Should We Welcome Mormons Into Fellowship, pt 3

In part 1, I defined terms, and identified the essential issues that must be addressed in order to give a reasoned answer to the question “Are Mormons Christians, and should we fellowship with them?”. In part 2, I looked at the issue of the historical and archaeological accuracy of the Book of Mormon.

In part 3, I will be looking at the early history of the Mormons, both as presented by the LDS and as given by non-LDS accounts.

Why am I bothering to do this? Because if I am to believe in the validity of Mormon teachings on doctrine, then their narrative of their early history must be at least plausible and agree with non-church accounts of that history, at least in the broader narrative. Continue reading

Should We Welcom Mormons into Fellowship, pt. 2

In part one, I gave an introduction to how to go about answering that question. Terms were defined, and I decided that it would be best to look at two aspects of the historicity of the Book of Mormon and other LDS authoritative writings.

First, since the LDS claims that the Book of Mormon is historically accurate, we’ll take a look at what non-Mormon sources can confirm the events related in that book. After that, we’ll look at the accuracy of the official LDS accounts of the early history of the Mormons.

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Should We Welcome Mormons into Fellowship? Part 1

Recently, one of our Warriors posed the question, “Are Mormons Christians, and should we fellowship with them?”. What appeared to be a rather simple question turns out to need a rather lengthy answer in order to make sense. That’s why a reasoned answer will take more than just one post – but not because the answer is complicated, but because of the rather involved investigation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) required to validate any answer given. So, to start with, we need to dissect the question.

It is really two questions in one: 1) Are members of the LDS church Christians? 2) Should we as Christians fellowship with them?

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But I LIKE my sin!

“I don’t want to be a Christian because I don’t want God to make me stop _______”

That objection to becoming a disciple of the Christ is the most heartbreaking excuse I hear, and it comes up very often.

It voices a fundamental misunderstanding of not only the nature of God, but what the basic consequences of the choice to either follow or reject Him are.

In this context, the objector seems to be unaware that God has chosen NOT to force His followers to do anything. Throughout the Bible, it is made clear that God informs His people of what He expects of them, tells them the consequences of disobedience as well as the rewards of obedience – AND THEN LETS THEM DECIDE WHETHER TO FOLLOW HIM OR NOT.

That is very important to grasp; God will not force you to stop doing anything, and He will not excuse you from both the temporal and eternal consequences of your decisions.

The mistake that many Christians make (and I have done so myself) is to make a reply similar to “God won’t make you give up anything, just pray and seek Him” and leave it at that. The great danger in this approach is that it leaves the impression that “buffet style” Christianity is a viable option.

Buffet style Christianity, judging from the amount of books, televangelists, and websites either subtly or explicitly advocating it, is the most popular false “christian” theology in America today. It is best described as a belief that God loves us both unconditionally and codependently – we are free to pick and choose which of His commands suit our fancy and ignore the rest because God is a god of love and will never punish us as long as we follow Him when it is convenient.

For those who take the Bible seriously, it is obvious that this idea is not only wrong, but leads straight to hell on a very broad ‘feel-good’ path. Consistently throughout the scripture, the instruction to repent (or turn away from sin) is presented as a vital component to salvation from His wrath. Some examples are Ezekiel 18, Zechariah 1:1-6, Matthew 11:21-22, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30 and especially Christ’s declaration, “unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” in Luke 13:1-5.

God has never said, “Follow me, except for that one thing you don’t want to give up”. What He has revealed is more like “Follow me whatever the cost and if I tell you to give up that one thing you want to hold on to, I will replace it with something so much better you will be amazed.”

The rewards of following Christ are clear; an eternity of fulfillment and joy with God and all the treasures and rewards He has promised. Here are a very few of them:

-) Freedom from death and judgement: John 5:24, Romans 10:9, Romans 6:23. 1 Thessalonians 1:10

-) Internal Peace: Proverbs 1:33, John 14:27, Matthew 11:28-29

-) Forgiveness: 1 John 1:9

-) A joyous eternity with God and his people : John 14:1-3, I Thessalonians 4:16-17. I Peter 1:5-11, Revelation 21:4
The rewards of rejecting Him are equally clear; eternal, final judgement and separation from God. This is best summarized in Hebrews: 10:26-31.

Which will you choose? A life of never-ending fulfillment and joy, or a temporary enjoyment of that which will always demand that you have more and more and never truly provide peace?

Quick Thought: Christian (and others) Hypocrisy

I lost count decades ago on how many times I’ve heard variations of the “I can’t believe in Christianity because most Christians are a bunch of hypocrites” argument against Christianity… and it still mystifies me how many people view it not as an emotinal objection, but a logically valid argument!

As an observation, “Many (perhaps most) self-described Christians are hypocritical” the statement is sadly accurate. The main reason for this is that the majority of such people, at least in North America, are NOT disciples and followers of the Christ but only ‘cultural christians’.

As an argument against Christianity, though, it is both nonsensical and illogical.

An illustration of how nonsensical the argument is also shows how it is illogical. Let’s suppose that you are approached as you approach an apartment house on your way to visit a friend by a man you recognize from newspaper photos. He is a convicted mass murderer and former fireman who has recently escaped from prison, leaving a note saying that he would never set another fire, but intended to kill as many as possible by drowning.  Running past you at top speed, he yells ‘Don’t go in there, the whole place is on fire!” Looking at the building, you see flames and smoke coming out of many of the windows.

Looking behind you, you notice that the man has stopped to light a paper recycle bin on fire. You therefore conclude that the man is a hypocrite, and continue into the apartment house to visit your friend as the first fire trucks arrive on scene.

I give this ridiculous story to illustrate that just because the messinger may not live in accordance with the message, the message itself must stand or fall on its’ own merits.  For a more detailed examination of this topic, see articles at Thoughtful Christianity, Christian Answers. and this article by Brad White.

Is the Church Age Over?

This is a very interesting question: “Is the church age over i.e. what about church purity Gods plan? (sic)” SS_church [Converted].ai

Since there are two ways to approach this question my first thought was to ask for clarification. But, after some more thought I decided that it is probably more beneficial to address both possible issues. Of course, I’ll save the one I believe most relevant to the questioner for last!

 

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Quick Thought : Who Can Baptize?

I was rather surprised that the question of who is authorized to perform baptism came up twice in a matter of a few days recently. It is a question that I’ve never been asked before!

So, briefly, here’s my answer.

Although many denominations restrict ‘baptizers’ to clergy, in Scripture that isn’t the case. Baptisms are performed by priests, prophets, apostles, and those who have no specified leadership position in the church.

My conclusion from this is that any disciple of Christ is authorized to baptize anyone who wishes to publicly proclaim their allegiance to Our Lord and King by following the Biblical directive to ‘repent and be baptized’.

— Cowboy

Why Bother to Pray?

This question deals with Matters of the Church.

A question I often get asked is “Since God knows everything and is in control of everything, why bother to pray? He’s going to do whatever He wants anyway.”  

kneeling_in_prayerThere are many reasons to pray,and more books than I can count have been written on the whys and hows of prayer. I’ll give some of the most compelling here, starting with what I consider the most important:

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On Church Discipline

This article is about matters of the Church.

In a conversation with a brother the other day, the following questions came up:

excommunication“Is it ever appropriate to put someone out of a church or fellowship? Aren’t we supposed to show Christ’s forgiveness?”

“If we should remove a brother from fellowship for the sin of, say, pursuing a lifestyle of homosexual behavior, shouldn’t we also kick out the habitual gossips, drunks, liars and tax cheats? After all, if the penalty for any sin is the same, then shouldn’t we treat them all the same?” Continue reading