Many will have noticed the change in Mike Parker’s pages acknowledging that I did write to him with some answers but unfortunately he did not receive it. Below is the text of the first letter I sent.
I have finally managed to get round to answering part of your e-mail. Not all points are finalised yet but I think there is enough for me to send you.
I would like to start at the end when you said,
I pray that, instead of condemning, you will try to understand my faith. To this end, I am willing to share what I believe with you.
I am not condemning. Condemning is where you judge someone and write them off. I do not believe I have the right to do that because Jesus did not come to condemn, [John 3:17].
Jesus however did show the truth and we are encouraged in Scripture to test all things. When our eternal life is at stake I believe we have a God given responsibility to show up what we believe are wrong things. You have the choice to accept or reject but I believe I will have done what I should do.
I know many people who are Mormons and very nice people. But it is not ‘being nice’ that brings us eternal salvation. Nor is it belonging to any one group whoever they are. We can also not ‘move the goalposts’. If God has said, ‘This is the way’, then that is the way we need to go. Does the Mormon offer of salvation meet the original and only way that God has opened for us. Our future lives are at stake here and we need to answer this question very carefully. I believe that the Mormon gospel is very suspect and needs to be looked at with scrutiny to ensure that it can deliver what it has promised for life after death.
Having, I hope, shown you my attitude I would like to answer some of the points raised.
What specific literature are you talking about? Which works did you use? More specifically, which LDS writer has claimed that we believe “Joseph Smith is as important as Jesus Christ,” as your web site states?
Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail in the great work of the last days. I can tell our beloved brother Christians who have slain the Prophets and butchered and otherwise caused the death of thousands of Latter-day Saints, the priests who have thanked God in their prayers and thanksgiving from the pulpit that we have been plundered, driven, and slain, and the deacons under the pulpit, and their brethren and sisters in their closets, who have thanked God, thinking that the Latter-day Saints were wasted away, something that no doubt will mortify them–something that, to say the least, is a matter of deep regret to them–namely, that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are–I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation–the keys to rule in the spirit-world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit-world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim–“Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true. – Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, Pg.289, Brigham Young, October 9, 1859
Your argument may be that this is not one of the Standard Works. However, this is a message given by the second Living Prophet of the Mormon Church. All those that heard that message in Brigham Young’s day believed it. I have also never seen any retraction from this message in any publication of the Church.
So in the words of Brigham Young, if you want to get into the part of the Kingdom where Jesus is – you must have the permission of Joseph Smith. The Bible shows us that Jesus holds the keys – Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith holds the keys – In Young’s eyes Smith was at least as important as Jesus Christ. This fact is underlined for us in the following publication too:
NO SALVATION WITHOUT ACCEPTING JOSEPH SMITH. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord, and obtained keys of authority, and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth, then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of god. It is, therefore, the duty of every man to investigate that he may weigh this matter carefully and know the truth. – Doctrine of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Vol.1. pp.189-190.
There are other quotes too in Mormon publications.
One excellent idea that was advanced this morning, I will venture to carry out a little further. The time was when the test of a Christian was his confession of Christ. In the first Epistle of John it is written, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. And this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is in the world.” This is no test to this generation, for all men of the Christian world confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This generation, however, is not left without a test. I have taught for thirty years, and still teach, that he that believeth in his heart and confesseth with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is his Prophet to this generation, is of God; and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fulness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ. All who confess that Joseph Smith is sent of God in the latter days, to lay the foundation of his everlasting kingdom no more to be thrown down, and will continue to keep his commandments, are born of God. All those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet, at the same time trying with their might to live the holy principles Joseph the Prophet has revealed, are in possession of the Holy Spirit of God and are entitled to a fullness. When such men go into the world to preach the Gospel though they know not a letter in a book, they will do more real good to erring man than the great and wise can possibly do, though aided by all their learning and worldly influence in the absence of the gift of the Holy Ghost. When the spirit of the preacher is embued with the Spirit and power of God, his words enter the understandings of the honest, who discern the truth and at once embrace it to their eternal advantage. Journal of Discourses, Vol.9, Pg.312, Brigham Young, July 13, 1862
Once again Brigham Young adds to Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith. Smith becomes as important as Jesus.
