Thank you for publishing this. It is so encouraging to me to see Christians standing for the unborn. I was first exposed to graphic photos of aborted children when I was just coming to know the Lord in college - and the pictures are what convinced me immediately that "this is wrong." I could not believe that this was taking place in America. It took abortion out of the abstract and confronted me with the reality that children are dying, they are being killed. I can still remember that sinking feeling of sadness that overcame me. I pray that President Obama's visit to Notre Dame will continue to be used to call attention to the silent killing going on in all of our communities, and that because of the attention this tragic invitation to speak is receiving, God will use it to open the eyes of those who aren't truly conscious of what is going on, just as my eyes were opened.
This is always what it comes down to with LDS believers. It is basically a form of Gnosticism - secret knowledge revealed only to the initiated. Mormonism cannot be shown to have a standing in archeology or history - so you must have an experience of the hidden knowledge to reveal this transcendent truth. In contrast, Christianity is a very factual religion - you can visit Jerusalem today, there is no debate as to whether the Jewish people of the Bible existed. God established the sacrificial system with the Jewish people and Jesus came to fulfill this system and establish a ruler on the throne of David FOREVER (notice no 1700 year gap in his reign). Jesus was born in a real city still there today - Bethlehem. The creator God of the universe came to earth as a child when Jesus was born. The Holy Spirit came to draw believers to Christ crucified and resurrected. The transcendent experience of God for Christians is very much founded on the work and reality of what God has done in this world - and it can be seen in history. Mormons must accept their beliefs and the Book of Mormon on faith - minus any evidence other than personal experience.
Gloria - It is great to hear how God has worked in your life. I pray that individuals in the LDS Church eyes would be opened to the truth of Jesus and God - and seeing someone like yourself on here shows that it does happen. I know that many Mormons when they find out the truth about Joseph Smith and the history of the LDS Chruch they think ALL of Christianity is based on lies and deception - and it just isn't so. There is the truth of Jesus Christ that has been passed on faithfully from generation to generation and He does transform lives. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story!
As we can see from history, the LDS Church may slowly drop and let die some of the more blasphemous/not socially acceptable teachings such as mere men can become gods and create and rule their own planets and be worshiped by their spirit children. However, they are always preaching works righteousness - that men must work their way to salvation. Salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. Trying to work your way there shows that you are depending on your own merits to gain a right standing before God and the Bible is clear, this is not the path to the Heavenly Father. I am afraid that even if the Mormon leaders give up more and more of the doctrines that are eons away from Christianity, they will retain this one spiritually deadly doctrine.
I think the doctrine of man becoming a god is on it's way out in the Mormon Church. It is certainly being downplayed and pushed aside, much like polygamy. It is a topic that the Mormon leadership does not want to address (G.B. Hinckley - "I don't know that we teach it.") and their membership does not want to address ( DOF on this blog "I can assure all here that Mormons are not waking up each day trying to become a god. The command to "repent all ye ends of the earth" is sufficient for the day.") Sometime, in the not so distant future, this doctrine will disappear completely from the consciousness of modern day Mormons and vanish quietly down the memory hole where it will live with together with Adam-God, deleted segments of the Temple Rituals, the eternal commandment of polygamy, and the ban on black priesthood. LDS doctrine is forever radically changing. I would not be surprised if in 30 - 40 years the entire system of secret temple rituals was done away with and the temples are opened up for all - the leadership changes that much and that fast. I can't remember exactly where it was, but the LDS church recently quietly removed references to "becoming a god" from one of their manuals for new converts, temple preparation, or something. As this belief fades the necessity for temple rituals will also fade and I think eventually be done away with or radically changed.
I need clarify one thing from my last post - those who are redeemed are the universal "invisible" Church of God. However, that's not all the story. We also need to be part of the local church - and those can be true or false Churches as well - just like some believers are not wheat but tares, some "churches" are not preaching the gospel (sin and redemption through Christ crucified, not by man or self effort) or they may not be administering the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper - God's special means of grace. Can someone be a true believer and be part of a Church that is not truly following God, or not perfect - absolutely! But everyone should search the scriptures to make sure the faith/teachings of their body of believers is actually preaching and teaching the truth - if not, find a body of believers where the truth is taught. I know people in Church who came to trust in Christ while in a Church that has many false beliefs, God continued to work with them as their eyes were opened by reading the Bible.
The universal Church are those whom God has called and are children of God, accepting Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Christ took my sins and unrighteousness upon Himself on the cross, and clothed me in His righteousness. He paid the price for my sins - a price I don't even have the ability to pay. True followers of Christ have been called Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Catholic, etc., etc. Those who are not (or not yet) redeemed have also been and are presently in these communities of believers as well- the wheat and tares growing together.
Copies of the Bible existed before the printing press. People would memorize sections of scripture and scripture was used to formulate catechism and teaching. If you look at the Council of Orange referenced on this blog you will see how scripture informed the beliefs and teaching of early Christians - they were not ignorant of the Bible. I have heard some of the songs they would teach, so that people could memorize scripture and learn God's truth well before the printing press. Certainly today in the Western world, we will be accountable to God much more for searching the scriptures and making sure what we are taught is Biblical than they were in ancient times, since we have easy access to the Bible - written and spoken.
God did promise in the scriptures that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. And I believe the Church universal, the redeemed of Christ, has been here on earth since Christ established the Church. God revealed His word in time and space, in real places to real people with the intent that it would serve to point people to Christ crucified - that's essentially the whole message and intent of the Bible - God's redemption of man. If God established His Church, and the Bible, it makes sense He would preserve it as He promised. Otherwise why bother? If God did not preserve His word it might as well be immediately consumed in a house fire after being written down - what's the point?
Since God is in sovereign control of everything, one would have to question why would He establish His Church only to have it snuffed out before it really began, so He could restore it in upstate New York almost 2 thousand years later with a book about a people never mentioned before in any scripture? It seems odd that the Book of Mormon seems to know about the land of Israel, but the Bible knows nothing of the land of the Nephites and Lamanites. Archeologists know nothing of these people either.
I don't get your insistence that Calvin is radically different from the historical Council of Orange presented here. I have read Calvin, now I am familiar with these Canons issued at this council. I see no disagreement between them. Actually, I find them very affirming of one another. Your insistence that there is some bleakness in Calvin's view of man's inability to save himself that is not also affirmed in this early Church council seems completely off base to me. I get the same meaning out of both - it does show that the reformers were getting back to the historical Biblical roots of the Church and salvation through and by Christ alone - with man being completely without hope or ability to save himself apart from Christ's sacrifice on the cross and the Holy Spirit drawing us to God. Calvin is full of hope - hope and joy in Christ, not man.
Thanks for looking up some of the historical foundation of our faith. It is amazing to basically see the faith of the reformers confirmed by this early Church council. This shows that the reformers were indeed just that, reformers, working to revitalize and "reform" true Christianity and free it from the false doctrines that always creep in. I especially find Canon 3 interesting - "it is grace itself which makes us pray to God." This confirms even more that the gospel centered on the redemptive power of God through Christ that the reformers preached was a truth that has been understood throughout the history of the Church. Man being a child of wrath and rebellion (NOT a child of God by nature) has been clearly understood by believers since Christ died and rose and the gospel was first proclaimed. God in his mercy has reached down and saved unworthy sinners and made us joint heirs with Christ, adopted sons and daughters.