Chapter 16: “That We May Become One”
During 2013, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The text that is underlined is from the manual, with our comments following.
Teachings of Lorenzo Snow
When we are united in the gospel, the Lord shows the world His character through us.
Jesus prayed to his Father that those he had given him out of the world might be one as he and the Father were one, and says he, I pray that thou wilt give them the same love which thou hast for me, that I may be in them and thou in me, that all may be one. There is something very important in this, and we have got to practice ourselves until we become like the Father and the Son, one in all things. . . . If we have division in our midst; if we be divided either spiritually or temporally, we never can be the people that God designs us to become, nor can we ever become instruments in His hands of making the world believe that the holy Priesthood has been restored, and that we have the everlasting Gospel. In order for us to effect the purposes of God we shall have to do as Jesus did—conform our individual will to the will of God, not only in one thing, but in all things, and to live so that the will of God shall be in us.
As Christians, it is important to be united in the gospel. So often on the streets, I hear Latter-day Saints ask, “So which church are you with?” The presupposition is that those from different churches and denominations must obviously disagree with each other. Baptists, Presbyterians, and those belonging to nondenominational churches must obviously disagree with each other. However, there are important doctrines that mark Christians who hold the Bible to be the Word of God. When it comes to issues of authority, the Godhead, and salvation, biblical believers agree on the fundamental issues of the historic Christian church. See http://www.evangelicalbeliefs.com/ for more information.
The problem in accepting Mormonism as a branch of Christianity is that this religion denies or distorts every fundamental teaching of what has traditionally defined Christianity. Because Mormon Church leaders claim that they are the only ones to have priesthood authority and the keys of the kingdom of God, those who do not belong to their organization cannot speak authoritatively. Mormonism does not embrace such cornerstone doctrines as the Trinity, the belief that Jesus is God in the flesh, salvation to heaven is received as a free gift, and the Bible is God’s final and infallible Word. Mormons in good standing believe that works done in a temple are necessary for their salvation as well as the salvation of the dead. A Mormon could not accept the doctrines as listed in the website above. Biblical Christians cannot pretend these vital differences do not exist. So there is division, which ought to happen if foundational beliefs cannot be reconciled. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9:
"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 Judaizers described in the book of Galatians could not be accepted into the Christian fold because their basic doctrines ran contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. While those belonging to a variety of denominations may quibble about peripheral issues, adherents belonging to these denominations hold to the basics of the Christian faith. There are in-house debates on a number of issues, such as female pastors, the Second Coming, and the availability of spiritual gifts today. Yet believers can accept these differences and call each other “brother” or “sister” because they are united on the fundamental issues of the gospel.
Unity is essential in the Church and in our families.
There should be greater union in our midst than we find today. There is a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve. Should there not be a perfect union in that quorum? Most assuredly, every one would say Yes, a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. … And there is also a perfect union with the First Presidency, and should there not be? Every one will say, certainly, there should be. And should there not be a perfect union with the seven presidents of the Seventies? There most assuredly should be; we all say Yes. Should there not be a perfect union with the High Councils of the various Stakes of Zion? Certainly there should be, and there is a way to accomplish that union. And the same way with the various other organizations and quorums. Should there not be a perfect union with the presidencies of Stakes? Certainly, and if I were a president of a Stake, I would not rest day or night until I had union with my counselors. Should there not be a union with the Bishop and his Counselors? Most assuredly there should be.
Unity is important to Latter-day Saints. Yet are Mormons truly unified in all things? Consider some of the following issues not agreed upon by all Mormons:
- Feminism: In 1993, Apostle Boyd K. Packer warned that feminists, intellectuals, and homosexuals were three dangers to the Mormon Church. Feminists have made a comeback in the last few years, including encouraging a “Wear Pants to Church Day” in December 2012, which was the largest mass action by Mormon feminists in history. Other issues included validating motherhood, splitting divisions of labor at home, and attempting to make women more visible in the Church. Some Mormons disagree that women cannot receive the priesthood. In April 2013, the Church attempted to appease these feminists by allowing two women to publicly pray in the General Conference.
- Homosexuality: A number of members believe that homosexuals should have marriage rights, even though the official church position is that a member’s homosexuality cannot be acted upon. In the past two years of homosexual parades in Salt Lake City, a number of Latter-day Saints in white shirts or church dresses have marched alongside with homosexuals in support. In June 2013, this number was about 300.
- Racism: Disagreement of whether God or men were responsible for the prohibition of the preisthood for blacks before 1978. See here.
Latter-day Saints themselves can certainly name other issues where there is disagreement. Perhaps this is the reason for taking Snow's quotes and using them in this chapter.
Well, what is more important? Should there not be union in the family? … Most assuredly there should. And why should any man be satisfied, why should any husband and father of a family rest satisfied until he effects a perfect union, that is, just as far as a perfect union can be accomplished? And in this matter the father should make himself just as perfect as a man can in this life be made perfect before his family. And the wife should make herself just as perfect as a woman can possibly do in this life. And then they are prepared to make their children just as perfect as they are willing and are capable of being made perfect. And the father and the mother should be very careful. The wife should never in the presence of her children speak disrespectfully of her husband. If she thinks her husband has done wrong (he might have done), she should never speak of it in the presence of her children. She should take him out of the presence of her children and there tell him of his faults, in a pleasant way, but never in the presence of the children speak disrespectfully of the father. And the father the same. He has no right to speak disrespectfully of his wife in the presence of her children. And I pray God to give the husband and wife the spirit and the understanding to correct themselves in such matters. I know that a great many of the difficulties that now appear, and the disrespect that we find in reference to the Priesthood, among young people, arises from this fact, that there have been difficulties in the home circle, and there has been disrespect expressed in their presence, of the father by the mother, or of the mother by the father. Now I know these things are so.
I agree that unity in the family is important. We must learn to speak respectfully and abide in harmony with the ones we call family. I would hesitate to use the word “perfect” as a description, but the Bible is clear that families must be unified.