What Is a (Authentic) Christian?

August 24, 2010 at 5:48 PM 11 comments

Figure it out!

In a world where the term “Christian” is bandied about by everyone, you would think there would be one, universal meaning that everyone would agree on.  That’s not the case though.  If you ask ten people what being a Christian means, you’ll get ten different answers.

The fact that the definition of being a Christian seems to be up for grabs is more than sad.  It’s tragic and there is really little excuse for it.  How did it happen?

If you look over the religious landscape of today, any number of people connected with any number of groups believe wholeheartedly that they are legitimate Christian.  Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Universalists-Unitarians
  • Seventh-day Adventists
  • Mormons
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Christian Scientists
  • New Age

The above of course are only a few, but they all believe that they are Christians.  Consider Mormons for a moment.  Their church’s doctrine is such that they believe that between the time the last apostle died and Joseph Smith, there was not one true Christian.  According to Smith, God told him that he should join no denominational churches because they were and had been all corrupt since the last apostle.

It was Joseph Smith who was supposedly directly commissioned by God to begin a new movement, to restore purity to the “church.”  In spite of this, Smith attended and tried to join at least one denomination and then went to another.  Eventually, he got around to starting Mormonism, after the Angel Moroni provided the special glasses that allowed him to translate the golden tablets he allegedly discovered.  Thus, Mormonism was born.

So between the time of the last apostle and Joseph Smith, Mormons are taught that there was not one authentic Christian.  Now, Mormons look like Christians and they act like Christians.  They talk like Christians and they use Christian-sounding verbiage.  Unfortunately, they have different definitions than the rest of Christendom has used for centuries.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing, using Christian-sounding terminology but applying their own meanings to many of the orthodox doctrines.  The same applies to each of the above-listed groups, including many within the New Age movement.

Each of the groups has their own definition of what it means to be a Christian.  Most believe that in order to become an authentic Christian, works is part of the equation.  In other words, earning salvation by completing a variety of good works, combined with faith is the way to become an authentic Christian.

Whether you are talking to an individual from one of the above-listed groups, Roman Catholics, or someone else entirely, good works is part of what it takes to be a Christian.  But is this Scriptural?  Even with those individuals who believe that salvation can be lost, it all boils down to good works.  Good works either earns and/or maintains salvation for all groups even remotely associated with Christianity, except one:  authentic Christians.

It would seem a simple matter of going back to the Word to determine what the truth of the matter is regarding being a Christian.  The problem though is that people – while reading the same text – understand it to mean different things.

For instance, the plainest meaning of what it means to be a Christian comes from Jesus Himself, as He took the time to explain to Nicodemus in John 3.  During that verbal exchange, Jesus explained that in order to be saved, one must be born again, or born from above.  Here, Jesus pointed to an event that must happen in order for a person to gain salvation.

In John 3, most are familiar with the words from verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

These are Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees of the time.  Notice that the one prerequisite to everlasting life is believing.  Here is what believing is NOT:

  • intellectual assent
  • knowledge
  • a feeling or feelings
  • rumbling in the pit of your stomach
  • entering into a lifestyle

Many seem to assume today that being a Christian is nothing more than entering into a lifestyle.  You know, a person learns about Buddhism for instance, and they find it interesting, so they begin to practice Buddhism.  Because they practice Buddhism, they come to believe that they are drawing closer to godliness.  They seem to think that they are becoming more calm and “at one” with the world and even the universe.

One day, they decide that Buddhism is not for them.  After months of frustration and no signs of growth, they opt to walk away for something different, something better.

That is how most people define Christianity.  Whether it is believing the story of Jesus (whatever that means), doing things that a person believes Christians would do, or going to church, or something else altogether, the fact remains that these people are emphasizing action, or good works, or even plain old works. While it is true that good works will stem from the authentic Christian, our own good works are not what Christianity is based on.

So what is Christianity?  In plain and simple terms, it is entering into a spiritual transaction with God Almighty.  It is becoming a new creature through the new birth, or the birth from above, as Jesus explains to Nicodemus.  Without this new birth, this spiritual transaction, there is nothing within the person that will save them from eternal punishment, not one thing.

