Friday, 29 January 2010

Mormons and Temples

Thomas S Monson, Mormon president, has announced yet another temple, bringing to 15 the number temples in Utah. There are currently 130 temples around the world. Someone wrote to Reachout recently asking about temples and here is his question and my answer:

 

“I am confused surely the whole purpose of the atonement of Christ was to overcome the need for animal sacrifice. He was the ultimate sacrifice. So it seems natural that by Jesus bring this higher law that superseded the Levitical laws that required animal sacrifice in temple the purposes of a temple would also change and the rituals that take place within them would develop and alter. Your suggestion that the event taking place in the modern Mormon temples does not match the operations of the ancient temples is therefore redundant as they should not be doing so but rather the Mormon temples are there to provide the ability to carry out rituals relating to this higher law of Jesus. Please respond I am genuinely in need of guidance on this issue”

 

Putting up a building and calling it a temple is not the same as “restoring” temples. By its very nature “restoration” implies that what you see in the “restoration” can be found in the same or similar form in the original. “Restored” means to bring something back to its original condition. Nothing that happened in the ancient temple happens in Mormonism’s “restored” temples and nothing that happens in Mormon temples happened in the original temple in Jerusalem. They don’t even look the same, inside or out (I know because I have attended the temple many times)

Furthermore, there were no “temples” in the Bible, only “a temple” and the Jerusalem temple was the focus of Jewish worship. The impression given when Mormonism claims that it has restored “temples” is misleading because one is led to infer that (a) there were originally “temples”, plural, and (b) that there are parallels between what happens in Mormon temples and what happened in the temple in the Bible.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What Mormonism has done is invent its own ceremonial system, based on freemasonry and esoteric ideas not found in the Bible, and called it “temple work”, which is alright as far as it goes, but it would be more honest to tell plainly that this is pure Mormonism and not the “restoration” of any biblical system of temple work.

If you can show me any parallels between Mormon temples and the biblical temple I would be very interested in seeing them.

The answer ultimately is in your first sentence. The biblical temple system was a sacrificial system in which animals were presented as sacrifices to “atone” for the sins of Israel. The Book of Hebrews chapter 9 explains perfectly the change from the OT to the NT.

The first ten verses describe and explain the temple system. It describes two sections, the first, outer court, representing “this present age”, or the time before Christ where the ordinary daily business of worship occurred, and the second “Most Holy Place” where the priest entered once a year to meet with God in behalf of the people. All that happened in the temple, the sacrifices etc. were a shadow of what was to come (Col.2:16-17) The shadow and not the reality (Heb.10:1) a copy of what is in heaven (Heb.8:5).

If the temple was a shadow of what was in heaven it follows that the reality is in heaven. How do we access the reality? The next verses explain it. Christ, our high priest, brought the reality through the shedding of his own blood to atone for sin:

“For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (vv 13-15)

If the temple with its sacrificial system and food regulations etc. is the shadow of what is in heaven the reality is brought through the once for all sacrifice of Christ that redeems us from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. Earlier in Hebrews we read that, because of Christ, we can “approach the throne of grace (the reality of which the Most Holy Place was a shadow) with confidence” (Heb.4:16)

You are correct then in writing that the atonement of Christ made the sacrificial system redundant but mistaken in thinking that he replaced one law with another. On the contrary, he replaced a temporary and repeated sacrifice with one unrepeatable and sufficient sacrifice and it is this that makes the old system with its laws and regulations redundant. It is not a system that developed and altered but one that was made obsolete because the blood of Christ saves us from all our sins if we put our trust in him.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Self reliance matters

In the article becoming self reliant in the January 2010 Ensign magazine President Thomas Monson says this: (bold added)

“Self-reliance is a product of our work and undergirds all other welfare practices. It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being. Regarding this principle, President Marion G Romney (1897-1988) has said: “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation in temporal as well as in spiritual things."

An LDS manual says this:

“It is not that our desires are necessarily evil in and of themselves, but it is our responsibility to bridle our own passions lest they devolve to lusts which will invariably lead to sin (The life and teachings of the apostles course manual, p.411)

And also in an article on grace the LDS bible dictionary says this:

“However grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient”. (LDS bible dictionary p.697)


The responsibility for salvation within the Mormon church lies completely on the efforts of the individual, Jesus simply gives an opportunity for this through the resurrection of everyone in the next life, however He does not in any way determine what happens after that. As we saw above it is the responsibility of the individual to bridle our passions that cause us to sin.

