I wasn’t going to post these here, but Mark’s recent Fortune Cookie Sermons post made me do it.
A little parody with too much truth in it to be really funny.
One area many – dare I say most – current day evangelicals have gone astray from orthodox Christianity is the topic of MacArthur’s latest book. From Southern Baptists to contemporary “Christian” radio, slogans and anecdotes fill space and airways with the message that it’s normal to hear from God. This is not the biblical message of “hearing” from God as you read and study His Word – it’s the dangerous practice of believing inferences and confirmations from myriad sources are God’s way of “speaking to your heart”. It is this claim of extra-biblical revelation that MacArthur addresses in Strange Fire. If your blood isn’t stirred up by the thought of reading and entire book detailing the train wreck of uninhibited charismania, it’s important, maybe more so – that this book also provides the child of God very good counsel on the identity, mission, and work of the Holy Spirit.
MacArthur’s book is comprised of 12 chapters on topics covering new apostles and prophets, gifts of healing and tongues, the work of the Spirit in salvation, sanctification, and the Scripture; the last chapter is an open letter to his continuationist friends. And he provides a handy appendix with several pages of quotes from the past on the topic of the continuation of spiritual gifts, in support of his claim that the current craze is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity. I’ve heard from some who think MacArthur has lumped all continuationists into one bucket of heresy – drawing equivalence between some respected theologians and the likes of Benny Hinn. But MacArthur’s letter to his friends is very clear that he sees much good in the work of these friends, as well as much thin theological ice that their “open canon” represents. He considers them dear brothers who need to be awakened to the danger they pose by sharing some views with flaming heretics – sometimes endorsing and appearing with them.
I will leave it to you to read the chapters detailing the train wreck of the strange fire doctrines, and focus some attention on the last third of the book. Citing an observation from A.W. Tozer, MacArthur says our “view of God is the foundational reality in our thinking, and it encompasses all that we believe about the Holy Spirit.” He points out the truth that while many miracle seekers flock after Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley, a true miracle takes place every time a spiritually dead sinner is raised to new life in Christ. This is too mundane for experience-based Christians, but is glorious to behold by those who inhabit the heavens – and ought to be recognized as such by us. The Holy Spirit works in the birth of new saints by a.) convicting the unredeemed of their sins, b.) convicting unbelievers of righteousness, and c.) convicts sinners that divine judgments are real and necessary. The Spirit of the living God then regenerates the elect – removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh by granting faith to believe the gospel. This is work man cannot do, any more than man can bring about his own natural birth. Salvation is of the Lord, as Jonah declared from the belly of the fish, and the triune God does not share His glory with anyone.
Still in this vein, the Holy Spirit also brings repentance to those He regenerates, liberating us from the power of sin and death and producing love for His righteousness. He enables fellowship with God and makes sweet the fellowship of the saints. We are heirs of the kingdom, free from the dread of God and drawn to Him as our Father, enabled to joyfully sing praises to Him. And here, then, is one biblical truth that cannot be reconciled with the “second baptism” doctrine: the Holy Spirit indwells every man, woman, and child He raises to new life in Christ. He is our Comforter and Helper; protecting, empowering, and encouraging us.
MacArthur delineates the difference between being filled with the Spirit of God and the heretical notion of being drunk on the Spirit. Drunkenness is irrational, out-of-control behavior, while filled with the Spirit is joyful, self-controlled submission to God. Being filled with the Spirit of God is an ongoing experience in the life of every Christian – not an occasional orgy with John Crowder. “Rather than being hopelessly distracted by charismatic counterfeits, believers need to rediscover the real ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is to activate His power in us through His Word, so that we can truly conquer sin for the glory of Christ, the blessing of His church, and the benefit of the lost.”
His last chapter on the true work of the Holy Spirit focuses on the Spirit’s role and identity in the Scriptures. MacArthur gives us a very quick run through history, highlighting a few of the faithful men used by God and several of those who fell or jumped into heresy and have misled countless simple folk. “By departing from the sole authority of Scripture, bot Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism became enemies of true Christianity, fraudulent versions of the very thing they claimed to represent. … Because He is the God of truth, His Word is infallible. Because He cannot lie, His Word is inerrant. Because He is the King of kings, His Word is absolute and supreme.” The Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, provides illumination for the minds of Christians, and the Spirit gives power to the reading and preaching of Scripture. To reject the Scriptures is to reject the Spirit of God – and the entire trinity.
