Getting some “Fair” attention.

4th Watch

Well I got a surprise a few days ago. I got up and checked my email and I got my update on what the Foundation for Apologetic information and research ( podcast was for the week, and it was a response to some articles on this site, hosted by. Ned Scarisbrick. You can find it here. Fair is one of the main Mormon Apologetics organizations.

This is certainly a first for me. Ned seems like a nice guy and made some comments on 4 articles on this blog. Of course we are referred to as “Anti-Mormon” or at least, not pro-Mormon. I will have to do an article on what is an Anti-Mormon sometime. Does anyone know of any articles out there that properly define this?

The first article he looks at is found at this was wrote by me (Bobby).

Ned starts his critique of my article by repeating this quote from 10th LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith that was found on the post.

“CHRIST GAINED FULNESS AFTER RESURRECTION. The Sav- ior did not have a fulness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fulness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God. Our bodies are essential to the fulness and the continuation of the seeds forever” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:33). 

In my article my conclusion to the above quote is:

In Mormonism Jesus is another one of us. Just elevated initially because He was the firstborn of our heavenly parents. He had to go through the same plan of salvation that we all do, so that then what was lacking in Him could be made complete. This is not the Jesus of the Bible. This is actually not humility.

Neds response to this is:

 “no, no, no”. Its the same Jesus. He is not just elevated initially because He was the firstborn of our heavenly parents.” (3:25)

So there are two points Ned is appearing to make there, First point is that Mormons follow the same Jesus. Same Jesus as who? Is something I have to ask, Mormon authorities have clearly stated in times past that the Mormon Church follows a different Jesus to the rest of the Christian world, consider these quotes:

“As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some sub- stance to what they say” (Gordon Hinckley, 15th Mormon President, “We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).

Also in Ensign the Official Mormon Magazine we see this:

“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Bernard P. Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p. 26).

I think further clarification on what Ned meant by the same Jesus would have helped there, as if He is saying that we are following the same Jesus as each other, His Church would appear to disagree.

The Second point Ned makes here is that “Jesus was not elevated initially because He was the first born of our Heavenly parents.” This is puzzling to me as I though this was fairly standard teaching in the LDS Church, consider these quotes.

BYU Professor and well known LDS Author Robert Millet said.

“Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the recipient of the birthright of the royal family. As such, and in that premortal realm, he was the Elder Brother of all of the spirit sons and daughters of the Father” (BYU Professor Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, p. 20).

Is it not the case in Mormonism that we all if you go far back enough we were all “intelligence’s” waiting for our chance to gain a spirit body, then a physical body and hopefully then exaltation. Brigham Roberts a past Mormon general authority said:

“But if God the Father was not always God, but came to his present exalted position by degrees of progress as indicated in the teachings of the prophet, how has there been a God from all eternity? The answer is that there has been and there now exists an end-less line of Divine Intelligences—Deities, stretching back into the eternities, that had no beginning and will have no end. Their existence runs parallel with endless duration, and their dominions are as limitless as boundless space” (B.H. Roberts, New Witness for God 1:466).

This applies to Christ and Heavenly Father as much as anyone, there is also no end of material like my original quote that Ned mentioned, showing that Jesus had to go through the same plan of salvation that we all do, he just did it from an already elevated position, nonetheless He still had to prove Himself worthy of exaltation like all of us.

“Jesus became a God and reached His great state of understand- ing through consistent effort and continuous obedience to all the Gospel truths and universal laws” (Milton R. Hunter, of the 70, The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 51).

“Even Christ himself was not perfect at first; he received not a ful- ness at first, but he received grace for grace, and he continued to receive more and more until he received a fulness” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1986, p. 68. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (6th Mormon President) p. 153)

I think we needed more from Ned than just No, no, no here.

Ned then goes on to agree with me on John 8:24, but then disagrees with this statement.

Or is He your elder brother, simply going through the same plan of salvation you are, and may one day be your equal, depending on how you live your life?

Again we get “no, no, no”. Lets dig a little further here. Past Mormon President George A Smith said.

“We are living eternal life, and our position hereafter will be the result of our lives here. Every man will be judged according to his works, and he will receive only that degree of glory that he has earned. (Conference Reports, April 1945, p. 139.)” (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, p. 30).

Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism said:

“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel-you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348. Italics in original. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 305).

