Home » The Servant Reader » Apologetics

Category: Apologetics

sarai and hagar

God Allowed Abram’s Polygamy but Never Approved It

Starting in Genesis 13 and finally concluding in Genesis 21 with the birth of Isaac, we see an account of Abram and Sarai’s struggle of faith. Abram’s covenant with God in Genesis 13 and 15 leaves Abram and Sarai with God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (15:5) and a claim to the lands of nearby nations (15:18). Abram was already in his mid-80’s at this time and Sarai was considered barren and beyond child-bearing years. As they wrestle with God’s seemingly improbable promise, Abram and Sarai eventually decide to take matters into their own hands. Sarai convinces Abram to go in unto her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, in order to help the prophesy along. Hagar does indeed conceive a son, Ishmael, however this was not in accordance with God’s promise. The whole account is one that teaches us the importance of waiting upon the promises of the Lord. For good measure, God waits over 15 years more before fulfilling His promise, making the supernatural blessing of Isaac undeniable.

doctrine of hell

Questioning the Doctrine of Hell and the Fairness of God | Part 1

In his November 2016 video, “Is HELL REAL or an Invention of the Church?” former Christian pastor and missionary, Joshua Tongol, sounds off on his problems with the doctrine of hell and eternal damnation. He opens with the example of a loved one who doesn’t believe Christianity but still has a loving heart. They die suddenly. “Where are they now?” he asks. Fundamentalists would say, “Hell. Forever. Eternal conscious torment.”

Of course, most Christians trying to be soft in their response would say, “Well, that’s for God to judge.” Theologically speaking, however, most Christian fundamentalists still silently feel—without the salvation prayer (an invention within the past 100 years)—the unregenerate “unsaved” will be going to hell. Even if one says the prayer, without true repentance and a heart-felt desire to pursue Christ, can’t they still be counted as “still-born”?

Tongol poses some tough questions. I was completely unequipped to answer the same questions in my late teens when a Jehovah’s Witness friend fired them at me. My inability to answer these questions in the face of my staunch Catholic upbringing marks my own launch into personal apostasy. That fall would last over two decades before I returned to the faith. The questions:

  • What kind of loving parent would send their children to eternal damnation? For not believing? For having little context for believing?
  • How to reconcile God’s unconditional love and everlasting mercy with eternal damnation? Preachers push this concept often when they posit “God loves you so much, but if you don’t love Him back, you’re going to burn.”
  • If God is omnipresent, how can the common explanation that hell is “existence without God’s presence” hold any water?

My Children Are Destroyed By Lack of Knowledge

When you can’t reckon the gap with logic, folks rebut with, “What does the Bible say?” Well, which Bible? Certain bibles don’t mention the word “hell” at all. Furthermore, the images of hell don’t seem to coincide. Are we talking about the verses that support an eternal hell, the verses that support the destruction of sinners, or the verses that support a temporary hell? So, which is it?

If God is all-knowing, as the Bible affirms, why create people who are simply destined for eternal hell? As a parent, say you’re able to clearly see the future for your children. You see that your next child will have less than 100 years to live on the planet, and then will burn in eternal conscious torment afterwards. Would you still bring them into existence? Our lowly, natural minds would say certainly not. If we can agree that God is way more just, way more loving and way more merciful than we are, it’s safe to assume we don’t have the whole picture.

Does it seem fair to be eternally punished for believing the wrong thing about God? Maybe you’re born in the wrong place, at the wrong time or into the wrong religion. A common response to the remote aborigine who never hears the Gospel is, “Well, God will take that into account then.” Essentially, they’ll be graded on a curve because of their ignorance. So then are missionaries doing a disservice to proclaim the Gospel to indigenous people, placing them in the path of eternal damnation by risking their rejection of Jesus? Why make them responsible and put them at risk? Wouldn’t ignorance over a span of less than 100 years and a higher likelihood of union with the Father be better than risking them making a bad decision and landing in eternal torment? This same argument has been applied to abortion providers, as if abortion simply jettisons the unborn into the lap of God.

Will we really be infinitely punished for finite sin and understanding? This possibility is hard for our fallen minds to swallow. Yet, if we believe the Bible, we can expect God is fair. Not only is He friend and father, but also judge.

And so, the questions continue to brew.

What’s the Big Idea?

Tongol asks, “Does God’s loving pursuit of humanity end at death?” If love is patient, does one’s physical death mark the end of that patience? What of the many who live short lives?

The common retort is, “God gave us all free will. God doesn’t send His people there; we send ourselves.” And if that is true, and it was our free will that landed us in hell, can we not use our free will to get back out of hell? Does our free will stop at physical death? Isn’t the concept of hell dangerously abstract to those with no experience of it?

If the residents of hell (angelic and human) have–through their own free will–resisted the love of God, can God’s love be resisted forever? Wouldn’t even a loving earthly parent try to snatch their child out of eternal torment? If God is love (as Christians claim) why would God do anything less for His children?

