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Church Of The Devil: An Authoritative Definition


Scott Lloyd

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I observed Halloween last night by focusing my topical scripture study on the devil and related subjects. I'm generally more positive in my approach to gospel study, but I'm convinced an important part of any battle strategy is knowing one's enemy.

I looked in Guide to the Scriptures, a Church-published reference work prepared for inclusion in non-English versions of the LDS scriptures in lieu of the Topical Guide, Index and Bible Dictionary that are found in the English-language version.

I ran across this definition for "the church of the devil":

Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God.

So here we have an authoritative source contradicting the false notion and claim that Mormonism regards the church of the devil, or the great and abominable church, as being the Catholic Church or any other specific faith group.

The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 18:20 enjoins the early Brethren -- and, by extension, us today -- to "contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil." My take on this is that we are to oppose no specific faith group, but rather, to oppose evil and error wherever it may be found, even when it is espoused by those who claim nominal membership in the Church. Conversely, we are to uphold goodness and truth wherever it may be found, even among those who do not accept the restored gospel.

The fact that the Church has a history of cooperation with Catholic groups on humanitarian causes and other issues of mutual interest debunks the notion that we consider the Catholic Church to be the great and abominable church prophesied of in the Book of Mormon.

Finally, I will venture to say that individuals and groups who, by their own choice, stridently oppose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (not merely teach contrasting doctrines), collectively fit the church-of-the-devil archetype more neatly that anyone or anything I can think of.

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Finally, I will venture to say that individuals and groups who, by their own choice, stridently oppose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (not merely teach contrasting doctrines), collectively fit the church-of-the-devil archetype more neatly that anyone or anything I can think of.

I agree that the church does not single out Catholicism like that (though McConkie and others did). However, your definition of the opposition as the church of the devil only works if your church is actually the true church of Christ.

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Finally, I will venture to say that individuals and groups who, by their own choice, stridently oppose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (not merely teach contrasting doctrines), collectively fit the church-of-the-devil archetype more neatly that anyone or anything I can think of.

I agree that the church does not single out Catholicism like that (though McConkie and others did). However, your definition of the opposition as the church of the devil only works if your church is actually the true church of Christ.

I would agree with that.

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Finally, I will venture to say that individuals and groups who, by their own choice, stridently oppose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (not merely teach contrasting doctrines), collectively fit the church-of-the-devil archetype more neatly that anyone or anything I can think of.

Considering JS-H 1:19, I would have to say that merely teaching contrasting doctrines qualifies one (or a church) as being part of the church of the devil.

Think on William's comment above....

Satan is the quintessential eclectic.

He's not that particular when it comes to souls. He'll take 'em any way he can get 'em.

We already know that doctrine differing from that of the Church of Jesus Christ always leads one away from that Church and the only other direction is towards the devil (no matter which way you point).

As for the D&C 18 injunction, it is true that we single out no other church, we simply lump them together. If we didn't, then we would be accepting baptisms by other churches as valid.

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The big question is....to what extent does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with all its attendant doctrines, history and culture, past and present...represent the true mind and will of a good and loving God, whose Son stated that the heart and foundation of the law was to love. hmmmmm.

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The big question is....to what extent does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with all its attendant doctrines, history and culture, past and present...represent the true mind and will of a good and loving God,

To the fullest extent possible given what God has revealed.

whose Son stated that the heart and foundation of the law was to love. hmmmmm.

Taking all verses on the subject into context (and viewing the constituent parts of the law), it's a tough love.

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The big question is....to what extent does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with all its attendant doctrines, history and culture, past and present...represent the true mind and will of a good and loving God, whose Son stated that the heart and foundation of the law was to love. hmmmmm.

The big answer is that it represents the mind and will of God to the extent that it is the very Church founded and restored by Christ Himself, and governed by Him via revelation to living prophets as in days of old.

Is there an implication here that the Church does not reflect the love Christ commanded us to have? To me, that is not a self-evident notion.

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We already know that doctrine differing from that of the Church of Jesus Christ always leads one away from that Church and the only other direction is towards the devil (no matter which way you point).

At least we can stop all the double speak about who is and who isn't the Church of the devil. Just be honest about your teachings and admit LDS believe all other Christian churches are of the devil, and the Catholic Church is the most abominable. BCSpace has no problem doing it, enough with the ecumenism, lay it on the line.

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Yeah, I'm not fooled.

The damage was done by McConkie.

