Archive for the ‘Heresy’ Category

Al Mohler has an eye-opening article over at his wonderful website (albertmohler.com) titled “Preachers Who Don’t Believe“. Here is a sad account found in Mohler’s article:

Wes, a Methodist, lost his confidence in the Bible while attending a liberal Christian college and seminary. “I went to college thinking Adam and Eve were real people,” he explained. Now, he no longer believes that God exists. In his rendering, God is a word that “can be used very expressively in some of my more meditative modes” and “a kind of poetry that is written by human beings.”

His church members do not know that he is an atheist, but he explains that they are somewhat liberal themselves. His ministerial colleagues are even more liberal: “They’ve been de-mythologized, I’ll say that. They don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead literally. They don’t believe Jesus was born of a virgin. They don’t believe all those things that would cause a big stir in their churches.”

This story is becoming an increasingly common story that I hear. In fact, I met a fellow parent today at my daughter’s track and field practice who shared with me an experience at an institution I will leave unnamed, where the Old Testament professor informed the class on the first day that the Old Testament contained a lot of mythology. This parent’s faith was shattered and fortunately later recovered.  It is no secret that a local university (Northwest Nazarene University) here in Nampa, Idaho has some professors that question a lot of orthodox assumptions about the historic Christian faith. (more…)

More Responses to Brian McLaren

Posted: February 19, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Heresy
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I highly recommend this pretty through review from Kevin DeYoung (link to pdf file).

Gene Robinson Quote

Posted: November 12, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Christ & Culture, Ethics, Heresy, Homosexuality
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Was listening to NPR today and heard part of an interview with Episcopal Gene Robinson, who happens to be openly gay and in a relationship with another man. He was previously married to a woman and had two children with his former wife. Anyhow, this quote is not exact, but the best my memory can recall.

I’m encouraged that Christians are reading the sacred text in a new way. They are realizing that the text is not saying what it appears to be saying.

When the interviewer asked him what he does with certain Scriptures that clearly prohibit homosexual behavior, Robinson replied that he would be glad to answer such questions privately during the break. What a coward. Should we really be encouraged that people are reading the Bible in a new way where what it seems to be saying is no longer what it is actually saying?

LDS Inclusion ~ LDS Exclusion

Posted: March 21, 2009 by joelmartin in Heresy

A straightforward reading of the Book of Mormon appears to endorse eternal punishment in hell for many people. A random example of this is found in 2 Nephi 28.15:
O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
Passages like that from the Book of Mormon (BOM) could be multiplied, but you get the picture. Now, if the BOM was allowed to stand alone as a text and govern the LDS church, things would look very different. But in essence, the book simply establishes the authority of Joseph Smith: “for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation” (2 Nephi 3.15). Once Smith was established in his role of authority by the book he produced, he started improvising new theological viewpoints almost immediately.
In fact, a vision given to the false prophet in March, 1830 said that “Endless” is one of God’s names, therefore ‘endless’ punishment simply means ‘God’s punishment’ or punishment from God (Doctrine and Covenants 19). Mormon doctrine developed away from the Book of Mormon on many points and, by extension, away from the Bible. Mormon Professor James McLachlan writes:
With respect to life after death, the LDS church is a universalist religion. All beings have immortality through the atonement of Christ. Joseph Smith claimed that not only humans but animals and plants have eternal spirits (Moses 3:5, 19; 7:48-49; Abraham 3:18-19). Every creature is immortal, having everlasting life, but “eternal life” is interpreted as deification…all will attain immortality, but only those who learn to love perfectly will attain godhood, eternal life” (Musser and Paulsen, 2007).
Essentially almost everyone is ‘safe’ in the Mormon scheme of things – we’ll all end up in one of the three kingdoms. Craig Hazen has summarized things accurately:
Everyone in the next life (except for the small handful of “sons of perdition”) would ultimately enter (perhaps after a limited time in a purgatorial setting) one of the “three degrees of glory” of which even the lowest level (the telestial) has a glory that “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89). [this revelation]…provided the answer to another important question that was probably being asked by early seekers: Why must I join the church if in the end all are going to be saved anyway? Answer: to have a shot at the highest state of glory” (Beckwith, Mosser, Owen 2002).
There is only one category of people in the LDS scheme of things that are in trouble: the sons of perdition. Who are the sons of perdition? Basically they are apostate Mormons: “Those in this life who gain a perfect knowledge of the divinity of the gospel cause, a knowledge that comes only by revelation from the Holy Ghost, and who then link themselves with Lucifer and come out in open rebellion, also become sons of perdition” (McConkie 1966).
The bottom line seems to be that you are better off living any way you choose than in joining the LDS church and then leaving it. All of mankind will experience some sort of enjoyable eternal life with the exception of those who betray the LDS church.