The scenario can be irreverently described like this:

Humanity starts with two people who trip over themselves in the garden of Eden and commit all subsequent generations (billions and billions of people) to sin-driven lives, losing most of the Father’s creation to hell. God, being smart and loving, has a plan. He sends His Son to die on the cross to take our sin from us and model the Way, the Truth and the Life, BUT still only a few people will find salvation. “Narrow is the path, but wide is the road to destruction.” (Matthew 7:13)

So, what would be the point to losing most of your creation to the devil; to free will; to sin?

If eternal hell does exist, shouldn’t Christians be more passionate about witnessing to the world? How can we even sleep with millions of people dying everyday with little or no knowledge of the Gospel? Do we not care? Do we not believe in hell? Are we just lazy?

In the Nazi holocaust of World War II, millions of people were tortured and killed. Fair to say most of those were not evangelical Christians. The unsavory question: Should we believe that most of those people are in hell along with their persecutors because they didn’t believe and convert during their time on earth?

Many fundamentalist Protestants may even say Mother Theresa herself has been swept into to hell. As a Catholic, the Protestants may argue she would have been works-based and not operating under grace. But if we believe our eternal salvation hinges upon accepting Christ or saying a salvation prayer before our physical death, isn’t that works? Both contingencies are actually marketed by churches as steps we have to take in order to become “saved.” Does your chance to accept Christ as Lord and Savior end upon physical death?

Retribution, Restoration or Both?

Tongol goes on to ask, “Is true justice retributive or restorative? Is it all about getting what you deserve or is it about restoring a person?” If unending punishment is the solution, then evil is not overcome by love, not overcome by good. In fact, it would appear evil would have won. An eternal hell keeps the cycle of evil and penance going forever. It keeps the cycle of evil demons doing evil things to evil people going forever. If that is the case, there is nothing redemptive in that. Was Jesus’ example to us an example of retributive or restorative love? (Hint: John 3:17 NKJV, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”)

When our Lord stood down the crowd wanting to stone the woman for fornication, most of us agree He disqualified them from casting the first stone. Maybe fewer of us notice that—in doing so—He qualified Himself at the same time. He did not cast stones but simply told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

Do we not know the will of the Father through the life of the Son?

Here is where the opposing comments arise:

  • “It doesn’t matter how you feel on this topic.”
  • “It doesn’t have to make sense.”
  • “While you may not be willing to send people to hell forever, you’re not God.”

“So even people you love may be burning in hell forever,” Tongol says.

Love heals. Love restores. We know the will of the Father through the restorative life of the Son. Did Jesus not teach we are to forgive our neighbor not seven times but seventy-times-seven? Will not a loving, infinite God do even more for us?

Is It Wrong to Even Ask the Question?

Rejecting the notion he is a Christian Universalist (who says everyone is going to heaven,) Tongol makes the point: Once he lands in the afterlife, he “would rather be guilty of overestimating the love of the Universe rather than underestimating it.”

The “Universe”? An apparent nod to pantheism and the notion that the Creator and the creation are all one. While Tongol’s questions are well-constructed, he—like the rest of us—has room to grow in the understanding of God’s character. The potter is not the clay.

I believe there was way more accomplished through Christ’s atonement than we can intellectually grasp. I believe Jesus taught on hell and that it certainly exists, but my jury is still out on how many will be lost to the grave and how many will be lost to eternal conscious torment or everlasting destruction.

Of course, maybe that’s the problem with the whole question. I’m placing questions about salvation into my own court instead of keeping them in God’s. We’re counseled by God’s response to Job and by verses like:

  • Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:21 NKJV,)
  • And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! (Jeremiah 18:4-6) and
  • Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16.)

Is it darkened and audacious to even ask questions then? Yes, we are to seek His face and grow in our understanding of His character, but far be it from us to push an “ought” or “should” onto the Father. It is surely a darkened mind that seeks to pass judgment over the methods and intentions of our infinite Father.

Questions Bought by Eternal Conscious Torment

To summarize some of the questions provoked by the doctrine of eternal conscious torment:

  • Are your deceased loved ones exposed to eternal conscious torment for not saying a salvation prayer?
  • What kind of loving parent would send their children to eternal damnation? For not believing? For having little context for believing (e.g. born at the wrong time, in the wrong place or into the wrong religion?)
  • Will we really be infinitely punished for finite sin and understanding?
  • How can we reconcile God’s unconditional love and everlasting mercy with eternal conscious torment?
  • If God is omnipresent, how can the common explanation that hell is “existence without God’s presence” hold any water?
  • Will our loving God sustain spiritual torture for all eternity? The Bible says all are sustained through God. We cannot exist apart from him.
  • Are the punished granted eternal life as well as the redeemed? According to the doctrine of conscious eternal punishment, they are.
  • If God is all-knowing, why create people who are destined for eternal hell?
  • Does God stop pursuing us upon physical death? Does your chance to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior end upon physical death?
  • Does judgment and subsequent delivery to heaven or hell occur immediately upon physical death? If so, how do we rectify the resurrection and judgment during the Second Coming? (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • If eternal hell does exist, shouldn’t Christians be way more committed to saving the lost than they are?

The doctrine of eternal conscious torment—a stumbling block that brings emotional distance and confusion to believers and unbelievers alike—seems to be far out of character with the Father of unconditional love and unending mercy. Jesus even went to his death without chastising his accusers. “You will be with Me in Paradise,” He told the believing thief.

