctrines, such as masses for the dead and the existence of Purgatory. (McConkie, 37-38) The origin of the New Testament begins with two second-century heretics. Marcion, a bishop's son and a wealthy ship owner, was the first to create a canonical list of books. His list rejected the Old Testament entirely as scripture and "was closed to all but ten of the epistles of Paul and the Gospel of Luke." Macrion's false teachings caused him to be excommunicated from the ancient Church. Macrion's excommunication was so final that the Church gave him back all the money he had donated.(McConkie, 38) The second "heretic" was Montanus who declared that he was the incarnation of the Holy Ghost promised by the Savior to come. He denounced the absence of revelation in the church and the lack of spiritual gifts. To counteract his claims, the church began to teach that there would be no further disruptive revelations and that the canon of scripture was closed. Over the next two centuries, Origen of Alexandria divided the books in his New Testament into classes of acknowledged books and disputed texts. The list of disputed books included James, 2nd and 3rd John, 2nd Peter, Jude, the Letter of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas. This constituted the oldest Greek manuscript, consisting of 29 books. (McConkie, 39) Eusebius of Caesaria omitted not only the Shepherd and Barnabas from his list, but also the Book of Revelation. Most Greek manuscripts omit it also. Other disputed books which Eusebius rejected were the Acts of Paul, the Revelation of Peter, and the Teachings of the Apostles. (McConkie, 39) In 367 A.D., Athanasius sent an Easter letter to the churches of his diocese, listing the books approved for reading in the church. This list matches the current-day New Testament. Thus it wasn't until the fourth century that there was any consensus on which books comprised the Bible. 2. The Bible preceded doctrine Since the Bible didn't exist in its current form in the time of the Bible, how did it then form the basis for the doctrines taught by Jesus, Peter, Paul and the other apostles? "The book was created by the church, not the church by the book." (McConkie, 40) An example of doctrine preceding the Bible would be the Nicene Creed, which was devised by a council in 325 A.D. The doctrine of the Trinity emerged from this council, which took place after the church had declared that revelation had ceased, but before the time that the canon of the Bible was agreed upon. (McConkie, 41) 3. True religion is Bible religion Since the Bible didn't exist in the time of Peter and Paul. "No one who lived within the time period of the Bible ever had a Bible." (McConkie, 41) Therefore, their religion was not "Bible religion." The Bible is the testimony that God interacts with man via revelation and spiritual gifts, directly and personally. It was not based solely upon the words of God to ancient prophets, but to living ones. Why should it not be so today? 4. Everything in the Bible is the Word of God The Bible is the word of God so far as it is translated correctly, but every word in it was not uttered by God. The Bible contains the words of the devil to Adam and Eve in the Garden and to Jesus Christ during his temptation in the wilderness. It contains the words of Adam, Eve, a serpent, angels, prophets, apostles, and their scribes. It even contains the words spoken by Balaam's mule, who chastened him for his cruel treatment. All these are in addition to the words of God spoken to prophets and the words of Jesus Christ himself. (McConkie, 43) 5. The canon is closed Nowhere in the books of the Bible does it say that the canon of scripture is closed. Many will refer to the last lines of Revelation to claim that the book cannot be added to. Since the Bible didn't exist at the time of the writing of the Revelation of John, it couldn't refer to the Bible as a whole. The Revelation remained a disputed book for two centuries after John penned it. Thus the commandment that it should not be added to must refer to that particular scroll which John wrote. We should understand that most scholars believe that John himself "added to" the Bible, because it is commonly believed that he wrote Revelation before the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John came AFTER the book of Revelation in the chronological sequence of Bible texts. The apostle John told us that "...there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one...that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." A similar interdiction against adding to God's word appears in Deuteronomy. Following the logic of those who say the Bible can't be added to because of John's statement, we must consider tossing anything that comes after Moses and Deuteronomy. Man's rejection of further revelation is an attempt to "mute" God and deny that he has power to reveal anything new or essential to mankind. It defends the status quo, having a "form of godliness" but denies the power thereof. Since the Bible itself doesn't claim to contain all God's words, it would require a revelation from God to tell us that the Bible is inerrant, sufficient, persipicacious, and the final authority in all things. Thus, you can see the quandary: it would require a revelation to tell us that there will be no more revelation. The position is logically untenable. 