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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Fox News Publishes Mormon Questions
Today on the Fox News website, Fox posted answers to questions about Mormonism that the church chose to answer. Which ones were left out was not stated.
Of the 21 questions that the Salt Lake church chose to answer, most are misleading and purposeful distortions of their beliefs. One problem is that the church does not see itself as bound to the teaching of either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Mormon doctrine is not once and for all time delivered to the saints. It is a moving target. Mormon theology is like a cafeteria meal where you pick and choose what you like and ignore the rest.
Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?
A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.
Well actually, this was not the case until 1978, when Blacks were allowed full membership in the church. Prior to that time, Blacks were regarded as cursed by God and unable to enjoy his full blessing and fellowship just because of their skin color. Only in the midst of Jimmy Carter’s human rights campaign was church doctrine revived.
Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women must serve men on both Earth and in heaven?
A: Absolutely not. Mormons believe that women and men are complete equals before God and in relation to the blessings available in the Church.
This is another distortion of their teaching. I did a college paper on this exact subject in 1980 and it was clear from multiple official Mormon sources that a woman’s salvation was directly tied to her husband’s performance of the priesthood within the church. A woman could not make it without a man.
Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that God and Mary had physical sex to conceive Jesus?
A: The Church does not claim to know how Jesus was conceived but believes the Bible and Book of Mormon references to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.
This is a lie. Brigham Young taught extensively about the doctrine of Adam-god and the folks in Salt Lake simply were uncomfortable about this idea and revised many of their church doctrines to make it go away. It is not just the evangelical Christians that criticize Brigham for teaching Adam-god but other Mormon groups like the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (they now call themselves the Community of Christ).
The frustrating thing about Mormon doctrine is that the Mormons want it both ways. On one hand, they want the foundation of a restored church via Joseph Smith and on the other, the ability to revise beliefs to fit modern contexts.
Mormons claim that Joseph Smith had a series of special encounters with God. Joseph single-handedly did not reform but restored to true gospel, which had been lost to the world since the end of the early church. Mormons contend that what Joseph taught was superior to the Bible because the Bible was only correct “in so far as it was translated correctly.” Therefore we could not use the Bible to evaluate the Prophetic word of Joseph Smith, but could only use Smith’s word to interpret the Bible. This is the basis of why the Mormon church—however large—is called a cult.
Joseph Smith launched the attack on Christianity
I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt see Joseph Smith History 1:18,19
All we are doing is defending the faith of our fathers.
At the same time Smith gets credit for restoring correct doctrine, the Salt Lake church has not spared any effort trying to make changes small and great to make Smith’s teaching more marketable to the masses. There have been hundreds of changes to the Mormon Scriptures since Smith first published them. Mormon doctrine has undergone significant rewrites over the years. The church has morphed Adam-god, polygamy, race relations and many other things over the years. It is Orwellian how easily the church can shift its beliefs.
The problem is that if God truly spoke to Smith then what he taught must be fixed and immutable. Like Moses and the Ten Commandments, God’s teaching should be etched in stone. Smith claims he wrote it down exactly as he was commanded. Smith personally took it to the publisher. How could there be any error?
Yet the LDS church has taken many liberties to correct, amplify and even outright change church doctrine. This creates a big problem. Either God spoke to Smith and he got it wrong and therefore is a false prophet or the church has purposely departed from the teachings of Smith and is apostate. The whole structure of the LDS church is built on the foundation that Smith and Brigham laid. Either way the church is wrong. Clearly this is the case.
What should be done when we are confronted with the claims of the LDS church is to evaluate them on the basis of the Bible. We know God spoke through the Bible, if what Joseph and Brigham taught is contrary to this revelation then they are wrong and should be rejected.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Huckabee on Jesus and Satan
Recently, Mike Huckabee did the candidate’s equivalent of asking one of those dreaded marital questions, “Honey does this dress make me look fat?” Once the question is on the table, you find yourself in a box that only Solomon could get out of and Huckabee is clearly not Solomon.