In our confusion over this issue, are we as wrongly accusing God as the Jews did Jesus?

If I’ve established anything on the doctrine of hell, it is to continue to seek understanding and intimacy, but to do so with a heart hungry for communion—not with a heart rife with intellectual judgment or emotional confusion surrounding my prospects for the afterlife.

matt signature


References

Amirault, Gary. Tentmaker. Bible Translations That Do Not Teach Eternal Torment. Retrieved from http://www.tentmaker.org/books/GatesOfHell.html.

Jones, Erik. Life Hope & Truth. What Is Hell? Retrieved from https://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/life-after-death/what-is-hell/.

Tongol, Joshua. YouTube. Is HELL REAL or an Invention of the Church? – Joshua Tongol (Former Pastor/Missionary). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/54KoNT-19Bk.

book of Job

Is the Book of Job a Parable?

It may certainly appear the book of Job is written to be a parable, play, fable or legend where we see all the behind-the-scenes discussions along with the playing out of corresponding events. However, the book of Job is an actual account of a man named Job who was tested by God, and—as a result of his trial—comes to a clearer understanding of his Creator.

Even if the account of Job was written as a fable, we know the Word of God is God-breathed, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), so we know it’s importance would not be diminished. Regardless, we know Job was a real person. Ezekiel 14, verses 14 and 20 refer to Noah, Daniel and Job. We know Daniel was a historical person and a contemporary of Ezekiel’s, therefore we can safely recognize Noah and Job were actual people and therefore their accounts not just stories.


Reference

Answers2Prayer. Retrieved from http://www.answers2prayer.org/bible_questions/Answers/bible/book_of_job.htm

 

jewish reform prochoice

Jewish Rabbi Claims Life Beginning at Conception is Religion; Not Science

Tonight, I heard a Jewish rabbi make the argument for a pro-choice stance in Reform Judaism. When I asked how they balance a pro-choice position against “Thou shalt not kill” she pointed to a semantic difference between murder and killing (according to the original Hebrew, she said.) She then alluded to a passage in the Torah regarding two men fighting and a pregnant bystander being hurt in the process. She said this story was proof that the unborn child was considered part of the mother—not an individual apart from the mother—because the value given in retribution was more akin to losing and arm or a leg; not capital punishment.

I looked this up when I returned home. Seems she was referring to Exodus 21:22-25 which pertains to Mosaic personal injury law. Here is the passage, from both the KJV and ESV and then finally from the Jewish Tanakh:

King James Version

“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

English Standard Version

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

As you can see, these two translations leave some question as to whether the child is included in the “life for life” retribution. The Jewish bible, however, seems to take things a bit further:

Jewish Tanakh (English)

“When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning. But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

So I can understand why someone reading this latter translation would think this was a clear statement from God that the life of the unborn child didn’t matter as much as the adult’s. The rabbi likened the unborn child to an appendage and even said the child wasn’t considered a person until it was at least half-born (e.g. the child’s head and shoulders had emerged from the vaginal canal.) This is absolutely stunning to me. I marvel at the disconnected thinking it takes to arrive at the conclusion that a few inches and being on the wrong side of the mother’s womb should mean it’s okay to destroy what God has created.

I asked how she rectifies science having proven life begins at conception and she defensively claimed, “Science doesn’t claim that; religion does.”

I’ll admit, this was the first time I had ever heard this rebuttal. I had to do a little research to determine if this was the case. Turns out I didn’t have to look far. Her comment is utterly false. The first thing I found upon doing a search for “life begins at conception” (without quotes) looked like this:

life begins at conception

 

From here I found two pages dedicated to examples whereby secular university textbooks seem to clearly state genetic uniqueness and specifically, that the resulting cell from the egg and sperm marks the “beginning of a new human being.” (Moore, 2003.) I’ve reproduced the contents of those pages below.

I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions on this material. Personally, I believe God values us so much He sent His only Son to die for us (which I can’t even begin to wrap my head around.) I believe every life is of massive value to our heavenly Father. We are His work, after all.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV

matt signature


Human Development

Assorted Quotes from Textbooks

The Developing Human Being
By Keith Moore, and T.V.N. Persaud
7th edition, 2003

From an introductory definition section:

“Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoon) from a male. Cell division, cell migration, programmed cell death, differentiation, growth, and cell rearrangement transform the fertilized oocyte, a highly specialized, totipotent cell–a zygote–into a multicellular human being. Although most developmental changes occur during the embryonic and fetal periods, important changes occur during later periods of development: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Development does not stop at birth. Important changes, in addition to growth, occur after birth (e.g., development of teeth and female breasts). The brain triples in weight between birth and 16 years; most developmental changes are completed by the age of 25. Although it is customary to divide human development into prenatal (before birth) and postnatal (after birth) periods, birth is merely a dramatic event during development resulting in a change in environment.” (p. 2)

“Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” (p. 2)

“Embryo. The developing human during its early stages of development. The embryonic period extends to the end of the eighth week (56 days), by which time the beginnings of all major structures are present.” (p. 3)