Paul speaks of this new birth and explains it in detail in the book of Romans.  Here he clearly explains WHAT we are before we come to God to receive His salvation, and what we BECOME after we receive that salvation.  If I could sum up the entire first 8 chapters of Romans for you, I would.  It is not that easy to do, because of the depth to which Paul goes in detailing the new life that enters into every newly born individual.

Paul begins in Romans by explaining and ultimately proving that ALL individuals are in the position of eternal damnation to start, at the moment of birth or conception.  He shows us tragically how bad people can truly become because of he sin nature within us.

As each chapter of Romans goes by, we learn very methodically that even though God has every right to leave us to die in eternal dread and torment, He did not do that.  He took it upon Himself to send God the Son in order to die for humanity.  Those who come to believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and believe in what He accomplished for humanity, will experience the new birth.  God will surgically remove our old natures and replace them with His nature.

If that’s the case, then why do Christians still sin?  Simply because God has NOT removed our sin nature.  We now have a new nature and it is that nature that fights against our sin nature until the day we die, or rather our sin nature fights against the new nature that God grafted into us.

In my understanding, the individual that has this spiritual transplant is given ETERNAL life from that moment and this is verified throughout Romans as just one book.  I HAVE eternal life NOW and I will fully enjoy it AFTER this life is over.  So in one sense, though I have eternal life NOW, I still LONG for the day when faith will be sight, when I will not even know what it means to be tempted with sin any longer.  I am looking for that city not made with hands.  The new nature that God placed within me is striving to get to that day!

The individual who believes Jesus Christ can no sooner walk away from Him than He would have been able to sin during His earthly life.  It is not possible.  The authentic Christian has the following:

  • new nature
  • the Holy Spirit living within as a guarantee/deposit
  • God conforming us to His image
  • eternal security because there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love (including our own “will”)

Unlike the people who believe that they may be, or may have been Christians at one time, the difference between them and the authentic Christian is stark.  The authentic Christian has the Holy Spirit living within, and has had the old nature eradicated, replaced with the new nature.  Because of the ever-present sin nature, even authentic Christians will still sin from time to time.

Though John speaks of the authentic Christian being “done with sin.”  Here is the verse:  “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” (1 John 3:9).  At a glance, that SEEMS to be saying that Christians can and SHOULD become sinless, doesn’t it?

We just spoke of the fact that every authentic Christian has a new nature, a nature that is not touched by sin and cannot sin.  We also mentioned that every authentic believer still has the sin nature.  When I sin, I am sinning in my SIN NATURE.  My new nature does not participate with that sinful event, whatever it happened to be.

When I sin, I am deliberately choosing to do something that God does not want me to do.  I am choosing to sin, even though the new nature within me does not want to sin, and gives me the ability through God to NOT sin.

John is pointing out that every authentic Christian has this new nature that is SINLESS and sin will never touch it.  At every juncture, I have to make the choice of following the dictates of my SIN nature, or submitting myself to God to follow my NEW nature.  It is that simple.

This is why some authentic Christians can SEEM as though they have walked away from God, yet we do not know the outcome, do we?  The Prodigal Son literally could not get away from his father fast enough.  He lived like a pig in spite of the fact that his father was very wealthy!  Finally, when he came to his senses, he was humbled.  This humility caused him to realize that what he had done to his father was completely disrespectful.  Yet his father had treated him more than fairly, doing things he did not have to do, like giving him his inheritance NOW.

This humility caused the young man to go back to his father with the attitude that said “just let me work as a servant because I am not good enough to be your son.”  The father had none of that and was overjoyed that his son had returned (cf. Luke 15).

This is exactly why Jesus told us not to judge, because we can only judge from EXTERNALS.  We look at someone who says they are Christian and we judged them based on what they do or say.  We have NO clue whether or not that individual is truly saved.  None whatsoever!  We should never judge the condition of a person’s heart (and Jesus was NOT saying that we can never judge SITUATIONS).