The issue has blown-up one two fronts. First is what Huckabee said true and second why did he say it?
Both Scripture and life experience tell us to watch what we say. This is doubly true for Presidential candidates. Below are some Scriptural admonitions that are very familiar to Governor Huckabee and most Christians.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. James 1:26
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:5, 6
During an interview with a reporter writing for the New York Times Magazine, Mike Huckabee recently asked, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”
The quick and dirty answer to the question is ‘yes’.
This statement was widely introduced into evangelical circles by Dr. Walter Martin.
Martin was a prolific author, lecturer and pastor that specialized in Christian apologetics. Apologetics is the defense of the faith and has its basis in the scriptural admonition to “. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” I Peter 3:15.
The two best-known works by Dr. Martin on Mormon theology are Kingdom of the Cults and Maze of Mormonism. Martin concentrates on the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the core theology of the nature and work of Jesus Christ and compares this teaching to historic Christianity.
Clearly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a colorful and problematic history. However, both Dr. Martin and the Mormon church agree that the LDS church teaches that Jesus and Satan are brothers.
The following quotes are from the official LDS website (emphasis added)
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
When our Father in Heaven presented his plan of salvation, Jesus sustained the plan and his part in it, giving the glory to God, to whom it properly belonged. Lucifer, on the other hand, sought power, honor, and glory only for himself. (See Isa. 14:13–14; Moses 4:1–2.) When his modification of the Father’s plan was rejected, he rebelled against God and was subsequently cast out of heaven with those who had sided with him. (See Rev. 12:7–9; D&C 29:36–37.)
Some Mormons are not comfortable that their views are discussed in formats that they don’t control and some damage control was needed in this situation.
Stirred by the debate, the Associated Press sought clarification from Kim Farah, a spokeswoman from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She said the question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith, but she evaded a direct answer to the question: “We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”
Kim Farah’s statement is a distortion of LDS doctrine designed to deflect a meaningful understanding of what Mormons really believe.
Joseph Smith rejected any claim of being a Christian or part of a Christian denomination.
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith History 1:18,19
Mormons are polytheistic not monotheists.
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 349
Historic Christianity teaches that Christ was begotten not created. The Mormon definition of “Father” is that God had sex with one of his wives and she gave birth to spirit children, and they are all waiting to come here to have physical bodies in the hope that they too can become gods. By not defining terms, Kim is trying not to disclose what her church really teaches.
While Jesus and Satan were spirit brothers, they offered two competing ideas for salvation of mankind, Jesus’ proposal was accepted and Satan’s was rejected. This rejection caused him to rebel and become the opposite what of Jesus stands for.
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Moses 4:1,2
Clearly it is established that Huckabee’s question to the reporter is really the teaching of Mitt Romney’s church, the next question to ask is more troubling.
As other bloggers have pointed-out, when the Southern Baptist Convention had their conference in Salt Lake City in 1998, Huckabee was a speaker at the event. The SBC was pushing videos and books that highlighted differences between their theology and the LDS church. For a preacher and speaker at such an event to later claim that he couldn’t recall what Mormons believe is a real stretch to me. I read Martin’s book thirty-five years ago and can recite much of it from memory.
I am uncomfortable going there but it is a possibility that Huckabee setup this whole thing on purpose.
Speaking on this subject, Laura Ingraham used the analogy of a lawyer during a court case purposely asking a question the he knew was impermissible and then withdrawing it once an objection was raised. This gets the issue out in public and into the minds of the jury even if it is not “on the record.”
Is Huckabee a “bomb thrower” or just tone deaf?
It appears that Mike Huckabee is staking-out territory as the anti-Mormon candidate. As a Baptist minister this might be a good position to occupy but as a Presidential candidate it seems like jousting with windmills. On one hand this is probably his “jump the shark moment” but on the other, why did the New York Times and Associated Press decide to hype this particular comment?
