Mormons: the Most Christian of all Christian Faith

This post is written for my fellow Latter-day Saints, who are Christian in the truest sense of the word, in response to Tarik Lacour’s “Are Mormons Christian? Not really…” post from 28 August 2016, on his personal blog.

Almost since the Church was restored in 1830, people began accusing the Latter-day Saints of not being Christian. Their reasons are varied and many, and most are because we believe God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate, distinct beings with physical bodies, perfected and immortal.

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Growing up in the South, I corrected the erroneous belief about my Church to many, many friends and coworkers. The conversation usually went something like this:

Friend: “Dennis, I hear you’re a Mormon.” (I was never shy about this.)

Me: “Yes. What’s your religion? Where do you go to Church?”

Friend: “Oh I attend the Baptist/Methodist/Presbyterian/Nondenominational Christian Church.”

Me: “Tell me what you believe.”

Friend: “I believe in Jesus and… (general expounding of personal interpretation of Christ’s teachings). What do you believe?”

Me: “We believe in God, His Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Ghost, and that they speak through prophets today. This was restored through a prophet named Joseph Smith.”

Friend: “Wait, you said you believe in Jesus??”

Me: “Yes, and let me share why.”

The conversations usually ended quite amicably, with me respecting someone’s belief in Christ, and them understanding that my faith in Him, His Atonement and His prophets, both ancient and modern, was central and core to who I am as a person and as a Mormon.

Other conversations weren’t so friendly. Occasionally, people would say things like, “Well, you might be Christian, but I know the rest of the Mormons aren’t.” Some would even claim to have met Mormons who didn’t believe Christ was the only name on which we can be saved (which claims were wholly untrue, and I would be happy to call them on that and correct their erroneous belief, and then remind them of the commandment to not bear false witness).

As a missionary in Seattle, I came against Ed Decker’s followers and many so-called born-agains, who would attack my Christianity because of the holy temple rites we Latter-day Saints embrace, and because of our claim that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet. Again, it was saddening, and aggravating when the very name I bore on my chest was Christ’s, but not surprising. Even more ridiculous was the idea that we aren’t Christian because we “worship a different Jesus,” to which I would reply yes, we do, and He’s the one represented in the New Testament, when He and His Father appeared to Stephen the Apostle in Acts Chapter 7.

Such arguments were ignorant, hate-driven, and fueled by those who were and are apostates from the truth. Humans, being emotional creatures, tend to believe that which those who surround them believe. Thus, not being surrounded by Mormons, I can understand their misunderstanding.

However, this week, I encountered a new claim that I’ve never before considered, even though I may have heard it: an academic philosophy that we aren’t Christians because we’re a “Restoration Church,” (even though this person admitted we follow Christ) on a comment on my good friend Tarik Lacour’s Facebook. This was a new concept to me, and frankly is puzzling.

Tarik agreed with this person who presented this idea, and he went on to write a blog post as to why we aren’t Christian as Mormons, which is astounding and doctrinally heretical, given he’s a baptized member of the Church. The logic and argument he used to argue that we aren’t Christian, however, can be used to prove that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed Christianity in its purest and most original form.

I will attempt to respond Tarik’s post, but not from an academic point of view, as he wrote his points of view. Instead, I’ll write from the standpoint (and my personal knowledge) that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the earth, that our theology is wholly true and correct, and that even if practices have changed, our doctrine is consistent and Christian. I do this because I feel it’s unfair to the doctrine, and one cannot fully appreciate our doctrine if only studied from an academic point of view.

Before I do this, let me state that to remain truly Christian, we must have restorations as people and groups apostatize. There was evidence of this all throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Book of Mormon. To say or even imply that the two ideas of Restoration and Christianity are mutually exclusive are exceptionally erroneous, and such a concept should be discarded as false doctrine.

Adam and Eve were the original Christians. 

Indeed, we know that Adam knew Christ in His Spirit form, before Christ had obtained His physical body here on earth. Adam, who was Michael in the pre-mortal life, chose, along with Eve, to partake of the fruit and become mortal, thus needing a Savior to return to the presence of God. They fell that we, their descendants, might be, and Christ came to save us all.

Adam learned more of Christ’s sacrifice when an angel appeared to him asking why he made sacrifices unto God. Adam replied that he didn’t know, and the angel taught him that it was a “similitude” of Christ’s sacrifice for all of us, and commanded that we do everything in the name of Christ. (All of this is detailed in the Pearl of Great Price.)

Thus, Adam operated at the first Christian or follower of Christ. Old testament prophets after Adam were all Christian, and taught that only through Him, Jehovah, may we be saved.

The Biblical saints were referred to as “Christians,” and the Book of Mormon saints were also followers of Christ.