An authentic Christian is someone who has had the new birth, the second birth, or the birth from above.  This canNOT be undone under any circumstances.  Too many people see “christians” walking away from the faith and they say “See?  That proves people can lose their salvation.”  No, it does NOT prove anything.  Do you know for a fact that the individual you see walking away IS an authentic Christian?  Do you know for a fact that they are walking away for a time – as the Prodigal Son did – to return later?  You have absolutely NO clue at all, yet you stand there, pointing your finger as if you have the ability to read the condition of someone’s heart.  Who are you, God?

The ONLY thing that separates authentic Christians from non-Christians (including professing Christians) is the NEW BIRTH.  That is it!  There are plenty of “tares” within the visible Church today.  They are NOT Christians and will NEVER be Christians (because they were sown by Satan).  Yet, they can talk like a Christian.  They can pray like a Christian.  They can sing hymns like a Christian, give money like a Christian, work in a soup kitchen like a Christian and do a million things that Christians do, yet they are NOT, nor will ever BE Christians.

Can you tell who is a tare and who is wheat?  I can’t.  If you think you can, you are basing it on what you see in another individual NOW.

If someone walks away from Christianity, and NEVER returns, arriving at a point where they now insist that God does not exist, and then ultimately die without ever negating their anti-religious beliefs, then they are most likely a tare, or simply someone who was never saved.  They never had the new birth.  They never had the Holy Spirit living within them.  It never happened at all.  In that case, all they walked away from was a lifestyle that to most people looked as if they were in fact an authentic Christian.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  They LOOKED and SOUNDED like a Christian, but it turns out they were not.

What does Jesus say to all the people who say to Him, “Lord, Lord, don’t you remember, I did this and that and the other thing in your Name!  How can you tell me that I am not worthy to join you in paradise forever?”

The Lord’s answer is quick and definitive.  “Depart from me…I never knew you.”  I NEVER KNEW YOU!  (Matthew 7:23).  Think about that.  Jesus is saying that He NEVER knew that person.  He knew they existed because He made that person.  He knew about their life because He guided it for His purposes.  When He says He NEVER knew them, He means that He was NEVER in relationship WITH them.  Do you understand the full implications here?  Jesus is saying that He NEVER knew them from eternity PAST.  He NEVER knew them.

There are plenty of people today who are walking around saying things that sound Christian.  They do things that look Christian.  They are NOT Christian.  Authentic Christians exist among these people.  We go to church with them.  We sing with them in the choir.  We pray with them.  We fellowship with them.  We BELIEVE they are Christian.

Authentic Christians are those who have:

  • the new birth, the birth from above, or have become born again
  • the Holy Spirit indwells them as a DEPOSIT GUARANTEEING their inheritance
  • God working through the 3rd Person of the Trinity (the Holy Spirit) to conform us to the image of the 2nd Person of the Trinity (God the Son)
  • a guarantee that Jesus will NEVER leave or forsake us
  • a guarantee that NOTHING will separate us from Him at all
  • a working relationship with Jesus Christ, the God of the universe!

The person who has NOT had the new birth have none of the above.  They walk around living a Christian lifestyle, but without the reality of the new birth.  When they walk away from Christianity, they are merely walking away from a lifestyle that they USED to live, now exchanging it for something else, usually atheism.

While there will be multitudes of authentic believers in heaven (the only kind of believer in heaven), authentic Christians are a true minority down here.  In spite of the polls that say 85% believe this or that, the number of actual Christians is far less than that 85%.

There is NO such thing as a person who can be an authentic Christian one day, and an atheist the next.  They CAN be a practicing, or professing Christian one day and an atheist the next.  That is very possible and it will be THOSE people who are caught up in the great falling away that Paul speaks about (2 Thessalonians 2:3ff).

If you believe that you are a Christian, take the time to double check.  If you have not been given the birth from above, you are not an authentic Christian.  If you can look back over the last five, or ten years of your life, with the only difference being that you have somehow gotten WORSE, then you are likely not an authentic Christian.  Can I know?  Can anyone else know?  NO, only YOU and God can know.  Find out NOW without delay.

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Is the White House Using ‘Unlawful’ Propaganda? Mormonism – Truth or Fiction?

11 Comments

  • 1. Seth R.  |  August 25, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    One more clarification then and I’ll call it quits on this post unless invited to further comment.

    On the origin of God the Father, there are two strains of thought.