Whether Huckabee’s question was a deftly placed dagger in Romney’s back or a dumb redneck comment, he said something that was out-of-bounds in the minds of many people. His comment will not hurt him in evangelical circles but it will impair his ability to expand his base of support to include fiscal and defense minded conservatives.
Any time you asked, “Honey, does this dress make me look fat” it’s going to end badly. Moral of the story, for a happy marriage watch your tongue.
One last thing we learned from this exchange is that Hillary and Huckabee have something in common besides being from Arkansas.
Hillary Clinton claims that much of her leadership experience comes from her time with Bill in the White House. However, if you want proof you can’t get it because all of her papers are sealed in the Clinton Presidential Library until after the election is over.
Similarly, Mike Huckabee is advertising himself as a Christian Leader in his Iowa television spots. His “Christian Leader” status is part of what qualifies him to be president, however, all sermons either printed or on tape are unavailable from any of his former churches. In effect all his records are sealed until after the election too!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Mike Huckabee and Tookie Williams
While no analogy is perfect, enough of the facts are the same to compare the cases of Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Wayne DuMond.
First, Stanley “Tookie” Williams was a street gang member who was convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to death. While in prison, he had a born again experience and gave his life to Christ. As a result of his conversion, he began writing various articles and tried to encourage young people to avoid street gangs. Because of his anti-gang advocacy, many people thought that his sentence should be commuted and the death penalty should not be carried-out. Even many people that normally support capital punishment thought that the governor—Arnold Schwarzenegger—should pardon “Tookie”.
“Tookie” was finally executed about two years ago.
DuMond said that, while he was awaiting trial, masked men burst into his home, tied him up with fishing line and cut out his testicles. By the time Mr Huckabee became governor in 1996, he had met DuMond’s wife and was promising to release him. After advice from medical experts — thought to have told him that DuMond was still capable of rape — Mr Huckabee allowed the decision to be taken by the parole board, which released DuMond in September 1999.
In 2001 DuMond raped and killed Carol Sue Shields, 39, in Missouri and is also said to have been responsible for the rape and murder of Sara Andrasek, 23, who was pregnant. He died in prison two years ago of natural causes.
While the media doesn’t pay much attention to religion, Mike Huckabee’s faith was understood to be an issue in the decision to release DuMond. Many have speculated that Huckabee was convinced that DuMond had a conversion experience in jail and that facts surrounding his rape conviction were politically motivated. (Ashley Stevens-the victim of the rape-was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton.) The conversion, castration and Clinton connection were enough that many pushed for DuMond’s pardon.
The common thread in both cases is the claim of religious conversion as the basis for some type of preferential treatment for those convicted of crime.
I don’t fault the criminals for wanting to get out of incarceration. I do have a problem with ignorant but well meaning Christians that don’t understand the proper role of church and state. Below is a portion of an article that explorers these roles:
Forgiveness Requires Restitution
by David Chilton
The condemned man sat in his cell awaiting execution. James Morgan had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death under the justice system of 17th-century Massachusetts—the Puritan Colony par excellence.
The Puritans have often been stigmatized as narrow-minded legalists, unconcerned about the plight of “sinners” in their midst. To the contrary, the Puritans, as good Calvinists, believed that all people—themselves included—are depraved and sinful, in need of the grace of God and the mercy of fellow men.
Accordingly, the Rev. Cotton Mather and other ministers visited Morgan in his cell and urged him to pray for repentance and forgiveness. To their delight, Morgan heard them and soon gave evidence of a sound, sincere conversion.
The whole Puritan colony joyously responded to Morgan’s change of heart. They held a special worship service, where Morgan testified to his newfound faith. He was embraced and received as a brother in Christ, with all the rights and privileges of a citizen of the heavenly kingdom.
The congregation sang a psalm of praise, thanking God for His goodness to James Morgan, the sinner who had become a saint.
