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Fundamental Misunderstandings


The_Monk

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A poster said elsewhere,

if the Book of Mormon is true, the LDS Church is surely false, for there are numerous conflicts between the Book of Mormon and the doctrines unique to the LDS Church.

This represents a thoroughly Protestant understanding of the relationship between scripture, doctrine, and prophets. It is important to point out that such an understanding is not LDS, nor is it necessary "Biblical."

This understanding appears to assume several things.

1) All scripture is internally consistant, and represents only one doctrinal viewpoint. (One might ask a Jew if there are doctrinal conflicts between the New and Old Testaments.)

2) The doctrinal viewpoint expressed therein is full, complete, and eternal. It can't be enlarged, interpreted or understood differently in light of later revelation.

In other words, there is no recognition of the idea, expressed in LDS terminology, of line-upon-line, of further light and knowledge. Nor is there recognition of fallibility. Instead, the Bible is read as if it had been written as a doctrinal handbook, a pseduo-systematic theology that takes no account of different authors, time periods, etc.

I might note that it is assumptions such as these that kept David Whitmer from rejoining the LDS Church, as expressed in his "A Witness to All Believers in Christ."

I can demonstrate later that these assumptions are explicitly contradicted by both LDS prophets. For the time being, I must log off.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A poster said elsewhere,

if the Book of Mormon is true, the LDS Church is surely false, for there are numerous conflicts between the Book of Mormon and the doctrines unique to the LDS Church.

This represents a thoroughly Protestant understanding of the relationship between scripture, doctrine, and prophets. It is important to point out that such an understanding is not LDS, nor is it necessary "Biblical."

This understanding appears to assume several things.

1) All scripture is internally consistant, and represents only one doctrinal viewpoint. (One might ask a Jew if there are doctrinal conflicts between the New and Old Testaments.)

2) The doctrinal viewpoint expressed therein is full, complete, and eternal. It can't be enlarged, interpreted or understood differently in light of later revelation.

In other words, there is no recognition of the idea, expressed in LDS terminology, of line-upon-line, of further light and knowledge. Nor is there recognition of fallibility. Instead, the Bible is read as if it had been written as a doctrinal handbook, a pseduo-systematic theology that takes no account of different authors, time periods, etc.

I might note that it is assumptions such as these that kept David Whitmer from rejoining the LDS Church, as expressed in his "A Witness to All Believers in Christ."

I can demonstrate later that these assumptions are explicitly contradicted by both LDS prophets. For the time being, I must log off.

I hope you are going to come back to this!

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Been busy, but here are a few citations. More to come.

On God speaking in a time-based context and not being based on books.

When God speaks to the people, he does it in a manner to suit their circumstances and capacities. He spoke to the children of Jacob through Moses, as a blind, stiff-necked people, and when Jesus and his Apostles came they talked with the Jews as a benighted, wicked, selfish people. They would not receive the Gospel, though presented to them by the Son of God in all its righteousness, beauty and glory. Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiff-necked, the Lord can tell them but little.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:311

Were the former and Latter-day Saints, with their Apostles, Prophets Seers, and Revelators collected together to discuss this matter [the nature of Deity], I am led to think there would be found a great variety in their views and feelings upon this subject, without direct revelation from the Lord. It is as much my right to differ from other men, as it is theirs to differ from me, in points of doctrine and principle, when our minds cannot at once arrive at the same conclusion.

-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:123 (Haven't checked this one)

â?¦we believe, from the Scriptures of truth, that to every church in the past ages, which the Lord recognized to be his, he gave revelations wisely calculated to govern them in the peculiar situation and circumstances under which they were placed, and to enable them by authority to do the peculiar work which they were to perform. The Bible contains revelations given at different times to different people, under different circumstances, as will be seen by editorial articles in this paper. The old world was destroyed for rejecting the revelations of God, given to them through Noah. The Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness for despising the revelations given to them through Moses; and Christ said that the world, in the days of the apostles, should be condemned for not receiving the word of god through them: thus we see that the judgments of God in the past ages have come upon the people, not so much for neglecting the revelations given to their forefathers, as for rejecting those given immediately to themselves. Of the blessings of heaven it may be said, they have always rested upon the heads of those to whom they were promised: Therefore, seeing that it not only was, but as long as God remains the same, always will be the privilege of the true church to receive revelations, containing blessings and cursings, peculiarly adapted to itself as a church.

-The Evening and the Morning Star- July 1832, 13.

God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted-by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed.Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

-Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 256.

Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: "There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day." "And now," said he, "when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books." That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation, "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth."

- President Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 22-23.

We are not based on the Bible. We are based on what the Bible is based on. - Ross Baron, FAIR talk.

The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to be printed in a book. They do not do things because God told the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything because of the instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites. Whatever is done by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in our day, has commanded this Church to do it. No book presides over this Church, and no book lies at its foundation. You cannot pile up books enough to take the place of God's priesthood, inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the constitution of the Church of Christ. â?¦ Divine revelation adapts itself to the circumstances and conditions of men, and change upon change ensues as God's progressive work goes on to its destiny. There is no book big enough or good enough to preside over this Church.

-Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, October 1916, p. 55. Quoted by Loren C. Dunn, in General Conference, Ensign May 1976, p.65-66

Then again we say: Search the scriptures, search the prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you and the people of the nineteenth [or twenty-first] century.

You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness, nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others' blessings are not your blessings, others' curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.

-TPJS, 12.

I wish to speak a few words about the Bible as I have hinted at it. The Ordinances of the Kingdom of God on the Earth are the same to the children of Adam from the commencement to the end of his posterity pertaining to the carnal state on this Earth, and the winding up scene of this mortality. With regard to the Bible we frequently say, we believe the Bible, but circumstances alter cases, for what is now required for the people may not be required of a people that may live a hundred years hence. But I wish you to understand, with regard to the Ordinances of God's House to save the people in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, there is no change from the days of Adam to the present time, neither will there be until the last of his posterity is gathered into the Kingdom of God.

Those who are not acquainted with our doctrine are astonished, and say, "That is strange indeed; we thought no such thing as preaching faith, repentance, and baptism was practiced in ancient, or Old Testament times." I can tell you that no man from the days of Adam, no woman from the days of Eve to this day, who have lived, and who are now living upon the Earth will go into the Kingdom of their Father and God, to be crowned with Jesus Christ, without passing through the same Ordinances of the House of God, you and I have obeyed. I wish you distinctly to understand that.

There are many duties, and callings spoken of in the scriptures, and there are many not written, those for instance which are handed out to you by your President as circumstances require. Those imposed by the President of the Church of God, or by the president of any portion of it, are duties as necessary to be observed as though they were written in the Bible; but these requirements, duties, callings etc. change with the circumstances that surround the people of God. But when you speak of the system of Salvation to bring back the children of Adam and Eve into the presence of our Father and God, it is the same in all ages, among all people, and under all circumstances worlds without end[.] Amen.

-The Essential Brigham Young, 89

There's at least one EV scholar who gets this.

"It is important to underscore here the way in which the Mormon restoration of these ancient offices and practices resulted in a very significant departure from the classical Protestant understanding of religious authority. The subtlety of the issues at stake here is often missed by us Evangelicals, with the result that we typically get sidetracked in our efforts to understand our basic disagreements with Mormon thought. We often proceed as if the central authority issue to debate with Mormons has to do with the question of which authoritative texts ought to guide us in understanding the basic issues of life. We Evangelicals accept the Bible alone as our infallible guide while, we point out, the Latter-day Saints add another set of writings, those that comprise the Book of Mormon, along with the records of additional Church teachings to the canon- we classic Protestants are people of the Book while Mormons are people of the Books.

This way of getting at the nature of our differences really does not take us very far into exploring some of our basic disagreements. What we also need to see is that in restoring some features of Old Testament Israel, Mormonism has also restored the kinds of authority patterns that guided the life of Israel. The old Testament people of God were not a people of the Book as such- mainly because for most of their history, there was no completed Book. Ancient Israel was guided by an open canon and the leadership of the prophets. And it is precisely this pattern of communal authority that Mormonism restored. Evangelicals may insist that Mormonism has too many books. But the proper Mormon response is that even these Books are not enough to give authoritative guidance to the present-day community of the faithful.The books themselves are products of a prophetic office, an office that has been reinstituted in these latter days. People fail to discern the full will of God if they do not live their lives in the anticipation that they will receive new revealed teachings under the authority of the living prophets."

-Richard Mouw, "What does God think about America?" BYU Studies, 43:4 (2004):10-11.

On infallibility

George Q. Cannon

Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an Apostle or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. ... Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or woman.

Millennial Star 53:658-659, 673-675.

"We who have been called to lead the Church are ordinary men and women with ordinary capacities,"

-Boyd K. Packer, "Revelation in a Changing World," Ensign (November 1989): 16.

"We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators."

-James E. Faust, "Continuous Revelation," Ensign (November 1989): 11.

"I am not a perfect man, and infallibility does not come with the call [of Apostlehood]."

-Robert D Hales, Ensign, May (1994):78

"the President is not infallible. He makes no claims to infallibility. But when in his official capacity he teaches and advises the members of the Church relative to their duties, let no man who wants to please the Lord say aught against the counsels of the President."

-Alma P. Burton, Ensign, Ensign, October (1972):6.

Though general authorities are authorities in the sense of having power to administer Church affairs, they may or may not be authorities in the sense of doctrinal knowledge, the intricacies of church procedures, or the receipt of the promptings of the Spirit. A call to an administrative position itself adds little knowledge or power of discernment to an individual.

-Elder McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, "General Authority"

With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their problems without inspiration in many instances.

-Elder McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, "Prophets" Cf. his talk "Are the General Authorities Human?"

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