    1. The idea that God was once like us on some other world – experienced mortality, possibly sin, and was redeemed and exalted to his present perfection and glory (presumably by some previous savior sent by some previous God in an endless chain running backwards). That is one strain of thought within Mormon theology.

    But there is another gaining more and more popularity among LDS scholars:

    2. The idea that God the Father was never at any point, anything less than divine. This strain of thought usually interprets Joseph Smith’s remarks in the famous “King Follett Discourse” about God being once a man as “God once experienced mortality the same way Jesus experienced it – as fully divine and perfect in his own mortality.”

    Under this view, there was never a time when God was ever not divine. And this view is consistent with LDS scripture and reconcilable to the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith.

    Now, unless invited to comment further, I will leave things there. Thanks for the exchange.

  • 2. Seth R.  |  August 25, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Well, if you want to wrap up, that’s fine, but there are a couple points that need to be cleared up.

    I did not label your beliefs as tri-theist.

    I said that many Mormons view all other Christians as being basically modalists – the idea that there is one God who wears multiple hats, or one God with multiple jobs, or one God with a personality disorder – however you want to analogize it.

    I am not among these, since I know that creedal Christianity views modalism as a heresy.

    But, while I’m aware that many individual Mormons have beliefs that are tri-theistic, I think this is an incorrect reading of Mormon scripture and teaching.

    We do not believe in three separate beings who are all Gods and “merely playing for the same team.”

    We believe that Father, Son and Spirit are all profoundly united in thought, desire, and mind. This draws from the Christian concept of perichoresis – the divine dance – whereby distinct beings can still be perfectly united such that they share the same thoughts, desires, intentions, and of course – love.

    We believe that through a process similar to the Eastern Orthodox notion of theosis (with key differences) – we are invited through Christ to inherit all the Father has, and join him in the same perichoresis – the same indwelling relationship he has with the Son and Spirit.

    Basically, we take the same logic historical Christianity uses to make “One God” out of three beings, and use that same logic to make “One God” out of more beings – ourselves included (by Christ’s grace).

    One point on which we differ is that we reject the notion that Father, Son and Spirit share the same “substance” – which we consider to be purely a non-Biblical invention of Neo-Platonist philosophy.

    But other than that – the Mormon God is perfectly united in One.

    As such, we consider ourselves monotheists.

    • 3. modres  |  August 25, 2010 at 6:42 PM

      Thanks Seth. I appreciate your attempt to clarify your beliefs. The fact remains unfortunately, that no matter how you to try to slice it, you view the Godhead as three separate entities, though perfectly united in thought and purpose.

      The Mormon view of the “Trinity” or the Godhead is extremely complicated to say the least. The belief that God the Father began as we are now is central to that belief, along with the belief that God the Father has bodily form. Since God the Father began as we are now, then it is also believed that each individual human being CAN become as God the Father is NOW and become gods themselves.

      In Mormonism, both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are devalued. While they may be completely united in thought with the Father, they do not share equality with God the Father.

      As I said, the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead is extremely complex, having been molded over the decades through various presidents (apostles) and others of the Mormon Church, stemming of course from, Smith, down through McConkie, Talmadge, and others. Beyond this, generally speaking, Mormons differentiate between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost.

      You can certainly claim to be monotheistic, but in reality, everything within Mormon doctrine speaks against that belief since God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit (and Holy Ghost) are separate individuals though united in the same purpose. Of course, in Mormonism, Joseph Smith has also become a god as well.

      Anyway, Seth, thanks for stating your viewpoint. I wish I could give more time for this, but I can’t, so we’ll have to end it here.

  • 4. Seth R.  |  August 25, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    Thank you for clarifying your commenting policy. Sounds reasonable.

    One thing needs to be clear though – religion is a very personal thing. It is expected that people will take it personally.

    On the grace vs. works issue, I have never really seen any distinction between the LDS position and the Evangelical/Protestant position that is not purely rhetorical.

    Thing is – Mormonism has its own grace theology. The Book of Mormon is quite adamant that works do not “earn” or “merit” salvation in any sense. They are a natural outgrowth of the work of Christ in our lives.

