A Conversation for Mormonism - A Question and Answer Session

The foundation of our faith

Post 41

NPY

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So are you saying then that the Christain church does not have prophets or apostles?? Surely, all ministers, elders, bishops, and Christians in general will be apostles and prophets?

Perhaps "apostle" means something a bit different in the LDS church than simply someone who is a follower of Christ and is called to teach his word and be a witness for him. You don't have to be a specially elected council representative or someone on a specific mission to be able to be a light for Christ.

Equally, God has blessed many with the gift of prophecy. And the seemingly "ordinary" people too.

I'm always intrigued by the references I keep finding about how Christ is supposed to have visited America. I read somewhere that he is supposed to have done this sometime around his ressurrection. Where's that come from anyway??


Prophets and prophecy

Post 42

Mormonman

Hello there. Those are good questions: worth asking and worth answering.

Re: “So are you saying then that the Christian church does not have prophets or apostles??”

No, the Christian Church must have prophets and apostles. If by the term “the Christian church” you mean all the various churches and branches of Christianity then it would seem that the Christian church has conflicting prophets and apostles. Where there is conflict we must choose where we will individually stand. To suppose our choice doesn’t make a difference is to suppose that God doesn’t care about truth and doesn’t care what church we belong to. This is one good reason for why Christ restored his true church to the earth. He wants to give us a genuine choice. Even those who believe that the protestant reformation was a good thing must accept that the Christian church had changed after the time of Christ and his original apostles and needed to be “reformed”. We believe that it changed so drastically that it needed to be “restored”. Something was lost. The question is: how much and how could it be brought back?

Re: “Surely, all ministers, elders, bishops, and Christians in general will be apostles and prophets?”

Surely, they can’t all be true prophets – otherwise there would much less disagreement in the Christian world than there is. There are Christians that refuse to even sit down together to worship because the doctrinal differences are so great. I could mention many examples of this, but you are equally aware of them. The point is the Christian world is far from a “unity of the faith” even among sincere believers. Someone has got something wrong. Not every Christian church is correct. In fact, it stands to reason, that only one Christian church can be correct. There can only be one true church, just as there is only on saviour or one gospel. Which is it and how shall I know it? We need to be able to distinguish true prophets from false ones, even within the Christian community. I suspect that you don’t actually believe that “all ministers, elders, bishops, and Christians in general” are genuine prophets.

Re: “Perhaps "apostle" means something a bit different in the LDS church than simply someone who is a follower of Christ and is called to teach his word and be a witness for him.”

The word “apostle” literally means “one sent forth”. This is because they were called and ordained and then sent forth to teach his word and be a special witness of his resurrection.

14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
Mark 3:14

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.
John 15:16

The apostles also had the authority to add to scripture, as certain of their number did.
The follower of Christ need not be an apostle. He is a disciple though. He too can be called, chosen and ordained but not necessarily as an apostle, or special witness. There is a time to follow Christ and a time to be sent forth by him.

Re: “You don't have to be a specially elected council representative or someone on a specific mission to be able to be a light for Christ.”

This is very true. All Christians are called to let their light shine. But that does not mean that Christ cannot call apostles in our day. My witness to you is that he has called, chosen and ordained apostles in our own day. In fact, in our day Jesus Christ declared concerning Joseph Smith:

1 BEHOLD, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
3 Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.
D&C 21:1-3

And to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, the first two ordained apostles in our dispensation:

12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;
13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.
D&C 27:12-14

The priesthood is such that men cannot ordain themselves to represent God. They must be called and ordained by Him. Thus Peter, James and John came to restore the apostolic office to others. There are twelve apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These men are special witness of the name of Christ to the world. They are living witnesses of the living Christ.

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
A of F # 5

I was a missionary in Scotland. I did not call myself to that mission. I was called by a prophet of God. Even though I hold the priesthood I do not have the right to travel to any country I want and start preaching and baptising. The Lord’s house is a house of order not a house of confusion. But there needs to be proper priesthood authority. God delegates that authority to men by means of revelation. The doctrine of revelation far transcends the doctrine of no revelation.

Re: “Equally, God has blessed many with the gift of prophecy. And the seemingly "ordinary" people too.”

This is also true. Moses said “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that he would pour our his spirit upon them” (Numbers 11). That is the desire of all true prophets. Again Joseph Smith is a good example. He said “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known to the twelve, and even the least saint may know all things as soon as he is able to bear it.” Joseph promised others that they could get revelation; that they could preach and that they could prophesy. A revelation to his wife Emma says:

7 And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.
8 For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much.
D&C 25:7-8

Joseph organised a Relief Society for the female members of the church in 1842, encouraging them to “save souls”. There was never any feeling or suggestion that only Joseph could get revelation or know God. But he was called as the prophet to the church. This is the way it has always been in the true church of God. Prophets who lead by the spirit of God the people of God. And people who follow the prophet of God by the spirit of God. The spirit unites the prophet and the people.

Re: “I'm always intrigued by the references I keep finding about how Christ is supposed to have visited America. I read somewhere that he is supposed to have done this sometime around his resurrection. Where's that come from anyway??”

The Lord declared during his mortal ministry:

16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
John 15:16

When he visited the people in ancient America (after his resurrection) he declared:

21 And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.
23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.
24 But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.
3 Nephi 15:21-24

Why should it surprise us that he visited these people, since he visited his disciples after his resurrection? Consider the following 1 Corinthians 15:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

It appears Christ visited many people after his resurrection. In America he was seen of about 2,500 people at once. And why not? In the Book of Mormon we find his teachings preserved for us in purity. Surely that is worth a read? If you have the spirit, you will know whether it is true or not.

You of all people should believe that Christ can be seen today. (I read your visionary experience in another thread). Christ continues to do in the present what he did in the past.

Anyway, hope this answers those questions. Feel free to ask more. There is no need to worry about offending me. I honestly think you would find more light and truth in these recent revelations.


Prophets and prophecy

Post 43

NPY

<< I honestly think you would find more light and truth in these recent revelations.>>

To be honest, I’ve found more puzzlement ambiguity in what you said than “light and truth”.

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No, “surprising” is the wrong word. If Jesus actually went to America, there’s no actual reference to it. Neither verse you quoted specifies geographical location, or that Christ would/did make a personal physical appearance there. Fair enough, it doesn’t say that he didn’t. But I fail to see the connection which you claim so confidently. Not even your verses from the Book of Mormon in apparent “support” of the visit fail to mention the location of the Gentiles. They could have been in America, but equally they could have been in Judea or Samaria or somewhere a lot more local.

Ttrue that God and Christ reveal themselves today, and there's no reason why there wouldn't be a revelation or two in America, but you've yet to show me anything to convince me that Christ went to America immediately following his death and ressurrection.

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Fair enough, there are lots of denominations with some minor practical differences, but the denominations are more similar than they are different. The differences that exist are more in practical things like adult/child baptism, frequency of communion, dress code, design and layout of church buildings, etc. The term “the Christian church” covers the many denominations: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Anglican, etc.

But I don't believe for a moment that God's going to allow some into heaven because they're the "right" denomination. If we belong to the Christian church, believe in him, repent, are baptised and all that, then we've nothing to worry about.

You mentioned the original spilt from Catholic into Protestant. As I understand it, one of the main reasons for that spilt was that services were carried out in Latin, which only the educated few could understand, and only clergy had access to the Bible, which was written in Latin. Those who spilt wanted services and God’s word to be available and accessible to all, which they are. No services are carried out in Latin and the Bible is easily accessible in whatever language you happen to speak. Surely God prefers it that way??

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Well, there’s only one Christian church made up of all the denominations, so that sorts that out. Though whether the LDS church is part of the Christian church is another question. You have admitted yourself that LDS are different to other Christian groups.

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Any specifics? Or are you just referring to the different denominations again?

