Sunday, October 05, 2008

13 Articles of Faith

1. We believe in God the Eternal Father, the Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.

These 3 persons or 3 beings of the God Head constitute one God by being one in purpose. This is slightly different than the Nicene Creed Trinity Doctrine. Joseph Smith at 14 years of age after reading in the Bible and pondering about which Christian church he should join went into a grove of trees and there while praying saw a vision of the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. In that vision Joseph Smith saw a a bright pillar of light and two personages in that light and one spoke to him calling him by name and said pointing to the other, "This is my beloved son, Hear him". The second personage who stood at the right hand of the first told Joseph Smith to join none of the churches because while they had a form of godliness, none possessed the keys, power and priesthood authority. This is like what the disciple Stephen saw who looked up into heaven and saw after being overshadowed or transfigured by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of the Father.

2. We believe that men are punished for their own sins and not Adams transgression.

All curses, and consequences of Adam including death are overcome by Christs atoning sacrifice. "While In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive". This is the unconditional part of Christs sacrifice. All men and women will be brought back to stand before God and make an accounting of our life.

3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

We are saved by grace 100%. But Christ doesn't just save us in our sins but from our sins and as we give God our whole souls will be empowered to choose rightly. While we do not contribute one iota to our own salvation without Christ. We are blessed to participate and witness the miraculous power of Christ as we are empowered to repent of sin as we come unto Christ. Christ just doesn't sweep our sins under the rug but purifies us and purges sin from us by His power.

4. We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and fourth the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This is how Christ has said we accept Him and enter into an everlasting covenant with Him. We must begin with faith, as we exercise faith we will be empowered to begin to repent of sin. We then can be baptized by water which is a promise to always remember Christ and strive to keep His commandments and serve Him. Then comes the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Those who are baptized are blessed by the laying on of hands to "receive the Holy Ghost". The reception of the Holy Ghost depends on us and our obedience to it's still small voice in our heart and mind. As we listen and obey, the power of Gods spirit will grow brighter and brighter within us. We don't have to be perfect at the beginning to merit the Spirit. Christ merits it for us and we are justified by His sacrifice. But as we listen to the spirit and accept it and give our while souls to God the Holy Spirit will purify and sanctify us and live after the manner of happiness.

5. We believe that a man is called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.

Christ taught that unless a man is re-born of water and spiritually born again of God or baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, he can not enter into the kingdom of God. But who can baptize and confer the Holy Ghost on another by the laying on of hands. Christ gave Peter and the other Apostles and his 70 Elders or disciples the keys of the kingdom of heaven that whatsoever they bound on Earth would be bound in heaven or whomsoever they baptized on Earth, that act was valid in heaven with God. This priesthood authority to act in Gods name was lost from the Earth after the death and martyrdom of the first Apostles. Consequently we see the world fall into the Dark Ages. However, God would prepare the works for a restoration of His church and authority through Joseph Smith beginning with the inspired Protestant reformers and Founding Fathers who laid the foundation of America where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could be restored. Although the church was persecuted and despite state authorized extermination orders, mobbings were driven from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and then finally to the safety of the Rocky Mountains.

Although inspired, the Protestant reformers recognized they had no priesthood authority like the Catholic Church claimed descended through an unbroken line through the Popes. Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who is the founder of the Methodist church, criticized his brother ordaining male and female pastors by writing "how easily are priests made by men and women's whim. Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid, but who laid hands on him?"

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church. Namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth.

When Christ was on the Earth and established His church, he set it up with an organizational body who possessed keys of authority. There was a chief Apostle Peter who held the keys and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood under Jesus Christ Himself who is our Great High Priest and leader of the Church. There seemed to be an important executive body comprised of Peter, James and John. Therefore, the LDS church also has a head Apostles who is referred to as president of the church and as Prophet. And to assist him, the prophet has 2 other councilors who are also Apostles just like Peter had James and John.

Below them is the quorum of 12 Apostles who are to be traveling ministers and special witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world. And below them are groups of 70 Elders who assist the 12 Apostles establish the church in all the world. Christ as well as Moses called 70 Elders. There has been an an interesting archaeological discovery recently in Rahib, Jordan of the first known Christian Church. The church has a mosaic dedicated to "the 70 beloved of God, and divine."