6. The Bible can be interpreted independent of a predetermined ideology McConkie poses a hypothetical situation. Suppose an angel took a copy of the Bible to a people who had no knowledge of it whatsoever and had no predetermined views on its contents. Suppose they built up a church using the Bible as their guide. Can we realistically imagine that they would, using the Bible alone, come up with anything remotely resembling the doctrine of the Trinity? Neither can we imagine that they would come up with a doctrine that one is saved solely by God's grace, without the requirement of faith and obedience to the commandments of God and the ordinances. (McConkie, 50) The Bible doesn't clearly explain how to baptize, who can perform the ordinance, and at what age the ordinance the ordinance can take place. It doesn't explain the duties of bishops, deacons, and elders and what are the limits of their ecclesiastical authority. Thus everyone, including Mormons, must interpret the Bible through an ideological lens. The lens the Jew uses is different than the Christian. The historian will use a different lens altogether. The Mormon's view must necessarily differ from that of Jews, the Christians, and the historian. This realization is important, because we must understand that, without modern day revelation to guide us, one Bible interpretation is no more authoritative than another. The restoration of the Gospel, the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, all provide additional light and knowledge that give us the keys to interpret the Bible correctly. Without revelation, it would be impossible to determine whose interpretation is correct, because each interpretation will be influenced by the world view of its proponents. The same scriptures that convince a Jew that it is unlawful to turn on a light switch on the Sabbath day also convince him that Jesus couldn't have been the Messiah. (McConkie, 48) The same Bible that convinces Christians to proclaim an end to revelation and miracles also led a young Joseph Smith to "ask of God" and receive a glorious vision of the Father and the Son. 7. To know the Bible is to understand it The Bible is probably the most misquoted book in existence. Paul is probably the most misquoted person ever. The Bible was written by living oracles of God to people who were accustomed to and accepting of the principle of contemporary revelation from God. The counsel and guidance the apostles gave were to people who had a shared understanding. It makes no sense to preach grace to those who haven't repented, been baptized,and had a remission of their sins. It doesn't add up to teach about spiritual gifts and the fruits of the spirit to those who have no right to them. The scriptures don't ask the reader to accept Christ as a personal Savior or to make a committment for Christ, because it is addressed to those who had already accepted Christ by covenant. (McConkie, 53) The cafeteria-style doctrinal approach of contemporary Christian churches is the result of their rejection of modern revelation as a possibility. Without revelation to guide, one must try to cobble together some theology by picking and choosing what fits into one's world view and reject the rest as "metaphors" or "symbolism." (McConkie, 54) 8. The Bible is common ground in missionary work This statement applies especially to Latter-day Saints. We often assume that the Bible is the common ground from which we can build understanding. If there was any semblance of agreement in modern Christianity, do you think there would be a thousand quarelling sects and denominations? (McConkie, 54) Joseph Smith went into the grove to pray because he came to the conclusion that it was impossible to find out which Church he should join by studying the Bible alone. This is a true statement. In this "war of words" and "tumult of opinions" that rages in Christendom, the only way to find the truth is to "ask of God." (James 1:5) Thus the Book of Mormon becomes the preeminent tool for conversion. It offers clear and plain gospel teachings free of sectarian interpretations. It clarifies the Bible's teachings and helps identify the interpolations of men. It also identifies to the sincere seeker, where and how to locate the conduit of personal revelation for himself, independent of anyone or anything else. Latter-day Saints will be more effective by teaching the gospel from the Book of Mormon than from any other source. We should encourage all interested parties to seek truth in prayer and from the Book of Mormon. Finding the truth in this manner identifies the means of obtaining personal revelation, the source of restored authority, how to obtain the ordinances of salvation, and how to live in such a manner as to obtain and keep a remission of one's sins.