 One of the earliest references in the New Testament comes from Acts 11: 26:
“…And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Emphasis added). This term is then used throughout the New Testament.

The Book of Mormon is replete with evidence that it was the Christian Church, complete with prophets, high priests, elders, priests,  and teachers. Nephi’s statement in 2 Nephi 25:26 that “… we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins,” is quite simply a beautiful proclamation of Nephi’s Christianity.

The Great Apostasy was a time that warped Christianity from it’s purest form, and Joseph Smith was the prophet that restored truth to the earth regarding God and His nature. 

Tarik began his blog post by almost immediately quoting the Nicene Creed. It’s erroneous and false teachings were Greek and Roman in nature, with some Christianity mixed into it. The fact that Emporer Constantine locked all the officials of what would become the Roman Catholic church in a room and made them agree to doctrines, essentially at swordpoint, is enough for me to discard its teachings.

Such a situation could not have had the Holy Ghost present, as it was full of argument, and Christ Himself taught that contention is of the devil; indeed, all the Apostles that He had called were dead (with the exception of John the Beloved), and the Holy Priesthood was no longer on the earth.

Said Gordon B. Hinckley about the Nicene Creed and Latter-day Saint beliefs:

“When the emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, he became aware of the divisiveness among the clergy concerning the nature of Deity. In an attempt to overcome this he gathered the eminent divines of the day to Nicaea in the year 325. Each participant was given opportunity to state his views. The argument only grew more heated. When a definition could not be reached, a compromise was made. It came to be known as the Nicene Creed, and its basic elements are recited by most of the Christian faithful.

“Personally, I cannot understand it. To me the creed is confusing.

“How deeply grateful I am that we of this Church do not rely on any man-made statement concerning the nature of Deity. Our knowledge comes directly from the personal experience of Joseph Smith, who, while yet a boy, spoke with God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Risen Lord. He knelt in Their presence; he heard Their voices; and he responded. Each was a distinct personality. Small wonder that he told his mother that he had learned that her church was not true. And so, one of the great over-arching doctrines of this Church is our belief in God the Eternal Father. He is a being, real and individual. He is the great Governor of the universe, yet He is our Father, and we are His children.”

What’s important to note is that Joseph Smith never questioned, at least not publically or in writing, the actual Christianity of another, if they were not a Latter-day Saint and confessed some other form of Protestantism or Catholicism.

However, the Nicene creed is a very warped version of Christianity. For Tarik to imply that the acceptance of it’s doctrine is required for one to be truly Christian means that he doesn’t understand the basis of the original Christian Church being Adamic in nature, and that said Church continued through the Old Testament, was restored numerous times by prophets and even Christ Himself, that the Christian pattern is one of restoration, because God gave us Christ to restore us to Him.

Today’s statements on our Christianity.

All we do in the Restored Church is done in the name of Christ when it comes to rites, ordinances, sermons, and other sacred, holy practices. We pray in His name; we claim Thomas S. Monson is His prophet and that He has 14 other living Apostles. We trust in Him; He is our Redeemer. We know He speaks to these men.

We bless people, by the power of His Holy Priesthood, in His name.

Two incredibly powerful documents on His divinity, The Living Christ, and the Gospel Topics Essay “Are Mormons Christian?”both state our belief in Christ.

From The Living Christ:

“He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New….

“His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come. He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

And from “Are Mormons Christian?”

While members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no desire to compromise the distinctiveness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, they wish to work together with other Christians—and people of all faiths—to recognize and remedy many of the moral and family issues faced by society. The Christian conversation is richer for what the Latter-day Saints bring to the table. There is no good reason for Christian faiths to ostracize each other when there has never been more urgent need for unity in proclaiming the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a living Apostle, has stated, “Divine covenants make strong Christians.” Indeed, if we are the only Church where covenants are valid, then that would imply that we are Christians.

Those covenants are made through Christ’s priesthood authority. We claim that we are the only Church with this authority. Indeed, if its His authority, then that would consequently make us the most Christian Church of all other Christian Churchs.

This doesn’t mean the members or even the leaders are perfect; rather, it means that we have the best ability to bring souls the closest to Christ among all other churches, both in this life and in the next.

We do not have to be the only Christian Church to be the true Christain Church.

In “Are Mormons Christians,” the passage above that I quoted implies that there are many forms of Christianity; the point is that we all seek the follow Christ and His teachings to the best of our knowledge.

Tarik Lacour’s assumption that we must say we are the only Christian church and his call for us to separate ourselves and essential renounce our Christianity, or his other solution  contrast that with the claim that we are the only Christain Church, is absurd and heretical. His call is ironically accompanied by a statement that implies that the Church and its Saints are not honest.