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Are you suggesting that the church is full of false prophets sent to destroy us? True that we have to be on guard against it. But what exactly are you referring to? I know that there have been disagreements within the church in the past and that there are some continuing today, like the homosexuality issue in the Anglican denomination at present. It’s also important for us as Christians to look at issues like these, read God’s word, pray about it and seek resolution of it. If we don’t, then we’ll never learn, we’ll never grow, and things just fall apart.

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Do I not?? I understand it that all ministers, elders, bishops, etc are in a position of guidance and leadership over us, and as such are in a position of revelation. They can reveal God’s teachings and bring us deeper into relationship with him. In my own congregation, my pastor often receives prophetic messages for people and I’ve seen many others within the congregation do the same.

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Surely “following” and “being sent forth” are pretty much the same. We follow Christ in direction and leading in our lives. We may at some point be sent out on mission, but at that time we are still following Christ. He is everywhere, so it’s silly to think that we are “taking him with us” when we go somewhere. We’re just going to where he wants to use us.

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Again, he has called and chosen us all today. Your mission field may be your office, or it may be a small village on the other side of the world. While “ordained” is usually used in reference to a member of the clergy, it can surely be used in reference to any of us. We have all been ordained, commanded, destined, appointed, (or any other of those words) to be witnesses for him wherever he calls us.


The Church of Christ

Post 44

Mormonman

Hi again,

Again we come back to the question of whether the Book of Mormon is the word of God and whether Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

The Book of Mormon is the evidence that Christ appeared in America. It tells the account of his visit there (you’ll find it in 3 Nephi 11-27). He teaches the gospel to these people in plainness. There are some beautiful scenes of him praying with the people after healing all the sick, and then blessing the children. It is very powerful.

Why does the Book of Mormon speak so much about Christ if the LDS church is not a Christian church? Why is the church named after Christ, if it is not Christian? Why did Joseph Smith see Christ several times if he is not a Christian?

One of the early prophets in the Book of Mormon (around 400BC - before the mortal ministry of Christ) said:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
2 Nephi 25:26

Christ is the center of the plan of salvation. Hence God told people about him before he even came to earth. He is the source of salvation. The message of the gospel or “good news” is how we come unto Christ so that we can be saved. That has been the gospel since the very first prophets walked the earth.

I suppose the reason some exclude us from “the Christian church” [which is not a scriptural phrase] is because we do not accept the triune God and we have scripture beyond the Bible. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned from first-hand experience the nature of God. The Book of Mormon is powerful proof that there is scripture beyond the Bible.

The different denominations seem more different to me than you say. The differences are both practical and theological. Infant/adult baptism is a fine example. The Book of Mormon has something to say about that – and connects the correct answer to the atonement of Jesus Christ. Homosexuality is certainly theological – some regard it as sin and others don’t. If Christ wants to save us from sin, then surely his ministers will be able to recognise whether something is sinful or not. Even the Bible differs from denomination to denomination. Some say it is inerrant, complete and infallible and others (e.g., Roman Catholics) rely on Oral (or as they say ‘Apostolic’) Tradition (for their worship of Mary etc) in addition to the Biblical books they possess.

This is where the story of Joseph Smith makes sense. In 1820, in upstate New York, there was a great religious revival. Different denominations were trying to get converts. As Joseph says:

“Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist. For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.”

You have seen, as I have the great contentions and debate between supposedly sincere believers from different denominations. Surely the Saviour must weep to see such fighting in his name? Joseph’s reaction is not unusual. He was 14 at the time:

“During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

The one thing he noticed is that the different denominations were exactly that – different. He couldn’t believe that Christ’s church would have such confusion and contention. He says:

“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, 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?”

This became his chief concern – which church should I join? He believed the Bible and turned to it for direction.

“While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

This promise in James is so important. If we lack wisdom we should “ask of God”. If I want to know about God the best person to ask is God. Joseph explains how this scripture affected him:

“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

Joseph was getting revelation that told him he needed to get revelation. The spirit was touching his mind and heart. The confidence that he lacked before was now coming to him. He believed he could find the answer.

“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to "ask of God," concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture. So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.”

Now he prayed in great faith. He had no reason to doubt that God would answer him. His prayer was answered in a powerful way:

“After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. 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 became a powerful witness that Jesus Christ lives because he saw him. He could say to any person he ever me: “I know Christ lives!”

Joseph tells us what happened next:

“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”

He asked which church he should join. He was answered that he should join none of them because they were all wrong. It was Christ who said this to him. The decision of Christ as to who is Christian or not, or as to whether a church is true or not is what counts most. Joseph later told his mother "I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true." She was at that time a member of the local Presbyterian congregation! He was willing to share the experience he had with others – but found that the reaction was not what he expected:

“ Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them. I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.”

This minister was very opposed to the idea that God would appear to a young honest farm boy. He actually said that there were no more revelations in these days. Well, my experience and yours, refutes that notion. We both know God can speak. Did God speak to Joseph Smith? He compares himself to Paul and then testifies:

“I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

He also knew the answer to the question that had troubled him for so long:

“I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.”

That further direction came and he was called and ordained to organise the Church of Jesus Christ once again upon the earth. All the sects unite against that church just as they united against him. I could write more but you can read all these things yourself – and then pray to God the Eternal Father to ask him if the Book of Mormon is true.

I know that they are true. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

I appreciate that some find the suggestion that not all Christian churches are true offensive and (ironically) unchristian but then the line between truth and error has to been drawn somewhere. The question is who has the authority to draw it? Where has God said that all Christian churches are true? I’d love to see a revelation where God says that “such and such… are not Christians… while such and such… are.” We cannot speak for God unless we have spoken with God.

We accept that others are Christian, do good, believe truth and will go to heaven. Our message is not “become Mormons or go to hell!” Our message is that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more truth than is found anywhere else in the world. It also has priesthood power that traces directly to heaven. This priesthood can seal families together forever. We haven’t just been asked by God to baptise people we have been authorised by him to do so.

That is a message that many in the Christian world have been waiting to hear! They want to hear prophets and apostles (who can add to scripture just as the ancients did) speak and bless them. I like reading the words of Paul or Peter but I prefer meeting those who are like Paul and Peter.

Tell me – what have you felt as you have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon? Many of the questions you ask indicate that you have not read it yet. Don’t judge a book by its cover or refuse to read it yourself. It is a good book – and it teaches truth.




The Church of Christ

Post 45

NPY

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Yes, I'm aware of arguments are all of that. But I've also seen people of different denominations joined together. In my area, we have so many events where members of the different denominations join together in ministry and worship and outreach. Like a few months ago when a local Baptist church building got damaged in a storm, a nearby Presbyterian opened their doors to let the Baptist congregation join their service while the repairs were done. We also have several organisations that unite the church and bring them togethe. Is that not pleasing to God that the church is working together as one?

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So instead of uniting the church, he formed yet another "denomination" to cause further segregation??

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Define "true"? The denominations are not perfect and are not all exactly the same. But that does not mean that God cannot be at work among each of them, or that those among them cannot be Christians/believers/saved or whatever term you choose to use.

Can I ask you what your viewed differences are? You said you see the differences as being "both practical and theological". Can you be more specific??

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If I'm honest, there hasn't been a thing you've said about the Book of Mormon, or a verse you've quoted from it, that has given me the any indication of any truth from it. I haven't spent hours studying it, and I freely admit that. But then, as you are the sole LDS I am in contact with, you have to first at least start to convinve me that there's something in it. From what I've heard and read about it, it seems more and more like people *want* it to support the Bible more than it actually does. And it could be easy to write something in support of something else that was written a long time ago and that you have access to.


The Church of Christ

Post 46

Mormonman



Hello again,

Thanks for your honesty. Let me be as honest as I can:

Part 1 – The Church

Would you feel comfortable worshipping in any of the Christian denominations – would you agree with every doctrine, practice and belief of every denomination? There are doctrinal differences between the denominations including those regarding the authority of the Bible, the sacraments, prayer to saints, and the worship of Mary.

