Claim: "With the concept of God being so drastically different between the Bible and Joseph Smith's teachings one must wonder how Joseph Smith could claim that the Book of Mormon was another Testament of Jesus Christ." - Patrick Powell (Host)
The claim that the Bible and Joseph Smith disagree is false, as shown here. Joseph Smith disagrees with the non-biblical creeds and resulting interpretations of the Bible favored by Mr. Powell.
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ because it clearly teaches redemption through a personal covenant relationship with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition, the self proclaimed purpose of the Book of Mormon is to establish the truthfulness of the Bible by substantiating its teachings (1 Nephi 13:39-40). In this sense, it becomes a second witness of Christ by supporting the teachings of Christ and his pivotal role in the salvation of mankind, as found in the Bible.
To read more:
Claim: "You just don't pay lip service to Jesus; you enter into Him. You become a part of Him. You absorb. You identify completely with His suffering on the cross; His resurrection from the dead; His claims to be the Son of God and therefore qualified to pay the price we could never pay; and once we believe in Him in that deep sense of commitment which can be instantaneous—in fact it has to be—at that moment we have eternal life." - Dr. John Whitcomb (theology professor, Old Testament scholar)
Despite the video's implication, Latter-day Saints wholeheartedly teach this doctrine. The Book of Mormon, which the critics claim cannot be a testament of Jesus Christ, contains an account of a group of people who are transformed by faith in Christ:
- And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
- And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (Mosiah 4:2-3)
The Book of Mormon also teaches:
- Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
- And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32-33)
Latter-day Saints do not wish to simply pay "lip service" to Jesus, as Dr. Whitcomb says. Therefore, they seek to obey when Jesus commands them to do something. To say we believe while not trying to obey (however imperfectly) would indeed be to give lip service. As Jesus Himself taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
And, after presenting His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonishes us:
- Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
- And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
- And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
- And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27).
Is Jesus lying, or does He expect us to obey to the extent we are able?
To read more
Claim: "In Christianity eternal life is a gift. It's the most radical understanding of how one goes to heaven, is resurrected, has eternal life, in the religious realm—by grace or saved through faith—it is the gift of God. Why is it a gift? Because Jesus Christ did something that we couldn't do for ourselves. He died on the cross satisfying God's sense of justice against sin; paid the price for our sins; was raised eternally through the resurrection with a glorified body. When we put our faith and trust in Him your pain of sins and believing in Him we receive salvation as a gift." - Dr. Phil Roberts (President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Latter-day Saints also preach this same doctrine. The Book of Mormon teaches:
- We can't do it ourselves:
- And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. (2 Nephi 2:5)
- We are saved by grace because of Christ's sacrifice for our sins:
- Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
- Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:6-7)
- Christ died on the cross to satisfy the demands of justice:
- Yea, even so he [the Messiah, Christ] shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
- And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—
- Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice. (Mosiah 15:7-9)
- Eternal life and salvation is a "gift from God":
- ...lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason to suppose hath been given to our fathers. (Helaman 5:8)
- Christ was raised from the dead with a glorified body:
- Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. (2 Nephi 25:13)
It should be clear that these critics do not understand LDS doctrine, or are trying to make it appear as if the Latter-day Saints do not believe these fundamental Christian concepts.
The speakers distort or are ignorant of LDS scripture and the faith of the Latter-day Saints. They act as if such doctrines would be novel to us, but in fact they are the core doctrines of our faith.
Claim: After mentioning the LDS doctrine of the three degrees of glory, the video adds: "In Romans 6:23 it talks about although "wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life." - Jon McCartney (Pastor, First Baptist Church of Tooele, Utah)
Once again, the Latter-day Saints share this doctrine. The Bible and Book of Mormon teach it:
- For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that [evil] spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge. (Mosiah 2:33)
Claim: "It is only by trusting Him that we come to be able to enjoy the glory of heaven. ‘I am the way, the truth and life and no one, not one person, comes to the Father but through me.'" - Jon McCartney (Pastor, First Baptist Church of Tooele, Utah)
The Latter-day Saints believe this scripture, and quote it frequently. And, this doctrine is again taught in the Book of Mormon, which the DVD insists isn't a "Christian" testament:
- Christ is the only way to salvation:
- And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:17)
- And if it so be that [men] repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus, they shall be received into the kingdom of God. (Ether 5:5)
- Trust in God necessary for salvation:
- I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 38:5)
Latter-day Saints would ask, however, if they are to trust Jesus, why they should not trust Him enough to do what He says?
This is discussed further in the next claim.
Claim: "According to the Bible, repenting of our sins and faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to gain eternal life. In John, Jesus was asked 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.' (John 6:28,29)"
Latter-day Saints proclaim that faith in Christ and repentance are absolutely essential for Christ's atonement to be effective in our lives.