Christ's church also had Bishops or Pastors over individual congregations, teachers, and missionaries.The importance of a church with a central leadership is for uniformity of doctrine. During the NT times, there was a debate over circumcision. To resolve the question, Peter, Paul and the other Apostles and Elders came together to decide the issue through inspiration. In the same way the Constitution has the Supreme Court to determine how it is to be interpreted; Christ's church has a hierarchy to settle issues of doctrine and proper Bible interpretation.

However, while the prophets and Apostles have the authority to receive revelation for the whole church, the individual has the Holy Ghost and can be ordained to the same priesthood and has the same rights to receive revelation for himself and for those he has stewardship or responsibility over. It seems some want to make a false dichotomy between individual access to God and church government. They are not mutually exclusive. You can have both work together. LDS believe in the priesthood of all believers, but we actually ordain all worthy males to the priesthood. We have no professional clergy and fathers bless, baptize, and confirm their own family members and can be called as bishop or Apostle or whatever other calling at any time as God reveals His will.

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelations, healings, visions, interpretation of tongues and so forth.

With the gift of the Holy Ghost comes a belief in the signs and miracles of the Holy Spirit. LDS usually don't talk about these or make them public but record these experiences and miracles in their personal journals. But the Bible prophesies that signs should follow those who believe and the LDS church benefits from the blessings of a loving Father in Heaven who answers prayer in sometimes marvelous fashion.

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

We believe the Bible to be the word of God. The part about being translated correctly means as far as it is "interpreted" correctly. Obviously, the Bible is inerrant as it was given from God to prophets. But since then there are hundreds of Bible translations and even more Bible interpretations. So, the Bible is the word of God as long as it is "interpreted" correctly. The LDS believe the Bible 100%. like other Christian religions we don't pick and choose what we do and don't believe. We believe that through the Book of Mormon we understand how to interpret the Bible more correctly than any other church. The Book of Mormon and the Bible do not contradict each other at all but support each other. If some tell you they are contradictory, it is because they mis-interpret the Book of Mormon or the Bible or both. We find no contradiction.

What is the Book of Mormon? About 600 BC in Israel during the time of Jeremiah the prophet, God called many prophets to call Israel to repentance before the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the captivity of the Jews. Another such prophets was a man named Lehi who was from the tribe of Joseph (one of the 12 sons of Israel or Jacob). Lehi was led to America with his family and formed a modest but advanced civilization here on the American Continent. God continued to call prophets among these people. The interesting thing about these people is that they were Jews and practiced the Law of Moses but they were Christian and understood that the Law of Moses pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Then after the death of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Christ appeared to these people in America and taught very similar teachings here as He had in Israel to these "other sheep." However, 400 years after Christ this civilization which was really 2 competing societies, which have yet to be identified in the archaeological record, fell apart and disappeared. The people called the Nephites and Lamanites who are named after sons of the prophet Lehi, rejected Christ and died off and were absorbed by other peoples due to fighting and wars among themselves. So, in a way the Book of Mormon could be considered a collection of lost books of the Bible. The most important message of the Book is that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and Savior of the World, and the only way by which man can inherit eternal life.

Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon the most correct book ever written. How is the Book of Mormon the "most correct?" Joseph Smith wasn't talking about grammar or history. This correctness refers to the clarity of meaning and the lack of doctrinal ambiguity in the Book of Mormon. This is in contrast to the Bible which, because of ambiguous language as a result of translation, has produced thousands of Christian denominations and non-denominations. While there are a few off-shoots from the LDS faith, none is a result of a disagreement concerning a teaching in the Book of Mormon.

9. We believe all that God has revealed. We believe all that God does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal, many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

At the close of the Book of Revelations is some important verses which warn about adding and subtracting to the "prophecy of this book." Notice that "prophecy" and "book" are singular. And that the Bible was not compiled in its current form until hundreds of years later and the Book of Revelations was only arbitrarily placed at the end of the Bible even though John wrote his epistles after writing the Book of Revelations. Therefore, while it is important not to Add or Subtract to Gods word, these verses are speaking of the prophecy of John's Book of Revelation (singular) and not the many prophesies, and many books of the Bible. This shouldn't be construed as some magical statement that says, that's it, no more, the Bible and the heavens are sealed and closed and there is to be no more from God. He ain't talking to us any more.

