Did you Know? Mormonism

The Christian culture is dotted with numerous denominations and groups.  From Catholics to Protestants, from Baptist to Methodist, from Mormons to Jehovah’s Witness, the Christian culture is quite varied.  The purpose of this post is to highlight, in their own words, views, theology, and doctrines from the Mormon church.

Did You Know?

Mormonism is a religious group under the umbrella of “Christian.”  It is my point of view that they are better categorized as a cult.  I view Mormonism as a sect outside the orthodoxy of Christianity.  In most accounts, their theology is significantly different than traditional, orthodox Christianity.

A Brief History

In upstate New York during the 1800’s Second Great Awakening, there were several counties that had become known as the “Burned Over District.” These were areas where the gospel has been preached and people had responded in such numbers, that there was no one left to evangelize.  The western portions of New York was composed completely of converts.

It is in this area of New York that a young boy named Joseph Smith was reared.  He and his family were devout believers and very religious.

In the spring of 1820, Smith was praying in the woods near his home when he experienced a vision of the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  He was told that he would be the prophet who would restore the purity and truthfulness of the church.

In the fall of 1823, Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni who directed him to a location where he found a book of golden plates.  These plates contained writings that would eventually become “The Book of Mormon.”

A Glimpse into Theology

It is not the purpose of this post to explain or describe the totality of the Mormon religion.  I do want to highlight a few of the deal breakers.  There are a few aspects of Christianity that are non-negotiable.  Doctrines and theological positions that we cannot bend, they are the fundamentals to our faith.  I would like to highlight a handful of these fundamental doctrines that are heresy as taught by the Mormon church.

The Nature of God

Heresy One:  God is only one of many gods (Polythiest).

  • Joseph Smith, in Pearl of Great Price, the book of Abraham, uses the plural reference to Gods.
  • In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.370 – 372, Joseph Smith states, “The doctrine of plurality of Gods is prominent in the Bible.  The heads of the Gods appointed our God for us. . . you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves . . . . the same as all Gods have done before you.”
  • Brigham Young, Mormon Prophet wrote: “How many Gods there are, I do not know.  But there never was a time when there were not Gods” – Journal of Discourse, Volume 7, p.419 of 474

The Biblical Truth:

God is ONE and there are no other gods. (Monothiest)

  • Deuteronomy 4:35
  • Isaiah 44:6, 48:12, and 45:14, 21-22
  • Isaiah 43:10
  • Nehemiah 9:6
  • I Timothy 1:17

Heresy Two: God is flesh and bone, an exalted man.

  • Joseph Smith, in Doctrines and Covenants, states that “the Father has a body of flesh and bones tangible as man’s; the Son also . . . .”
  • Joseph Smith continues: “God himself…is a man like unto one of yourselves…God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth…You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves” (Times and Seasons, vol.5, pp.613-614); “Here then is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…the same as all Gods have done before you…To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.346-347).

The Biblical Truth:

God is Spirit, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent

  • Hosea 11:8 – I am God and not man, the Holy One.
  • Numbers 23:19 – God is not a man that He should lie.
  • Malachi 3:6 – For I, the Lord, do not change.
  • Also see Isaiah 43:10, Psalms 139, Psalms 90:2

Are People Born Gay?

In Sunday School, we broached a topic that is somewhat controversial in the Christian community.  The topic of Homosexuality is avoided like the plague in our churches.  I believe that if we have the truth in the Scripture, then we should not hide from proclaiming that truth.  Does that Bible have something to say about the idea of homosexuality?  And if it does, are people born gay?

Are People Born Gay?

I think the populous answer in the Christian community to this question is a resounding, NO!  Most, I assume, argue that God would not “knit together” someone in a way that contrary to the teachings of Scripture.  God has defined gay and lesbian behavior as an abomination in Leviticus 18 and a detestable thing in Leviticus 20.  If so, then there is no way that God would make someone gay.

I would like to suggest that in fact people are born gay.  Without going into the science of the issue, let me suggest a couple points to consider.

  • There is no genetic factor that indicates homosexuality.  One’s sexual behavior does not seem to be connected to genetics.
  • There is evidence to suggest that the brains of gay and lesbian people differ from those that are heterosexual.  The current cultural trends seems to argue that these changes in brain physiology occur in utero.