Re: “We also have several organisations that unite the church and bring them together. Is that not pleasing to God that the church is working together as one?”

and

Re: “So instead of uniting the church, he formed yet another "denomination" to cause further segregation??”

We are using the term “the church” in different ways. Do you mean ‘Christianity’ when you say “the church”? If so, do you exclude the LDS? Is our testimony of Christ valid?

The scriptures do not use the term “the church” as you do. Jesus said to the Nephites, to whom He appeared after his resurrection:

7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.

This tells us that “the church” should have only one name – the name of Christ. The different denominations do not share this one name; they have many different names. This same scripture tells us that the church must be built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. It should teach his gospel and none other. To do this, it must be directed by him. It must have revelation from him.

The scriptures further teach that “the church” existed in ancient times. Abraham, Moses and all the ancient prophets of Israel were members of the Church of Jesus Christ. For example, in a revelation received by Joseph Smith, we are told about the nature of Priesthood in” the church”. It says:

1 THERE are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.
2 Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.
3 Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.
4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.
D&C 107:1-4

Now this means that the church existed in ancient times, and that they understood that they had Priesthood because “of the Son of God.” Christian prophets have been teaching Christian doctrine and performing Christian ordinances since very ancient times, even before the mortal ministry of Jesus. This is one of the great distinctive teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It shows that the gospel is eternal, that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that the testimony of Christ is shared by all true prophets.

Those who say that the gospel evolved, that Christianity commenced in 30AD, or that God can have many different kinds of churches have not read scripture very carefully. If they have, they do not believe it. The church of Jesus Christ is an organisation created by Jesus Christ, with his prophets directing it. The priesthood those prophets hold, and use to preach the gospel and perform the ordinances of salvation, must come by the laying on of hands. They must be chosen by God in a clear and consistent manner. The church must bear his name, teach his doctrines and receive regular revelation from him.

We believe, and the scriptures teach, that God has organised the church of Jesus Christ in every age when he has had prophets upon the earth and a people he acknowledged as his own. These people were baptised into this church. They were taught by the prophets who led the church and they were united in the testimony of Jesus Christ who would come to save them. God spoke to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and all the Old Testament prophets and they were members of the church of Jesus Christ in ancient days. When Jesus began his mortal ministry he was baptised. He respected the authority of John the Baptist but not of the Pharisees. Why? After his own baptism he began to teach the gospel of the Kingdom. He drew followers. Then he organised a church. In truth, he was restoring the true church of Jesus Christ in its fullness. He repeatedly says that both Moses and Abraham testified of him. He was restoring the gospel as it was known to these ancient prophets. He called apostles, and sent them forth to teach his gospel and baptise people. They were sent by him just as he was sent by his father. This is the doctrine of priesthood.

After his death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven he continue to direct his church by revelation to his apostles (See Acts 8-10 as examples of Christ calling Paul and directing Peter). After the death of his apostles, the church fell into apostasy. The priesthood was taken from the earth and doctrines and ordinances began to be changed by men who had no authority from God. The evidence that these men were without authority is the fact that they were unable to add to the canon of scripture like both Paul and Peter did. Even the doctrines relating to the nature of God were changed by philosophers without the spirit of prophecy.

Hence the need for a restoration; the reformation was not enough to return to the pure gospel as Jesus and his apostles preached it. This is why Joseph Smith had to be visited by God and angels. He was given the same priesthood and the same gospel that they had. Every power, every principle, every priesthood, every key and every doctrine known to the ancients was restored to the prophet Joseph Smith. Christ commanded him to organise the church and even revealed the name by which it should be known (See D&C 115:4):

4 For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We do not accept anything unless given to us by direct revelation. Now there have been several prophets since the time of Joseph Smith. This weekend, the entire church will have the privilege of hearing the living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, instruct and teach us. You’ll find want he says on www.byub.org or www.lds.org . You can listen to him and then decide whether he is a genuine Christian and a true prophet.

Re: “Define "true"?”

When I talk of the true church, I do not mean a church that does good or teaches truth only. In this sense, all churches can do good and teach truth. But then so do the Boy Scots! Of course, some churches do more good and teach more truth than others. But what I mean is that the church is truly the church of Jesus Christ. It is called by him, even in his name. It is created by him and he control and communicates with. It must have his priesthood, it must have his prophets, it must teach his doctrines and it must perform his ordinances. This is what the Lord means by saying that this is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Now the proof that Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and that the church he restored is true, and that the testimony we bear of Christ is true is the Book of Mormon.

Part 2 – The Book of Mormon

Re: “If I'm honest, there hasn't been a thing you've said about the Book of Mormon, or a verse you've quoted from it, that has given me the any indication of any truth from it. I haven't spent hours studying it, and I freely admit that. But then, as you are the sole LDS I am in contact with, you have to first at least start to convince me that there's something in it. From what I've heard and read about it, it seems more and more like people *want* it to support the Bible more than it actually does. And it could be easy to write something in support of something else that was written a long time ago and that you have access to.”

The Book of Mormon was written by prophets who lived between 600BC to 400AD. These prophets lived in the New World. They knew of Jesus Christ and of his gospel. They had his church and his covenants (such as baptism). What they wrote is scripture because they 1) were commanded by God to write it and 2) they wrote by the spirit of revelation and prophecy. Additionally, many of these prophets saw our day and wrote specifically to us.

Joseph Smith did not write the book; he translated it by the gift and power of God. In that sense, it is a modern miracle. The book of Mormon stands independent of the Bible. It is an independent testimony of Jesus Christ. One of its purposes is to sustain the Bible. But its two main purposes are 1) to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world and 2) to show that God has not forgotten his covenant to gather Israel in the last days.

The testimony it bears of Christ transcends that know to those who only believe the Bible. But the only way to find that out it to study it, ponder in your heart the message it contains, and then ask God if it is true. God can then “convince” you that it is true. He will do that by means of the Holy Ghost, or the comforter. When you read and pray about it, really wanting to know whether it is true, God can let you know by feelings of comfort, calmness, warmth and goodness that it is true. There is no greater witness than that.

I assume you enjoy reading the New Testament. Maybe you even buy books in Christian bookstores. Here is a book of scripture, written by prophets of God who were commanded to do so by Jesus Christ, that testifies of him and teaches “the true points of his doctrine” in such a way as to remove confusion and uncertainty. The first prophet in the book, Nephi wrote:

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
2 Nephi 33:10-11

The last prophet in the book, Moroni, also wrote in the last chapter of his book:

27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
29 And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true.
Moroni 10:27, 29

Now either Christ commanded them to write or he did not. Either the book is true or it is not. Either Joseph is a prophet or he is not. It really is that simple. And you don’t have to rely on me. You can read for yourself and you can pray for yourself.

Christ himself has borne witness:

6 And he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true.
D&C 17:6
Now stronger language cannot be known to God or angels. If God lives then the Book of Mormon is true. There is no stronger scriptural language. The book is proof that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is proof that he lives.

Are these “the words of Christ”? Does the book of Mormon contain “the words of Christ”? How can anyone know if they refuse to read it?

What kind of Christian wouldn’t want to read the words of Christ? Anything that increases our faith in him, our understanding of him and our devotion to him would be accepted by a true Christian… or at least should be read by them. But if that book claims to have the words of Christ himself and if he has commanded that it be published why would you not read it? Curiosity should set in here.