But, they also insist that believing in Jesus includes believing what He says, and obeying Him because we love Him.
"According to the Bible," Jesus also says:
- "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."Mark 16:16 (emphasis added)
- "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."(Matthew 7:21)
- "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13)
- "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."(Revelation 22:12) (emphasis added)
- "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.... Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.... Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31-46) (emphasis added)
The Bible also says:
- And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 Jn 2:3-4)
- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)
- What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.... (Romans 6:15)
- ...if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.... (Hebrews 10:26)
- For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 Jn 5:3)
- Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
- ...all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29) (emphasis added)
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
- This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:8)
- That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;(Colossians 1:10)
- Nothing saves us without Christ. But, "He that saith, I know [Christ], and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 Jn 2:3-4)
To read more:
Claim: "In the Bible it is clear that our salvation rests in the hands of Jesus Christ alone. Why? Because from the beginning God's word tells us that the penalty for all sin is death—both physical death and spiritual separation from God." "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) (on screen)
Yet again, these doctrines are all embraced by the Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon teaches:
- All mankind suffers spiritual and physical death
- for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal [i.e., physical] and to things spiritual. (Helaman 14:16)
- All sin and are condemned
- And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. (2 Nephi 2:5)
- No one can say anything of themselves
- And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth.... (Mosiah 2:25)
- Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him.... (Jacob 4:11)
The DVD producers are either ignorant or deceitful about LDS beliefs concerning Christ and His atonement.
Claim: To pay [the] penalty [for sin] a person must:
-  Be sinless
-  Be infinite to pay the infinite penalty for mankind's sin
-  Die as a substitute by shedding of blood to pay sin's penalty
-  Rise from the dead to defeat sin and death
It is almost as if the DVD producers are quoting the Book of Mormon.
Yet again, all these doctrines are taught and believed by the Latter-day Saints.
- I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. (Mosiah 15:1)
- Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. (2 Nephi 2:6)
 Be infinite to pay an infinite penalty
- ...therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world. (Alma 34:12)
- ...there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man...for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. (Alma 34:10-11)
 Die as a substitute by shedding of blood
- Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. (DC 76:69)
- [This] great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal. And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. (Alma 34:14-16)
- And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people(Alma 7:12)
 Rise from the dead to defeat sin and death
- Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. (2 Nephi 25:13)
- death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel. (2 Nephi 9:12)
These are basic, fundamental doctrines accepted without reservation by all faithful Latter-day Saints.
Claim: "No other person could do what Jesus did; therefore only faith in Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection can save a sinner."
This is precisely what the Book of Mormon teaches:
- Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. (2 Nephi 2:8)
- remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. (2 Nephi 10:24)
- there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness. (Alma 38:9)
- ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?(Mosiah 16:13)
Speakers who know so little of the fundamental doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not be trusted to inform others about the Church.
Can we know that we have eternal life? Scripture states, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13)
Once again, a Latter-day Saint can only give a hearty "Amen!" By now, it should be no surprise that the Book of Mormon teaches these doctrines:
- he [Christ] shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. (2 Nephi 25:13)
- ...as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God. (Jacob 6:4)
The Book of Mormon teaches all these doctrines which the critics insist are so important. Why, then, are they so hostile toward the faith of the Latter-day Saints? Could it be that they do not understand that which they attack?
Claim: "In order to gain access into the celestial heaven Joseph Smith's revelation requires keeping the Ten Commandments as well as all the commandments found throughout the three sacred Mormon books; be baptized into the Mormon Church; tithe; get married in the Temple; obey the Word of Wisdom; be baptized for the dead; magnify the Church callings; and the list goes on."
The LDS position is here distorted very badly.
The atonement of Christ, operative in our individual lives, is required for each of us to enter the "celestial heaven" (as demonstrated extensively above). Yet, Christ sets the terms whereby the atonement may be received. LDS believe that all mankind will be saved in a kingdom of glory because of the universal atonement of the Savior. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This is without action on our part, but as a result of a loving Savior's atoning sacrifice and God the Father's plan of salvation.
We see, at last, the complaint which the critics have against the Latter-day Saints. The critics insist that no action of mankind's, aside from fervent, correct belief in Christ and the action of personally accepting Christ as their savior, is required for salvation.
Yet, Latter-day Saints believe that the atonement of Christ brings salvation without action on our part, without even the requirements that other faiths add to the process. But, they find it hypocritical and nonsensical to talk about a fervent faith that does not lead to fervent efforts to do one's best to honor Christ's commandments, seek His will, obey His words, and imitate His sinless life. If we love, honor, and trust someone, why would we not try to be like them to the extent possible? How we apply these lessons has a great deal to do with how the atonement will be applied in our lives beyond the life in a heaven that comes to all men.