Besides, that "new" definition is no different than McConkie's anyhow! It just looks nicer and attempts to be more vague.

Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God.

Right from Nephi:

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews bunto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

The Catholic Church preserved and compiled the Bible. To suggest that "The Great and Abominable" Church referenced in Nephi is anything OTHER than the Catholic Church is an insult to our intelligence.

At least McConkie had the courage to spell that out. I can respect that. I certainly don't respect this other very deceptive and misleading definition of "The Church of the Devil"

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You misunderstand. I'm not offended.

I meant that the damage was done by McConkie to clearly spell out that the RCC is the Church of the Devil referenced in Nephi in his book "Mormon Doctrine. If that book's title doesn't sound AUTHORITATIVE....than I don't know what does!

The Catholic Church being the "Great and Abominable Church" and "Church of the Devil" etc. is ingrained into LDS members' brains of that generation. Then those members taught their children. My husband heard that all the time growing up. It's going to take a few more generations to whitewash the history of this definition, folks. :P

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Yeah, I'm not fooled.

The damage was done by McConkie.

Besides, that "new" definition is no different than McConkie's anyhow! It just looks nicer and is conveniently more vague.

Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God.

Right from Nephi:

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews bunto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

The Catholic Church preserved and compiled the Bible. To suggest that "The Great and Abominable" Church referenced in Nephi is anything OTHER than the Catholic Church is an insult to our intelligence.

At least McConkie had the courage to spell that out. I can respect that. I certainly don't respect this other very deceptive and misleading definition of "The Church of the Devil"

Hey! As a non-Catholic, I resent not being lumped in the Great and Abomidable Church. The definition assumes non-membership in the LDS faith, as the LDS faith is assumed to represent the only Christian organization that does not "pervert the pure and perfect gospel."

This definition is much more expansive than one singling out the Catholic Church. All non-LDS Christian churches are included here. If this definition is truly definitive, then I suppose Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, etc. are members of the Great and Abominable Church.

So here we have an authoritative source contradicting the false notion and claim that Mormonism regards the church of the devil, or the great and abominable church, as being the Catholic Church or any other specific faith group.

Apparently, it's not any specific faith group, but all of them--other than LDS.

Best.

CKS

PS. Or are there some non-LDS Christian groups who do not "pervert the pure and perfect gospel," as found within the LDS faith community?

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You misunderstand. I'm not offended.

I meant that the damage was done by McConkie to clearly spell out that the RCC is the Church of the Devil referenced in Nephi in his book "Mormon Doctrine. If that book's title doesn't sound AUTHORITATIVE....than I don't know what does!

Elder McConkie's book carries a disclaimer effectively absolving the Church of responsibility for the views expressed therein.

The publication I quoted, on the other hand, was published by the Church for inclusion in official editions of its scriptures.

If the distinction is lost on you, I don't believe it is lost on Church members.

The Catholic Church being the "Great and Abominable Church" and "Church of the Devil" etc. is ingrained into LDS members' brains of that generation. Then those members taught their children. My husband heard that all the time growing up. It's going to take a few more generations to whitewash the history of this definition, folks. :P

Then I can only reiterate what I said above about taking offense where none is intended.

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If there are some non-LDS Christian groups that do not pervert the "pure and perfect gospel," then my comment is moot.

But, if LDS believe that only LDS believers do not pervert "pure and perfect gospel," then all non-LDS Christian groups are part of the great and abominable church.

I don't see any way around that.

Best.

CKS

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Yeah, I'm not fooled.

The damage was done by McConkie.

Besides, that "new" definition is no different than McConkie's anyhow! It just looks nicer and is conveniently more vague.

Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God.

Right from Nephi:

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews bunto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

The Catholic Church preserved and compiled the Bible. To suggest that "The Great and Abominable" Church referenced in Nephi is anything OTHER than the Catholic Church is an insult to our intelligence.

At least McConkie had the courage to spell that out. I can respect that. I certainly don't respect this other very deceptive and misleading definition of "The Church of the Devil"

Hey! As a non-Catholic, I resent not being lumped in the Great and Abomidable Church. The definition assumes non-membership in the LDS faith, as the LDS faith is assumed to represent the only Christian organization that does not "pervert the pure and perfect gospel."

This definition is much more expansive than one singling out the Catholic Church. All non-LDS Christian churches are included here. If this definition is truly definitive, then I suppose Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, etc. are members of the Great and Abominable Church.