You can even get the book free. You don’t have to give up any truth to believe it. You don’t have to go to the church to get it (though it is an easy way to do it). You don’t have to listen to the missionaries to read it (though it helps in understanding it). The book stands as proof that the heavens are open, that God speaks, that there is a plan of salvation and that all men can come to know God. There are distinctive doctrines in it – see if you can find them. I know that it contains the words of Christ and that he commanded that it be written. And that is good enough reason for me to read it. It ought to be good enough reason for every Christian that really believes in Christ.



a reason to read

Post 47

Mormonman

Dear Not Panicking Yet,

I ought to point out that I have had many spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon. Just last night as I read from it the spirit of the Lord spoke to me about what God wants me to do.

The first experience I had with scripture was with the New Testament. As I read it I could tell that there was something different, something special, about Jesus. I still remember that feeling. Then when I was 12 years of age, I remember kneeling at my bedside and holding the Book of Mormon in my hands. I had just finished reading it. I asked God if it was true and he told me that it was. That was also a very special and spiritual experience.

As a teenager, I began to question the existence of God, despite these earlier spiritual witnesses. I turned to science for answers, admired Newton & Einstein, believed in Evolution, and began to think that religion was man-made and was for the purpose of gaining power.

Only later, when I was 17 did I really wonder if all these intelligent, sensible, honest men really believe in these things. I wondered to myself as I read about Joseph Smith and others during his time: “Did these men actually see these things? Did they really see God and angels? Did they come to know that these things are true or were they mistaken?” so I began the process of pondering and of praying. Prayer was not easy for me at that time. But I persevered. Finally, I was rewarded. I came to know in a special sacred and personal experience that God, my Eternal Father, lives. I came to know that Jesus was the Christ, the actual Son of God. I also understood at that time because I felt and knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon was true. This changed my whole outlook on life and my devotion to God and his gospel.

I have had numerous spiritual experiences since that time – each testifying of the fulness of the gospel as restored to and through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Bible is true. I understand it in a way that others without the Book of Mormon cannot. I know that God has appeared to men in out own time. I know that the heavens have been opened. That Christ himself has appeared unto men and called them to be modern apostles and prophets.

The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever but it does not prove that is true. The only thing that proves that is if God continues to do the same things we read about in the Bible. The opening of the heavens, the ministering of angels, the penning of scripture, the calling of prophets and the companionship of the Holy Ghost are all proof that God is the same and that he has not changed. Since the Book of Mormon was translated by a modern prophet who had been commanded by God to do so; since the plates on which it was written were shown to him (and 3 other men) by an angel of God; since each person who reads that book can kneel down and ask God if that book is true and God himself will answer; since there are living prophets and apostles on the earth today leading and directing the church of Jesus Christ in our time; since the atonement of Christ is being used to cleanse people from the sins and shortcomings; since missionaries are being sent by a prophet of God to every nation that is willing to receive them; since temples are being built throughout the earth to seal families together forever and endow us with power; since God has delegated his priesthood to men on the earth who use it to bless, heal and teach; since God is speaking to men on earth in exactly the same way as he always did, I know that God lives. By these things, and many more, I know that God my Eternal Father lives.

Some people don’t even know that they have a Father in Heaven. Some only know about Jesus Christ. We worship God the Eternal Father in the name of his Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing that you read about in the New Testament that we don’t have or understand. God is the same today as he was yesterday and his church is the same too. Surely, that is worth telling people about and that is worth finding out about.

You do not believe that everyone understands the Bible, even where they claim to believe it. Is it possible that opening yourself up to scripture received in our day would allow you to understand the Bible in the way it was originally written? If you claim to believe the Bible how can you claim that God can only speak in certain ways but not in others? To believe the Bible is to believe in revelation. To believe the Book of Mormon is to receive that revelation.

One can claim to believe the Bible and yet believe whatever you want regarding God, Christ, the plan of salvation and the church you should belong to. It allows for a very broad and wide divergence of views. To believe the Book of Mormon narrows what we can believe regarding Christ and his gospel. It teaches the straight and narrow path that “leads to life but few there be that find it.” Why? Because, as ancient Israel did, they prefer to either follow no prophets or follow dead prophets; but they refuse to follow living prophets. Only a living prophet can show us the way to the Promised Land.

If you lived in the time of Jesus would you have listen to him? Would you have listened to Peter, Paul, James and John? Would you have accepted those portions of the New Testament that came to you even though you had the Old Testament, the words of Moses and the prophets? Why, then in our own day, would you not listen to a Modern Moses sent to lead modern Israel and bring them to the Holy Mount where they can receive the Law of God? Why would you not follow the modern servants of Christ up the holy hill and hear “the sermon on the mount” given in our own day and time?

Those willing to listen will learn that it is God that speaks not man or men. The only question you have to ask is, “Am I willing?” There is nothing to lose. But there is everything to gain.
Of course, there is opposition to new revelation. But where does that opposition come from? All I can say is that I have had numerous precious experiences that tell me that God is my Father in Heaven; that he knows me and you better than anyone else knows us and that he wants us to know him. Christ is not our Heavenly Father. Christ is the Firstborn Son of God in the spirit and the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. Christ is the great example of how to follow and serve and obey the Father. He prayed to the father and so must we. He obeyed the father and so must we. We returned to the father and so must we.

How well do you know your Father in Heaven? There is more to know. There is more to understand. There is more to experience. This is true for both of us. The last thing we want to do is turn our backs on something that comes from heaven because we already have something that is true and good. Christ invited people to know the Father. He has done the same again in out own day and time. The Book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God. You will never know that until and unless you read it for yourself and find out what it teaches and then pray to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if it is true. He will manifest its truth unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost and then you will know for yourself.

Sure proof that God is the same and that he lives and that he is your Father. Wonderful!

Yours sincerely,

Mormonman


a reason to read

Post 48

NPY

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I’ve been to church services held by other denominations. They’ve been different; I haven’t been familiar with some of the prayers or hymns, for example; but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that they are any more or any less Christian than my own congregation. I freely admit that I felt a bit ill at ease during a Brethern service, as they have a practice where women are not allowed to teach during services. I understand the Biblical basis for this, and I have spent time looking into it and praying about it.

Can you be more specific about the “doctrinal differences between the denominations including those regarding the authority of the Bible, the sacraments, prayer to saints, and the worship of Mary”?

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As you have already said, LDS believe that they are the “true church” and that the rest of us are wrong. Why then would the LDS involve themselves in ministry, worship, praise events, outreach, etc that is carried out by those they see as wrong?? As far as I am aware, our local LDS church has never been involved in any of the Christian (and by that I mean any and all denomination) event or organisation in this area. I have no doubt that they would be welcome to join us, though. But if, as you say, they don’t think we’re on the right path, then why would they?

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By “diierent names” you mean Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, etc??

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Are you saying that the church isn’t built on the gospel? If not, what leads you to think that, other than LDS teachings? Do you *really* not think that there is revelation and direction from God and Christ in the modern Christian church??

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From what I understand, the Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by an angel. It was written on gold tablets in Egyptian hieroglyphics. When Smith translated it, the tablets were then returned to the angel, who took them back to heaven or wherever.

Just a couple of things strike me as a bit odd there. If it was written in North America, it seems curious that it was written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Surely it would’ve been written in the language of the American people, and I don’t believe they spoke Egyptian. Also, it seems to me that if the tablets had been retained on earth, then it would also back up Smith’s translation when the Rosetta Stone was discovered and we learnt how to translate hieroglyphics, in the same way that the Dead Sea Scrolls support modern Biblical translation.

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Does the Book of Mormon have to be true if God exists? Surely Muslims or Buddhists or members of any other faith could say the same thing? “If God exists, the Koran is true.” Same idea.

Jesus himself said that if people didn't believe his words, then his actions and deeds should speak for him, and suppotr what he'd said.

I don’t see that a book can be proof that God still lives and moves within his people. I hear stories every week in church of healings, prophetic words, and a whole load of other miraculous stuff that proves that god still lives and moves. Check out some of the stories: http://www.out-there.org/ Do you see healings??