Because of brain chemistry, it is possible for males to be born with brains that work more similar to women brains.  And for a women to be born with a brain that functions more similar to a man.  The development of the brain is gender neutral and it is hormone baths at key points during the process that determines the “maleness” or “femaleness” of the brain.

The point is that a person can be born and have a brain that functions in a way as to make them attracted to the same sex.  It is highly possible that in a fallen world, a person can be born with characteristics that make them predisposed to gay and/or lesbian preferences.

If I’m born gay, then I’m gay.

If one is born with a gay or lesbian predisposition, then are we to make every effort to accommodate this behavior?  If a person is born gay, should we as Christians defend the gay and lesbian lifestyle? NO!

Paul ask this question in Romans when he says shall we continue in sin so that Grace may abound? May it never be.  In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul outlines for us the process that occurs in the mind and heart of someone on the path to homosexuality.  It begins when one suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness.  The truth that has been revealed to all through HIS creation.  His invisible attributes are clearly seen by the things that HE has made.  When this truth is denied, they think themselves to be wise, they become fools.  The Biblical definition of a fool is someone who does not believe there is a God.

When this has happened, the Scriptures tell us that God turns them over to a “reprobate mind” to do those things that are unnatural.  Men doing sexual acts with other men and women doing the same.  This is the logical progression for sexual behavior when the TRUTH of God is denied.  The sexual act is perverted and the behavior is a “detestable act.”

But if one is born gay . . .

The issue is not, are they born gay?  The issue is are they living in sin.  Having a predisposition to a behavior is not an excuse to engage in the behavior.  We are all born that way.  We are all born with a sin nature, having a predisposition to engage in sinful acts of all kinds.  Some are less “sinful” than others, or so we would like to believe.

In Romans 1, at the end of the chapter, Paul begins to list the types of behavior that people who have been turned over to “reprobate minds” would engage.  They include murder, slander, greed, envy, as well as disobedient to parents.  In the same list as murder and homosexuality, Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, includes disobedience to parents.

We all are predisposed to sin.  We all engage in behavior that is against the character and nature of God.  It is all like filthy rags.  Are people born gay? Yes.  We are all born sinners.  But that is not an excuse to sin.

Transcendental Worldview – The world as you want it to be

Easter Religious SymbolsEvery person has a worldview.  It is the framework upon which we build our world.  It is our bias.  Our perspective.  The reality is that most of our worldview is developed through our environment.  Our perspective is heavily influenced by our life experiences.  The purpose of this post is to discuss the Transcendentalist or Cosmic Humanist worldview.

Transcendentalism – The world as we want it

The Transcendentalist worldview dominates the religions of the Far East.  India, China, Japan, Korea, etc all stem from a similar root.  They all reflect the transcendentalistic philosophy.  These philosophies have spread across the globe and became popular in America during the 1960’s.

View of God:

God is the cosmic energy or force that binds all things together.  This energy permeates all matter and was the original source of all creation.  It is an impersonal energy that flows and ebbs throughout space and matter.  God is all and in all.  The essence of God exist in each person.  The goal of the transcendentalist is to self-actualize and to have one’s own energy eventually rejoin the cosmic energy.  To the transcendentalist, the universe, and everything within it, is God.

View of Humanity:

Mankind is a fragmentation of the cosmic energy.  We exist as physical manifestations of our spiritual self.  Humans are possessors of god and when we become enlightened and reach a state of higher consciousness, our material life will end and our spiritual life rejoins the cosmic energy.

Truth and reality is determined by the individual.  Reason and logic are irrelevant, it is the moment, the now, the feeling of the individual that determines personal reality and truth.  “We must live according to our own truth,” says the transcendentalist.  It is the only way we can achieve true happiness and harmony.

All living things move closer to or further away from self-actualization as they progress through each physical reincarnation.  The process of reincarnation is essential to growth and development to the transcendentalist.  Each life that is lived moves one closer to enlightenment and absorption into the eternal energy of the divine.