If you argue that we can only accept what is in the authoritative works and official pronouncements from the First Presidency holds true then there must be many Mormons that are not living true Mormonism and have no hope of entering into the Celestial Kingdom – Brigham Young being the biggest culprit it would seem. If a man as high up in the Church as Bruce McConkie or indeed Brigham Young doesn’t know the truth, what hope do you or any other Mormon really have?
Take again what is said in the ‘official’ History of the Church, Vol.6, pp.408.
God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go. For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ; they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said; therefore my enemies cannot charge me with any day, time, or place, but what I have written testimony to prove my actions; and my enemies cannot prove anything against me. They have got wonderful things in the land of Ham. I think the grand jury have strained at a gnat and swallowed the camel.
I believe all those quotes above give us clear justification for saying that high up officials within the Mormon Church believe that Joseph Smith was as important as Jesus Christ.
Coming out of the whole question of the Standard works you quoted Joseph Fielding Smith,
It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other Member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.
You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.
Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every Member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted. (Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956, pp..203-4.)
If this is true and I would accept it to be then I would have to say that we need to reject the writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young among others because they are in conflict with what the Lord revealed in Scripture. However, this is of course leads us onto deeper matters. I have read, pondered and prayed over the Book of Mormon but I always come back to the fact that the Bible is far more reliable than the Book of Mormon and both books cannot be from the same God because of several major contradictions.
You challenge me, “I have read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and independently, and have found, through the Spirit of God, that it is the word of God. I challenge you to do the same, putting away any other literature (pro- or anti-Mormon), and considering the book itself on face value.”
However I would have to answer that this is just not possible. First the Book of Mormon is called ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ’ which means there is a first one that needs to be considered. Second when the Book of Mormon is talking about salvation, and the way to know the reality of God we must look back to the original to see what Jesus said.
The Mormon Church is said to have come into being because of the complete apostasy of the church on earth, but who failed God or the people. It is obvious that it is the people and as such there did not need to be a new way but repentance to go back to God’s original way. The Mormon church presents a new way and a different gospel and so we must be very careful in what we believe.
You quote the verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Prove all things and hold fast that which is good. That must be applied to the book of Mormon not just the Bible. I have proved the Bible to be true over 30+ years. A quick glance at the Book of Mormon shows that I cannot prove it to be good and therefore God tells me not to hold on to it. You talk about having to accept the Book of Mormon otherwise face the eternal consequences. But the God of the Bible, the only true God of creation says we must only hold fast that which is good and yet the Book of Mormon is not proven. It has changed the teachings of Scripture and when you add the other standard works you find teachings about salvation entering in that contradict scripture.
I find it very difficult to understand how you can accept Joseph Smith’s word that ‘ignorant translators etc’ and that he can at a stroke change the eternal word of God with no proof other than his own thinking. No man is allowed to do that. Such a man we are told in Scripture we should have nothing to do with.
I will not continue at the moment because I would like you to consider this point. The Book of Mormon is not proven as the Bible. The only way we can accept the Book of Mormon and the other standard works is to put the Bible aside. The belief that the Book of Mormon is prophesied in Ezekiel 37 is very hard for me to understand. I cannot put the Bible aside for the Book of Mormon translated by someone who is prepared to rewrite the Bible without a scrap of evidence.
I am not trying to paint a bad picture of Joseph Smith but it is clear from Doctrines of Salvation that if he is a fraud then there is no foundation for the Mormon Church. He has lifted himself on to a level with Jesus. He has rewritten the Word of God. He has demanded that we turn aside from the original teaching of Jesus. This is a serious matter.
Mike could you take this and test it out and hold fast that which is good.