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I won’t argue with you on that. He does reveal himself now. He continues to do the things he did in the Bible. I’ve heard of Muslims who have never heard of Christ coming to faith in him through dreams. I’ve seen people getting words for others about things happening within their families. I’ve heard the stories of blind regaining sight, or lame walking and cancers disappearing. It happens all the time. My pastor told us this morning that in Newcastle in England, 40 churches are about to take 500 people onto the streets to pray for the sick. If that’s not the sort of thing that continues the work Jesus started in the Bible, I don’t what is.

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I believe in the German language, but I don’t understand it. Surely it’s one thing to say that you believe the Bible is God’s word, and another to fully understand every passage? I don’t understand every passage. But then again, I also need to study it, to understand the context, etc.

One big thing, surely, that can hinder our understanding is when you consider that the New Testament was written for a 1st Century audience, in Israel, and the surrounding areas. Think that culture and period is more than a little different to out 21st Century Western one. Wouldn’t you agree? So things that would have been plain as day and did not require explaining to 1st century Jews, for example, may not be as clear to 21st century non-Jews. That’s why I find that my pastors can be very helpful in going into the background of passages and looking at the context. That’s one of the things they learn at Bible College after all. And they’re charged with teaching their congregation.

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Did I say that?? I believe that God can speak to us in any way he chooses. I also believe that any message must be tested to ensure we have heard correctly. I also believe that there are those spiritual forces out there that nay try and look like God, but aren’t. Of course, I’m not saying that Joseph Smith really got visited by a demon, but there are those forces out there that want to mess up God’s messages to us. We have to be careful that we have heard him right.

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That implies that there’s only one revelation. Surely the Bible itself contains lots of revelation, and that revelations occur outside the written word as well.

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Who can say? Would you have listened to them? Can be difficult to say, being so far removed from the time. But I’d like to think that if I saw Jesus, heard him speak and witnessed his miracles, then I’d be hard pushed not to believe. It’s all a matter of proof and seeing it.


a reason to read

Post 49

NPY

Somethig else on a sideline. I find it interesting that you have yet to add anything to your personal space here. I've checked it a few times to find that you haven't written one word about yourself. This seems more than just a tad unfair as the rest of us have made the effort to put something on. I know that you have looked at my space and read some things about me. I don't mind, that's why it's there. But can you not to the decent thing and tell us something about you? Or do you have something to hide?


truth on earth & treasure in heaven

Post 50

Mormonman

Hi again,

I appreciate you reading what I wrote. Once more you ask some very good questions. I will attempt to respond to the most important ones. You have also written things which are good and true. I will try to add things to them. But first, let me tell you a bit more about the Book of Mormon.

I sense that you have already decided that the Book of Mormon is not worth reading directly. You may have read *about* it but have decided not to read it. I have quoted portions to show you some of what it says – both similar to and distinctive from what the Bible says. But there is so much more in the 500 pages of the book than I cannot write here.

I need to correct what you have heard or read about it. The Book of Mormon tells the story of Lehi and his family who travel from Jerusalem about 600BC to “the promised land” somewhere in ancient America. They were led by the Lord to the land. They were Hebrews and so spoke Hebrew. They considered themselves “Jews” though they were actually descendants of Joseph *of Egypt*. Two civilizations arise, named Nephites (after Nephi) and Lamanites (after Laman). Of these two civilizations, the Nephites have prophets who know of Christ by direct revelation. These prophets have visions of his birth, ministry, life, death, burial, and resurrection in the Old World. They are visited by angels and some are visited by the premortal Christ himself (Just as Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel were). They teach about the plan of God in plainness. They have the church of Christ and all that pertains to it. Just prior to 400BC Mormon edits the records of the last thousand years and compiles the (yes you’ve guessed it) Book of Mormon. It is this book that is written in “reformed Egyptian” as it is called. The Book itself explains why it is written in this language rather than Hebrew. The book also explains that both these spoken languages had changed over time. It does not say that these were the only languages used by these people. Moroni, the Son of Mormon, finished the record written on the gold plates after witnessing the entire destruction of the Nephite people by their enemies the Lamanites.

Later, Moroni, as a resurrected being, appeared to Joseph Smith and tutored him before allowing him to take the record. Of the first appearance Joseph wrote:

33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.
34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
Joseph Smith History 1:33-34

Joseph Smith only spoke English at this time and he didn’t write it very well. He didn’t translate the book by the power of men. He translated it by the power of God. This is proof that God calls men in our day and inspires them to do his work. As can be seen from what the angel said, it is the message of the book that is most important. Translating this book was the work of God and the message it contained was a message from God. That message is “the Fulness of the everlasting Gospel… as delivered by the Savior”. The lord told us that we can know true prophets from false prophets “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The Book of Mormon is the fruit of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is the fruit by which we can know that he was a true prophet, that he was called of God and that he had the spirit of revelation. That is why we stress reading, pondering and praying about the Book of Mormon. That is why it is confusing when people refuse to read the book itself.

RE - “Does the Book of Mormon have to be true if God exists? Surely Muslims or Buddhists or members of any other faith could say the same thing? “If God exists, the Koran is true.” Same idea.”

This is an excellent question. The big difference between the Koran and the Book of Mormon is the testimony of Christ. The Koran denies the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ while the Book of Mormon affirms it. This means we should reject the Koran as scripture while we accept the Book of Mormon as scripture “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10). If a book looks like scripture, reads like scripture and feels like scripture then it is scripture. The Koran denies the testimony of Christ while the Book of Mormon defends that testimony. The testimony of Christ is crucial to any valid claim to represent the God of heaven. We judge the truth of any religion or form of worship by what it testifies of Christ. Now that does not mean that all Muslims are bad or that everything a Muslim believes is false. It does not mean that God can’t inspire, guide and direct individual Muslims. But the religion itself, and its book of scripture, do not teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and is at best incomplete. The same can be said of all the non-Christian religions.
I suppose what the Lord meant includes the claim that only *modern* scripture can prove that God has not changed. If God gave scripture to the ancient saints why would he not give scripture to us? Those who claim to really believe the Bible must believe that God can give more books of scripture (See Isaiah 29, Ezekiel 37 & John 21 and elsewhere). If the Book of Mormon is not the new scripture God promised to give then where is that scripture? Why would God who has continuously commanded that his word be written down suddenly stop doing so? Nowhere does the Bible say that God would cease to communicate to those who have sufficient faith to hear him. That communication includes (but is not limited to) additional scripture! Where in the Christian world is that additional scripture? Why would God stop communicating in that way? This is why the canon of scripture is open. God can continuously add to what has already been written. The Bible is not the last will and testament of a dead God. God is alive and additional scripture in our day and time is “proof” of that.
God has given us more than just the Book of Mormon and he has promised to give us more when we are willing and faithful enough to receive it. That is proof that he lives. That is why God bore that testimony of the Book of Mormon. That is why I quoted that – to show that God himself has borne testimony of the Book of Mormon and that the book contains the words of Christ. If it does, then it is worth reading.
Few questions are as important as, “Is the Book of Mormon true? What does the Book of Mormon teach?” Fortunately each person can choose to ask these questions directly to God himself. Just as he expects us to study the Bible he expects us to study the Book of Mormon. These are written revelations received in our day. The fact that it is written does not make it less true. In fact, we can picture people rejecting the words of Paul and Peter because they were an addition to the Old Testament writings, especially since Jesus himself did not add to the canon and he is the Son of God!! It is a pious fraud to use scripture to reject scripture or to use past prophets to reject present ones. It is something all of us need to guard against. There is an abundance of evidence that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Those that treasure up the word of God while in this life lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. The Book of Mormon adds to that treasure.


