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Review of Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 12, An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel

During 2012, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith. 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.

“On several occasions I have had the privilege of traveling on the train with President Smith. Each time I observed that as soon as the journey was well underway, he would take a few gospel tracts from his bag, put them into his pocket, and then move about among the passengers. In his friendly, agreeable manner he would soon make the acquaintance of a fellow traveler, and in a short time I would hear him relating the story of the founding of the Church by the Prophet Joseph Smith or telling of the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo and their trials and difficulties in crossing the plains to Utah or explaining some of the gospel principles to his new-found friend. Conversation after conversation would follow with one passenger after another until the journey was ended. In my entire acquaintance with President Smith, which has extended more than forty years, I have learned that wherever he is, he is first and foremost a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

To a Christian, evangelism is telling someone about the sinfulness of humans who have need for a Savior and how salvation comes by grace through faith. To a Mormon such as President Smith, evangelism appears to entail telling others about Joseph Smith, the trials and difficulties in coming west to Utah, and the teachings of the Mormon Church.

There is need for the people of this world to retrace their steps and get back to the foundation that was laid by the Master of heaven and earth, the foundation of faith, repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost under the hands of those possessing divine authority. That is what the world needs. I am grateful indeed that many are looking that way. They have been going blindly along a pathway that has led to sorrow and distress, but there has been placed within reach a remedy for all ills—the gospel of Jesus Christ. There has been mapped out for all a path that, while it is narrow, and difficult to follow, leads back to the Father of us all; and there is no other path that leads there.

In Mormonism, the gospel emphasizes “doing,” whereas in Christianity, the gospel is about what was “done” on the cross. Of course, good works are important in Christianity after the initial conversion, but the Mormon gospel has made works the centerpiece rather than allowing the biblical gospel to take precedence.

The churches of the world are trying, in their way, to bring peace into the hearts of men. They are possessed of many virtues and many truths, and accomplish much good, but they are not divinely authorized. Neither have their priests been divinely commissioned.

While many Mormons like to make it sound like they’re “Christians too” in the traditional sense, it is comments like this that the PR department fails to feature on its website and “I am a Mormon” campaigns. The leaders of old made it very clear that Mormonism is distinct and not like the “churches of the world.” This is what LDS scriptural passages such as Joseph Smith—History 1:19 clearly teach, explaining how all the churches at that time were in need of a total restoration. Notice what George Albert Smith says (“they are not divinely authorized”). Smith claimed that Christians have leaders who are not “divinely commissioned.” According to the LDS mindset, only the Mormon with the proper priesthood authority (supposedly restored by God to Joseph Smith) can claim to have the correct credentials. If you’re a Latter-day Saint who wonders why Christians won’t extend the right hand of fellowship to those accepting Latter-day Saint theology, ask why your church is teaching in a current 2012 manual how Christians and their leaders lack authority from God.

The Latter-day Saints are the only ones who bear the authority of our Heavenly Father to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel. The world has need of us.

To the neutral observer, saying that “the world has need of us” is nothing less than arrogance. If I am correct in saying that Mormonism does not teach the Christian gospel, there is no need for such a religion.

There is a real famine in the world for the words of the Lord, and many honest souls are earnestly seeking to know what our Heavenly Father desires of them. I have met a number of the leaders of the churches of the world, and have found among them noble characters devoted to doing good, but I have rarely found among those who have been called to the ministry in the various church organizations, men who have an understanding of the purposes of their being, or who realize why we are here in the world. Men cannot teach what they do not themselves know. These good men, not understanding the gospel and the necessity for the ordinances of the same, confine their teachings very largely to moral lessons and to reading the psalms to their congregations. Isolated passages of scripture are chosen as texts for addresses on virtue, honesty, etc., all of which are helpful and uplifting, but few sermons are preached explaining the requirements made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is this information of which the world is most in need. Few ministers have a message for their congregations that inspires in them the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of partaking of the ordinances of the gospel prescribed by him.

It is true that many people are looking for truth. However, Mormonism does not offer any hope for the world. By saying that he “rarely” talked to Christian pastors “who have an understanding of the purposes of their being, or who realize why we are here in the world,” Smith created the straw man logical fallacy. I have known or currently know hundreds of Evangelical Christian pastors, and the vast majority can certainly explain why we’re here. Of course, there are many pastors—I’m especially thinking about those from the liberal denominations who do not preach the biblical gospel—minimizing the gospel and dealing with nothing more than “moral lessons” and trivial matters. But to label all Christian pastors with such a broad brush is both unfair and inaccurate.

As far as using “isolated passages of scripture,” Mormon leaders have continually made this tragic error to support their heretical teachings. For example, how often have we heard James 2:14-26 quoted to support the idea that salvation comes by works, not grace? Or the use of 1 Corinthians 15:29 for backing to baptism for the dead? James 1:5 is a favorite of Mormon missionaries who encourage potential converts to pray about the Book of Mormon, even though the context is referring to prayer offered in times of trials. While Smith complained about Christian pastors, perhaps he ought to have considered the plethora of verses used by Mormons to support unique doctrines that, quite frankly, have zero biblical support.