So what is the top? I would concede that I am not aware of a statement from Mormon leaders that say we can one day be as great as Christ. However the implication is there, universal laws, (as in they apply to everyone) and a plan of salvation that is the same for all. The implication here is that there is nothing held back from us that was not held back from Christ. I have had a Mormon Missionary tell me that he believed one day he might be as great as Christ. While Mormon Missionaries are by no means experts on all things Mormon doctrine, it still shows this is a conclusion that naturally follows from this teaching.

Its worth pointing out here that this blog and ministry is not interested in going after Mormon Doctrine as such, I have heard Mormons say that pinning down Mormon Doctrine is like nailing Jelly to a wall, it cant be done. Ned even says at the start of his article that his views are not necessarily that of the Church or even that of the organization ( that he is doing the podcast for.

Many Mormons may actually disagree with what Ned said, even before you get on to what I say.  Mormons when doing anything public usually make similar disclaimers. Over the years Mormon “Prophets” and Apostles” have made various statements some of which the church would like to forget, however depending on which leader an LDS individual may subscribe to, can lead to a diversity of views.

So I would say the same, my views may not perfectly represent that of what the Mormon Church teaches, but I certainly represent what many Mormons do think, and its members of the LDS Church that I am trying to connect with, rather than the actual Church itself.

Moving on Ned picks up on this point that I made in my post.

Jesus said all power is given to ME therefore go! Do you want to know why you NEVER see a Priesthood blessing referenced in the New Testament? Its because its not the power or authority of the priesthood that the Church needs, but rather it is the power and authority of Jesus.

Ned uses this verse to disprove what I said:

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Ned is adding an LDS worldview to the word ordained here. Firstly there is still no mention directly of a Priesthood blessing, my point very much stands. Secondly the word ordained here in the greek is “eqhka”  which is actually better translated as “appointed”, this is simply saying that Jesus has appointed Peter to bear fruit, there is no mention here of any “Aaronic” or “Melchizedek” priesthood being bestowed.

Earlier in the chapter we see the same thing being talked about regarding all that are in Christ.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Again my point stands, its being in Christ that brings your authority, not any church ordnance.

Finally Ned picks up on my conclusion

Do you know this Jesus? Has He saved you to the uttermost? Is His authority in you? Do you look to Him for all you need or is it found in an organization? The answer will affect your eternity.

Ned then says the institution of the church is not the gospel, but rather a tool the Lord uses on the earth. He does concede that some become so institutionalized that they lose track of this.

My experience as I imagine many others is with Mormons, is that when they talk about being converted they say “I was converted to the Church….” I see this all the time. One example that really comes to mind is a talk done by a member of the 70 called Elder Poelman in 1984.

He made some points that support Neds argument here well:

  • 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine. However, there is a distinction between them which is significant and it is very important that this distinction be understood.
  • 2, Of equal importance is understanding the essential relationship between the gospel and the Church. Failure to distinguish between the two and to comprehend their proper relationship may lead to confusion and misplaced priorities with unrealistic and therefore failed expectations. This in turn may result in diminished benefits and blessings and, in extreme cases disaffections.
  • 3, Sometimes traditions, customs, social practices and personal preferences of individual Church members may, through repeated or common usage be misconstrued as Church procedures or policies. Occasionally, such traditions, customs and practices may even be regarded by some as eternal gospel principles. Under such circumstances those who do not conform to these cultural standards may mistakenly be regarded as unorthodox or even unworthy. In fact the eternal principles of the gospel and the divinely inspired Church do accommodate a broad spectrum of individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.

However if you go to today you will see these points instead.

  • 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine, and there is an essential relationship between them that is significant and very important.
  • 2, Understanding the proper relationship between the gospel and the Church will prevent confusion, misplaced priorities, and failed expectations and will lead to the realization of gospel goals through happy, fulfilling participation in the Church. Such understanding will avoid possible disaffection and will result in great personal blessings.
  • 3, The eternal principles of the gospel implemented through the divinely inspired Church apply to a wide variety of individuals in diverse cultures.

Elder Poelman after giving this talk with the great points made above was then made to go back to the conference hall, with no audience apart from some machines making coughing noises, to give another talk, with the second round of points that clearly show that the Church is actually more essential than Elder Poelman first stated. For my article on this issue go here.