    Part of the problem here is that Mormons on one side and Evangelicals on the other side tend to exaggerate our positions in an attempt to make ourselves look different from each other. We also tend to distort what the other side actually believes in.

    Thus Evangelicals are described by many Mormons as being spiritually lazy people who simply want to do a fake “alter call” and then sin however they want – comfortable in the assurance of their salvation.

    And likewise, Mormons are described by some Evangelicals as being arrogant workaholics without compassion, who Puritanically insist on earning their salvation while ruthlessly ostracizing anyone who isn’t tough enough to tow the line.

    But neither of these caricatures fairly represents our positions.

    Likewise on the issue of the Trinity.

    Mormonism actually has a lot of Trinitarian language in its scriptures – namely the Book of Mormon. But this is lost in all the efforts to make ourselves look different from each other in some turf war.

    Thus Mormons inaccurately consider all other Christians to be committing the heresy of modalism, while many other Christians consider Mormons to be committing the heresy of tri-theism.

    But those words also do not accurately describe our respective positions. Orthodox historical Christianity, of course, rejects both modalism and tri-theism as heresies.

    On the Mormon side, neither word accurately describes us either. If I had to pick a label, I would call us “Social Trinitarians” (though this is not a term most Mormons are familiar with). We believe in one unified will at the head of the universe. Not three, or even three thousand independent wills running the show.

    • 5. modres  |  August 25, 2010 at 2:36 PM

      Thanks Seth, I am very aware that religion is a very personal thing, just as politics are to the average person. Let’s face it, if we are going to invest ourselves in something as personal as religion, we take the beliefs of that particular religion to heart. It becomes part of us, but we all need to get beyond that when discussing it, otherwise it gets heated very quickly.

      Thanks for clarifying your position. I still am in complete disagreement with Mormon views on your explanation of grace vs. works, and your understanding of the Trinity. You know that I believe that there is One God, in three Persons. How does that work? I have no idea because my brain is not big enough to comprehend it. That makes sense if God Himself is all that He is – omnipotent, all-knowing, etc.

      I have to stand behind the facts that there are huge differences between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity, which is why most of those within Christendom refer to Mormonism as a cult (my apologies if that offends). The other reality, which was my main point in my blog about what it means to be an authentic Christian, is that simply because someone says they are a Christian does not make it so. You could have perfect doctrinal knowledge, or I could. It means NOTHING if we have not had the new birth, which immediately places us in relationship to Jesus Christ.

      Not all those who say they are Christian believe in the Triune God. I know many – unfortunately – who believe as you believe. If they are wrong, they are denigrating Jesus Christ by reducing Him to something that He is not. You would say the same about me – that I am elevating Him to something He is not.

      You view my view of the Trinity as “tri-theism” when in point of fact, it is One God, in three Persons. There is ONE God all perfectly united in one purpose, never deviating from the will of each other. They are in perfect sync. In Mormonism, you believe Jesus was a type of god. You also believe that Smith became a type of god. This is polytheism, plain and simple.

      But see, we can go round and round and round and round with all these words, definitions and the like. We will arrive at the exact same place we are NOW, except we will have gone a very circuitous route to get there. In the meantime, you will have used my blog area as a forum for your apologetics. No offense to you, but I am unwilling to do that.

      So, let’s call it a draw. You commented on my comments a number of times, and I did yours. Neither one of us has moved from his position and neither one will.

      Thanks Seth.

  • 6. Seth R.  |  August 25, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    You’re the one who posted stuff about Mormons on the Internet in the first place.

    Am I to understand that you would not like the things you say to be contested?

    If you are busy with a doctorate, then I suggest you get to work, and stop wasting your own and everyone else’s time by making blog posts that you have no intention of backing up.

    As for ex-Mormons, I’m well accquainted with them. I blog regularly with several and count them as friends. Of course – they tend to be the more reasonable sorts.

    I am well aware of places like exmormon.org, the Recovering from Mormonism message boards, and other such group therapy sessions where bitter divorcees indulge themselves in one-sided rants about their “former spouse.” But I think you’ll find those venues are, by and large, hostile to Christianity in general and think you’re just as “full of it” as I am. The membership on those boards tends to be overwhelmingly atheist in my experience.

