Chapter 24: Righteous Living in Perilous Times

Based on these quotes, here’s what we learn about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”:

  1. Everyone who lives on this earth is supposed to follow the teachings of the LDS gospel;
  2. 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;
  3. These are eternal ordinances and principles, applicable for everyone on earth;
  4. If properly completed, this gospel will help us be like our “Eternal Parent,” which would be equal to godhood;
  5. With all of this said, Mormonism preaches the true gospel—not just that, but the “only” gospel, according to McConkie.

Chapter 23: “Of You It Is Required to Forgive”

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). 

Chapter 22: Bringing up Children in Light and Truth

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.

Chapter 21: The Power of Kindness

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.

 

Chapter 20: Temporal Salvation for Ourselves and Others

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.

Chapter 19: Temporal and Spiritual Blessings from the Word of Wisdom

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.

Chapter 18: Stay on the Lord’s side of the line

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.”

Chapter 16: “Offer up Thy Sacraments upon My Holy Day”

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.

Chapter 15: Advancing the Work of the Lord

As is true with any church, the membership comprises the best evangelists to deliver the message of the organization.  Based on what was said earlier in the manual, I imagine that the church is pushing its people to not “shift the responsibility” to the missionaries, which from a bystander’s point of view is typically what happens in any evangelism encounter originated by the Latter-day Saint. After all, when is the last time someone besides a missionary tried to share the LDS gospel with you (assuming the reader is a Christian who did not initiate the discussion). Speaking on behalf of myself and, I know, many Christians around the globe, may I say that I look forward to potentially having more Latter-day Saints introduce the topic of the gospel, allowing for a healthy dialogue on issues of spiritual importance.

Chapter 14: How to Share the Gospel Effectively

Notice the strategy that Smith uses in his witness to a denominational pastor. First, he allowed the person to think that there is basic truth in his own religion. But notice the caveat: “All we ask you to do is hear what we have to say, and if it appeals to you, accept it freely…” According to this tactic, the message brought by the Mormon ought to be accepted if it “appeals” to the individual being proselyted. Typically, the Latter-day Saint encourages the recipient to follow the pattern of James 1:5 and Moroni 10:4 and “pray” about the Mormon message. If there is a positive “feeling,” then the assumed conclusion is that it must be true.

Chapter 13: Doing Our Part to Share the Gospel

According to Mormonism, all people are “children of God” and ought to be told the gospel story, which Mormonism says is the “power of God unto salvation.” Becoming a child of God is not something all people have experienced, as it happens only with belief. John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In 1 John 3, John contrasts the “children of God” with the “children of the devil,” saying that “whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” Of course, no Latter-day Saint believes anyone is a child of the Devil but only of God. Yet the Bible doesn’t support this view.

Chapter 11: Revelation from God to His Children

The idea that the Mormon Church has a leader that guides humans in these “latter-days” is not controversial with Latter-day Saints. Over and over again—as these quotes from George Albert Smith suggest—the Church is told that the LDS leader is the “pilot” who ought to be followed.

Consider what Apostle D. Todd Christofferson said at the April (2012) General Conference of the Mormon Church: “…we must admit there has been and still persists some confusion about our doctrine and how it is established. That is the subject I wish to address today.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 10

One of the key words a Christian must understand when talking to a Latter-day Saint is “scripture.” To a Christian, the immediate thought is this refers to the Bible, which is truly the Word of God. However, in Mormonism, there are four “Standard Works”: The Bible (King James Version is the official version), the Book of Mormon (considered “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”), the Doctrine and Covenants (teachings mainly from Joseph Smith, who claimed revelation from God Himself), and the Pearl of Great Price (containing such works as Joseph Smith’s Testimony as well as the books of Moses and Abraham).

The problem is that the latter three “scriptures” typically supersede any teaching from the Bible. When a person considers these as words commissioned by God, they are prone to accept those teachings whenever they contradict the Bible. By assuming these are scripture and are to be believed, George Albert Smith has set up an unfair playing field. It would be better if he took some time to explain why the Bible is not a “sufficient guide” so we can understand why we need these other books.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 9

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.

 Prayer allows us to talk to our Heavenly Father as though He were present.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith Chapter 8

Unlike temples from biblical times, LDS temples are used by worthy living members to perform proxy baptisms for the dead as well as participate in the endowment and perform sealings for time and eternity. Vicarious baptisms on behalf of those who are deceased comprise a great majority of the activity behind temple doors. The endowment involves ceremonies where the members learn about the plan of salvation while making covenants (promises) that, Apostle Russell M. Nelson said, “will qualify you and your family for the blessings of eternal life.” (“Face the Future with Faith,”Ensign, May 2011, 36.). He also said, “The possibility of eternal life—even exaltation—is available to us through our obedience to covenants made and ordinances received in holy temples of God.” (“Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple,” Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(supplement to the Ensign magazine), October 2010, 50).

Chapter 6: Sustaining Those Whom the Lord Sustains

According to one LDS Church manual, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts four books as scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These books are called the standard works of the Church. The inspired words of our living prophets are also accepted as scripture.”  (Gospel Principles, p. 45). Since Mormonism began in 1830, church leaders have rejected the idea of a closed canon, claiming that inspired teachings from God can be given to their living prophet. This is demonstrated in a Mormon-produced encyclopedia: “Since Latter-day Saints believe in the genuine gift of prophecy, it follows that the revelations received by modern prophets should be esteemed as highly as those received by ancient ones. Hence, the LDS canon of scripture can never be closed. . . .” ( Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism 1:398).

Chapter 5: The Holy Priesthood–for the Blessing of God’s Children

Was the priesthood needing to be restored? Did the Christian church need to have authority and power given back to it? This chapter deals with these issues according to the teachings of President George Albert Smith.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith Chapter 4

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.

Chapter 4: The Prophet Joseph Smith, God’s Instrument in Restoring the Truth

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith Chapter 3

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.

Chapter 3: Our Testimony of Jesus Christ

Chapter 1: Living What We Believe

_Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith_ > Worship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a devoted life, a desire to be worthy of him in whose image we have been created and who has given us all … that is worth while—the gospel of Jesus Christ. > What a fine thing it is to feel that we belong to a church that is or should be composed of saints. It is not sufficient that we have our names upon the records. It is important that we live the lives that entitle us to be called Saints, and if you will do that, you will be happy.

Chapter 2: Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

 This is a response to the LDS manual that is being used in Relief Society and Priesthood meetings in 2012. Today’s lesson—chapter 2—is scheduled to be studied on Jan. 15. Selected quotes from the manual are boldfaced. The chapters from the manual can be found in their entirety athttp://lds.org/manual/teachings-george-albert-smith?lang=eng