Ecumenism & exclusion

Post 51

Mormonman

Re: “As you have already said, LDS believe that they are the “true church” and that the rest of us are wrong. Why then would the LDS involve themselves in ministry, worship, praise events, outreach, etc that is carried out by those they see as wrong?? As far as I am aware, our local LDS church has never been involved in any of the Christian (and by that I mean any and all denomination) event or organisation in this area. I have no doubt that they would be welcome to join us, though. But if, as you say, they don’t think we’re on the right path, then why would they?”

While we do not believe that other churches represent the God of Heaven that does not mean that individual people cannot be influenced by both the light of Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the majority of converts to the church come from Christian backgrounds. They are prepared by what they already believe about Jesus to accept what he has made known in our day. Their membership of other churches was a preparation rather than a barrier to accepting the message of the restoration. In that sense, they were on the right path, the path that leads to further light and knowledge, before they even met the missionaries or heard the message. This is true of some of those in other non-Christian religions. The restoration does not condemn good people of any religion. In fact, it teaches that many of them have been waiting for the truth about God. As Joseph Smith once declared:

“For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.”

So one has to look at the individual rather than the sect, party or denomination to which they belong. As a rule, the LDS do not like to attack the beliefs of other people. Our prophets have told us to respect those beliefs. My mother raised me to be respectful of other beliefs, even when I do not agree with them. I think that means be respectful of other people – even where their beliefs are wrong. I attempt to practice that. Most members of the church do too.
We do not believe in ecumenism and we know that Jesus did not carry out ecumenism during his mortal ministry. Our prophets have told us not to involve ourselves in ecumenical activities. That is the reason we do not join with other churches in worship services. However, the church unites with others in humanitarian service projects and in defending moral values in society. Many of these efforts are done on a local level and so depend on the local leadership and members to carry out.
I have also attended many different churches for various different services. I have never felt like I should not attend, even though I do not participate in the same form of worship. Not all members would be as open to attending other churches as I am but few would feel uneasy about it. But all that is a personal matter. It is some of the formal doctrines of the other churches that are wrong. There is also a lack of priesthood authority. These are what make the other churches wrong and this one true – not just the goodness of the people in them.
There is only one strait and narrow path – the path to salvation. As Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.” He is not just a way, or a truth or a different kind of life. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is not just the best way; he is the only way. But did he mean that all non-Christians could not hope to be saved? Did he mean that all of them are on the wrong path (even when they will come to accept him)? Did he mean that they did not genuinely believe in God or just that they did not know God as their father? Does God influence non-Christians – of course he does. Does that mean that the Christian churches should worship with other religions? Not necessarily.


Which modern church?

Post 52

Mormonman

Re: “Are you saying that the church isn’t built on the gospel? If not, what leads you to think that, other than LDS teachings? Do you *really* not think that there is revelation and direction from God and Christ in the modern Christian church??”

I do think that there is revelation to modern Christians. I know that there is. The real question is not just whether people can get revelation but what does the revelation say? If the revelation gets people to close their minds, hearts and doors to more revelation can it really be from God? The purpose of revelation is to get us to believe in Christ and accept all that comes from him. So it is a mistake to say that any revelation will do. We need as much as we can get. That is what it means to be built on his gospel. It means to have prophets and apostles. These prophets and apostles must be united. Christ and his prophets are one. My individual revelation will not mean that I reject the institutional revelation that comes through the prophets and apostles. The word of these prophets and apostles will come to all (especially in our day of global media) and will be accepted by all. The church will be built on the foundation of apostles and prophets. It can only be a living church if it has living apostles. My question is where are the apostles and prophets that all the members of the Christian church can hear and believe? Anciently, they had Moses as the prophet over all the people. Jesus called Peter to a similar position in his own day. Where is the prophet that leads the church of Christ on earth? He has to be a man who is known to all and can be heard by all? Do you think the pope fills that roll? Somehow, I doubt it. So where is he? Where did the office and calling of the prophet go? That is a fundamental part of the gospel. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets?” (Amos 3:7). Why would God cease communicating in this way? Don’t we need a prophet of God just as much (if not more) than any other age in the history of mankind?
Without prophets, including their ability to add to scripture, the gospel becomes distorted. The wisdom of men replaces the wisdom of heaven. Doctrines and ordinances are changed. People divide over what past prophets have written but are unwilling to believe that a living prophet with as much authority as any past prophet can speak for God. Various churches are formed all with various different approaches to the gospel. Some baptise infants. Other don’t. Some preach salvation by grace alone. Others don’t. Some say the Bible is complete and sufficient. Others don’t. Some believe in the gifts of the spirit. Others don’t. These are the churches themselves, not just the individual members of it. But there are also some unanswered questions: what happens to those who never heard of Christ in this life? Can families be together forever? Has God got anything to say about the unique circumstances of our culture? To answer these and other questions we need to be built on the gospel of Christ not just go back to what was written two thousand years ago.


Recent Revelation

Post 53

Mormonman

Re: “One big thing, surely, that can hinder our understanding is when you consider that the New Testament was written for a 1st Century audience, in Israel, and the surrounding areas. Think that culture and period is more than a little different to out 21st Century Western one. Wouldn’t you agree? So things that would have been plain as day and did not require explaining to 1st century Jews, for example, may not be as clear to 21st century non-Jews. That’s why I find that my pastors can be very helpful in going into the background of passages and looking at the context. That’s one of the things they learn at Bible College after all. And they’re charged with teaching their congregation.”

This is precisely why a Book of Mormon helps us understand – it was written for our day. It is much plainer than the Bible is. Also having living prophets helps us understand. They speak our language. Unlike many of the pastors in the churches of men who learn the wisdom of the world “at Bible College”, learning these early languages. I can’t imagine Peter at Bible College so why could he teach? Who charges these pastors with teaching the people? Answer: other men. Where are the people that are called of God? Anyone can say they feel called by God. In fact, that is what happens. How do they prove it? I know how the prophets have been called and it wasn’t because they went to college. Hands were placed upon their heads by those who were actually in authority. Often angels bestowed this authority.

Re: “I believe that God can speak to us in any way he chooses. I also believe that any message must be tested to ensure we have heard correctly. I also believe that there are those spiritual forces out there that nay try and look like God, but aren’t. Of course, I’m not saying that Joseph Smith really got visited by a demon, but there are those forces out there that want to mess up God’s messages to us. We have to be careful that we have heard him right.”

This again shows why you should be willing to read the Book of Mormon – it is revelation that God has chosen to give us. What are you saying to God by refusing to read that book because you have decided God cannot give books of scripture anymore? This is one of the ways he chooses to speak. Read the book for yourself. That’s all he asks and then you can know for yourself. Well, you are right. Either Joseph was a prophet or he was a liar or worse. Either he was visited by an angel, a demon or he wasn’t visited at all. But you can read the revelation that came from this “heavenly manifestation” and that is a good way to know. No wicked man could write the Book of Mormon and no good man would. The book stands as its own proof.

Re: “That implies that there’s only one revelation. Surely the Bible itself contains lots of revelation, and that revelations occur outside the written word as well.”

You are completely correct. There is only one revelation. It is that Jesus is the Christ and that all men must come unto him to be saved. That is the one revelation that God gives to all who will listen. But again you are correct. The Bible is a collection of books with lots of different revelations. Indeed the majority are not even written down. Again that shows that God continues to give more and more revelations. They all unite in bearing witness of Jesus Christ though. Certainly, the Book of Mormon can be added to the collection of written revelations. Additionally, many more revelations will continue to be received into the future. How many will you and I be willing to receive? We are redeemed by our righteous reaction to revelation.


Receive his servants - receive him

Post 54

Mormonman

Re: “Who can say? Would you have listened to them? Can be difficult to say, being so far removed from the time. But I’d like to think that if I saw Jesus, heard him speak and witnessed his miracles, then I’d be hard pushed not to believe. It’s all a matter of proof and seeing it.”