Of course we will not succeed perfectly in this undertaking—but, the sincerity of our faith compels us to offer our best efforts—not because we think they will save us (they will not) but because we love Christ, and desire to obey Him. As Jesus asked rhetorically, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)
The Latter-day Saints desire to make Jesus not just Lord of their lips, but Lord of their lives.
The critics insist that their view of salvation's requirements is the only biblically legitimate one.
The critics act as if their conception of salvation is the only possible one, and the only possible Biblical interpretation. But, this is clearly false, since many Christians have held other views.
One Evangelical Christian author wrote of his sudden discovery that his previous beliefs about salvation were very different from those held by the early Christians:
- If there's any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it's the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. After all, that is the cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. In fact, we frequently say that persons who don't hold to this doctrine aren't really Christians. [It's almost as if Mr. Bercot has seen the DVD!]
- ∗ ∗ ∗
- Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there's an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience. They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the "false dilemma," by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it's either (1) a gift from God or (2) it's something we earn by our works.
- The early Christians [and the Latter-day Saints!] would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it's conditioned on obedience.... The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses. And He chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.
- —David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999), 57, 61–62. ISBN 0924722002 (emphasis in original)
The Latter-day Saints are pleased to be in the company of the earliest Christians. And, the LDS cannot be excluded as Christians because they have not embraced the modified doctrines adopted later, and now taught by Search for the Truth.
To read more:
Claim: "There is no religion in the world that believes this except the religion of the Bible because every religion in the world says we just have to do something to contribute, we have to earn our way, we have to somehow please God with ourselves and our attitudes in our words and deeds. Impossible." - Dr. John Whitcomb (theology professor, Old Testament scholar)
Once again, the video presumes that their view of the Bible is the only legitimate one.
The early Christians were certainly both Christians and believers in the Biblical texts. Evangelical author David Bercot responded to the charge that the Early Christians didn't properly "understand" the Bible the way 20th century Christians do by pointing out that Clement of Alexandria quoted the New Testament 2,400 times and Tertullian 7,000 times. Bercot concludes:
- So please don't accuse the early Christians [and, we would add, LDS Christians] of not reading their Bibles. These Christians were well aware of what Paul had written concerning salvation and grace. After all, Paul personally taught men like Clement of Rome. However, the early Christians didn't put Paul's letters to the Romans and the Galatians on a pedestal above the teachings of Jesus and the other apostles. They read Paul's words about grace in conjunction with such other scriptures as...Matthew 7:21...Matthew 24:13...John 5:28-29...Revelation 22:12...1 Timothy 4:16...
- —David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999), 63–64. ISBN 0924722002
Bercot then addresses a matter which happens to be the video's next claim....
Claim: "In fact, the Bible refutes the ordinances in Joseph Smith's Articles of Faith by stating, 'For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.' (Ephesians 2:8,9 NASB)"
- So, the real issue isn't a matter of believing the Scriptures, but one of interpreting the scriptures. The Bible says that "by yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). And yet the Bible also says, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Our [i.e. evangelical] doctrine of salvation accepts that first statement but essentially nullifies the second. The early Christian doctrine of salvation gives equal weight to both."
- —David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999), 63–64. ISBN 0924722002 (emphasis in original)
The Latter-day Saints likewise honor all facets of salvation taught in scripture, not just some of them.
The Bible does not "refute" the idea of ordinances for salvation. When the apostles preached to a crowd, and the people were pricked in their hearts, they cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
Peter did not reply: "simply have faith in Jesus, and don't worry about any ordinances." He said:
- Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
Peter's answer is exactly what the fourth Article of Faith calls for after faith in Jesus Christ: repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Why is Joseph Smith condemned for following Peter's teachings?
To read more:
Claim: "Joseph Smith said, 'I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam.... Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.'" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 408, 409)
To contrast against the immediately preceding statement about "lest anyone should boast," the producers of the video include a purported statement of Joseph Smith's, wherein he does indeed boast. There is no explicit reason given for including this contrasting statement, other than to perhaps imply that Joseph was some sort of egomaniacal leader or someone who was stepping outside the bounds of propriety, and therefore not to be trusted. There are a couple of problems with such a comparison, however.
Joseph not the author
First, this statement is written as if Joseph was the author of it, but he was not. Scribes assembled this account from a "synopsis" following Joseph's death. Trying to get insight into Joseph's character and intent from a statement put into his mouth after he was dead is poor history.
Quoted out of context
Second, the quote is taken out of context. In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. This statement was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians, chapter 11 to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:
- Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking in as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly. (2 Corinthians 11:16-19, NASB)
Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.