Then they took him to the gallows and hanged him.
Here is link to the whole article. http://www.reallyright.com/index.php/weblog/comments/tookie_penance_of_restitution/
Clearly Huckabee has either confused the roles of church and state or doesn’t know the difference. As a former minister, Huckabee clearly has the credentials of being an expert in the role of church in our society. Based on his actions in this case and statements that he has made during the campaign on other public policy issues one can only conclude that Huckabee lacks a core of conservative principles.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Can Evangelicals Trust Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney finally gave “The Speech” about his religious views. I read the transcript and thought it was a wonderful speech. The best line in it was:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
This is the same view expressed in the Declaration of Independence where we are reminded that our rights come from God not government.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .
This is the watershed issue in our culture. Those that agree with the Founders are Conservative. Those who believe rights come from government are Liberals.
I think this speech will help Romney with evangelicals but I’m not sure that it will be enough. I think evangelicals are haunted by Jimmy Carter, George H Bush and Bill Clinton. We remember “reading my lips” and “never worked so hard for the American people” as preludes to broken promises and tax hikes. We remember Carter and Clinton gutting our military and trying to peacefully co-exist with terrorists.
Romney’s problems with evangelicals are not really theological but ethical. We are asked to trust that he is a conservative—one of us—but his track record as a politician and his words as a presidential candidate do not agree. What is his epiphany? What caused the change? Evangelicals happily acknowledge that God has the power to do this in the hearts of men but Romney does not credit God with the change. According to Romney he has been consistent the whole time to his faith in God. Both he and Harry Reid are LDS and they are polar opposites on political and social issues yet both in good standing with the folks in Salt Lake City.
Another reason that trust in Romney is thin is our experience in California with Arnold Schwarzenegger. We threw a known conservative—Tom McClintock—under the bus and went with Arnold because Arnold was a fiscal conservative that told us he could work with Democrats. Now Arnold is counted as the eighth most influential Liberal in the United States and has sold-out to the homosexuals and environmental extremists. Arnold has papered over the debt in California by transferring obligations to 30-year bond measures instead of correcting the structural issues that created the deficit spending. Furthermore, while Arnold Schwarzenegger has raised over 120 million dollars for his campaign coffers the Republican Party in California is bankrupt and two million dollars in debt!
Conservatives want to be charitable with Romney. We need converts to our cause to change the direction of our country. We need the children of the ‘60s to embrace the values of their fathers. Jesus told us to forgive our brother if he offends us even seven times seventy times. Conservatives went way beyond that number a decade ago and still we want to forgive. We just want a measure of assurance that Romney will govern with the same values he wants to campaign on.
Gary S Paxton
Gary S Paxton may not be a household name but his work is widely known. He has produced a variety of musical hits since the 1960’s. His music hits span Top 40, Country and Gospel. Today, his best know hit is probably the Monster Mash, which was recorded in 1962.
He has won Grammy Awards and hits that he has produced have sold tens of millions of copies. He was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
His personal life has been a roller coaster of substance abuse. Paxton has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. In 1973, he converted to Christianity. In 1975 he started his own recording label and he did very well until 1985 when he lost the business due to bad business decisions and problems with drugs.
In 1980, he was shot five times in the head by hitmen hired by a country musician that Paxton was producing. Amazingly, he survived the attack.
Paxton has started his life over again in Branson Missouri.
Gary S Paxton sees the world differently than most folks. Like many artists, he can see the wonder of mundane everyday things and he also can glimpse into the future and see what’s lurking just over the horizon. Some of his songs are serious and sober and others are satirical and fun. Paxton’s music, like Bob Dylan, is and acquired taste. His songs will stick in your head and rattle around long after you’ve shut off the music.
What makes his music stand apart from that performed by others is that each song that he writes has a little piece of himself in it. From what I know of his life, it is safe to say there are two Gary S Paxtons. One is the partying hell raiser and the other is the saint touched by God. Much of his music is one Gary looking at the other.