    So be careful whom you cite as references.

    If you want, I can also point you to instances of ex-Baptists, ex-Catholics, ex-Evangelicals, and other such persons who are now happy Mormons and perfectly willing to bad-mouth their former religions as well.

    I generally tend to take these opinions with a large grain of salt – being aware that people who have exited a religion have a biased and vested interest in justifying why they left. So I don’t tend to take them too seriously. I suggest that you not take them seriously either.

    Final note: if what you are looking for is a closed, debate-free space on the Internet where your views will not be disputed or challenged, I suggest you turn off your commenting feature on your blog for future posts.

    Otherwise people might get the wrong idea that they are free to contradict you.

    • 7. modres  |  August 25, 2010 at 1:42 PM

      Yes, I did post a blog about Mormonism. I don’t care if you contest what I say. Makes no difference to me. My point is that I have no time to waste debating you, or anyone else. You are more than free to start your own blog in which you address my comments or anyone else’s. You don’t need to come here to do it.

      Your defensiveness says a good deal about you and your beliefs. Smith fired the first shot, and now Mormons are on the defensive. Oh well.

      Final note: if what you are looking for is a closed, debate-free space on the Internet where your views will not be disputed or challenged, I suggest you turn off your commenting feature on your blog for future posts.”

      You’re confusing commenting with debating. I don’t mind comments at all, and the fact that I have allowed almost ALL comments I have received proves that point. I have only disallowed two comments so far because they were so far off base, it was ridiculous. I see a huge difference in commenting on something and debating something. Your intent is to draw me into debate and for you, it’s kind of like going door-to-door, except you can do it on the ‘Net from your easy chair. You came here, you contradicted me and I posted your comments, both times. I am not dissuading you from posting comments. This is my blog and it won’t be used to foster your viewpoint of Mormonism. You can do that on your own blog. I do not want to DEBATE, which goes on and on and on and on (just like the Journey tune). Comments are comments, stated and then we move on. Debating often denigrates into minutiae, which is the most boring form of discussion I have ever heard.

      By the way, if people simply read my comments and take them as gospel without researching them, or at least piquing their interest to do more study on their own, then there is something wrong with them.

      I’m also well aware of the fact that there are many who have left a variety of denominations within Christendom and in most cases, have become atheists. I addressed that in my post – clearly.

      For someone who “tend[s] not to take [the comments of people who have left Mormonism] seriously,” your comments say otherwise. Those people have something to say and it boils down to the fact that you disagree with them. I do not take THEM seriously. I take what they SAY seriously. If their comments are based in provable truth, then they could be a complete moron, but the truth remains. I suggest you start paying attention to what they SAY, instead of coming out of the shoot so quickly to cast aspersions and do everything in your power to shut them down.

      Seth, the problem here is that you think I am AGAINST you. I am NOT. I am against the fallacious beliefs of Mormonism, or anything that denigrates the biblical authority of who Jesus Christ is and remains.

      If you re-read your comment (the immediate comment that I am replying to now), it is filled with vitriol and sarcasm. Even if I was interested in debating, why on earth would I want to debate anyone like yourself? It’s ridiculous. If I say to you – and prove it from court documentation – that Joseph Smith was a charlatan, you think I am attacking YOU. I am NOT.

      If I present information about Mormonism that you do not like, you do not agree with, and makes you angry, you believe I am attacking YOU. As far as people thinking I’m “full of it,” of COURSE they exist! I’m well aware of that. Is that supposed to bother me? Hardly. I got over that a LONG time ago. In fact, much of the acrimony comes from another book I wrote, “The Supernatural Bias of Ex-Christians” in which people who claim they were Christians are easily shown to never have been Christians, and some of it by their own testimony.

      Seth, you have GOT to learn to not take this stuff personally. There is NOTHING personal in my comments. My comments are directed to a RELIGION, something I consider to be a cult. If you are part of that, I can certainly understand why you might take umbrage, however, that only belies the fact that you are insecure in your beliefs.