From chapter 2: “The Beginning of Human Development: First Week”

First sentence of the chapter: “Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell–a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (p. 16)

“Studies on early stages of development indicate that human oocytes are usually fertilized with 12 hours after ovulation. In vitro observations have shown that the oocyte cannot be fertilized after 24 hours and this it degenerates shortly thereafter.” [This would buttress our argument that sperm and ovum by themselves are parts of the parents and not entire beings. That there is a substantial change between gametes and zygotes.] (p. 31)

“The zygote is genetically unique because half of its chromosomes come from the mother and half from the father. The zygote contains a new combination of chromosomes that is different from that in the cells of either of the parents.” (p. 33)

“Cleavage consists of repeated mitotic divisions of the zygote, resulting in a rapid increase in the number of cells. The embryonic cells–blastomeres–become smaller with each cleavage division. First the zygote divides into two blastomores, which then divide into four blastomores, either blastomeres, and so on.” (p. 36-37) [We can use the cleavage discussion to show that now the embryo is operating on its own and developing.]


Human Embryology
William J. Larsen
3rd edition, 2001

“In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual” (p. 1)

“After the oocyte finishes meiosis, the paternal and maternal chromosomes come together, resulting in the formation of a zygote containing a single diploid nucleus. Embryonic development is considered to begin at this point. The newly formed embryo undergoes a series of cells divisions called cleavage as it travels down the oviduct toward the uterus. The cleavage divisions subdivide the zygote first into two cells, then into four, then into eight, and so on.” (p. 1-3)


Life Begins at Fertilization

The following references illustrate the fact that a new human embryo, the starting point for a human life, comes into existence with the formation of the one-celled zygote:


“Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.”

[England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]


“Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).

“Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”

[Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]


“Embryo: the developing organism from the time of fertilization until significant differentiation has occurred, when the organism becomes known as a fetus.”

[Cloning Human Beings. Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Rockville, MD: GPO, 1997, Appendix-2.]


“Embryo: An organism in the earliest stage of development; in a man, from the time of conception to the end of the second month in the uterus.”

[Dox, Ida G. et al. The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993, p. 146]


“Embryo: The early developing fertilized egg that is growing into another individual of the species. In man the term ’embryo’ is usually restricted to the period of development from fertilization until the end of the eighth week of pregnancy.”

[Walters, William and Singer, Peter (eds.). Test-Tube Babies. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 160]


“Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs which characterize its body when it becomes a separate organism…. At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun…. The term embryo covers the several stages of early development from conception to the ninth or tenth week of life.”

[Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]


“I would say that among most scientists, the word ’embryo’ includes the time from after fertilization…”

[Dr. John Eppig, Senior Staff Scientist, Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) and Member of the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel — Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 31]


“The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

[Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

“The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

[Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p. 3]

“Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote.”

[Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 9th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 2004, p. 3]

“The results of fertilization are (a) restoration of the diploid number of chromosomes, (b) determination of chromosomal sex, and (c) initiation of cleavage.”

[Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 9th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 2004, p. 48]


“The question came up of what is an embryo, when does an embryo exist, when does it occur. I think, as you know, that in development, life is a continuum…. But I think one of the useful definitions that has come out, especially from Germany, has been the stage at which these two nuclei [from sperm and egg] come together and the membranes between the two break down.”

[Jonathan Van Blerkom of University of Colorado, expert witness on human embryology before the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel — Panel Transcript, February 2, 1994, p. 63]


“Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.”

[Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]


“The chromosomes of the oocyte and sperm are…respectively enclosed within female and male pronuclei. These pronuclei fuse with each other to produce the single, diploid, 2N nucleus of the fertilized zygote. This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development.”

[Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997, p. 17]


“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…. The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. Thus the diploid number is restored and the embryonic genome is formed. The embryo now exists as a genetic unity.”

[O’Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8, 29. This textbook lists “pre-embryo” among “discarded and replaced terms” in modern embryology, describing it as “ill-defined and inaccurate” (p. 12}]


“Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”

[Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]


“[A]nimal biologists use the term embryo to describe the single cell stage, the two-cell stage, and all subsequent stages up until a time when recognizable humanlike limbs and facial features begin to appear between six to eight weeks after fertilization….

“[A] number of specialists working in the field of human reproduction have suggested that we stop using the word embryo to describe the developing entity that exists for the first two weeks after fertilization. In its place, they proposed the term pre-embryo….

“I’ll let you in on a secret. The term pre-embryo has been embraced wholeheartedly by IVF practitioners for reasons that are political, not scientific. The new term is used to provide the illusion that there is something profoundly different between what we nonmedical biologists still call a six-day-old embryo and what we and everyone else call a sixteen-day-old embryo.

“The term pre-embryo is useful in the political arena–where decisions are made about whether to allow early embryo (now called pre-embryo) experimentation–as well as in the confines of a doctor’s office, where it can be used to allay moral concerns that might be expressed by IVF patients. ‘Don’t worry,’ a doctor might say, ‘it’s only pre-embryos that we’re manipulating or freezing. They won’t turn into real human embryos until after we’ve put them back into your body.'”