Do the producers of the video dismiss the words of Paul and deny his calling as an Apostle because he used such a literary approach that included boasting? No, they do not. Yet, they dismiss Joseph Smith when it is clear by his own statements, in context, that he engaged in the exact same literary approach. Consider the words of Joseph right after reading this chapter of Paul's to the congregation:
- My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay. I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did, I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down; but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.
- —Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:408. BYU Studies link
After giving the above explanation, Joseph then makes the statements that the video accounts to him, in the same way that Paul made outrageous "boasts" to contrast his position with the position of those who the Corinthians were starting to listen to. Paul starts the next chapter of 2 Corinthians with the statement "boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable." So, it would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times (though it may do little good, being unprofitable), yet the producers of the video do not allow Joseph to follow Paul's advice and, of necessity, boast at times.
Perhaps the producers are unaware of Paul's advice? Or perhaps they apply a double standard where Paul is allowed such literary and rhetorical license, but Joseph is not? Again, the producers never reveal their intent in including Joseph's Paul-like statements in their video.
To read more:
Jesus told Peter, the chief apostle:
- And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)
Peter was told that he would hold the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." The power of these keys was to continue into the hereafter, since Peter's actions on earth would have validity in the world to come.
Jesus does not seem to think that giving Peter keys in the 16th chapter of Matthew affects His ability to hold "all authority" in the 28th chapter. Should we believe His understanding, or the critics?
If the president of a company gives responsibility for some part of his corporation, this does not mean that the president has lost authority—he has merely given an underling power to make some decisions on his behalf. Without the president, the underling has no power.
Are the critics offended that Peter was given keys?
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Claim: "God's word tells us that 'there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.... ' (1 Timothy 2:5) In stark contrast, Brigham Young stated, '...that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith.' (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7 p 289)"
Latter-day Saints embrace the doctrine taught in 1 Timothy. The Book of Mormon says likewise that
- ...[men] are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.... (2 Nephi 2:27)
Ignoring the Bible
At the Last Supper, Jesus himself taught His apostles:
- Ye [the apostles] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28-30; see also Matthew 19:28.)
Since the Latter-day Saints accept the witness that Joseph was called as an apostle and prophet (see D&C 21:1) with the same authority as that given to Peter, James, John, and others, they do not think it strange that he will likewise play a role in judgment.
The witness of a prophet will always be brought against those who did not accept his witness of Christ (see Matthew 10:40; John 5:45-47). Could first century Christians accept Christ while rejecting the witness of Peter or Paul?
Another incomplete quote
Not content to ignore a clear Biblical teaching, the DVD producers also failed to include the entirety of Brigham Young's quotation. Following the portion cited, Brigham said:
- ...I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith, junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom to enjoy...he will never cease his operations, under the directions of the Son of God, until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now.... It is his mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption.
- —Brigham Young, "Intelligence, etc.," (9 October 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:289-289.>
Clearly, Joseph's role is to function under the "direction...of the Son of God," and the primary goal is the salvation of all who will accept any degree of Christ and Joseph's witness of Him. Joseph's role is not to condemn, but to do everything possible to encourage all to come unto Christ and be saved.
Joseph's participation in the judgment (at the command and sufferance of Jesus) is no more or less than the role assigned to the Lord's apostles at the Last Supper.
No mortal's role in the judgment supersedes the role given to Jesus, as the Book of Mormon bears witness:
- ...the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2 Nephi 9:41.)
Those who condemn Joseph on these grounds must also condemn Peter and the rest of the Twelve.
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Claim: "But we cannot believe both the Bible and the writings of Joseph Smith when the Bible tells us there is only one God and Joseph Smith tells us there are many gods and we must become gods ourselves." - Pamela Robertson
The non-Biblical creeds and the interpretation of the Bible chosen by Ms. Robertson are the only problems.
Millions of Christians have not accepted the post-Biblical Trinitarian creeds, and so have believed in more than one divine being.
Millions of others have had hope in the doctrine of theosis: humans being made like God.
Many of these Christians were among the earliest followers of Christ. Non-LDS scholar Ernst W. Benz penned a line that responds well to Ms. Robertson's superficial grasp of the issues:
- One can think what one wants of this doctrine of progressive deification, but one thing is certain: with this anthropology Joseph Smith is closer to the view of man held by the ancient Church than the precursors of the Augustinian doctrine of original sin.
- —Ernst Benz, "Imago dei: Man as the Image of God," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 223–254. off-site PDF link
It would seem the Latter-day Saints are closer to the Christianity of Jesus and His Apostles than Ms. Robertson may want to admit.
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