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Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

MORMON PROBLEMS WITH JAMES AND PAUL

The LDS quotes verses from the epistle of James to back up Joseph Smith’s claim that works are necessary for salvation. However, they have misunderstood James.

It is a fact that James and Paul taught the same gospel. They met together regularly with the other apostles at the church’s headquarters in Jerusalem. So if either of them had been preaching anything other than the true gospel, something would have been done about it.

UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE

We can make the Bible say anything we want if we take sections out of their context and then fit them in with our own ideas. Scholars have written quite a few books on this subject. I have one on my bookshelf entitled Scripture Twisting, by James W. Sire, published by InterVarsity Press in 1980.

But if we are seeking after truth and genuinely want to understand what the Bible teaches we will read it in a sensible manner; interpreting each section in the light of its surrounding passages as well as in the light of the rest of the Bible. And there is nothing exceptional about this. It’s the way we should read any book.

The problem here is that Joseph Smith’s ideas on theology originated in his own mind. And they contradict the doctrines of the Bible. So instead of teaching Mormons the correct method of interpreting the Bible the LDS instructs them to read the Bible in the light of their own literature and revelations:

“The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all of the Church.)

But the Bible sternly warns us against this type of practice:

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies … ” (2 Peter 1:20-2:1, KJV).

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy, 2:15, NASU)

The excuse given by the LDS for their “modern revelations” contradicting the Bible is that the Bible has been corrupted. But the almighty God and Creator of the universe gave us the Bible to protect us from spiritual deception. If we don’t believe that He has enough power to prevent that selfsame Bible from being corrupted then we are sadly lacking in our knowledge about Him.

“The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7, KJV
The apostle Peter said: “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:25, KJV)

In this article we are going to honour God’s Word by allowing it speak for itself.

PAUL’S TEACHING

From the beginning of Ephesians 2:1-10 Paul discusses how, prior to salvation, their behavior had been worldly and sinful. Nevertheless, because of His love, mercy and grace, God had saved them … whilst they were yet dead in their sins (c/f Romans 5:8).

In Ephesians 2:9, Paul says “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,” emphasizing that salvation is a gift of God that comes about through faith, apart from works. So we cannot boast about having earned the right to the forgiveness of our sins, not even by obedience to LDS laws and ordinances. Nor can we take credit for our faith in Christ, as that too was a gift from God. Furthermore, as the gospel of John explains, the only reason that we came to Christ in the first place was because God drew us to Christ by His Spirit. Remember what Jesus said in John 6:44? — “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him … ” (KJV).

Finally, in Ephesians 2:10, (KJV) Paul says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” So the saved man is created in Christ Jesus unto good works. In other words, salvation is radical. It changes us. And one of the evidences of our salvation is good works. But it isn’t our works that save us. They are the natural outcome of salvation through faith in Christ. To sum it all up we are saved by grace through faith, as a gift of God, unto good works.

When it finally dawns on folk that due to their fallen state they unable to live according to Gods standards, and that their salvation can only come about through the grace and mercy of God, this does a deep work in their hearts. They begin to learn what God’s love is all about. And it transforms their lives.

JAMES’S TEACHING

The subject of James chapter 2 is Christian behavior, not salvation through works. (To understand the context, we’ll start from the beginning of the chapter.)

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, You sit here in a good place, and you say to the poor man, You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, also said, DO NOT COMMIT MURDER. Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:1-13, NASU).

James starts off explaining that those who have faith in Christ should not judge others, as this results in favoritism. Such behaviour blasphemes the name of Christ. He goes on to say that they should love their neighbours as themselves. And then he talks about the need to obey God’s moral laws. Straight after that, still on the subject of Christian behavior, he says:

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea.” (James 2:14-18, KJV)

James is carrying on here from where Paul left off in Ephesians 2:8-10. He is saying that the man who genuinely has faith in Christ, will exhibit a sanctified heart when it comes to the the plight of the needy. Saving faith in Christ results in spiritual regeneration, which is evidenced by a changed or transformed lifestyle. When the Spirit of Christ indwells us, we will have the desire to do the works of God. In other words, our good deeds will prove that we do indeed have saving faith. But nowhere does James say that those good deeds are the catalyst for salvation. Rather, he says that works prove saving faith, which is a different matter altogether.

The following link leads to an easy-to-understand article that discusses the terms of speech used in biblical times:

This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.

Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.

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