The testimony of scripture is that those willing to receive the servants of God would be willing to receive God himself (Matthew 10:40). Only if we accept those sent in the name of Jesus can we claim that we would accept Jesus. Scripture also attest that these servants are often rejected by those claiming loyalty to dead prophets. Moses was originally rejected by the people by those claiming loyalty to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. In fact, he sense that would be the concern of the people. Christ was rejected in the name of loyalty to Moses. Stephen and Paul were both rejected in the name of loyalty to Moses. Now people reject the living servants of God in the name of loyalty to Paul, Peter and even Christ!! The pattern is not new. If we receive those sent in the name of Christ is our own day we receive him. If we reject them we reject him. One could not have claimed to believe in Christ during his day and yet refuse to accept the revelation that came through Peter, and then later Paul. So it is with Joseph Smith. He is a servant of Jesus Christ, sent in the name of Jesus Christ.
Christ has given us reasons to believe, ways to test it, and power to know it. Again, the Book of Mormon is not just another testament of Jesus Christ – it is the key to unlocking the true testament of Jesus Christ. It needs to go to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. The Book of Mormon increases faith in Jesus Christ, identifies his prophet, his church, his doctrines and his covenants. It wipes away the confusion but only to those willing to read it and THEN ASK GOD IN FAITH if it is true. The testimony that it is true comes directly from God himself. The spirit of the book lets us know.


Personal space

Post 55

Mormonman



Re: "Somethig else on a sideline. I find it interesting that you have yet to add anything to your personal space here. I've checked it a few times to find that you haven't written one word about yourself. This seems more than just a tad unfair as the rest of us have made the effort to put something on. I know that you have looked at my space and read some things about me. I don't mind, that's why it's there. But can you not to the decent thing and tell us something about you? Or do you have something to hide?"

Sorry about that. Of all the ones I checked only two had anything written. I just assumed it wasn't that common to write anything. I don't have anything to hide - not that I have anything particularly "personal" to reveal either. I might get around to putting something down.

I'm 36, the father of one son and the husband of one wife. There the most important things in my life next to my relationship to God.


a reason to read

Post 56

Mormonman

Again,

Re: “One big thing, surely, that can hinder our understanding is when you consider that the New Testament was written for a 1st Century audience, in Israel, and the surrounding areas. Think that culture and period is more than a little different to out 21st Century Western one. Wouldn’t you agree? So things that would have been plain as day and did not require explaining to 1st century Jews, for example, may not be as clear to 21st century non-Jews. That’s why I find that my pastors can be very helpful in going into the background of passages and looking at the context. That’s one of the things they learn at Bible College after all. And they’re charged with teaching their congregation.”


It might surprise you to hear that I actually watch some TV evangelists & pastors. Some are better than others. Often as you say, they put the Bible in context. Another thing to consider, is that Paul was writing to members of the church, people who already knew, understood and believed the basics of the gospel. The Bible does not reveal what they knew... in fact, to understand the Bible; we need to already know what they knew.

If you are willing to accept pastors who have been called and trained by men why wouldn't you accept prophets who have been called and trained by God?

Do you read the Bible directly or do you rely on the interpretation of others for what it says? You will find that the Book of Mormon is mostly very plain and easy to understand. You don't need to be a scholar to understand it. It was written to us. You can read it directly.

Another thing that puzzles me about what you keep saying is your use of "the Christian church" to cover all the denominations. Do you really think all the denominations are true, or truly part of the church that Christ organised? They are not the same. They are not one.

I have watched some of the service on TV where people are shaking and rocking as if in fits. Where is the dignity of that? I have watched some of the "pastors" shouting and screaming at their listeners without teaching anything of substance. I have seen some of them ask for money, calling it a "seed" of faith and others pray for people and saying they are healed while they are watching TV. I have seen someone throw a white handkerchief at people who then fall down. Some of the stuff seems downright satanic. It seems full of the spirit of confusion and disorder... rather than the sweet confidence that came from Christ.

Others are better. They teach with dignity and genuineness. They teach scripture rather than scream praise. I enjoy listening to them and gain insight from what they say. (*But I wouldn't let them baptise me!!!*)

They are not the same. There are wolves in sheep's clothing. There are wolves dressed up as shepherds. There are those who accuse us of being wolves when we are actually the sheep of the Good Shepherd.

It is so obvious that all the Christian churches cannot be true. We have to decide. We have to discern. I prefer to walk the strait and narrow path with prophets and apostles rather than self-appointed pastors, religious money-makers, and confidence-tricksters. I have respect for the sincere though. I think you can sense the difference.

But even sincere pastors are not a substitute for prophets of God who have stood in the divine presence. Prophets who have not chosen themselves but have been called of God - Who can trace their authority right back to the God of heaven.

It is a bit like being invited to a banquet and then being told that instead of the whole meal you can only have a starter. The Christian churches can at most provide a starter but they can't give you the full feast. Why would I go back to just eating a starter when I can have the full meal?

All the things that were lost have been restored. All of it. Everyhting. That is worth having, however good the best of the rest (of the churches) are.

I don't want to sound critical - though I probably do. But I just wonder why people won't read the Book of Mormon themselves, especially when they can. They let others read it for them and then them tell them what to believe about it. The book is waiting there. It is in English. It is easy to read. How long would it take to find out whether it teaches truth? Not long.


Differences

Post 57

Mormonman


Re: “Can you be more specific about the “doctrinal differences between the denominations including those regarding the authority of the Bible, the sacraments, prayer to saints, and the worship of Mary”?”

Rather than detail all the doctrinal differences between the different denominations let me tell you some of the different doctrines that were restored through Joseph Smith and his successors. The restored gospel teaches:

1. We are literally children of God. We are his spirit children. We are created in his image and likeness. We “look” like him.
2. We lived in God in a pre-earth life as spirits. There he taught us his plan for our salvation which involved us coming to earth to gain a mortal body, be test in our choices, and face temptations.
3. He would provide a saviour for us since all of us would sin and die. Jesus Christ was chosen as the saviour and would be the Only Begotten Son of God.
4. The earth was created and there was no death on it. Adam and Eve were placed there and faced a choice. They chose to fall.
5. The fall brings two forms of death into the world – spiritual and physical.
6. God sent angels to Adam and Eve to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were taught to have faith in Christ, repent of their sins, be baptised and receive the Holy Ghost.
7. They taught their children who each chose whether to follow God or not.
8. Many prophets were called by God to teach about the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, including Noah, Abraham and Moses.
9. Each of these knew of God by direct personal experience.
10. Israel was gathered when they believed and obeyed God and scattered when they didn’t.
11. When Jesus came earth he was born as a baby, though he was the Son of God the Eternal Father.
12. During his ministry he had to restore the fulness of his gospel to the people, including the truth about his Father and his own future.
13. He called apostles and organised a church. But just as in former times when the priesthood authority was lost from the earth the church was changed from within.
14. There was a restoration of the gospel and the church through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
15. The proof of that restoration is the Book of Mormon, which is scripture comparable to the Bible.
16. When we die our spirits go to the spirit world and await the resurrection.
17. In the spirit world the gospel can be taught to those who never heard it in this life and they can freely choose to accept or reject it.
18. All those who have been born and died will be resurrected and receive their bodies back thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
19. After the resurrection all men will stand before God to be judge according to their works.
20. There are three degrees of glory in the eternal world where men will be sent according to their acceptance of the gospel. These are the Telestial, the Terrestrial and the Celestial Kingdoms.