Thoughts on “Is Mormonism Christian?”

Posted: September 18, 2008 by joelmartin in Heresy
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The current issue of First Things, which I subscribe to, contains an article with a topic very familiar to those of us who interact with the LDS Church: Is Mormonism Christian ? The authors are Bruce D. Porter from the First Quorum of the Seventy on the LDS side, and Gerald McDermott a Professor from Roanoke College from the (ahem) Christian side.

There is nothing ground-breaking in either man’s presentation if you are at all familiar with the history of these debates. Mr. Porter outlines LDS differences with the Nicene Creed and then goes on to outline the LDS version of the creation, birth, life, death, resurrection and the atonement of Jesus Christ. He summarizes his article with this:

Are Mormons Christian? By self-definition and self-identity, unquestionably so. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints affirms that it is a Christian-faith denomination, a body of believers who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who witness that salvation is possible only by his atoning blood and grace. By the simple dictionary definition of a Christian as one who believes in or worships Jesus Christ, the case is compelling. To the title Christian a critic of Mormonism may add any modifiers he deems appropriate-unorthodox, heretical, non-Nicene, different-but blanket assertions that we are not Christian are a poor substitute for informed argument and dialogue.

Mr. McDermott counters with two major points of disagreement:first, “The Book of Mormon, which is Mormonism’s principal source for its claim to new revelation and a new prophet, lacks credibility.” Second, “…the Jesus proclaimed by Joseph Smith and his followers is different in significant ways from the Jesus of the New Testament.”
The frustrating thing about this exchange to me is the failure to define terms – granted there is a necessity for brevity in the magazine format. Porter at least puts forward a reductionist definition of Christian in his closing statement: “one who believes in or worships Jesus Christ.” My dictionary defines Christian as “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings” but that is neither here nor there. McDermott does not even define what Christian means, he simply illustrates some areas where he thinks the two faiths contrast.
In some ways fighting over this term is unproductive and doesn’t get us anywhere, but on the other hand, we should be able to define what the word means from inside the Church itself. If we can’t define what Christian means, who can? But it is a vexing question – what is a Christian? If we say that it is one who has been born again then many thousands if not millions of Latter Day Saints will agree that they have been born again and are Christians. If we say that it is believing in the Bible, they would again concur, generally speaking. We could try Trinitarian baptism which gets close to the heart of the matter as the Vatican has noted. Mormons use the formula of the Trinitarian Name, but the meaning implied by their Father, Son and Holy Ghost is not the same as that of orthodox Christianity.
If we include Nicene orthodoxy as defined by the first 4 to 7 councils of the ecumenical church, we are getting somewhere. But this standard might rule out millions of folks whom we would be loathe to remove the Christian label from. And can we really expect the average person in the pew to be able to define Nicene Christology correctly?
I have argued before that the Trinity is the defining doctrine that separates a Christian from a non-Christian. I believe that the decisions of the councils, viewed through the lens of Scripture, are defining as boundary markers for what a Christian is. This doesn’t mean a believer has to know them and be able to talk about them. They don’t get tacked on to the end or our Bibles. But they function in an authoritative way in explaining the outlines of our faith. This is a high view of church authority, one that believes that the Holy Spirit did not vanish at the end of Revelation and cease guiding the church. I believe that our conflicts with Mormons and other heretics necessitates this view. The early Anglican theologians provided this view of the authority of the church:

The Church has power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

The PCUSA church has suffered recent decline in membership (http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-06-25-presbyterian-decline_N.htm). So what do they do in response to this decline?

The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54% to 46% Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness” (http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-06-30-presbyterians-gay_N.htm).

By dropping such a requirement with the intent of allowing gay clergy, they also shoot themselves in the foot by not demanding any sort of sexual standard whatsoever for glergy. Clergy need not neccesarily live in “fidelity”, nor be “chaste in singleness”. How then can the church discipline any clergy for sexual misconduct is their is no binding standard for sexuality? That is my question.