MRM associate Sharon Lindbloom did some research a few years ago, wondering which Christian pastor would not be “able to answer such basic questions about the beginning of life, the purpose of life, and what follows life.:” Having interviewed 13 different pastors from a variety of denominations and locations, her conclusion was:

  • Where did I come from? You were created by God in His image for a relationship with Him (Ps. 139)
  • Why am I here [on earth]? To bring glory to God and have fellowship with Him. (Is. 43:7, 1 Jn 1:3)
  • Where am I going [when I die]? All will face a judgment after death. Those who through faith have a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, have eternal life; those who do not have the Son in this way do not have life. (Heb. 9:27; 1 John 5:11-12)

If you would like to see Sharon’s article, click here.

There are many people who would embrace the truth if given the opportunity.

Our Father’s children everywhere are anxious to know what they should do, but, by reason of the evil influences that have pervaded the earth, they have been deceived; honorable men of the earth are blinded to the truth. … The adversary is at work, and the only power that can neutralize his influence is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes, evil does pervade the earth, deceiving many. We only wish that “the gospel of Jesus Christ” preached by Mormonism equated to the gospel of truth.

We have had great joy under the influence of His Spirit. We would like everybody to enjoy that blessing, and so when they have asked, “What kind of people are these here?” our answer has been, “Come and see.”

If Mormonism is teaching false doctrine and is not directing people the true gospel as related in the Bible, then it is not worth following, regardless of how nice the Mormon people are. We invite the readers to “come and see” the heart of Mormonism so that they can see its shortcomings.

My Heavenly Father … has called me to go to many parts of the earth, and more than a million miles have been traversed since I was called into the ministry. I have traveled in many lands and climes, and wherever I have gone I have found good people, sons and daughters of the living God who are waiting for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of them, who would be accepting the truth if they only knew what we know.  There are many great church organizations in the world, many devout men and women living according to the will of our Heavenly Father as they understand it. …

Initially, Smith surely meant Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Taoists. But notice how he refers to “many great church organizations” who worship “as they understand it,” obviously without the authority of the LDS Church. This is yet another stab against Christianity. Latter-day Saint, do you notice the disparity this current church manual is showing to biblical Christianity?

… Is it any wonder that there is enthusiasm in our worship, that we have a disposition to be anxious to divide these glorious truths with our neighbors? Is it to be wondered at, that when the time comes that our sons are called into the mission field, or we are asked to lay aside our duties and go out as servants of the living God, endued with power from on high, possessing authority that has been conferred in this latter-day, in order that we may divide with all people this wonderful truth that has made our lives so rich, … that we respond willingly and gladly?

The insinuation is that Mormons have more enthusiasm in their services, that Mormons have more desire to share the truth with their neighbors, and that Mormons are more willing to go into the mission field…than Christians. Notice, the Mormons are the ones “possessing authority that has been conferred in this latter-day,” a direct shot once more at the Christians. Latter-day Saint, do you notice?

Do we realize that every man is in the image of God and is a son of God, and every woman his daughter? No matter where they may be, they are his children, and he loves them and desires their salvation. Surely as members of this Church we cannot sit idly by. We cannot receive the beneficent favor of our Heavenly Father that is bestowed upon us, the knowledge of eternal life, and selfishly retain it, thinking that we may be blessed thereby. It is not what we receive that enriches our lives, it is what we give.

In Mormonism, “son of God” and “every woman his daughter” refers to Premortality, also known as the Preexistence. When he talks about children, this is referring to how God literally sired all spirits in this “First Estate,” allowing them to be able to come to the “Second Estate” and this earthly life. The goal, then, for the faithful Mormon is to become exalted and earn the celestial kingdom.

O that this great Church, with the power that has been given to it of God, might be able to more rapidly disseminate the truth, and save the nations from destruction. We are growing rapidly, as an organization, but I rejoice not so much in the increase numerically as I do in the belief that the influence that we radiate is being felt for good and that our Father’s children, from the north to the south, and from the east to the west, are hearing the message of life and salvation, without which they cannot dwell in the presence of the Redeemer of mankind.

Unfortunately, the LDS Church does not “disseminate the truth,” only heresy and error. This is why Christians like myself will continue to share the truth with Latter-day Saints, “from the north to the south, and from the east to the west,” until every last Latter-day Saint has heard the gospel that preaches freedom in Christ.

Now, I do not understand that we are serving God with all our might if we forsake his children, or if we spend so much of our time selfishly building up ourselves, accumulating things of this life, and leave his children in darkness, when we could bring them into the light. My understanding is that the most important mission that I have in this life is: first, to keep the commandments of God, as they have been taught to me; and next, to teach them to my Father’s children who do not understand them.