  3. This is a post I wrote for the S.P.A.M. web site back around 2009-2010, when Windows Vista was first coming out. I used the release of the new version of Windows as an analogy for the apostasy and restoration. It turned out to be a pretty good parable of sorts, using some modern elements we can all relate to in the Internet age. Enjoy! A fellow Latter-day Saint, Greg N. wrote the other day, using the analogy of the "blind taste test." To get a fair assessment of a product, one often has to get around the prejudices and false notions that people already have. It is a reasonable thing to do. Take off the labels, take off the fancy packaging, and put the product in a situation where it can be evaluated on its own merits. Microsoft is currently using such a marketing approach to get people to reconsider the false notions they have about Windows Vista. People are resistant to new things. Windows Vista is a perfect, current example of this. I began my career in information technology on machines that ran Windows 95, 98, and NT. I still get "warm fuzzy" feelings every time I get near a NT box! Then Microsoft introduced Windows 2000 for the enterprise environment. Wow! What a change! There was a lot of resistance by some system administrators, because we had put so much time into building and securing networks built upon Windows NT. A lot of our work would be undone. There was a learning curve. The common system components were called something different and they were located in different places. The fundamentals of computing and networking are still the same, but we had to go hunting to find them. When I built my first Windows 2000 network, I was pleasantly surprised. Hey! This works! It took some time to get used to the new interface. That slowed me down somewhat, but not for long. After studying it, I was prepared to use it. Once I used it, I could see the benefits. I was "converted to it." The same thing happened when XP came along. People were reluctant to accept it. Again, there were benefits, but there was a learning curve. Now, we've got Vista and it's the same old story. It's just resistance to change. There is a wonderful parallel here with the gospel. Although there is no single, perfect computer operating system, there IS a single, perfect gospel. The Lord has, at varying times, revealed portions of it according to man's ability to accept and live it. The ancient patriarchs like Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham enjoyed a fullness of it. In Moses' time, because of the unbelief and rebellion of Israel, the Lord provided the people with the Levitical Law, a "schoolmaster" to bring them to Christ. They had a "tutorial program" given to them to prepare them to recognize and believe in Christ. Jesus gave the whole gospel program to Peter, James, John and the other apostles. They had the "keys of the kingdom." This is like having "administrator rights" to the whole network. No one else was authorized to make changes or to reconfigure the "network." That didn't stop the Adversary from trying to hack the network, however. Eventually, his hackers cracked the security by getting people to reject the legal "admins" and to ultimately murder them. They pirated and spoofed others, to convince them that their network was the same as the original one. Once the hackers had compromised the system, they changed the system passwords. In the "forest" of network domains, these false system administrators cut the links and separated their domains from the topmost level. They changed the security and refused "broadcasts" from the top. In time, God--the top-level "System Administrator"-- sent out a new product, a new version. This version included full backward compatibility with the original system he had devised. However, the hacked, corrupted system was not compatible. As the new system rolled out, the hackers did not take this lying down. They published all sorts of articles and books that said that the new system wouldn't work. They said that the new product was flawed because it didn't match their hacked, pirated system. As the new system rolled out, the hackers attacked it, not only in discussions about it, but they physically attacked it also. They spread lies, distortions, sent out viruses. However the new system had greater security and was resistant to their attacks. As the new product rolled out, many people listened to the hackers, simply because they had been there for so long, they assumed that they must have some kind of authority or legitimacy. However, it just wasn't the case. In time, the new system gained converts. Some immediately saw its benefits. Others heard the testimonials of those who had been converted. Because they had confidence in their friends and associates, they investigated for themselves and found that the new system was good and they adopted it for themselves. The new system spread around the world rapidly. Nevertheless, the hackers continued their attacks. In some cases, they managed to crash some individual systems. In other cases, they were able to turn converts away, back to their old, corrupt system because of peer pressure, tradition, or coercion. Mostly, their efforts were focused on deterring others from converting to the new system. It was easier to prejudice those who were ignorant of the possibilities of the new system or who were just too proud to make the switch. The hackers exploited human nature's resistance to change. They made convincing intellectual arguments and some that simply appealed to prejudice or vanity. They put out new screen savers, new innovations, and new service packs, but they couldn't match the functionality and robust capability of the newly revealed system. Most of all, what they couldn't match is the thrill of being able to access the old features of the original system, which the hackers told everyone were no longer available. When faced with losing their market share, there's nothing the hackers wouldn't do to protect the power and control they exercise to keep their user base from learning the truth. The most frightening thing in the world to them is a user who suddenly realizes for himself that he can go to the top-level "System Administrator," download the new system directly and get a free password to all the features of the new system. Likewise, the Restored Gospel has been given by God, the "System Administrator." It is being rolled out across the earth. There are those who oppose it, but nothing will stop it or deter it from moving forward. Eventually it will be far more ubiquitous than Windows and provide every single person who believes it with access to the full light, power, and knowledge that God has to offer us.