[Silver, Lee M. Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. New York: Avon Books, 1997, p. 39]


References

Life Begins at Fertilization. Retrieved from https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes.html.

Human Development. Retrieved from https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html.

kjv only

A Case For and Against King James Only

In extreme King James Only-ism, the bible-believing Christian pins all authority on the King James Version (KJV) bible, turning a wary eye toward the “new age” versions, which usually includes anything other than the KJV, but specifically:

  • New International Version (NIV)
  • New King James Version (NKJV)
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • Revised Standard Version (RSV)
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • New Century
  • And more

The King James Only View

KJV Only assertions include beliefs that

  • The inerrant, unchanging Word of God has been preserved in the KJV which the newer bible versions have bubbled up to usurp.
  • Newer versions have already shown a tendency to footnote key passages and then, in the next release, the footnotes have been removed entirely (NIV, for example.)
  • Copyright law dictates new bible versions must be changed “substantially” in order to be considered new and marketable, forcing a conflict of interest (accuracy versus money.)

“To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a ‘new work’ or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a pre-existing work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes.” (The Derivative Copyright Law, per Ecclesia.org)

  • Newer bible versions have been derived from corrupt sources, leading to egregious omissions and alterations.

One King James Only Argument: Isaiah 14:12

In her book, New Age Bible Versions, Gail Riplinger attempts to highlight many of the errors and omissions propagated by the newer books. One example that merits mentioning is the contortion of Isaiah 14:12, where the single biblical reference to the name Lucifer is removed by the new age versions, replacing the reference with “morning star”–a title given to Jesus Christ in Revelation 22:16. King James Only opponents argue this whole passage is obviously sarcastic in tone and that “morning star” or “shining one” are “perfectly acceptable translations of the Hebrew word.” (White, The King James Only Controversy, p.180-181.)

Riplinger establishes the newer versions are taking liberties with the original Hebrew in this case. She writes:

“An examination of the original Hebrew will dispel any illusion that ‘morning star’ is an acceptable substitute for the word ‘Lucifer.’ The Hebrew is ‘helel, ben sharchar,’ which is accurately translated ‘Lucifer, son of the morning.’ The NIV and NASB give an English translation as if the Hebrew said, ‘shachar kokab, ben shachar‘ or morning star, son of the morning (or dawn). Yet the word for star (kokab) appears nowhere in the text. Also ‘morning’ appears only once, as the KJV shows, not twice as new versions indicate. The word kokab is translated as ‘star’ dozens of other times by NIV translators; morning or dawn is likewise used hundreds of times. New version editors know boqer kokab is ‘morning star’ since it is used in Job 38:7. If God had intended to communicate ‘morning star’, he could have repeated hit here. The word he chose, helel, appears nowhere else in the Old Testament, just as Lucifer appears nowhere else.” (Riplinger, p.42-43.)*

According to Revelation 13:4, Satan’s ambition to be worshiped will be realized: “and they worshiped the dragon.” As Riplinger points out, for this to happen, the world will have to be confused on Satan’s true identity. As in the Garden, this begins with corrupting God’s Word, which–as a King James Only supporter–Riplinger eagerly defends.

Against King James Only

Unfortunately for the KJV Only cause, that eagerness turns overzealous in places and Riplinger–like many vocal KJV Only advocates–falls into a number of traps and errors along her way. One example is when she attempts to use acrostic algebra to reduce (NASV-NIV)-AV=X into SIN=X. Even her use of NASV disrupts her own pattern of referring to the version as NASB everywhere else in her book. Still, if even 50 percent of Riplinger’s work is accurate, it becomes impossible to refute there is a corruption of God’s Word taking place.

However, the KJV itself is not without its errors. For instance, KJV Only advocate Dr. Terry Watkins asserts the ESV has removed the word “hell” 40 times and removed the words “devil” or “devils” 83 times. While this can and should be alarming to anyone looking to rest in the truth the Bible is God-breathed, Watkins leaves out the fact that the ESV largely corrects the term “hell” to the words that actually show up in the original Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew: Hades, Sheol and Gehenna. The KJV Only argument is that most the public won’t be familiar with the terms Hades, Sheol and Gehenna, however this is certainly not a sound argument. Are we to bend the Scripture to the ignorance of the people (as many have tried) or are we to elevate the people to the level of God’s Word? (Of course, this argument could be pushed to the literal end and lead us to abandon all English versions since the Bible was originally written in ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.)

Another example where opponents to KJV Only state the KJV translation is inferior is in Genesis 50:20. On page 287 of Dr. James White’s detailed analysis, The King James Only Controversy, he compares the passage as it appears in the KJV and in the NASB:

KJV
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

NASB
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about [a]this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Here is how the actual passage looks in Hebrew according to the Masoretic text:

genesis 50 20

For reference, the definition from Strong’s Concordance:

2803 chashab khaw-shab’ a primitive root; properly, to plait or interpenetrate, i.e. (literally) to weave or (gen.) to fabricate; figuratively, to plot or contrive (usually in a malicious sense); hence (from the mental effort) to think, regard, value, compute:–(make) account (of), conceive, consider, count, cunning (man, work, workman), devise, esteem, find out, forecast, hold, imagine, impute, invent, be like, mean, purpose, reckon(-ing be made), regard, think.