There are pieces of Gary S Paxton all over the Internet but not in one central location. Even his entry on wikipedia is spotty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_S._Paxton
Gary has two different websites that each host unique content. Each is incomplete but overlapping.
The main page at http://www.GarySPaxton.net and http://www.GarySPaxton.org are the same but as you drill down each menu item you will find differences. The music link on each page goes to different music offerings. These choices are not duplicated.
If you follow this link and click of CD covers, you hear samples of songs offered on these CDs. http://www.garyspaxton.org/Music/index.htm
His new wife Vickie has two sites
http://www.TimeForJoy.com was used at one time but now just links to the .org site mentioned above. Paxton’s e-mail is listed as email@example.com
More recent activity and biographical information can be found at http://www.urban.ne.jp/home/koa7/newsletter.htm
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Matthew Ward: Toward Eternity
Matthew Ward is best known for his part of the 1970’s trio known as The 2nd Chapter of Acts. The group often toured with Keith Green, Phil Keaggy and Barry McGuire. During his time with 2nd Chapter, Ward released his first solo album, Toward Eternity. Toward Eternity was one of the best Christian rock albums of the period. I have many fond memories of hanging out at the campus radio station play cuts off this LP on Friday nights.
I have been checking periodically for many years to see if Toward Eternity would ever be released on CD. I’m still waiting. On the Matthew Ward website, there is no mention of Toward Eternity on the Store page on his site. However, on the Music page you will find a list of all the solo projects that Matthew Ward has done. On this page is a box that looks like an ad. It lists many songs in alphabetical order. If you play around with this box you will find that it is in fact a way to play and download mp3 files of songs by Matthew Ward.
Songs that have been purchased previously appear in italics. Note that songs are not listed by original LP or CD. By scrolling up and down on the music page you can figure-out which songs belong to which recording. Setting-up an account on Snocap is easy and doesn’t require selecting the songs over again. Be warned that there is no confirmation screen prior to purchasing the songs. Once purchased you need to either install a download manager from Snocap or right-click each song title and select save to download.
Matthew has a great duel on the Donna Summer album She Works Hard for the Money. Look for the track called Love has a Mind of It’s Own. He also has a great duet with Leslie (Sam) Phillips on her Dancing with Danger CD called By My Spirit.
Matthew Ward’s music is a real treasure. I’m glad he has found his way into the digital age.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Halting Hillary & Huckabee
I was browsing the Internet last night and happened to be at the main page of the Drudge Report when my three year old jumped into my lap. He asked me who was that lady in the photo. I answered that she wants to be President of our country. He then responded, “I don’t like her.” Wow! No wonder his middle name is Reagan.
As we enter the final stretch to Iowa, Mrs. Clinton is blasting Barack Obama on the wedge issue of how long Obama has wanted to be president. Why a kindergarten class in Indonesia counts I really don’t know. I bet there was a time when he wanted to be an astronaut too.
In the last several weeks, Hilary has repeatedly stated that she wants to be President again.
Meanwhile Obama is campaigning with all the enthusiasm of a child that is overmedicated with Ritalin. He doesn’t seem to want the nomination very badly.
On the Republican side, Mike “I need a miracle” Huckabee is being touted by the media as the new maverick of the party. I think the media really views him as a spoiler that is undercutting serious candidates that might have a chance of beating their favorite Democrat.
I have heard comparisons of Huckabee to candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976. Many evangelicals voted for this southern governor because he was a “born again” Christian. As we later found out with Carter, Baptists are notoriously antinomian and their faith rarely influences their views of government and public policy.
If elected, Huckabee would drift aimlessly from issue to issue buffeted by the trials and tribulations of a Democrat controller legislative branch until he was swamped by the maelstrom and had his administration smashed on the rocks. In other words, without core values and conservative principles Huckabee can never be an effective President because the Democrats will roll him at every opportunity and render him ineffective.