Such actions with either appease the masses and discredit the entire work of the Lord, quite the opposite of Tarik’s assumption that it would accelerate and assist in the legitimacy of the work. He states that “In order to be honest, you must clearly state what you believe, and honesty is the best avenue to have fruitful interfaith dialogue. In order for this to happen, Mormons will need to be honest and say that they are a separate religion from Christians, be straightforward about their materialistic and polytheistic beliefs, and honest that they alone are the vehicle of salvation and exaltation, even if other faiths do much good. We cannot move forward unless we are strictly honest.”

Such a statement would make it clear that he feels there is no legitimacy to the work of the Lord in current time.

Quite the contrary, with a knowledge that he claims to have that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, he is being dishonest with himself, the Church and  with his fellow man. If he really knew it was true, he would take the words of the prophets seriously, and believe in his heart that we are Christians, and work tirelessly, even vigorously, to defend that Christianity that Latter-day Saints hold so dear.

Such a sterile, academic view of the Restored Gospel, and even the rest of Christianity, is the epitome of the phrase given by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to the boy prophet Joseph Smith: “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (JSH 1:19), and thoroughly denies the power and divinity of this, the most true and correct Christain work on the earth, thus removing the most important thing from the equation: the power of the Holy Ghost, whom Christ sent to us to declare His word to our hearts.

This power and manifestation of the Holy Ghost comes by honest inquiry to God, asking Him with real intent and being willing to act on His direction that will inevitably come if that intent is real. Appealing to academic theological studies and points of view, without first assuming the Restored Gospel is true and Christian, will always lead to these types of apostate statements, views and demands, and robs the writer and those who agree with him or may come to believe him of true revelatory experiences.

In short, Tarik should discard these views and instead look the source, Jesus Christ and His true Church, His prophets and apostles, and the official statements and publications of the Church regarding this matter.

After all, if we aren’t willing to look to the source, where else will we get accurate information?

 

 

 

 

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In Response to Hillary Clinton’s op-ed for the Deseret News

Today, the Deseret Published a guest opinion editorial article written by Hillary Clinton. As a good media outlet should, they’ve asked all the major candidates to write a piece defending their positions and inviting people to vote for them. Last week Gary Johnson wrote his editorial, which specifically addressed religious freedom after he had made a perceived gaffe on the matter. Donald Trump will likely be next, and I’m very interested to hear what he has to say, given I don’t like him very much and still can’t really understand how his positions are conservative, even though he’s been in the race for over a year.

All these articles are targeting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they will likely be an important demographic in this upcoming election. This is a new concept, because Utah, which is approximately 70% LDS, hasn’t turned Blue in over 50 years. However, given current polls, the state could swing to any of the three candidates, and if there isn’t a crossing into the electoral vote number of 274 from other states, that could be a deciding factor in what will likely be a very tight election.

Hillary Clinton’s article certainly was written to appeal to Mormons today. If you’re familiar with our people and our faith, you know a few things that Mrs. Clinton played to in today’s article:

  • We know that family is central to God’s plan for us on this earth and in the life to come.
  • We believe in the strength of community, including wards, stakes, and branches.
  • We believe that agency, or the ability to make correct choices while receiving opposition to do wrong or simply be neutral, is central to God’s plan for us as individuals, families and as His children if we are to become like Him and His Son Jesus Christ.
  • We believe God speaks to us today through living prophets.
  • We believe the Constitution was inspired by God, through the Founding Fathers.
  • Our freedom of religion is key to the Restoration having taken place, and is important in continuing the work of salvation today.
  • We believe in being “Honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.” (See Articles of Faith 1:13.)

 

 

THE FAMILY: Mrs. Clinton makes some solid appeal regarding our familial values. She clearly understands that we value keeping the family unit intact, as has been stated by our leaders in multiple facets, but particularly regarding the Church’s stance on immigration.

The Church has specifically stated on multiple occasions that it is against immigrating illegally, overstaying visas or any similar behavior that violates the soverignty of a nation. However, it has also been stated in these same public briefings that the Church is for comprehensive immigration reform that allows those who have come or stayed illegally to be able to work out a way to “square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship” (emphasis added).

It is the position of the current administration to offer a path to citizenship for these people, and it’s only logical to conclude that Mrs. Clinton would continue this policy, given she is a Democrat and has worked as Secretary of State for President Obama. As a Mormon who believes the prophets see things we cannot, I am firmly against this stance.

The family must be kept intact, physically, whenever possible. Allowing a path to legality is the best way to do that. But since taxation without representation is unconstitutional, I predict that it will be argued that these immigrants must be allowed full citizenship if we are going to tax them, so this becomes a very sticky situation, one that could be better resolved with a republican or libertarian president (but not Donald Trump, since he is suggesting deportation).

COMMUNITY and HONESTY: The direct appeal and ask people to for their vote using Sister Rosemary Wixom’s quote from her April 2014 talk on keeping covenants  is outrageous. This talk was all about making promises to God, walking in the light and seeking to become like our Heavenly Father.