A Christ-centered book

Post 58

Mormonman

Some important passages in the Book of Mormon

Before Christ’s birth:

1 Nephi 8 – Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life
1 Nephi 10-14 – Nephi’s vision of the ministry of Christ
1 Nephi 19 – Nephi prophesies of Jesus Christ
1 Nephi 22 – Nephi explains the gathering & second coming
2 Nephi 2 – Lehi discourses on the Creation & Fall & Atonement
2 Nephi 9 – Jacob discourses on the Atonement and testifies of the plan of salvation.
2 Nephi 31-33 – Nephi teaches the ‘Doctrine of Christ’, including an explanation as to why Jesus would be baptised.
Jacob 4 – Jacob teaches that all previous prophets knew of Christ and worshipped the Father
Jacob 7 – Jacob confounds an anti-Christ named Sherem.
Enos – Enos gains a remission of his sins through Christ
Mosian 2-5 – King Benjamin addresses his people and teaches of Jesus Christ and how to be saved.
Mosiah 12-16 – Abinadi teaches the wicked priests the commandments, the need for Christ and how to be saved before he is put to death.
Alma 5 & 7 - Alma delivers two powerful sermons about Jesus Christ and his atonement.
Alma 12 – Alma teaches how Christ is essential to the plan of salvation.
Alma 18 & 22 – Ammon and then Aaron deliver a simple sermon on how to be saved through Christ
Alma 32-34 – Alma teaches the humble and poor people how to have faith, pray and believe in the Son of God to be saved.
Alma 42 – Alma gives a powerful testimony of how the Atonement unites both the mercy and the justice of God.
Helaman 5 – Two prophets teach the people of Jesus Christ and are protected by God
Helaman 10 – God gives to Nephi the sealing power
Helaman 13-15 – Samuel the Lamanite gives a powerful prophecy of Jesus Christ including testifying of his birth and his resurrection.

After Christ’s resurrection:

3 Nephi 11-17 – Jesus teaches the people and heals the sick
3 Nephi 20-21 – Jesus teaches about the last days.
3 Nephi 27 – Jesus teaches about his church and his gospel
4 Nephi 1 – The people live in such righteousness that they have great peace, love and joy.
Mormon 7 & 9 – Mormon and then Moroni testify of the need to repent and believe in Christ and the need for prophecy and revelation.
Moroni 7 – Mormon teaches about faith, hope and charity
Moroni 8 – Mormon teaches why infant baptism denies the atonement of Christ
Moroni 10 – Moroni teaches why we need the gifts of the spirit and invites us to “Come unto Christ”.

This indicates how Christ-centered the Book of Mormon really is. There are treasures of truth in this book and it shows that God worked among his people anciently and increases our faith that he will work “among the children of men” today. As Mormon declares:

35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
Moroni 7:35-36

God will never leave us alone, even if just one person is willing to be saved. The Book of Mormon stands as evidence of that and that the heavens are open. We invite people to pray and ask God if it is true. When God answers, who can doubt that the heavens are open and that God still speaks?


Revelation

Post 59

Mormonman

Hi, It is interesting to reread what I wrote. There are a few spelling mistakes and things come across differently than when you are writing in the moment. I genuinely don't want to sound like I am attacking your goodness or sincerity because I am not. Nor do I want to make it seem that LDS feel that all others cannot have access to God because that would actually be the complete opposite of what we believe. Our whole message centers on the reality of revelation. We take literally the invitation to ask of God. Joseph Smith once said that the best way to gain wisdom was "not to ask it of books but to go to God in prayer and obtain divine teaching." The Book of Mormon is only proof that God lives and speaks to those who have pondered its message and then prayed to God the Eternal Father to find out if it is true. It is proof because God himself answers them. It does take courage to read, ponder and pray about it. It also takes faith. Many of us are tempted to believe that God will not speak directly to us and so we must rely on another person to teach us. But I can take the scriptures in my hands, open them, ponder them and then pray about them and God can speak directly to me. He can hear my prayer and he can answer it. It is truly a sacred and wonderful thing. Re: "I dont see that a book can be proof that God still lives and moves within his people." It is revelation that is proof that God still lives and acts among his people. Revelation, in all its forms, is what proves that God has not changed. Re: "I hear stories every week in church of healings, prophetic words, and a whole load of other miraculous stuff that proves that god still lives and moves. Check out some of the stories: http://www.out-there.org/" God works among his children according to their faith. That is true. One has to believe truth in order to have faith. So starting with a belief in God is good. But the faith that comes to the prophets is based on knowing the truth about God as our Father and his plan of salvation. Miracles have not ceased - nor do they only happen among "Mormons", or even just among christians. We are all children of God and he loves us all. But there are signs that follow those that believe in Christ. The greater the belief the greater the signs. In addition, we know that there are counterfeits. So that not all miraculous events are brought on by God. Again, this means that there has to be some way to discern true from false spirits. It has to be within the capacity of all to know the difference. Some miracles are more important than others - the forgiveness and healing of the soul is far superior to the healing of the body. Re: "Do you see healings??" Thanks for the question. Yes, I have heard of healings, I have see healings, I have been healed and I have actually performed healings. I hold the priesthood of God traceable by the laying on of hands back to the Lord Jesus Christ himself. We are told in our revelations not to boast of these things before the world, but yes, miracles do happen in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But we have no problem believing that healings etc take place among all the peoples of the world. God's love for his children is not limited to their organisational commitments. Their faith and knowledge depends on their obedience to the commands of God himself. I genuinely hope that you will read the Book of Mormon. I think you will have some interesting questions when you do. I appreciate your questions. I also appreciate your honesty. When you read the Book of Mormon for yourself you will have questions. You can ask me of course. But you can also ask God. He has no difficulty understanding you and is very able to answer. You can know independent of any other person whether the Book of Mormon is true or false. I think we should study and pray until we know... until there is no question as to whether it is true or false. Could a false book of scripture say such beautiful things about Jesus Christ? I doubt it. But I know by personal revelation to my soul tha


Jesus as the Christ

Post 60

Mormonman


I read the following recently.. and thought it might interest you.
It is by Joseph Fielding McConkie.

"We observe with some interest that critics of the Book of Mormon are offended by the book, not because it fails to teach and testify of Christ, but rather because it is so Christ-centered. Krister Stendahl, a Lutheran scholar, compares the Sermon on the Mount with the same discourse delivered by Christ in 3 Nephi. He observes that the Book of Mormon places a much stronger emphasis on the commissioning of the Twelve and the necessity of both baptism and belief in the words of Christ than the Gospel of Matthew does. He notes that "in the Matthean Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is pictured rather as a teacher of righteousness, basing his teaching on the law and the prophets, scolding the superficiality and foibles of the religionists of his time, proclaiming the will of God and not the glories of himself. Nor does the Sermon on the Mount specifically speak of 'being saved.'"
Stendahl expresses concern about the doctrinal emphasis on the authority of Christ in the Book of Mormon account. The absence of such authority, he feels, strengthens rather than weakens "true revelation." He suggests that the beauty of the sermon is in its ambiguity, and that one characteristic of cults is the constant desire for additional answers. He likens the seeking of continuous revelation to putting "too much glitter on the Christmas tree."

I was once involved in a formal debate with representatives of the Church of Christ in Issaquah, Washington. Their primary objection to the Book of Mormon, they told me, was its constant reference to Christ and his church prior to the meridian of time. "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26), I was told, and none knew of Christ or his church before the time of his mortal ministry. The strength of this argument rests in the fact that neither the name Christ nor the word church appears in any modern translation of the Old Testament, whereas the contemporary portion of the Book of Mormon contains over two hundred references to the Savior by the name Christ and almost as many references to his church. Representative of such passages is the testimony of Nephi:

Notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:24–26).

Such, we are told, were "called to the church of God, or the church of Christ" (Mosiah 18:17).

It is an interesting paradox that those so anxious to label us a non-Christian cult are offended by the Book of Mormon because it is so Christ-centered."

Indeed it is. Just as Jesus was falsely accused of being a devil by those waiting to accept the Messiah so we are falsely accused of being a non-christian cult by those awaiting the return of Christ to the earth. Just as a devil could not bear the testimony or perform the works that Christ perform, so a non-christian cult could not produce a book that is as christ-centered as the Book of Mormon.


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