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  I recently read a blog post by a Latter-day Saint named Jim Harmer entitled ‘A complete list of things Mormons can’t do.’ He began by saying this: As a life-long member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’m asked with frequency what things I “can and can’t do.” That’s always been a little funny of a question to me because I, just like you, can do whatever I want. [1] Is this true? Can Jim do whatever he wants? Yes and No Important within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day is the idea of ‘agency’. Mormonism teaches that we are free agents with the ability to choose good or bad. Agency was given to all Heavenly Father’s spirit children in their pre-mortal state and now, in mortal life, it is to be used to ‘choose the right’. [2] So, while Mormons like Jim, in theory, have the freedom to do whatever they want, in practice choice is not a real option if they want to remain in good standing in the church. Most, if not all, cultic groups operate in this way. Mem
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The Reasoning Book - Which Religion is Right?

  In last week’s Watch Tower Wednesday on the Facebook Page we saw i n the Reasoning book, p 328, the question 'How can a person know which religion is right?' They suggest a series of tests, beginning with: '(1) On what are its teachings based? Are they from God, or are they largely from men? (2 Tim. 3:16; Mark 7:7) Ask, for example: Where does the Bible teach that God is a Trinity? Where does it say that the human soul is immortal? '(2) Consider whether it is making known the name of God. Jesus said in prayer to God: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6) He declared: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matt. 4:10) Has your religion taught you that ‘it is Jehovah you must worship’? Have you come to know the Person identified by that name—his purposes, his activities, his qualities—so that you feel you can confidently draw close to him?' Do they hav

How Can It Not Be True – The Witness of the Spirit (Part 2)

  In the official church manuals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the personhood and the purpose of the Holy Ghost is described this way: The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (see 1 John 5:7; D&C 20:28). He is a “personage of Spirit” (D&C 130:22). He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere at the same time (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 32). The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). He is often referred to as the Spirit, Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the comforter (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, pp. 81-82). We shouldn’t be surprised that in their description, we only find one reference from the Bible as to the personhood and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Much of Mormon doctrine does not arise from the Bible but rather latter-day revelation allegedly given to Joseph Smith. The one Bible verse

Reasoning From the Scriptures: Questions People Ask...Really?

  I have recently, for teaching purposes, been drawing on the familiar Reasoning From the Scriptures book. The idea is a simple one, not especially novel, and other groups have something similar. The title comes from Acts 17:2,3, 'According to Paul's custom he went inside to them, and...he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.' The thinking is they follow the example of Jesus and his apostles. 'In answer to questions, Jesus quoted scriptures and at times used appropriate illustrations...' So, a sort of doorstep systematic theology then. They go on: 'Instead of providing a broad, general coverage of each subject, Reasoning From the Scriptures focuses primary attention on questions that are currently being asked by many people.' Note those words, ’currently being asked by many people.’ I have stepped back and taken an overview of the book, from A to W (notably, there is no Z for Zion) and asked myself, have they achieved what they set out to do? What

How Can it not be True? The Witness of the Spirit (Part 1)

  Have you had Mormon Missionaries bear their testimony to you? When backed into a corner, when feeling that you are being contentious, these young Mormons will say: ‘I bear you my testimony that I know the Book of Mormon is true, I know that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet of God and I know that the Church is the only true church.’ They have, they claim, the witness of the Spirit that what they believe is true. This, in a nutshell, is Mormonism. They believe all they believe because of this so-called ‘witness of the Spirit’. How does that work? The desire of the Mormon Missionary is for you and me to also experience the ‘witness of the Spirit’ as they do, but what do they mean? They will point an interested person to a passage in the Book of Mormon – Moroni 10:3-5: Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam

How Can It Not Be True - Joseph Smith (Part 2)

The video continues by showing that the true church of Jesus Christ practices various activities. Baptism and The Gift of the Holy Spirit It says that the early church, established by Christ, baptised by immersion, and bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Mainstream Christianity has no problem with baptism by immersion or the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Spirit. [1] The problem therefore lies in how Mormons understand these things. Mormons believe that baptism is essential for exaltation and both baptism and the laying on of hands, must be administered by the proper authority i.e. by their leaders. ‘Baptism into Christ’s true church by proper authority opens the doors for exaltation in the eternal kingdoms of glory, exaltation to be earned by repentance, by living righteously, keeping the commandments of the Lord, and service to one’s fellowmen’ [2] The laying on of hands is the procedure revealed by the Lord for performing many priesthood

The Watch Tower and Organised Religion

  Under the heading RELIGION in Reasoning From the Scriptures, p.326, the Watch Tower asks, Is belonging to an organised religion necessary? They write: 'Most religious organizations have produced bad fruitage. It is not the fact that groups are organized that is bad. But many have promoted forms of worship that are based on false teachings and are largely ritualistic instead of providing genuine spiritual guidance; they have been misused to control the lives of people for selfish objectives; they have been overly concerned with money collections and ornate houses of worship instead of spiritual values; their members are often hypocritical. Obviously no one who loves righteousness would want to belong to such an organization. But true religion is a refreshing contrast to all of that. Nevertheless, to fulfill the Bible’s requirements, it must be organized.' Quoting 1 Corinthians 1:10 they say: “ Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you