Throughout the talk, Sis Wixom cites numerous examples of strong, faithful Latter-day Saint women and girls who are working to have “total allegiance to the kingdom of God.” She teaches of looking to and being worthy to enter the holy temple, and walking uprightly. Indeed, to enter the temple, we are asked if we are “honest in our dealings with our fellow man.”

Hillary Clinton has been anything but honest in her dealings with the American People. She has repeatedly lied about her email server, putting the country’s very security at risk, a fact so well-known I don’t even need to cite it here. Her party’s chairman, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz was found to be conspiring to rig a primary so Bernie Sanders could not beat her, and her campaign (which does very much represent Mrs. Clinton) immediately hired the disgraced chairman to a top position. She talks about campaign finance reform, but then becomes the example of the opposite to her position and appeared with billionaire Warren Buffet, calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and even the middle class, showing great hypocrisy in this position.

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Picture from the New York Times

(Think higher taxes are the right answer? The Book of Mormon would beg to differ, as Mosiah 11 talks about 20% taxation being too high, when it goes into the pockets of the ruling class.)

But back to the quote, to use it in such a way is also dishonest; indeed, Sister Wixom wasn’t talking about community, at all. She was talking about being strong individuals.

Mrs. Clinton also repeated her well-known phrase of “it takes a village,” and then followed up with “Or a ward” to “build the change we hope to see.” hillary-clinton-thumbs-up

Picture Source

Yes, it does take a ward, but again, the ward exists primarily for the salvation of the members of the Church and as a missionary unit to help bring those who have not yet been baptized to Christ. The ward unit is not a political one; indeed, the Church makes it very clear that as an organization, we are politically neutral, but speak from time to time on certain issues.

And as a side note, I cannot think of a stronger contrast to Hillary Clinton than Rosemary Wixom. Knowing Sister Wixom, and indeed having a close friendship with her husband, I feel like this is an affront to a moral, chaste, honest woman and her righteous words. Mrs. Clinton should apologize for taking this quote out of context and using it to campaign for President of the United States.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM and AGENCY: The Church has made it clear that banning entire religions isn’t in line with God’s teachings, either today or in the past. In December of last year, after Donald Trump made some rather outrageous statements on banning immigration simply because of one’s religious choice, the Church responded with some quotes from the Prophet Joseph Smith about allowing for pluralism of religion.

However, the Democratic party will only defend part of religious freedom; they would not allow for civil rights of those who run private businesses to deny service for something they feel is immoral. This would deny the business owners their agency to choose what they feel is right, something over which they could lose lawsuits, and perhaps even face harsher penalties.

DEFENDING THE CONSITUTION: Much of what Mrs. Clinton would do regarding the second amendment/gun rights is in direct violation of the constitution. I don’t need to say a whole lot here, but all of her actions would, in some way, take away the rights of legal gun owners to defend themselves. Read her stances here.

In the FBI Director’s statement regarding Mrs. Clinton’s email servers, we learned that she violated national security laws and regulations. However, the Department of Justice decided not to prosecute the case, no indictment has been brought forward. But just because there hasn’t been an indictment, it doesn’t mean that the law has not been broken. The Constitution states that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Indeed, if she takes office, she is breaking the Supreme Law of the very Constitution she has committed to defend, and subjects herself to impeachment and removal from office, and possibly even jail time.

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Director Comey of the FBI takes an oath of honesty before testifying in front of congress regarding Hillary Clinton’s email server scandal. Picture found here.

What other ways might she violate the constitution? I don’t know. But if she keeps the current administration’s behavior going forward, we know the use of executive orders will be vast and varied, and will essentially function as legislation, much like the DREAM act, which Hillary defends.

 

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Final note: What was left out of this article is perhaps the most interesting to me. Hillary Clinton did not once mention abortion. This is perhaps the most repugnant stance of the Democratic Party, that it’s a “woman’s right to choose” to harm her baby. LDS voters should reject Hillary, if but on this principle alone because we believe it to be an ugly sin that is identical to murder when used as a form of birth control, and one that Hillary Clinton would  continue to funnel federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations to continue in their murderous debauchery and their pro-abortion agenda.

Indeed, this is in direct violation of the 4th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

She stands proudly with Planned Parenthood, who has made a mockery of the Church and is likely in violation of copyright laws with their recent “CTR” condom stunt. Indeed, to stand with such an organization is wrong, moral-less and disgusting.

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Picture via CNN

In short, Latter-day Saint should not be fooled by Hillary Clinton, her cunning words, and her use of our vernacular to convince us to vote for her. She is the antithesis of the cause echoed at the end of the 13th Article of Faith: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

 

 

 

 

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