So here we have an authoritative source contradicting the false notion and claim that Mormonism regards the church of the devil, or the great and abominable church, as being the Catholic Church or any other specific faith group.

Apparently, it's not any specific faith group, but all of them--other than LDS.

I don't believe that is a fair or accurate characterization of LDS doctrine. And, for the record, I don't share BC Space's conclusions on this subject.

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I don't believe that is a fair or accurate characterization of LDS doctrine. And, for the record, I don't share BC Space's conclusions on this subject.

Then I'm really not sure what would be a fair and accurate characterization of LDS doctrine, given the authoritative definition with which you commenced.

Perhaps you can clarify?

Best.

CKS

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I think there is sufficient sin within the Church we don't need to spend our time and energy identifying it in other churches or institutions. Clean the inner vessel.

Good idea- YOU go first.

Since two thirds of your three posts here have been critical of the Church and the Saints, I think there is ample precedent for the suggestion of hypocrisy (if not trolling) on your part.

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I don't believe that is a fair or accurate characterization of LDS doctrine. And, for the record, I don't share BC Space's conclusions on this subject.

Then I'm really not sure what would be a fair and accurate characterization of LDS doctrine, given the authoritative definition with which you commenced.

Perhaps you can clarify?

Best.

CKS

Not certain I understand why it needs clarification. Read the definition quoted in the opening post and tell me how you get "Catholic Church" out of it. Then, perhaps, I can offer some correction.

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I don't believe that is a fair or accurate characterization of LDS doctrine. And, for the record, I don't share BC Space's conclusions on this subject.

Then I'm really not sure what would be a fair and accurate characterization of LDS doctrine, given the authoritative definition with which you commenced.

Perhaps you can clarify?

Best.

CKS

Not certain I understand why it needs clarification. Read the definition quoted in the opening post and tell me how you get "Catholic Church" out of it. Then, perhaps, I can offer some correction.

Read my posts. I manifestly did not get "Catholic Church" out of it--quite the opposite--as I labored to make clear. Perhaps you were reading someone else's posts? But not mine.

Best.

CKS

PS. In this interest of clarification, let me repost this comment:

If there are some non-LDS Christian groups that do not pervert the "pure and perfect gospel," then my comment is moot.

But, if LDS believe that only LDS believers do not pervert "pure and perfect gospel," then all non-LDS Christian groups are part of the great and abominable church.

I don't see any way around that.

Best.

CKS

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Satan is the quintessential eclectic.

He's not that particular when it comes to souls. He'll take 'em any way he can get 'em.

It's really too bad Jesus isn't eclectic too.

While I'm glad that some modern church members are moving beyond seeing the Catholic Church as "the Church of the Devil", I think the general ephemeral definition that they are trying to replace it with is sorely lacking. It might be best to admit that Nephi's definition of "Church of the Devil" best fits the Catholic Church of Joseph Smith's day, but that we have now moved beyond that. But to imply that the "Church of the Devil" has always had the nebulous, universal definition as "anything that isn't Mormon" doesn't give Nephi credit where credit is due.

I mean, read what he said, and keep in mind that he was writing this 600 years before the Catholic Church even existed, and 2400 years (!) before the Catholic Church of Joseph Smith's day!

I would also like to see any alternate definition for "Church of the Devil" tested by inserting it in the following scriptures where appropriate. If you try it, you can see how "Catholic Church" fits very nicely:

1 Nephi 13

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews bunto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

Here's how it looks with the euphamisms taken out:

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of [the Catholic Church], which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, [the Catholic Church] has taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this [has the Catholic Church] done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the [bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the [Catholic Church], that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

Is there an LDS alive that disagrees with that rendering?

Also, how can verse 26 make sense if it isn't referring to a specific church? If Scott's definition is correct, the verse would read like this:

26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God, which is most abomidable above all other churches;

Who are the "other churches" referred to?

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I have a book (book of mormon reference companion) that talks about the church of the devil in a way different than i had heard it taught of before. Basically-it speaks of how there are two different ways to understand how the term is meant and therefore more than one way to interpret it. It speaks of how the term 'great and abominable church (or church of the devil) is used in two separate ways-

...'the great and abominable church has two extensions, the one open, inclusive, and archetypical, and the other limited and historical.... In chapter 14, Nephi described the archetypical roles themselves: "there are save two churches only". But in chapter 13 he referred to the specific institution who played the role of babylon in the roman empire in the second century A.D.

