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I had my first meeting with the mormons last night, so I thought I’d give a bit of an overview of the study.   I’m gonna try to do this during the course of our studies, though I have no idea how many studies there will be.

The LDS missionaries had shown up at our house two Fridays ago asking for a study, so I accepted.  They showed up again this last Friday, I believe it was, to confirm the meeting would take place.  On both occassions, it was only the two young men.  However, I was interested to see that last night, it was the two young men and an older man who had come with them (probably late 40s or early 50s).  I was a bit surprised to see a third individual, though he said he was their ride.  He was also the head of the missions program at the local ward.  Incidentally, he had been raised a Methodist and had converted to Mormonism, so I suppose it worked pretty well for a couple such as myself and my wife, with a background in Christianity.

After some brief discussion about the Red Sox (the older man was a Red Sox fan as well), we started our meeting.  Though I had been through it before, it had been a while, so I got them to give their general speech again.  One thing that I was impressed with is that they really laid out a lot of doctrines that I would not have anticipated before I even had to ask about anything.  This was mostly at the doing of the third man.  He actually talked quite a bit – as much as, or possibly more than, the main missionaries did, though not in a commanding way.  He seemed genuinely interested in talking to us about this stuff.

After going through their main deal about how Joseph Smith got his revelations, having prophets and apostles, and things of that nature, I took some time to get some definitions.  This was really my whole intent for the evening to begin with.  I should add that I think it’s important, especially when talking to people of other religions, to make sure that you know what you’re talking about.  And I should also say I find it advisable to go to the people who you are dialoguing with for definitions, before running all over the internet to find what Mormons supposedly believe.  This is what I did with the last couple of missionaries who came to my house, and they could tell, and it probably did not leave me with a great impression on them, and frankly it could not have helped me reach out to them for Christ either.  But it’s also good strategically, if you will, to get definitions set in place.  I don’t really like to look at the situation as a game of strategy, but I can assure you the Mormons are prepared strategically when they come into your house, so it seems fair to be prepared in your own way as well.

Anyway, here is the list of defintions that I wanted to have by the end of the meeting, along with the notes that I wrote down.

Prophets – Used to lead & guide.  Prophets give scripture.  Amos 3:7 – God reveals his secrets to the prophets.  Dispensation = time of prophet.  Apostles were a back up system.  Apostles rejected –> Doctrine is distorted.

God – Father, Son, Holy Ghost –> separate persons/beings.  Father & Son have bodies, Holy Ghost does not = spirit.

Jesus – “we believ everything in the NT”  (concerning him).  Suffered in Gethsemane for our sins, killed on cross, rose on 3rd day.  Savior.

Salvation – Mormon 7:8-9.  Only through Jesus Christ.  Thru his grace.  Keep his commandments.  Atonement – 1st Adam & Even sin, we all die, etc.  2nd Accept Christ, repent.  Took on our sins in Garden of Gethsemane (we don’t understand how).

The Bible – Articles of Faith.  The Bible is the word of God if translated correctly.  KJV is the best.

Christianity – Articles of Faith 13. Follow example of Christ.

Children of God – Spirit children of God.  Father of our spirits.  Jesus is physically begotten of God – we are created.  We lived before we got here – pre-existence to this life.

Faith – Alma 32:21.  Know something ≠ faith.  Faith has power.  Learn things by exercising faith.  Faith precedes miracle.  Free agency is involved.  Violated if Christ came in person.

Sin – Break commandment = sin.  Contrary to will of God.

Resurrection – Jesus is first person ever resurrected.  Spirit leaves body of Christ – come back to body.  Perfect form.  Different types of resurreciton.  Resurrection at end, though others have already been resurrected. = James, Peter, John.  Moses. John the Baptist.  In General when Jesus comes back.

Authority Structure – Eph. 4:11ff.  Different priesthoods.  Elders (older), Deacon (12-13), Teachers (14-15), Priests (16-17).  Mel. Priesthood: Elder, etc.

Scriptures – Bible, BoM, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price.  D&C = Joseph Smith, as well as some other prophets. Pearl of Great Price = Ancient Papyrus with things from Moses, Abraham, etc.  Anything given by a prophet is scripture, but usually scripture refers to the standard works.

Obviously there is some interesting stuff just within my notes.  I found in particularly interesting that they emphasize the ability to know that Mormonism is true, simply by the feeling inside.  In fact, towards the end of the meeting, the older man told me specifically not to go at it with an academic thought process.  He later said that he thought it is very logical, but he still encouraged the inner experience, as it were.

Here’s a list of verses from the Bible that they brought up for consideration.

2 Timothy 4:3ff, 2 Thess. 2:2-3 – The apostasy of which the Mormons speak.

James 1:5 – Asking for wisdom from God to know what is right.

Eph. 4:11ff, Amos 3:7 – Authority structure of the church.

Ezekiel 37:16 – Apparently a prophecy about the Book of Mormon (one stick is the Bible, the other stick is the BoM).

Well, that’s basically it.  I’ll keep you update as I study some.  We’re meeting again this following Monday at the same time, and I’m going to have some questions prepared.  I’ll try to lay those out here as I get them together in an organized fashion.

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Saint Obama

Notice any similarities?