View of Nature:

To the transcendentalist, the physical universe is interconnected to the cosmic energy.  The physical is the unreal.  All of creation is continuing on an evolutionary path to universal harmony and unity.  Nature is equal to divine and should be revered and honored.

Examples:

Hinduism
Buddhism
Taoism
Wicca
New Age Movement

RECOMMENDED READING:

Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview By Gary Phillips, William Brown, and John Stonestreet.

Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview By John MacArthur, Patricia A. Ennis, Clyde P., Jr. Greer, and Grant Horner

Theistic Worldview – The World from God’s hands

A worldview is our view of the world and our view for the world.  It is our bias.  Every person has a worldview and every action or behavior is defined by ones worldview.  The purpose of this post is to present an general overview of the Theistic Worldview.

Theism – The world from God’s hands

The Theistic worldview is defined by the belief of Deity that exist outside of the natural world, God exist.  Theist hold to the idea that truth is defined by the character of God and that all humanity is bound to operate within that truth.  Our destiny and purpose is defined by Deity and not ourselves.

View of God:

God is a self sustaining being that exist outside of the physical realm.  The Theist believes that God interacts with the physical realm that He created.  God is the source of truth and destiny.  He is eternal.  He possesses attributes that are exclusive to Him, such as being all powerful, all knowing and every where.

God is.

View of Humanity:

The Theist holds to the idea that man is the special created being of God.  Man is separate from the animal world and unique in his nature and being.  Man is the only created being that can have a relationship with God and the only created being that God desires to have a relationship with.  To the Theist, man’s purpose and destiny is defined by God, his creator.

The Theist view of man is that he is essentially evil.  Man is fallen and possess a sin nature.  We are born with this nature and it is only through an act of God that can set us free.  As a depraved individual, it is our nature to shun the things of God and to deny Him His rightful place in our life.

Man  has an eternal destiny.  From the moment of conception, the human life exist for eternity.  Death is the separation of the spirit from the physical and the Spirit of man lives on into eternity in either a Heaven/Paradise or Hell.

View of Nature:

All of nature is part of the creation of God.  Most Theist believe that God literally created the universe and all that is within in six literal, 24-hour days.  Some theist hold to the view that the universe was created when God intervened in the process of Evolution and effected the direction of the evolving universe.  In either view, God is responsible for the universe existence and it is maintained by his direct interaction.

The natural world is temporal and will eventually cease to exist.  The Theist believes that the physical universe was created by God and will one day be destroyed by God.  The natural world operates under defined rules and laws that were designed by the Creator.

Examples:

Judiasm: Holds to the idea that God is a just and merciful God.  They are awaiting the return of the Messiah to establish his kingdom.

Islam:  Holds to the idea that God is just and vengeful.  They are awaiting for the judgment of God on the earth.

Christianity: Holds to the idea that God is personal and came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  They are awaiting for the return of Jesus to take the church to heaven.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview By Gary Phillips, William Brown, and John Stonestreet.

Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview By John MacArthur, Patricia A. Ennis, Clyde P., Jr. Greer, and Grant Horner

Naturalism Worldview – The World as we see it

A worldview is one’s view of the world.  It is our bias.  It is the philosophical framework around which we base all decisions upon.  We all have one and make all decision consistent with our worldview perspective.

Naturalism – The world as we see it

The worldview that dominates the scientific community and most of the Modern culture is Naturalism.  The Naturalistic worldview is based on the our senses.  It is the world as we see it.  The Naturalist holds to the idea that the only thing that exist is what can be observed, measured or quantified.  Reality is defined as what you can touch, taste, feel, hear, smell, or see.

View of God:

The Naturalist tends to fall into two camps when it comes to the question of God.  The first view says that since I can’t see God, I don’t know if He is real.  They operate under a philosophical framework known as Agnosticism.  It is a lack of personal knowledge.  They soft agnostic says that “I don’t know if there is a God,” while the hard agnostic says “No-one can no if there is a God.”

The second view is one that denies the existence of a Diety altogether.  This is referred to as Athiest.  The Athiest generally believe that the idea of God is an invention of man to either keep the lower class in check and under control, or to explain away the puzzling questions of their world.  Since science is now able to reveal the answers to these mysteries, there is no longer a need for God.