Apocalyptic literature is also dualistic. Because it deals with archetypes, it boils everything down to opposing principles: love and hate, good and evil, light and dark. There are no gray areas in apocalyptic scripture. In the realm of religion, there are only two categories: religion that will save and religion that will not. The former is the church of the Lamb, and the latter-no matter how well intentioned-is a counterfeit. Thus, even a 'good' church must still be part of the devil's kingdom in the sensed used in Nephi 14, for it cannot do what it pretends to do. Nevertheless, such a church cannot be called the 'great and abominable church' in the sense used in Nephi 13, for it's intentions are good and honorable,.... These churches do not slay the saints of God, they do not seek to control civil governments, nor do they pursue wealth, luxury, and sexual immorality. Such churchs may belong to the kingdom of the devil in the apocalyptic sense, where they are only two categories, but they cannot be called the great and abominable church in the historical sense-the description is not accurate.

Furthermore, individual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not only be membership but by loyalty. Just as there are those on the records of the LDS church who belong to the great and abominable church by virtue of their loyalty to satan and his lifestyle, so there are members of other churches who will eventually belong to the Lamb by virtue of their loyaty to him and to his lifestyle, which will lead to their accepting the saving ordinances. The distinction is based on who has your heart, not on who has your records. Hence it is unwise and inaccurate to point to any particular church or political system as THE great and abominable church."

I added the underline because i think that's a really important part to understand. The distinction of whether or not we belong to the church of the devil or the church of the Lamb is really made within each of our hearts and not based on denominational lines.

Anyway-this quote is not from any official LDS publication, but i thought it gave the topic a deeper and more thorough look (i've typed only a tiny part of what the book says under this heading).

:P

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I think there is sufficient sin within the Church we don't need to spend our time and energy identifying it in other churches or institutions. Clean the inner vessel.

Good idea- YOU go first.

Since two thirds of your three posts here have been critical of the Church and the Saints, I think there is ample precedent for the suggestion of hypocrisy (if not trolling) on your part.

I rest my case. You just did exactly what I asked about in one of my other posts. You attacked me as being the problem. I am a member but have little desire to continue associating with people like you. I think I'll return the Methodists, they are at least Christian in their behavior.

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Satan is the quintessential eclectic.

He's not that particular when it comes to souls. He'll take 'em any way he can get 'em.

It's really too bad Jesus isn't eclectic too.

While I'm glad that some modern church members are moving beyond seeing the Catholic Church as "the Church of the Devil", I think the general ephemeral definition that they are trying to replace it with is sorely lacking. It might be best to admit that Nephi's definition of "Church of the Devil" best fits the Catholic Church of Joseph Smith's day, but that we have now moved beyond that. But to imply that the "Church of the Devil" has always had the nebulous, universal definition as "anything that isn't Mormon" doesn't give Nephi credit where credit is due.

I mean, read what he said, and keep in mind that he was writing this 600 years before the Catholic Church even existed, and 2400 years (!) before the Catholic Church of Joseph Smith's day!

I would also like to see any alternate definition for "Church of the Devil" tested by inserting it in the following scriptures where appropriate. If you try it, you can see how "Catholic Church" fits very nicely:

1 Nephi 13

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews bunto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

Here's how it looks with the euphamisms taken out:

26 And after they go forth by the ahand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of [the Catholic Church], which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, [the Catholic Church] has taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

27 And all this [has the Catholic Church] done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the [bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the [Catholic Church], that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God

Is there an LDS alive that disagrees with that rendering?

To the extent that I am breathing and taking nourishment, I offer myself as a living LDS that disagrees with your rendering. I don't see this as referring to the Catholic Church as such, but rather, individuals who have subjected themselves to the devil's influence. I believe that there have been and are many good and decent people who have affiliated with the Catholic Church through the ages.

Also, how can verse 26 make sense if it isn't referring to a specific church? If Scott's definition is correct, the verse would read like this:
26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of Every evil and worldly organization on earth that perverts the pure and perfect gospel and fights against the Lamb of God, which is most abomidable above all other churches;

Nephi's writing -- like the words of John in the Book of Revelation, to which it is similar -- is archetypal and apocalyptic in nature. That is, it refers to the eternal battle of good vs. evil, truth vs. error. To limit it to any specific church or organzation is to view it myopically.

Who are the "other churches" referred to?

With "church of the devil" being a metaphor representing the sum total of evil in the world, the "other churches" would be those that are not contributing to the evil.

You can make of this passage what you will, just don't pin your erroneous interpretation on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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