It’s possible this was coincidental, but I would not at all be surprised if it were not. Especially after watching the way the crowds/media cheered for him on inauguration day.  The only other time I’ve seen someone cheer for a single individual like that before was at the Vatican when the Pope was coming up to speak.

I wonder when we’ll start putting our worship in the right place.

(HT: Scott Adams)

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In the past few months, my wife and I have had visits from a very kind woman from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  We’ve been reading the material she leaves and talking with her when she’s visited.  So far the most interesting thing is how they stress the necessity of knowing God’s name.

It’s true.  Where most people call Him by His general name, “God;” God has a specific name.  God’s name in Hebrew is transliterated YHWH (since Hebrew does not use vowels), called the Tetragrammaton.  It is very different than the Hebrew word for “Lord” (adonai).  Many current translations translate YHWH as Jehovah or LORD (note the capitalization).

I went to the Jehovah’s Witness website and found what they had to say about the importance of God’s name.  The article[1] states that the today’s proper form of YHWH is “Jehovah”.  I must ask: who made that decision?  The truth is that Jehovah is a tainted rendering of YHWH.  Early translators did not know what vowels to use when translating YHWH.  They decided to use the vowels from Hebrew words adoni and elohim (both meaning “Lord”) to come up with Jehovah.  Even with this, Jehovah has changed over the years from “Iehouah” (1530) to “Iehovah” (1611) to “Jehovah” (1671).

YHWH appears 6,521 times in the Old Testament and does not appear at all in the New Testament.

All this is well and good, but the question is whether knowing God’s name is necessary to have a relationship with him.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that one must know God’s proper name before one can have a relationship with him.

They make the following arguments in the article[2].  (These have been directly quoted from the article.)
“Concerning the name of Jehovah our God we shall make mention.”  Psalm 20:7
“If we have forgotten the name of our God, . . . will not God himself search this out?  For he is aware of the secrets of the heart.”  Psalm 44:20-21
“Give thanks to Jehovah, you people!  Call up on his name.  Make known among the peoples his dealings.  Make mention that his name is put on high.”  Isaiah 12:4
God said, “They will have to know that my name is Jehovah.”  Jeremiah 16:21
God said, “I shall certainly sanctify my great name, which was being profaned among the nations, . . . and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.”  Ezekiel 36:23
“I shall protect him because he has come to know my name.”  Psalm 91:14

I ask that you, as the reader, will look up each one of these verses and their context.  I suggest using many different translations.  With the exception of Psalm 91:14, all these verses do not address whether a person must know God’s name, YHWH, in order to have a relationship with Him.  Most of the verses speak of bringing glory to the great name of God or that the nations will come to know God’s name after He has crushed the nation because of their sins.

I like to interject myself by saying that the Jehovah Witnesses say that there is far more than just knowing His name.  The article references Psalm 9:10, “Those knowing your name will trust in you.”  They do not put their whole weight on the need to know God’s name but that it is the first step.

Interestingly, the article[3] mentions Exodus 3:14 where Moses asks God for His name so Moses could tell the Israelites who sent him.  God replied, “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be…. This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘I shall prove to be has sent me to you.’ “.  God did not pass on to Moses His proper name, YHWH, but His purpose.  God’s purpose is to make Himself known to mankind, not informing the world that His name is YHWH.

If mankind were to curse and disrespect God, the mention of God’s name would remind people of profanity and worthlessness.  If mankind honored and glorified God, the mention of God’s name would remind people of power and majesty.  God is concerned with how we view Him.  The way we treat God in our worldview is going to be the way we treat His name in public.  We are to bring glory to both.  By this the nations will come to know God and respect Him and His name.

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[1] http://www.watchtower.org/e/20040122/article_01.htm

[2] http://www.watchtower.org/e/20040122/article_03.htm

[3] http://www.watchtower.org/e/20040122/article_04.htm

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The other day, some Mormons came by the house and asked if I’d like a study with them. Sara and I have had a study previously with Mormons, though it’s been a while, and these were different fellows anyway, so I agreed. I’ve been trying to prepare myself properly by going through some of the LDS (Latter Day Saints) texts so that I can be well prepared for our study, and I found some interesting material regarding what I would consider blatant racism.

Alma 3:6 – “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

2 Nephi 30:6 – “And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure [1] and a delightsome people.

2 Nephi 5:21 – “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

3 Nephi 2:14-16 – “And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.

These are just a few of the verses from the BoM (Book of Mormon) itself, but looking further into other writings, even more shows up. For example, read what Brigham Young stated:

Journal of Discourses Vol. 7, p. 336:

You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation; and they cannot tell. I can tell you in a few words: They are the seed of Joseph, and belong to the household of God; and he will afflict them in this world, and save every one of them hereafter, even though they previously go into hell. When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people.

So just from a rather brief view of LDS texts, I think it becomes fairly clear that it is in reality a rather strongly racist religion. That does not necessarily mean that today’s Mormons are racist, of course, but that in and of itself seems to suggest some type of cognitive dissonance that needs to be addressed as well.

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[1] The word here rendered “pure” was, in the earlier editions of the BoM (e.g. 1830 edition), actually translated as “white.” That this change is unsubstantiated should be clear as we see other verses. It should further be noted how odd it is that this change was considered necessary at any point, especially since Joseph Smith himself stated that “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 461)

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