      As for your idea that I should stop wasting my time blogging and get finishing my doctorate, your sarcasm is noted, but again, you have no clue. I LOVE to write. I have written 18 books in the past year and a half. I’m not bragging, I’m simply saying that writing and research is like breathing to me. Debating on the other hand, is extremely tedious. It is one individual trying to prove to another individual that his viewpoint is wrong, and vice versa. I’m not interested in that. I have no ability to open anyone’s eyes to truth, and neither do you. Only God can do that.

      So while you are WASTING your time unable to keep your anger and umbrage in check, maybe you should spend more time asking Joseph Smith to help you become more at peace with your own beliefs. I say that with tongue in cheek, but the reality is that you do need to figure out how to calm down and not take comments like mine as personal attacks.

      Your arrogance will be your downfall. It will keep you from honestly appraising your own beliefs. I am not against you, Seth. I am not strong enough to keep you from salvation, or make you receive it. Right now, Mormonism is the only thing keeping you from the truth and I already know you disagree with that.

      It is like me saying “homosexuality is wrong.” When I say that, homosexuals believe I am attacking or hating them. I am not. I am simply making a statement without acrimony or hate, based on the tenets of Scripture. It is the same with what I am saying here about Mormonism. I don’t hate you or any other Mormon. I am simply presenting my opinion that you are free to disagree with and obviously do and you have stated as much.

      Thanks for your comments, Seth.

  • 8. Seth R.  |  August 25, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    You know – there is a common tactic that critics of the LDS Church use.

    I call it the “shotgun approach.”

    The goal is to “shotgun” as many negative data point about the LDS Church as you can at the person you are debating with in the hopes that they will simply be overwhelmed by the sheer content, and either give up, or make a slip-up in their argument that you can exploit for debate points.

    I do not play this game.

    If you wish to debate with me – then I suggest you pick a SINGLE topic for me to respond to. We can move on to your other points after that issue has been satisfactorily discussed.

    And believe me – I DO have responses or refutations for ALL the points you brought up. But it seems pretty disorganized to deal with them all in a single response.

    • 9. modres  |  August 25, 2010 at 11:33 AM

      You can call it whatever you like, it makes no difference. I did not post my blog to enter into a debate. In fact, you approached me, not the other way around. I have not created this blog to debate anyone and in fact, my book “Apologetics Never Saved Anyone” explains exactly why I believe debate is fruitless.

      I’m sure you have answers and I’m also quite certain I have read them ALL and have responses in rebuttal. You will be able to offer nothing new to the discussion at all and you have heard all of my rebuttals previously from various sources. All we would be doing is arguing back and forth and wasting a good deal of your time and mine. I have no interest in that whatsoever. I’m sorry you do, but again, I will remind you that YOU posted here in response to my comments FIRST. I did not seek you out.

      We could debate until we both run out of breath and in the end, the only thing that we will have shown is that we can debate. In fact, you might well be a better DEBATER than I am, but that in and of itself proves nothing, except that you are a better debater. It also gives the false impression that you are CORRECT, when you are not.

      Look, here is the deal, Seth. IF you are 110% convinced that Mormonism is correct and EVERY other denomination, religion, or cult is INCORRECT, then you have nothing to prove, especially to me. I say this to EVERYONE – you alone are responsible to determine the authenticity of your salvation. No one else can do that for you.

      The main problem I see with every cult or religion aside from authentic Christianity, is the issue of WORKS. You must earn your salvation, and you must earn the right to keep it. Salvation is free and the only thing required of humanity is faith in the full propitiousness of Christ’s atonement. Nothing more is needed.

      If you STOP working, you are in danger of losing what you believe is your salvation. You want to talk about the high incidence of suicide within Mormonism? You want to talk about the fact that women married to Mormons are essentially nothing without their husbands? You want to talk about the fact that IF a husband (in the afterlife) does NOT give permission for his earthly wife to be resurrected, there she stays, in the grave.

      There are so many inconsistencies and outright fables built into Mormonism, that it is really difficult to take it seriously. BUT, the fact that YOU fully believe what you believe simply means that any discussion or debate we might have will go nowhere. It will merely be a congenial war of words, nothing more.

      You believe that in order to receive salvation, you must be approved by Jesus Christ. At the same time, Joseph Smith is also sitting on that panel of judges so you must be approved by him as well. The pressure you must live under, which becomes abject legalism. I’m sorry for you.