Therefore as Amos says, "surely the Lord God will do nothing but he reavealeth his secret to his servants the prophets" Therefore, since many things will happen in preparation for the second coming of Christ, while the exact time of Christ's coming "no man knoweth," many important things will be revealed to man to continue to call man to repentance and prepare us for Christ's coming.

The Prophet and Apostles operate in a very distinct way in comparison to how the Traditional Christian Creeds were established. When the LDS leaders decide an issue, they may actually assign different members to argue for or against the different sides of an issue. They study the issue out and make it matter of prayer and fasting. Then when the unifying spirit of inspiration comes, they are in agreement about what to do. There is no voting in the same way we choose senators or vote for president. And they do not act until there is unanimity. Doesn't it make sense if everyone is asking God on an issue, God would answer everyone with the same answer?

But that is not what happened during the Catholic Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, and Trent and Constantinople where the so-called Traditional Orthodox Creeds were produced. At these councils, religious scholars came together and debated, and then voted and doctrine was established on 5-4 spit decisions and not unanimity. Kinda like Roe v. Wade. The problem with operating like this, is that it created schisms and division of the church. And so you immediately see that these ecumenical councils which sought to unify the Christian Church, immediately became fractured as the Eastern Orthodox split off and then the Protestant churches as there was a particular doctrine or set of doctrines that a group did not agree with.

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the 12 tribes, that the New Jerusalem with be built upon the American continent and that Christ will reign personally upon the Earth and the Earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.

This Article of Faith deals with End-times prophesies. The LDS faith believes that the 12 tribes of Israel will be identified and restored in a literal way to Jerusalem in Israel. We believe in the Second Coming of Christ to the Earth and that Christ's church in America will be gathered together to a New Jerusalem during the tribulation while those of Israel will be gathered together in Old Jerusalem. But after that period, Christ will reign 1000 years on the Earth and the Earth will be in a more glorified and paradisaical state at that time. "The meek shall inherit the Earth"

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all man that same privilege; let them worship how, where or what they may.

We respect the freedom of religion and believe that no coercion should be used to force people into a belief but that belief should be of a result of free will and choice.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates.and in obeying honoring and sustaining the law.

We respect that the freedom of religion is protected by government and "those who obey the laws of God, need not disobey the laws of the land" Therefore, LDS are encouraged to be law-abiding, active participants and productive citizens in our communities and our country even to the defending of our country with our lives if called upon by our governments. But in the Millennium we have the hope that our swords will be "turned into plowshares" and man "will not learn war any more."

13. We believe in being honest, true, chase, benevolent, virtuous; and in doing good to all men. Indeed we may say that we follow, the admonition of Paul; we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything, virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

It is hard to nail down our doctrine to just 12 or 13 statements. As some churches have a defining belief that sets them apart from the other churches, the LDS church is not easily pigeon-holed by just one distinct belief. LDS consider themselves to be pure seekers of truth, and if there is truth out there, we claim it as part of our religion.


RJPope said...

David, since you spent the first paragraph on article 9 dismissing the warning at the end of Revelation (and you have a good argument) it appeared you understandably wanted to ‘clear up’ any confusion regarding biblical warnings and God’s view of adding/taking away ‘God breathed’ biblical scripture. You then concluded with, “Therefore, while it is important not to Add or Subtract to Gods word, these verses are speaking of the prophecy of John's Book of Revelation (singular) and not the many prophesies, and many books of the Bible. This shouldn't be construed as some magical statement that says, that's it, no more, the Bible and the heavens are sealed and closed and there is to be no more from God. He ain't talking to us any more”.

So, you are addressing two things here; is God still speaking to his people (I would call this general and special revelation) and does He warn us not to add/take away from scripture (your argument is that He has not warned us- thus allowing ‘additional’ scriptural revelation). Regarding the first: I believe in general and special revelation. Regarding the second: When reading other biblical testimony (not just the book of Revelation) we DO find God specifically guiding his apostles NOT to add/take away from ‘God breathed’ biblical scripture; or, to be more specific, NOT to change the Jesus Christ of authentic ‘God breathed’ biblical scripture.

Gal 1:8-9 - (8) “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed”. (KJV)

1 Corinthians 4 - (6 ) "I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (7) "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"

2 Peter 3:14-18- (14) “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; (15) and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, (16) as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (17) You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; (18) but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen”.