However in the bible we see a dramatically different story, we see a humanity helpless without Christ and where even the possibility of relying on yourself to make your salvation happen cannot be the case.

In Romans we see this:

Romans 3:11 (King James Version)
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

No one seeks God.

So God gave us over to our shameful ways

Romans 1:26 (King James Version)
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

However Jesus came to change us from the inside out as we see from the apostle Paul, who also gives us an insight into what the bible says about self reliance.


Galatians 2:20 (King James Version)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Those that are in Christ are dead to their own ways and alive only in Him, as humanity without this is in such a position that left on their own there is nothing we can do to please God or come close to Him it is a complete work of Christ.

This has helped me realise that when witnessing to Mormons it is not just enough to show bible verses that show we are saved by faith alone, but we also need to show that unless they rely 100% on Christ alone for their salvation they have nothing at all.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Polygamists — National Geographic Magazine

The February 2010 edition of National Geographic takes a close look at Colorado City and Hildale, major centres for the polygamous, fundamentalist FLDS Mormons. The photos are a remarkable record of a usually secretive sect.


The Polygamists — National Geographic Magazine

Monday, 18 January 2010

Reachout Trust • View topic - How much longer?

How long does it take after you have resigned your membership in the Mormon Church before they do anything about it? This discussion on the Reachout Trust forum was started by Tex, a former Mormon who is still waiting after a year. The Mormons certainly take prisoners. Has anyone waited longer?

“I'm not too worried about the paper or letter itself, it's just nice to know that if resignation has been asked then a request should be respected and the recipient be notified. But above all honesty. Did they really send me a letter on April 2009? I doubt it, as the post services between US and UK are so smooth and I never had any mail lost from the US. So or it's a very unfortunate coincidence, or then they are lying.”
Reachout Trust • View topic - How much longer?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Why Don’t you Mind Your Own Business?

One of the things people ask of ministry to the cults is, “Why do you do it?” There was a time when it hardly needed explaining but now, even within some parts of the church, there are those who ask whether it is really altogether Christian to challenge other religions. Somehow it doesn’t seem altogether respectable, especially in a world where, if people want a religion at all, they shop for one. I mean, you wouldn’t rummage through other people’s purchases down at the department store, identifying fashion victims, criticising colour combinations - at least not to their faces.

There are two reasons why we do it. The first, and by far the most important, is that people pin their eternal hopes on their religious choices and God has commanded that Christians should “Go into all the world telling the good news.” People concerned about eternal things need to hear eternal truths and be warned about those things that will prove ultimately false and empty.

Jude wrote of his eagerness to write about the plain Christian message being overtaken by an urgent need to sound a warning:

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
(Jude 3-4)

The second reason is that people make important life choices based on their religious convictions. From where and how they live and vocational choices to life and death choices, people are informed by their faith.

A Mormon missionary typically gives up two years of his life between the ages of 19 and 21 years, just when his contemporaries will be forging ahead in their education and career choices. A Jehovah’s Witness will make life and death choices as he and/or his family faces major surgery while their religion forbids blood transfusions. Devout people of all religions sacrifice time and resources and make incredible sacrifices for their faith.

Not until you witness in others or experience for yourself the disappointment, confusion and pain of discovering that you sacrificed for an empty philosophy (Col.2:8) can you understand the drive to ensure that faith informed choices are fully informed choices. If a religion makes converts and keeps adherents by guarding the faith from close scrutiny, if it wins people over by manipulation and deception, if it claims to be “the way” but denies the truth about Christ who is “The Way”, then people deserve to know it. Like Jude, we love nothing more than to talk about “our common salvation” but, like Jude, we are overtaken by an urgent need to contend for the faith and appeal to other Christians to do the same, for the health of the church and for the common good of everyone concerned for eternal things.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Nampa pastor leads drive to convert Mormons | News Updates | Idaho Statesman

 

A media campaign has been launched in eastern Idaho against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The "Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons" campaign was started by the Truth in Love Ministry of Nampa. Its focus is on "witnessing to Mormons" and showing them the "truth of God's words" through "loving means."

Five billboards have been placed in heavily Mormon southeastern Idaho - one in Rexburg and two each in Idaho Falls and Pocatello - showing a woman holding her head next to the words "Feeling Worthy?" The billboard gives the campaign Web site. The billboards are expected to remain on display for at least three months.

Nampa pastor leads drive to convert Mormons | News Updates | Idaho Statesman