      Besides, the last thing you want to do is open this can of worms and deal with the planet Kolob, the belief that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, who had a major falling out, the belief that there are numerous gods within Mormonism making it a Polytheistic religion/cult, etc.

      Seth, I’m SURE you have answers for everything, otherwise you would be an idiot to believe what you believe. The problem though is are those answers you have worthwhile? Are they intelligent? Most importantly, are they TRUTH? You would say publicly that they are, that they silence the critics. They don’t silence the critics.

      The difficulty with any debate is that it can give a false sense of superiority by one “opponent” over the other. What is best is that you deal with Mormonism on your own, in the quietness of your heart. It is there that you will either discover the truth or not. Debating someone (and saying that you “won” afterwards) only convinces you that the untruths you propagate are true IF you do not believe that the answer you received was worthwhile and that would be the case. At every juncture, we would run ourselves up against a wall.

      I would suggest that you read materials by people who are EX-Mormons and there are quite a few of them. These people came out of Mormonism because they grew discomfited with its claims and inconsistencies. In fact, two well known archaeologists who WERE Mormon left it because they could not find one shred of evidence to support the Book of Mormon! They were willing to seek the truth and that truth led them out of Mormonism.

      I really do not have time to debate, Seth. I’m finishing up my second doctorate (D.Th), writing books and I teach at two local colleges, besides having a family. I do not have time to point out all the untruths and inconsistencies that are cemented within Mormonism; the same untruths and inconsistencies that you’ve heard repeatedly yet believe you have a more than adequate response to each one. Sorry.

      You’re more than welcome to read along this blog and I’ll be happy to post your comments as long as they are worthwhile, but I have absolutely no interest in debating you. My blogs speak for themselves.

  • 10. Seth R.  |  August 24, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    Correction – Mormons definitely believe there were authentic CHRISTIANS after the death of the original twelve apostles.

    We just don’t feel there was a truly authentic Christian CHURCH from that point until Joseph Smith.

    Big difference.

    • 11. modres  |  August 25, 2010 at 9:12 AM

      All you are doing is mincing words, which is what most cults do. IF there were authentic Christians, then there HAD to be an authentic CHURCH, since only authentic Christians make up the authentic Church. If you are speaking of authentic Christians in a DENOMINATION, then you are still in error, because what you would have us believe is that ALL denominations were fully corrupt and God was apparently fed up with all of them. Yet there were – according to you – authentic Christians? So out of these authentic Christians, God chose Joseph Smith? Would you like to go over his actual history? Where do we start? He was into Necromancy and other dark arts. He was by many accounts a charlatan. He was in his late teens when he first received a “message” from God and beyond this, it is historically clear that Joseph Smith attempted to JOIN one of these allegedly corrupt denominations even AFTER he had allegedly been commissioned by God to not join any of them.

      Mormonism suffers from the same type of problems that all cults suffer from – a mixing of truth with error. The idea that all denominations from the last apostle to Smith were corrupt is not only ridiculous but flies in the face of the historical evidence, since there was NOTHING whatsoever at all like unto Mormonism during the first 30 years of the birth of the Church (Acts) until the time of Smith. What Smith introduced was something completely new, borrowing from the Bible, Freemasonry, and other areas to create this multifaceted new religion. There is nothing within Mormonism that resembles early Christianity, as taught by Paul, Peter, John, or Jesus. Nothing. Only the names and words are the same, with new meanings.

      The history of Mormonism highlights many changes in doctrine, which is interesting in and of itself, if Smith was to have translated the golden tablets directly with the use of special glasses. Why has the doctrine within the Mormon church changed? If God through Moroni provided Smith with the tenets of the TRUE Church, then why has doctrine changed, or been modified over the years?

      Moreover, probably one of the most incriminating pieces of evidence AGAINST Mormonism, there has NEVER been any archaeological piece of evidence that supports the Mormon claims of ancient civilizations or cultures. There are no maps, no nothing. Not a shred of evidence from archaeology, which would go a very long way in offer some type of substantiation as to the value and claims of Smith. The absence of it speaks volumes.


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