Smith says that the “most important mission” is “first, to keep the commandments of God.” Yet which Mormon is keeping all the commandments of God? Christianity, on the other hand, does not teach that it’s what they do that is the gospel. Rather, it’s what Christ did for them first. For more information, see this tract on Celestial Law.

There is no other Gospel of salvation, and we, my brethren who bear the holy priesthood, have the responsibility of carrying that message, not only to the nations of the earth, but of exemplifying it in our lives and teaching it to those who are our neighbors, not of our faith. I warn you this day that the Lord holds us responsible to call His children to repentance and for the promulgation of His truth. If we fail to take advantage of our opportunities to teach the sons and daughters of God, who are not of our faith, who dwell in our midst, this Gospel of our Lord, He will require at our hands on the other side of the veil what we have failed to do.

The Mormon gospel is commanded to be given to those “not of our faith,” and if they don’t, there will be payment required “on the other side of the veil.” However, so often Mormons are prone to hand off the evangelism responsibilities to the full-time missionaries. Is this what Smith was suggesting? Honestly, I’ve lived in Utah for almost two years at the time of this writing, and I’ve never been handed a tract or approached in a religious dialogue by a Mormon. Of course, I’ve had conversations with Mormons when I’ve introduced the topic, but as far as Mormons “teaching” their neighbors, I’ve never had a Mormon acquaintance, co-worker, or neighbor ever (in all my life) ever approach me in an evangelistic way. Yet evangelism is not meant just for the missionaries, according to President Smith, but for all Mormons.

If we share the gospel with God’s children, our reward will be great joy with them in the celestial kingdom.

I’m sure many Latter-day Saints will parse this into referring to when they were missionaries, spending up to two years sharing Mormonism with potential converts. According to the words of Smith from above, it appears that evangelism is not limited to callings as missionaries. Mormons who hope to have a reward in heaven apparently need to be active in evangelism to “God’s children.”

We spend most of our time, many of us, seeking the things of this life that we will be compelled to leave when we go from here, yet there are the immortal souls all around us whom, if we would, we could teach and inspire to investigate the truth, and implant in their hearts a knowledge that God lives. What treasure in all the world could be so precious to us, for we would have their gratitude here and their everlasting and eternal appreciation in the world to come. It is a most important mission.

Think what it will mean if, instead of having been selfish trying to save only our own little family, we can count by the dozens and by the hundreds men and women that we have influenced to accept the Gospel of our Lord. Then will we feel blessed indeed and enjoy their love and appreciation forever.

What a joy it will be on the other side of the veil, to find these good men and women who are living up to such light as they have, trying to do their duty to God, and by reason of our contact, by reason of our anxiety and willingness to share with them, they will receive other information about the gospel of our Lord and accept the ordinances of His Holy House and be prepared for membership in the Celestial Kingdom. How happy it will make you, if when that time comes, when you stand in the presence of the great Judge to give an account of the few years of life that have been spent in mortality, if these our Father’s children that He loves as much as He loves us, standing by us, say, “Heavenly Father, it was this man, it was this woman who first brought to me the information of Thy glorious truth that provoked in me a desire to seek after Thee more fervently than I had done before. It was this man or this woman who did this blessed thing for me.” And that is not all.

When that time comes, when you go down through the ages of eternity, that is a long time, you will have the love and the gratitude of every man, woman and child to whom you have been instrumental in bringing eternal happiness. Isn’t that worth while? We may spend our lives here and acquire a few hundreds or thousands of dollars, we may have flocks, herds, houses and lands, but we cannot take these with us to the other side. They are not necessary to eternal life, they are only necessary for us here, but if we have earned the gratitude and the love of God’s other children, that will flow to us forever. Think what that will mean! When the time comes that this world shall be cleansed and purified by fire and becomes the celestial kingdom, all impurity, and everything that is not desirable having been swept away how gratifying it will be to find that we have companionship with those we have served in mortality, have inheritance with, and be directed by Jesus Christ our Lord forever—is not that worth while? Isn’t it a joyful opportunity?

From the gist of the previous four paragraphs, it certainly appears that the main motivation Smith gives for sharing one’s faith is the recognition Mormons will receive from Heavenly Father for bringing people into the kingdom. For the Christian, I wonder, is there more concern for the lost, with the desire to help them see the truth? Or are Mormons sharing their faith with the main motivation to receive recognition and rewards? While there are certainly rewards for sharing the Christian faith and introducing the lost to Jesus, I don’t believe this is (nor should be) the main motivation for most Christians who share their faith. Instead, those I know who spend many hours evangelizing have a true concern for the Latter-day Saint people. Personally, I’m not interested in rewards but seeing souls saved into the kingdom. Recognition and rewards are the furthest motivators, at least in my mind.

Regardless, perhaps this information in the current church manual that is being studied by adult Mormons will spark conversations, initiated by Mormons. If so, I look forward to these encounters.


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