Mormon Apostle Bruce Mcconkie said:

If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, p.670).

More responses to this podcast to follow.

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7 Responses »

  1. I appreciate your response to my podcast and I would like to expand upon the topics you addressed. (Bobby)…So there are two points Ned is appearing to make there, First point is that Mormons follow the same Jesus. Same Jesus as who? (Ned)..Christians. (Bobby).. Is something I have to ask, Mormon authorities have clearly stated in times past that the Mormon Church follows a different Jesus to the rest of the Christian world. My view is that it’s the same person. Our understand of Him may differ but it is NOT a different being. You may understand John Calvin different than I do but he’s still the same person not a different John Calvin. (Bobby)..Again my point stands, its being in Christ that brings your authority, not any church ordnance. (Ned)…I agree to a point. Being ordained does not grant power. Being ordained or appointed by those in authority (Jesus in this case) does confer privilege that others do not have. One may have the desire to perform law enforcement duties in his city/town or country but unless he has been officially authorized to do so his actions are not sanctioned and may result in serious consequences for the person to tries to circumvent established authority. (In this case the government agency) It is by faith that miracles are brought to pass and not authority of a priesthood office or calling. This is clear in the LDS teaching. The priesthood offices are for the work of the ministry as referred to in Ephesians “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the

    edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith,

    and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the

    measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be

    no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of

    doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie

    in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him

    in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

    One last comment,

    “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, p.670).

    It seems to me that Bobby has construed this comment to be understood in a very literal fashion. Let me say that “Mormon Doctrine” by Bruce R. McConkie in NOT official doctrine of the Church. I think that Bobby knows this but if he does not then I want to make this point clear. Sound bite phrases like the one have generated confusion when taken our of context. So, what is the proper context? It is my view that brother McConkie was trying to explain that the fullness of the gospel was lost from the earth due to the great apostasy that took place after new testament times. So, the fullness needed to be restored. The Lord chose Joseph Smith to perform this work in preparation for His second coming that will usher in the millennial era when Christ personally reigns on the earth for a thousand years before the final judgment. You may not agree with the need for a restoration but this is the position of the Church. “There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” A shock phrase to some and personally I’m not fond of it. To some it puts limits on who the Lord can and cannot save. To me it means that you come unto Him in His way. We can’t demand that He accept our own way. Make sense? I also not fond of some of Paul’s statements particular in Galatians where he talks about those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21 Envying’s, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. From a very literal view this scripture gives little hope in anyone going to heaven. The basic problem I have with these kinds of presentations about gospel concepts, doctrines and principles is that cherry picking quotes to promote a preconceived agenda can cloud and distort the truth. I strive very hard to promote the truth regardless of the consequences and I’m quick to apologize when I am wrong on any issue. Opinions and our level of understanding may change over time but the truth will always cut it’s own path.

    -Ned Scarisbrick

    • Hi there Ned thanks a lot for the comment.

      The “different Jesus” issue is obviously one that has been discussed for many years between LDS and Evangelicals. You will have no doubt read “Offenders for a word” by Daniel Peterson. In that book he lists a lot of the Historical facts about Jesus and says we believe all of that, therefore we believe in the same Jesus. I actually did find this helpful and it showed me that we do believe in the same Historical Jesus, however we absolutely believe in a different theological Jesus. The Jesus I believe in has always been God and did not earn that, nor did He ever need to receive grace. The Jesus I believe in created everything that has been created by the word of His power, and so on.

      So on this issue I will carry on standing with your church leader and magazine and disagree with you, as the theological Jesus’s that we believe in, could hardly be more different. However historically yes we believe the same person existed. However its the theological aspects of Jesus that save people from their sin, and so the focus and purpose of this ministry carries on.

      My point on the ordained (or appointed) issue was not so much receiving power, but more that this was not the bestowing of any priesthood offices as stated by the LDS Church, as these are no longer in operation. If the purpose of an old testament role has been fulfilled so therefore is the need for the office. Will there still be Police Officers in heaven? No because there will be no crime, so why still have Police Officers? Jesus is a high Priest forever, His sacrifice is eternally sufficient, therefore people whose role it was to carry out sacrifice for sin are no longer needed. To recreate the role and make it into something entirely different to what it was is hardly the marks of a true restoration.

