This is a review of the LDS Church manual (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith) that LDS members studied during 2012. The format involves quoting the majority of the paragarphs, with analysis from an Evangelical Christian worldview.
Based on these quotes, here’s what we learn about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”:
- Everyone who lives on this earth is supposed to follow the teachings of the LDS gospel;
- This gospel includes “all the ordinances and principles” taught by the Mormon Church, which I assume would include baptism into the LDS Church, regular worship in LDS services, the receiving of the priesthood (for males), and temple participation (including marriage for time and eternity), just to name a few;
- These are eternal ordinances and principles, applicable for everyone on earth;
- If properly completed, this gospel will help us be like our “Eternal Parent,” which would be equal to godhood;
- With all of this said, Mormonism preaches the true gospel—not just that, but the “only” gospel, according to McConkie.
Here’s the problem: I do not believe that most Mormons do not know if they are truly forgiven. Oh, of course they’ll say they’re forgiven because of Christ’s “atonement,” but in the LDS language, this is nothing more than general resurrection from the dead. Everyone on earth receives this, even non-Mormons. But when it comes to forgiveness of sins, as talked about in the Bible, and qualifying for the best God has in store for His people (in Mormonism, this is exaltation and the Celestial Kingdom), Mormons just don’t know if they have it. In other words, they are unable to claim the promise John gives that we may “know” that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
This is a reminder that Christians too ought to take opportunities to train their children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I believe this ought to include manners, ethics, and theology. Remember, though, that the author of Proverbs was only advocating a general principle. Just because we train our children the right way does not necessarily mean that they will always listen or turn out right! Even within one family, it is often the case where one child is the proverbial “prodigal” and the siblings don’t follow suit when they see the mess brother or sister has created.
Quoting from the Bible, Smith is exactly right. However, why do so many Latter-day Saints use a criticial attitude to criticize Christians who share their faith? When we are at public outreaches, we have had conversations where the Mormons assume that we somehow have ill feelings toward them. This may even cause them to have a negative attitude toward us, thinking that somehow we must hate them. If this was the case, why would we try to evangelize? Then, after talking to us for a while, they realize that their presuppositions were not correct. They were “prone to see the limitations and the weaknesses of [their] neighbors,” but instead they found out that we really do care, even if they disagree with our philosophy. Perhaps they wouldn’t share their faith in a public manner by passing out tracts or trying to engage others in coversation, but at least they understood that what we were trying to do was no different than what thousands of missionaries attempt to do every day, sincerely trying to share their beliefs with those who they felt desperately needed the truth.
The storing of food and supplies to last one year is something that Latter-day Saints are encouraged to do by their church leaders. In Utah, many families even purchase food storage racks so they can rotate their stock. When Smith says that not obeying the Word of Wisdom is “setting aside the plain teachings of the Lord with reference to our lives,” he provides no scriptural support. Of course, it makes common sense that people should prepare for disasters, such as earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes. But nowhere does the Bible (or other LDS Standard Works, for that matter) suggest that a family should keep enough supplies and food for a year. This is a unique 20th century LDS command.
Many Mormons—especially those who hold temple recommends—uphold the Word of Wisdom (including not drinking hot drinks such as coffee and tea and no alcohol or tobacco) with religious sincertiy and strictness. The question is, should this really be considered “counsel from the Lord”?
According to D&C 89:3, the Word of Wisdom is a “principle with [a] promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak.” However, this did not become a command for 18 years, until it was proposed in 1851 by President Brigham Young. It later became a requirement for temple recommend holders until later in the 20th century. If this was such an important teaching, it seems strange that it was not a command from God when this revelation was first given.
All safety, all righteousness, all happiness are on the Lord’s side of the line.
When I first read this last sentence, I was reminded of what eleventh President Harold B. Lee taught: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church (CR October 1970, 152-153.)” (Harold B. Lee, as cited in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 139. Ellipses in original). President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) agreed at the same general conference, saying, “Let us hearken to those we sustain as prophets and seers, as well as the other brethren, as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does!” (Conference Reports, Oct. 1970, 152; Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 126.)
Listening to the prophets is obviously the first step to staying “on the Lord’s side of the line.”
What does it mean to have faith? In this chapter of the current church manual, George Albert Smith says obedience is necessary. Is this what the Bible says is true?
The human body can only take so much activity. This is why God gave us His example in the creation, setting aside the seventh day as a day of rest. The day wasn’t established for the sake of God but rather for the sake of man. It was the only way for the human body and mind to be rejuvenated, something God fully understood.
While Christians have traditionally believed in a day of rest, it was never meant to be a legalistic day. This is the topic I will address in this review.