Since we are told NOT to preach something outside of the gospels (meaning; we are forbidden to preach a different Jesus Christ); since we are warned not to ‘twist’ scripture and we are told not to ‘go beyond what is written’ regarding scripture (and Paul’s letters were considered scripture at that time)- then WE are being directed by God (our Lord), through his apostles to AVOID any false teachings or doctrines regarding Jesus Christ. Since we have (with vivid certainty) the same Jesus Christ 2000 years later (paralleling contextual criticisms with the oldest of scripture and with the writings of 1st and 2nd century church fathers- Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias we thus confirm (as Christian men) we have TESTED all things 1 Thess 5:21! This then should be Good News (the same Good News Paul continuously and harmoniously preached) that such false teachings and/or false doctrines, in weight of evidence, revelation and truth SHOULD not detour us from the true biblical, Jesus Christ.

However, we have a problem, David; you also said, “The LDS believe the Bible 100%.” You also said, “Like other Christian religions we don't pick and choose what we do and don't believe. We believe that through the Book of Mormon we understand how to interpret the Bible more correctly than any other church.” The truth is, David, that you do the very opposite of what God commands; you interpret the Bible through the guised lens of LDS doctrine (a doctrine of MULTIPLE sources, David; which are ALL suspect) instead of the reverse! AND, as a result, the presentation made by the Mormon Church of WHO Jesus is (WHO HE IS, WHAT HIS WORK WAS AND WHAT HIS RELATIONSHIP TO THE FATHER IS) is absolutely foreign to authentic Biblical scripture! AND, as far as I can tell, foreign to Smith’s ‘Book of Mormon.’ In addition, Mormons grossly misinterpret biblical scripture (I can site references); defending polytheism, confirming an alleged restoration and changing Christ’s attributes- among other things! You will ONLY find passages supporting these alleged beliefs when ripped from biblical context- OFTEN SO BAD that the said interpretation nullifies the biblical author’s letter (becoming incongruent as a whole) and his belief system! I have addressed this very issue with you, David, regarding Psalm 82 and the theologian apologist, C.S. Lewis. Your interpretations were misleading as well as questionable- and you have failed to respond to my points. Anyone (and I use this generalization strongly) who takes the Bible seriously (CONSIDERS IT THE WORD OF GOD) will NOT attempt to approach biblical scripture the way you do. This is, I believe, the TRUE argument; how important is the Bible, really? No more silly arguments about ‘…only if interpreted correctly’ -it is a red herring and it insults the educated; it insults Christians and it’s a direct affront (I safely assume) to God.

I have addressed scripture that supports the notion we are to leave scripture alone. In addition, I have pointed out that the Mormon Christ and the Christian Christ are NOT the same Jesus Christ. Because finding the ‘true’ Christ is essential to our way of life and our salvation- then this is a big deal, David. Because I am fallible and because I am not trained (to the extent I would like) in theology and apologetics; AND, If you feel I have misjudged or have treated you unfairly (regarding this letter), then of course, I encourage you to site the biblical references supporting a possible restoration, gods existing, the Mormon Jesus Christ and the Bible’s unguarded approach to newer additional scripture. I can only hope you do NOT (or other Mormons) ignore verses prior and/or after any quote you site. We ALL hope you keep context in mind, David.



BRoz said...

Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

I agree that although Rev 22:18-19 is speaking specifically about the Book of Revelations itself, there is a more general application of the principle. Deut. 4: 2-3 says nearly the same thing.

But the fact that there are men who claim to be modern prophets and apostles does not necessarily of itself add or subtract from scripture. If what modern prophets say is from God is doesn't change the Bible any more than Isaiah's words added and subtracted from Moses' words.

But there is another problem at play here. And that is your assumption that your own views are without bias. That is just not intellectually honest. That is like a reporter claiming their reporting is without bias. It just isn't possible. Everyone is influenced by bias and their faith tradition.

I confess freely that my belief and understanding of the Bible is a result of modern revelation and from the Book of Mormon. If it wasn't for modern revelation about temples, I would not have realized the John's reference to the "sealing in the forehead" was foretelling about modern Christian

This is in contrast to Evangelicals whose beliefs I believe are influenced by non-biblical 3rd-century creeds where doctrine was decided by committee and uninspired 5/4 spit-decisions which led to schism and our current state of fractured Christianity and our many denominations and non-denominations and not the doctrinal and spiritual unity promised in the Bible.