In his “open letter”, the last chapter, MacArthur observes that, “rather than confronting charismatic errors head-on, continuationists leaders find themselves flirting with aspects of a movement that is full of serious error and corrupt leadership.” These otherwise solid theologians allow the charismatics to set the vocabulary, changing the meaning of words and phrases from what the Bible and history show them to be, in order to justify the nonsensical babbling that passes for tongues in modern churches. “The continuationist position invites any personal impression or subjective feeling as a potential revelation from God. Moreover, it removes any authoritative, objective standard for questioning the legitimacy of someone’s supposed revelation from God.”
All in all, this should be a welcomed book in any Christian’s home. We do need to be provoked to think biblically – about gifts and the One Who gives them.
I created these videos and posted them on DefCon back in September of 2010. Since then, we’ve received many new readers to the blog that may have missed them. So I’ve decided to dust them off and re-post them here so that our new readers can see what happens when a 19th century Mormon meets a 21st century Mormon.
The Missouri Prophecies
Back in 2008, I made a cult flyer/gospel tract combo available to the readers of this blog to download for free. Since then, this flyer/tract combo has undergone refinement and is now in its fifth printing.
This flyer/tract combo was drafted as a way to inform the public about the truths of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and to provide them with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It was originally designed to hang on doorknobs in the area where I live and was in response to the constant canvasing of neighborhoods by these two cults. But since its inception, this flyer/tract combo has also found its way into the hands of numerous people throughout America and has even found its way to the shores of Africa (with another box full currently en route to Liberia as I write this).
The cult flyer is a single tri-fold (printed on the front and back). The tract comes three to a page (printed on the front and back). Each tract fits nicely inside the cult flyer as an insert.
Please feel free to download, print, and make as many copies of each of these items as you wish to distribute as you see fit. You can even put your church name, website, or other personal information on them to help in your evangelistic contacts if you so desire.
I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. I found the book to be very revealing of early Mormon history (much of the stuff modern day Mormons prefer you didn’t know about). Namely this book tackled Mormonism’s twin doctrines of polygamy and Blood Atonement (and detailing the hellish results those unbiblical doctrines wrought on Mormons and non-Mormons alike).
Although this work was a scathing revelation of Mormonism’s twisted and violent history, I could not help but detect the author’s occasional sympathetic bent toward Joseph Smith and the Mormon organization as a whole.
Sympathy or poor research in some instances (I am not certain which), but one example of less-than accurate reporting is when Krakauer said that when Joseph Smith fired his gun at the angry mob (the gun that was smuggled into the Carthage jail), he wounded “at least one.”
However, Mormonism’s own History of the Church cites that Jospeh Smith actually “snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.”
I must say that there’s a chasm of difference between “wounding at least one” and “two or three were wounded . . . two of whom . . . died.”
Another instance in the book where the author would have done well to have done better research is when he writes that Calvinists teach that God is “bent on making humans atone for Adam’s original sin.”
If Krakauer did his homework he would have known that that is not the historic Calvinist position (and never has been). Calvinism teaches that God’s Son (and Him alone) is the only One able to atone for mankind’s sin that was inherited through Adam and for the sins man commits daily. It is actually the belief of Mormonism (and Roman Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists, and Muslims, etc.) that man can atone for or add to Christ’s atoning work on the cross; and this in direct opposition to Galatians 5:4.
In all, although the author was incorrect on a few points, I found the book to be a fascinating look into both the mainstream LDS organization (the one’s who broke away from the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) and the varios fundamental LDS organizations (the one’s who still follow the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) with the Lafferty brothers’ murder of Erica Lafferty and her baby, Erica, on July 24, 1984, as the back drop of the book.
The book, although containing a critical overtone toward all religion, horrifyingly exposes the results of following Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s teachings faithfully, showing that Mormonism (much like Islam) is a violent religion full of lies, deception, adultery, sexual immorality, and forever marked by the bloodshed of innocent men, women, and children.
“The events leading to the death of Mormon founder Joseph Smith are much like the events surrounding his life—full of contradiction. To hear Mormons tell the story, Smith did no wrong; for others, he did no right. Like most stories, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”
Continue reading here.
This was a well done piece on Mormonism by the BBC.