The word in question here is chashab (chashab) and it is clearly repeated in the Masoretic example. (Notice how accent marks change between the two instances.) White tries to make the case that it would make more sense to mirror the intent of the original author and use the same word in repetition. To that end, it might. As he does with regularity, White stops short of diving into actual textual analysis to explain the context surrounding both usages to reverse engineer the KJV authors’ decisions. He may be quite right in his assertion, but he–like Riplinger whom he sarcastically attacks–often expects the reader to swallow his sortie of arguments whole.

Conclusion: King James First

Many intelligent people stand committed on both sides of the KJV Only issue. Both sides have done their homework. For every superstitious, paranoid KJV Only advocate, there seems to be an equally apathetic, callous new age bible advocate. Both sides lean to intellectualism and textual criticism to make their points, however neither side is faultless when advancing their perspectives through their prejudices. To a serious student, it becomes painfully apparent that even learning ancient Greek and Hebrew won’t fully help you discern truth; even those experts disagree!

Still, if half the KJV Only case is true, it remains irrefutable there is an erosion game being played on God’s Word. Inversely, if half the new age bible defense is true, the pattern of corruption entering the newer bibles still isn’t satisfactorily addressed.

And so, this student is landing on a position of KJV First; not KJV Only. I can acknowledge we have many more supporting documents and copies on which to base solid translation work than the Hampton Court Conference had during their work in the early 1600’s. The KJV could be made more accurate, certainly. At the same time, I can look at the assertions by the KJV Only camp and recognize there is absolutely a targeted devolution (alt. devil-ution) occurring in the contemporary versions. If we look at the Enemy’s attacks in the Garden and on Jesus in the desert, it is plainly evident the Enemy favors the tactic of undermining God’s Word.

matt signature

* I found it interesting to discover for as much as White attacks Riplinger in his book The King James Only Controversy, his 2009 revision glosses past Riplinger’s more thorough analysis of the Hebrew text in this case. Certainly, if her textual criticism on Isaiah 14 was errant, he would have been sure to dismantle it.


References

Anthony, Richard. Bibles are only Milk. Ecclesia.org. Retrieved from http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/bibles.html

Genesis 50:20. Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved from https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/gen/50/20/t_conc_50020

McElroy, Jack. Which Bible Would Jesus Use? AV1611.com. Retrieved from
http://av1611.com/kjbp/articles/mcelroy-nkjv.html

Riplinger, G.A. New Age Bible Versions. 1993. AV Publications Corporation.

Strong, James. 2010. The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Thomas Nelson.

Watkins, Terry. The Fruit of the ESV. AV1611.com. Retrieved from
http://www.av1611.org/kjv/ESV_Fruit.html

White, James. The King James Only Controversy. 1995. Bethany House.

White, James. September 1, 1996. New Age Bible Versions Refuted. Alpha and Omega Ministries. Retrieved from http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/1996/09/01/new-age-bible-versions-refuted/

Wikipedia.org. List of Bible verses not included in modern translations. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bible_verses_not_included_in_modern_translations

what do mormons believe

What do Mormons Believe?

The following is a collection of several key differences between Mormonism and Christianity. In most places, the differences are exclusive; the points being made can’t both be true.


The Authority of the Bible

Mormon – The Bible is God’s Word.. but only insofar as it has been translated correctly.

(8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church) “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”

—versus—

Christian – The Bible is God’s Inerrant Word

The inspired inerrant word of God. It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

(2 Timothy 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Establishing the Authority of Scriptures

If Joseph Smith’s vision is right, there was no valid Christianity on the earth for hundreds of years. When did it disappear? 1st century. When did it reappear? 19th century. This means Christ and the Apostles failed in their efforts to establish a meaningful church. Their work unraveled into apostasy soon after the physical deaths of the Apostles and not even God could preserve His Word for earnest seekers until Joseph Smith resurrected and delivered it properly in the 1800’s.

Mormonism is pinned on four revelations:

  • The Book of Mormon
  • Doctrine and Covenants
  • Pearl of Great Price
  • KJV Bible (insofar as it is correctly translated)

To establish Scriptural authority, ask the following:

  • Oh, you read Greek and Hebrew?
  • How do you know it’s incorrectly translated?
  • Did the same God inspire all four books?
  • Are they all of equal validity?
  • Does God ever lie?
  • Can God be relied upon at all times?
  • Which is the oldest of these four texts? [Answer: Bible, which spans a period of over 5000 years.]
  • Don’t you think it’s proper to judge the younger revelations by the oldest revelation, because God who cannot lie, will tell us the straight story from the very beginning? And if the other books don’t agree with the oldest book, well then obviously something must be wrong with the younger books, right? (Martin, W.)

The Nature of God: One God of Many?

Mormon – There are many gods.

(Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham 4:3-) “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light…”

According to Mormon theology, all people represent the embryonic status of their own godhood. In a forum article, “Do Mormon Believe in Many Gods?”, the answer is given:

“Mormons believe that every human being is a God in “embryo” form, or childlike form. Just as a boy becomes a man or a girl becomes a woman, we believe men and women become Gods and Goddesses. We believe the purpose of this life is to move us along that path, and that this life is one of multiple steps in that direction. Of course if this is what we believe, then yes, we believe there are multiple Gods. In fact, there must be billions, trillions, or even more Gods.”