  4. According to this Church News article: LDS Church News - Video: Joseph Smith, prophet of the restoration, the move Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration received a major overhaul in 2011, and the new version (2011) has replaced the old version (2005). I saw the movie in the Legacy Theater on Temple Square back when they were showing the original (2005). I have since watched the revised version (2011), and I did not like it as much. The original (2005) movie had the feel of a feature film, where the new movie (2011) has the feel of a really long sunday school video. Having seen both versions, I wanted to obtain a copy of the original (2005) to add to my personal library. However, I have not been able to find it. It appears that at one point, the 2005 version was available on the Doctrine & Convenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs, but that is no longer the case. I purchased a copy this week, and the DVD now contains the new (2011) version of the film. Does anyone know where I can obtain a copy of the original (2005) version of the film? I have found a few YouTube videos of it, but all of them seem to be ripped below DVD quality. And as a side note, am I alone in thinking that the original version of the film was better than the revised version?
  5. I've been away from the Church for about 6 months, but now I'm back and stronger in the faith than ever before. I went back to my Catholic "roots" for a while, and while I do love some things about the Catholic Church, the love and concern I experienced from my LDS friends was overwhelming. When the Bishop came to visit me, it was answer to prayer, because I was "stuck between two loves". When I went back to my Ward last Sunday, I knew I was where I was suppose to be. I talked to the Bishop for two hours after the meetings and I learned alot about the true Priesthood. So now, I am interested in studying about The Apostasy and why the Restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel was really so necessary and vital, I would love to hear from others here about this subject. This morning I listened to two YouTube videos about this subject and learned that most all faiths had a part to play in the Father's plan. You can watch these videos HERE. I would like to hear (read) your comments on these talks, also. Thank you for this site. It's good to be back!
  6. I've been attending Miss Prep lately and we've been going through Preach My Gospel. In section 3 Lesson 1, there's a subheading called "Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation." We were talking about how God loves His children enough to want to guide them through all times of history. The first paragraph actually states "One important way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets, who are given the priesthood." My question is if God loves us to call living prophets, why did there need to "come a falling away" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the Great Apostasy? Why couldn't there have been some sort of restoration before America. I know many people say that a country with religious freedom had to be established first, but He's God. couldn't he have called someone before then and kept the church on the earth?
  7. (Emphasis added) "During the days of Joseph's youth, the region around Palmyra became embroiled in religious fervor. Preachers and ministers of every sect fervently cried, 'Lo, here!' and others, 'Lo, there!' Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist. 'In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions,' Joseph Smith wrote: 'I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?' (Joseph Smith--History 1:10; see also v. 5). "This is a universal question that seekers of religious truth ask. This is the question investigators will ask of themselves and of our missionaries. In the heart of one who is sincerely seeking the truth, this question is the beginning of spiritual knowledge. "After Joseph offered a humble prayer for guidance in the woods near his home, he said: 'I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. " '. . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!' (Joseph Smith--History 1:16-17). "From that day forward, Joseph Smith learned line upon line. He turned himself to diligent study of God's word, but he did more than that; he sought knowledge and inspiration from God Himself. Joseph communed with angels. He spoke with the great and righteous personalities of ancient times. President John Taylor (1808-87) said that Joseph Smith seemed to be as familiar with these ancient prophets and patriarchs as we are with one another. Abraham, John, Adam, Peter--Joseph knew them as you know your good friends." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Restoration and Faith," Ensign, Jan. 2006, 35) * To restore: to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored once again; His church has been restablished as it had been established by the Lord Himself, after the same pattern: Prophets, Apostles, revelation, etc,...