Although the impetus for the documentary was presidential candidate Mitt Romney, this video uses his potential presidency as a springboard to delve into Mormonism’s seedy underbelly (unfortunately they never mention such morsels as Mormonism’s racism and blasphemous doctrines like Blood Atonement, paying for your own sins in Hell, and their god having physical relations with Mary to conceive Jesus . . . just to name a few).
While some professing Christians are busy blurring the lines between Christianity and Mormonism (see here and here for example), at least the secular media isn’t being hoodwinked by Mormonism’s slick PR campaign.
Case in point: The following video that aired on MSNBC. I do not know who Lawrence O’Donnell is, but hats off to him for his courage to peel back the facade of Mormonism on national television.
And in the event that the inevitable Mormon apologist comes along and attempts to obfuscate Mormonism’s long history of racism with that was just Brigham Young’s opinion, or the LDS church never taught that, or this was an isolated remark taken out of context, or the myriad of other lies used to hide Mormonism’s history, I simply direct your attention to this post where many more racist quotes from Mormon leaders can be read.
Richard J. Mouw wrote an astounding article for CNN in which he used the subject of presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an attempt to legitimize Mormonism.
Mouw, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary who claims to “know cults” and has “studied them and taught about them for a long time,” for some reason seems utterly incapable of spotting one right in front of him.
God gave us a means by which to identify a false prophet, false teacher, or cult. Through the pen of Paul He told us in Galatians 1:6-9 to watch out for anyone (even an angel from Heaven) that preaches “another gospel.” If anyone (which includes religious organizations) preaches “another gospel,” they are anathema! Mr. Mouw, however, is actively directing us away from Scripture and toward human reasoning by advancing his own means of how to identify those that are accursed. From Mouw’s article:
“[A cult’s] adherents are taught to think that they are the only ones who benefit from divine approval. They don’t like to engage in serious, respectful give-and-take dialogue with people with whom they disagree. Nor do they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, haven’t established a university. They don’t sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions. The same goes for Christian Science. If you want to call those groups cults I will not argue with you. But Brigham Young University is a world-class educational institution, with professors who’ve earned doctorates from some of the best universities in the world. Several of the top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have PhDs from Ivy League schools.”
You read that right (I actually had to read it twice). The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Science are cults because they have not established a university, sponsored a law school, or offered graduate-level courses in world religions, but Mormonism is not a cult because they founded Brigham Young University and several of their top leaders have earned degrees from Ivy League schools.
Is the Watchtower organization taking notes?
So, according to Mr. Mouw, is there anything else that differentiates a cult from biblical Christianity besides whether or not they’ve established colleges? How about the person and work of Christ?
“Cults do not engage in . . . self-examining conversations. If they do, they do not remain cults.”
Well, what about the presence of a works righteousness theology being the hallmark of a cult? Surely that is something Mr. Mouw would recognize as error, right?
“These [Mormon] folks talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.”
So, an apostate organization only needs to pay lip service to Graham, Lewis, Teresa, and Nouwen to no longer bear the status of a cult?
Mormons have been very successful at disguising their true beliefs by adopting Christian terminology with radically different definitions (it has obviously worked to pull the wool over Mouw’s eyes), but now they’re taking the deception a step further. By appealing to two prominent Protestant icons (both with arguably suspect theology) and two Romanist icons, they have now been able to convince Mouw that they are no longer a cult and that their false gospel is somehow no longer a threat to a man’s soul. (Whatever happened to discernment?)
Toward the end of this video Joel Osteen says that he’s heard that Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney “believes in Jesus as his savior just like I do.”
This is inevitable result of having absolutely no doctrinal foundation other than “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
When you place so little value on understanding doctrine (the very thing that defines who Jesus is) and instead spend so much time trying to live your best life now and becoming a better you, the line between truth and error become so blurred that black and white becomes gray, and countless souls perish because of it.
1. Matthew 7:15 – 20: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
2. Matthew 24:4 – 12: And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
3. Matthew 24:24 – 27: For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
4. Romans 1:20 – 22: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
5. 2 Corinthians 11:12 – 15: And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.
6. Galatians 1:6 – 10: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
7. Ephesians 4:11 – 14: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 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 fulness 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;
8. Ephesians 5:6 – 11: Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
9. Colossians 2:4, 8 – 12: And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
10. Colossians 2:18 – 19: Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
11. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 – 4: Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
12. 1 Timothy 6:20 – 21: O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.