Additionally, when asked about the hierarchy of these gods, it is the Mormon belief that all these gods are equal in power and authority. Otherwise, a holier god could come along and usurp the authority of any lesser god resulting in utter chaos! So why do Mormons still say they only worship one god? They employ word-play at this point.

“To sum up, Mormons believe there are many Gods, but only believe in one God. Or to put it another way, Mormons know there are many Gods, but only know one God.”

—versus—

Christian – There is only one God.

(Isaiah 43:11) “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”

(Isaiah 44:6) “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

(Isaiah 44:8-9) “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.”

(Isaiah 45:5-7) “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

The Nature of God: Was God a Man?

Mormon – God is a created being and was once a man.

God an Exalted Man

(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345) I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.

—versus—

Christian – God has always been God.

(Psalm 90:2) “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”

(Isaiah 57:15) “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The Nature of God: Does God Have a Body?

Mormon – God has a flesh and bone body like ours.

(Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, Compare with Alma 18:26-27, 22:9-10) “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.41) ”Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body, infinitely pure and perfect, and attended by transcendent glory, yet a body of flesh and bone.”

—versus—

Christian – God is a spirit without flesh and bones.

(John 4:24) “God is spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”

[Note: Joseph Smith translated this passage to read, “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth.” (JST, John 4:26.)]

(Luke 24:39) “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

(Romans 1:21-23) “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, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

The Nature of God: Additional Comments

God Does Not Change

(Malachi 3:6) “For I am the LORD, I change not;”

(James 1:17) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

(Numbers 23:19) “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

We Are Called to Seek God’s Face

The first commandment given to Moses for the Israelites is found in Exodus 20:2-3, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” We must seek the one true God.


The Nature of the Trinity

Mormon – Three separate gods: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.38-39) “The Godhead: The Trinity:–Three personages composing the great presiding council of the universe have revealed themselves to man; (1) God the Eternal Father, (2) His Son, Jesus Christ; and (3) the Holy Ghost. That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is very plainly proved by the accepted records of the divine dealings with man. […] Joseph Smith, while calling upon the Lord in fervent prayer for wisdom to guide him in his religious professions, saw the Father and the Son, standing in the midst of light which shamed the brightness of the sun, one of these declared to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” Each of the members of the Trinity is called God, together they constitute the Godhead.”

—versus—

Christian – One God, three personages: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all the universe and that He exists in three eternal, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


The Nature of Jesus: Jesus’ Conception

Mormon – God had sex with Mary.

(Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p.115) “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers…”

(Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p.547) “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers…”

—versus—

Christian – Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.

(Isaiah 7:14) “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

(Matthew 1:23) “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

(Luke 1:34-35) “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

The Nature of Jesus: Who is Jesus?

Mormon – Jesus is Lucifer’s brother.

(Gospel Through the Ages, p.15) Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation.

Because Jesus is a created being like the angels and like humanity, he is our spirit-brother.

(Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith, p.70) “Among the spirit children of Elohim, the firstborn was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors.”

—versus—

Christian – Jesus is God.

Jesus is the eternal Son. He is second person of the Trinity. He has two natures: He is God in flesh, and the creator of all things.

(John 1:1, 14) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

(Colossians 2:9) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

(Colossians 1:14-18) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

The Nature of Jesus: Additional Comments

False Christs

(Matthew 24:5-8) “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.

Jesus was a Polygamist?

Mormon apostle, Orson Pratt—in the November 1853 edition of the Mormon publication, The Seer—asserts Jesus married Mary and Martha and others.


The Nature of Salvation

Mormon – Salvation earned through works.

Salvation has a double meaning in Mormonism.

(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p.78-79) “The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins…”

“As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements–‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,'”

(Doctrines and Covenants 137:7–9) “For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”

—versus—

Christian – Salvation cannot be earned.

Good works are an outgrowth and testimony of regeneration in Christ; not the pass by which we achieve salvation. Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and deliverance of the sinner from damnation. It is a free gift received by God’s grace through acceptance of Jesus Christ and cannot be earned.

(Romans 11:6) “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

(Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

(Romans 4:5) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

(Galatians 2:21) “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Jesus says in John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I Am, you shall die in your sins.” Jesus assures us we are to rest in Him and Him alone. No additional revelation required.

(Acts 16:31) “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved…”

(1 Corinthians 15:3) “For I delivered to you as first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”

(Ephesians 1:7) “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

(1 Peter 2:24) “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

(Colossians 2:13) “He forgave us all our sins.”

We are not saved through works. How can anything we ever do be good enough before a Holy God?

(Isaiah 64:6) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Final Comments

We Are to Accept No Other Gospel

(2 Timothy 4:4) “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

(Galatians 1:6-9) “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) boasts over 3,000 additions, subtractions and changes to the King James Bible.

“Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made a “new translation” of the Bible, using the text of the King James Version (KJV). This work differs from the KJV in at least 3,410 verses and consists of additions, deletions, rearrangements, and other alterations that cause it to vary not only from the KJV but from other biblical texts. Changes range from minor details to fully reconstituted chapters.” (Matthews, 1992.)

Discerning False Prophets

(Deuteronomy 13:1-5) “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

(Deuteronomy 18:21-22) And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Mormon Division Doesn’t Add Up

In Mormon teaching, the primary catalyst that spurned Joseph Smith to seek the truth about God and the afterlife was his dissatisfaction with the confusion and strife between Christian doctrine. Today, the Mormon church suffers from this same fragmentation. The “one true church” currently enjoys over 100 different sects, all of whom claim they are the “one true church.” That’s a lot of fracturing in just 200 years from a church boasting a steady stream of God-sent “prophets”.

The Stakes Are Different

If the Mormon is right, their works-based religion allows nearly anyone into a level of heaven, so long as they keep doing good works; regardless of whether you’re Christian, Jehovah Witness, Unitarian, etc. On the other hand, if the Christians are right, the Mormon church isn’t even worshiping the right Jesus and has fallen prey to false doctrine which could lead many to hell.

(Matthew 7:13-15) “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

(Romans 1:17-23)

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 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:

21 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.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

What if Joseph Smith was wrong?

If you are beginning to question your Mormon beliefs, please understand you do not have to lose your faith in God, but you do need to get clear on who God is and who He is not. The disillusionment felt by Mormons as they begin to emerge from the Mormon church can be devastating, especially as they begin to lose the support of their Mormon friends, family and church. As a sad testimony to the gulf that separates Mormonism from Christianity, know this abandonment is definitely not a Christian response!

If you are earnestly seeking God’s truth, humble yourself before His cross and—for a brief moment—step outside your Mormon vows, priesthood, and doctrine. Stand before Him as a simple man or woman searching for His truth and pray this heart-felt prayer:

Lord Jesus,
Open the eyes and ears of my soul and my mind
so I may hear your voice, and
explain this to me, teach me, save me
so I may serve you the way I ought to.

God’s Word can be relied upon completely. When it comes down to deciding between Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, please believe Jesus Christ. So much of your life may be tied up in Mormonism, including your loved ones. Jesus says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

I pray that you will be humble enough and courageous enough to seek God’s Truth for us as it’s been preserved in Scripture.

matt signature

Matt Schoenherr


References

Allred, Alma. The Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Ankerberg, John. Weldon, John. 1991. The Facts on the Mormon Church. Harvest House Publishers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1981. The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/book-of-mormon/book-of-mormon-34406-eng.pdf

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1981. The Doctrines and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/doctrine-and-covenants/doctrine-and-covenants-eng.pdf

Do non-mormons go to hell. LDS.net.
http://lds.net/forums/topic/10914-do-non-mormons-go-to-hell/

Franck, Loren. Ten Lies I Told as a Mormon Missionary. Mormonism Research Ministry. http://www.mrm.org/ten-lies

Johnson, Eric. The Inspired Version: Why isn’t it officially used today? Mormon Research Ministry. http://www.mrm.org/smith-inspired-version

Koukl, Greg. Mar 22, 2013. Must We Believe Jesus Is God? Stand to Reason. http://www.str.org/articles/must-we-believe-jesus-is-god

Matthews, Robert J. 1992. Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST). BYU. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Joseph_Smith_Translation_of_the_Bible_(JST)

Martin, Walter. 2003 Kingdom of the Cults. http://www.waltermartin.com/mormon.html

Martin, Walter. YouTube. Dr. Walter Martin – The Lying Prophets and the Word of the Lord. https://youtu.be/YGiVWDCxulM

Martin, Walter. YouTube. Who Really Wrote The Book Of Mormon?- Dr. Walter Martin. https://youtu.be/ahS_bbaVXBQ

Martin, Walter. Decker, Ed. YouTube. Dialogue on the Doorstep with a Mormon – Walter Martin vs. Ed Decker.

Moore, Russell. September 11, 2012. How Christians Should Engage Latter-day Saints. http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/09/11/how-christians-should-engage-latter-day-saints/

Nelson, William O. July 1987. Is the LDS View of God Consistent with the Bible?  https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/07/is-the-lds-view-of-god-consistent-with-the-bible

Questions To Ask Mormon Missionaries. Flipping the switch.
http://flippingtheswitchon.blogspot.com/p/questions-to-ask-mormon-missionaries.html

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. Reformation Heritage Books. 2014.

Slick, Matt. Difficult Questions for Mormons to Answer. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. https://carm.org/difficult-questions-mormons-answer

Slick, Matt. A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.
https://carm.org/comparison-between-christian-doctrine-and-mormon-doctrine

Smith, Joseph. The Pearl of Great Price. 1981. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/lds-scriptures/the-pearl-of-great-price/the-pearl-of-great-price-eng.pdf

Steimle, Joshua. September 7th, 2010. Do Mormon Believe in Many Gods?
http://www.mormondna.org/mormon-beliefs/mormon-many-gods.html

Walsh, W. John. Do only Mormons go to Heaven?
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/heaven_only.htm