      Yes in the full sense you are right that Mcconkie got this one a little wrong in terms of LDS Theology. It would have been better if Mcconkie said there is no “exaltation” outside of the LDS Church, I imagine you would agree with that, many of your Prophets over the years seem too. However exaltation is being in the presence of God eternally, so therefore the issues with that are still massive. Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through ME, I agree with Him. I imagine you will say that too, I would be happy to go much further into this if you would like. As I think the differences between coming to the Father through Jesus, or coming through Jesus and a Church are massive, the 2nd says that Jesus alone is not sufficient.

      Thanks a lot for commenting Ned, obviously we disagree here but I appreciate your manner in the podcast and your response and I hope I don’t come over is in anyway being contentious. thanks a lot

      • One comment on the priesthood. I agree that there will be no police in heaven because there will be no need for such a organization because there will be no crime. The same will be true of the “Church” as we know it now because the order of the Church is “until” will come unto the unity of the faith. So in that sense the institutional will no longer be needed. Perhaps we should do a Skype interview that could be posted on my podcast where we could share our views and get to know each other better.

        Just a thought,

        My best,

        -Ned Scarisbrick

      • Thanks Ned, that sounds like a great idea, I will drop you an email.

  2. Ned and Bob, I wonder if you have thought through your assertion “there will be no police in heaven because there will be no need for such a organization because there will be no crime”
    Quite aside from the extraordinary presumption involved in deciding mortal people can know or understand the will of the divine and predict the methods of governance in the after life, it is reasonable to wonder how and why a society without the need for law enforcement would or could come about.

    If we assume the definition of crime to be “that which is against the law/lore/rules or divine will” and if your joint assertion is so, by logical deduction only be three reasons for that situation, i.e. the utter absence of crime, to present itself as having come in to existence as a functioning system.

    The first possibility is that there are NO such laws/lore/rules or divine will in heaven in heaven.
    In this case, there is no crime because there is nothing to be broken and nothing is illegal or forbidden.
    In such a heaven all are free to do exactly as they please.
    As Aleister Crowley famously put it “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” odd in such a case that “the great beast” should be prophet of heaven?
    The result would of course be total chaos for undoubtedly one man’s lawless way of living would impinge upon that same privileged being extended to another and with no laws to restrain them both would feel entitled to enforce their own privileges over those of the other.
    Anarchy would ensue.

    The second possibility is that there is no crime in heaven because in the hereafter, crime is simply an impossibility.
    There are laws, rules etc and they physically CANNOT be broken.
    Without enforcement, the rules are imposed directly upon the will of the citizenry, and compliance is obligatory. As is the case in hive based insect colonies where chemical messages from the queen compel obedience from the drones and workers.
    This paints heaven as a place of imposed utter compliance with a set pattern of living with no free will whatsoever.
    Such a place would have no need of ethics or morals for both require the ability to choose in order to follow them or for either to have any meaning. In this heaven, they would be unnecessary no choice equates to no sin.
    This heaven would be a benign totalitarianism filled with obedient unthinking slaves, without desires, passions or ambitions, freewill or independent thought perpetually existing in a state of blissful somnambulism.
    That does not sound like heaven to me, certainly no one I would wish to participate or be imprisoned in.

    The third alternative is of course that there will be no crime because there will be no need for it.
    It is truly stated that all crime is committed for reason of gain or passion and in heaven if all is provided gain ceases to be a motive.
    If all is provided where is the motivation to do or achieve anything? Where are spiritual progress and the ability to continue self-improvement throughout eternity? All are effectively robbed of this and instead condemned to an infinity of endless boredom without remission or relief.

    Likewise if all negative passions are removed (either by the loss of physicality or the exorcism of all those possessing negative passion to Hell) where is drive, assertiveness, righteous anger, outrage, indignation and justice? All of these are negative passion put to positive ends, robbed of these we are compliant sheep, existing in passivity without excitement, fervour or point.

    The possibility of evil and crime, the ability and permission to chose not to do wrong are essential to the continued growth and perfection of the human spirit. If for the greater good, heaven permits these possibilities then it has to acknowledge the need for rules and the enforcement of those rules against those who will inevitably decide to exorcise that freedom of choice to a socially unacceptable level.

    When there is no evil to resist or to fight against good is a meaningless concept.


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