13. 2 Timothy 3:1 – 7: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
14. 2 Timothy 3:12 – 14: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15. 2 Peter 1:16: For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
16. 2 Peter 1:20 – 2:3: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
17. 1 John 4:1 – 3: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
18. Jude 1:3 – 4: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
19. Revelation 16:12 – 14: And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Note: A man is not to be judged a heretic for speaking or writing an error – we all fall into this group. A heretic is one who continues in teaching falsehoods that strike at the basics of Christian beliefs.
Joyce Meyer: “There is no choice of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell.” (The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make, pg 36; Joyce Meyer)
Joel Osteen: “You can cancel out God’s plan by speaking negative words. God works by laws.” (Speaking Faith Filled Words, Tape # 223. Daystar Television, 2 May 2004)
T.D. Jakes: “Scripture teaches that receiving Christ as your personal Savior does not necessarily make you a son of God, but if you choose to do so, the power (authority) and right to do so is present.” (The Harvest, pgs 46 & 47; TD Jakes)
Robert Schuller: “I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.” (Time magazine, 18 March 1985)
20. 1 Corinthians 1:18 – 25: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
21. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 – 11: Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Rise up O Men of God
Rise up O men of God
Have done with lesser things
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings
Rise up O men of God
His kingdom tarries long
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong
Rise up O men of God
The church of God doth wait
Her strength unequal to her task
Rise up and make her great
Lift high the cross of Christ
Tread where His feet have trod
As brothers of the Son of Man
Rise up O men of God
Two brief videos on Joseph Smith’s varied first vision accounts by LDSvideo.org.
Too true . . . too funny. A classic.
Those who have studied Mormonism’s history have seen that much of the Book of Mormon was written largely in part thanks to other sources that were available to Joseph Smith at the time he lived.
The two most notable examples are Joseph Smith’s plagiarism of the King James Bible, and Joseph Smith’s not-so-unique tales of native American Indians being ancestors of Israelites. The former was the standard translation of the Bible used in America at that time, and the latter was a popular notion advanced in numerous books during Joseph Smith’s time.
Even Mormons (including LDS general authority member and apologist B.H. Roberts) have had to concede the uncanny similarities between the Book of Mormon and other works of men available to Joseph Smith at the time.
In fact, there’s been much discussion about writings by Solomon Spaulding and Ethan Smith which are eerily similar to that of the Book of Mormon and predate the Book of Mormon.
But the Indians-are-Hebrews stories aren’t the only tales that were circulating during Joseph Smith’s time
There is another Mormon teaching that was espoused by early Mormon leaders that–like the Indian/Hebrew theory–was also not original to Mormonism. I’m speaking of the Mormon teaching that the moon was inhabited by men.
Oliver B. Huntington, who was a close associate of Joseph Smith and remained a faithful Mormon his whole life, said:
Astronomers and philosophers have, from time almost immemorial until very recently, asserted that the moon was uninhabited, that it had no atmosphere, etc. But recent discoveries, through the means of powerful telescopes, have given scientists a doubt or two upon the old theory. Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do, that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and–to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes. Young Woman’s Journal, Volume 3, pages 263-264, 1892
Huntington also said the following of Joseph Smith’s teaching regarding moon people:
The inhabitants of the moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the quaker style and are quite general in style, or fashion of dress. They live to be very old; coming generally, near a thousand years.” This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could “see” whatever he asked the father in the name of Jesus to see. The Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, Volume 3, Page 166
William A. Linn had this to say about Martin Harris, one of the three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
Daniel Hendrix relates that as he and [Martin] Harris were riding to the village one evening, and he remarked on the beauty of the moon, Harris replied that if his companion could only see it as he had, he might well call it beautiful, explaining that he had actually visited the moon, and added that it “was only the faithful who were permitted to visit celestial regions.” William A. Linn, The Story of the Mormons, Page 35, 1902
Of, course, not to be outdone by all the grandiose claims, Mormon Prophet Brigham Young went even farther by alleging that there are solar inhabitants as well:
We are called ignorant; so we are: but what of it? Are not all ignorant? I rather think so. Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed “the man in the moon,” and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, Page 271, 1870
Well, all of the above quotes from Mormonism arose after 1835, the year when a tale of lunar habitation by humans was being spun by a paper called the New York Sun. A tale that later became known as The Great Moon Hoax.