This philosophy is characterized by the writings of many philosophers, but it is the writings of Nietzsche who articulated it most clearly in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”  Zarathustra descends from his mountain top where he has spent his time understanding the natural evolution of man from ape to “Overman.”  As he descends into the world again, enlightened with this new reality, he sorrows for those who have not realized that “God is dead.”  The need to hold to a higher power is no longer needed when man finally achieves his evolutionary end.

The Naturalist are either Agnostic or Athiest.

View of Man:

To the Naturalist, human beings are a by product of evolutionary process.  We are an evolutionary stage of the animal world.  We evolved through the primate lineage and have developed the ability to think and reason as evolutionary tools to survive.

Natural selection is why we exist.  Since we are the by product of evolution we cannot or should not consider our selves any more valuable or special than any other animal that has evolved.  We are, after all, nothing more than a primate.

The Naturalist also tend to view man as essentially good.  It is the nature of man to do good, but nature and our environments have caused us to act in ways that are contrary to our nature.  If we can provide an environment that is healthy enough and controlled enough, it is reasonable to assume that the evil of this world would reduce significantly.  Since mankind is subject to their environment, control the environment, you effect mankind.

View of Nature:

The Naturalist views the physical universe as eternal.  It has no beginning, nor ending.  It is in an eternal state of flux.  Natural processes control the behavior of the universe and it can be understood through science.  Our current universe began with a Big Bang and has expanded and created countless galaxies and planets.  The universe will continue to expand until it reaches its limits, at which point it will collapse on itself and another Big Bang will start the process over again.

Life on this planet and/or others is the result of natural selection and survival of the fittest.  As environments change, organisms that are adapted to the environment survive to pass on their genetics and other die out and go extinct.  This is the natural process.

Examples of a Naturalism:

Agnostics
Athiesm
Hedonism
Positivism
Nihilism
Humanism
Behaviorism
Relativism
and others.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview By Gary Phillips, William Brown, and John Stonestreet.

Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview By John MacArthur, Patricia A. Ennis, Clyde P., Jr. Greer, and Grant Horner

What is a worldview?

When I was a boy, I used to play spy games with my friends using a decoder I found in my Cracker Jack’s box.  Sometimes it was a pair of glasses other times it was a hand held toy.  But they always had red lenses.  Whenever I received a “coded” message, my special decoder glasses would filter out the unnecessary information and reveal the secret message.   If you had the wrong decoder lens, all you would see was a red mess.

So, What is a Worldview?

A worldview is the framework that we use to filter the world.  It is the lens through which we view things.  It is our bias, our preconceived notion, our view of the world and everything in it.

Much like the toy decoder revealed a hidden message in an array of information, so a worldview filters the information we’re bombarded with every day.  All information carries a worldview perspective.  Nothing can exist without a worldview.  And our worldview is what designs, develops, interprets, and applies the information we receive.

Why is it important?

When you are riding in your car with the music playing and you are singing along to your favorite song, have you ever stopped to really listen to what you are singing?  When the artist wrote the lyrics, she was using her worldview to pen the words.  She was allowing her perspective, view of the world, view of right and wrong, her moral standards to dictate the song.  It is a true reflection of her view of truth.  Have you ever stopped and listened?

What do the lyrics say about mankind?  What do they say about God?  What do they say about nature?  What do they say about relationships?  What do the lyrics say about life?  What do the they say about death?  ALL things make a commentary on some part of reality and that reflects a worldview.

As a believer, we are to live by and operate within a Biblical worldview.  A view of the world that most accurately reflects the principals and precepts of the Bible.  If we are not careful, we can allow the lyrics of our favorite song to find their way into our way of thinking and then influence our worldview.

Understanding worldview is important, because it helps us to better understand the world in which we live.  Ephesians 6 tells us that we are stand against the flaming arrows of the wicked one, STAND.  If we have a strong working understanding of worldview, we are better equipped to stand.  We are able to identify flaming arrows more quickly and accurately.

The Devil is a shrewd deceiver.  He is quite able to present himself as an beautiful angel of light.  And through flaming arrows that look more like cupids arrows than darts of destruction.  If we learn and understand worldviews, then we are more quickly able to differentiate the message of the deceiver and STAND.