In August of 1835 (just two years before Oliver B. Huntington said Joseph Smith began talking about inhabitants of the moon) the New York Sun (a paper from Joseph Smith’s own home state) reported that British astronomer Sir John Herschel discovered people living on the moon (as well as unicorns and hut-dwelling, fire-wielding bi-ped beavers).
Of course, thanks to advancements in astronomy, we now know for certain that men do not live on the moon (or the sun) and modern Mormons have since back-peddled from these teachings (painting over them with a veneer that these were only their leaders’ “opinion”). But even though they recognized the foolishness of these teachings, they still believe in extra-terrestrial habitation on other planets . . . just not on our moon or sun.
Mormon prophet Brigham Young said:
Mankind are here because they are the offspring of parents who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species. Journal of Discourses, Volume 7, Page 285, 1859
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet/president of the Mormon organization, said:
We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring. Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, Page 62
Recognizing the prophets’ errors of claiming the moon and sun are inhabited is honest and the right thing to do, but why still cling to the idea that other planets are inhabited?
I’m still waiting for LDS apologists to finally concede that the Book of Mormon was just Joseph Smith’s “opinion” as well since advancements in archeology have not revealed one city, town, sword, shield, coin or other artifact or location in Book of Mormon history; advancements in DNA science have proven that American Indians are not descendants of ancient Hebrews as the Book of Mormon claims; that there is not one ancient manuscript to support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon; that the “Reformed Egyptian” language Joseph Smith supposedly translated the Book of Mormon from has never existed; and that the Book of Mormon (called “the most correct of any book on earth”), has undergone 3,913 documented changes, corrections, and alterations since it’s original 1830 publication.
But I suppose, even in the face of all that evidence, the odds of Mormons admitting that the Book of Mormon was a fabrication is as slim as finding Quakers living on the moon.
Description of the video by its editor:
“Narcigesis” is a term I recently heard to describe the sermons being pumped out of many Christian churches these days. It’s short for narcissistic eisegesis which is when a pastor reads his own ideas into the text with a primary focus on the self, rather than God. This is a perfect example from a Joel Osteen style pastor by the name of Kevin Gerald.
As far as I know, Ken Silva coined the term, “narcigesis” – I think it’s highly descriptive of what passes for preaching in far too many churches.
May God have mercy on the people sitting and listening to this man.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that infants are forgiven of original sin when a priest pours water over the baby in the sacrament of baptism. There are two serious problems with this practice. First, there is no occurrence of infant baptism in the New Testament, and second, one must believe in Jesus in order to be forgiven. Clearly a baby cannot respond in faith to the Gospel and thus be forgiven.
– Mike Gendron
Christian apologist Walter Martin takes on Mormon apologist Van Hale in a debate entitled Is Mormonism Christian? It is another fine job by Walter Martin in defending the faith from those who would seek to pervert it.
Years after this debate, Van Hale publicly announced (in 2005) that he cannot accept the Book of Mormon as real history about real people (see here). I’m not sure if his debate with Dr. Martin helped bring him to that point, but it is an interesting piece of history.
You can download all three parts of this debate here:
Check out another great debate between Walter Martin and anti-theist Madalyn Murray O’Hair here.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post (found here), and as a testament to the legacy of Joseph Smith (who was born 206 years ago today), I wanted to direct your attention to the resignation letter of former LDS stake bishop, Steve Bloor.
Here is an excerpt:
“I didn’t realise for instance that Joseph Smith practised polygamy, and was married to 33 women, most under the age of 20, one as young as 14. That some of Joseph’s wives were already married to other men when he married them; a practice called polyandry. All of these facts can be confirmed by a simple look at the church’s own website, familysearch.org. . . . There are many other issues, like; there are several accounts of the First Vision and Joseph Smith’s initial personal journal entry about the First Vision didn’t include seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ, but an angel. Then over the years the story got embellished till it changed to what we have today. Yet I was told it was the most momentous event to occur in this dispensation. Why didn’t Joseph initially record it correctly? And there are so many other things that have just dissolved my faith to the point I can no longer bear a testimony of the truthfulness of this church or even God. Can you imagine how I now feel? It’s like my whole world is crumbling around me. I no longer know what I believe, or who I can trust. I don’t even know who I am, it is a most frightening experience. At the moment it feels like a death in the family. My death!”