Open letter to a Mormon Friend: Biblical Apologetics, Canon and Revelation, Sincerity and Truth, and Christ as Lord

The format did not turn out great because I took it from a word document and I am too lazy to re-format it right now.

-Preface-

Jones, your email to me has had me in deep thought for the last month or so.  Beyond that, I have been interested in the differences between LDS and my worldview since I came to Denver 2.5 years ago.  I think, now is an opportune time broaden the scope our dialogue. For the purposes of this paper, there are four points from your email that I would like to address: 1) Christian Apologetics, 2) the Canon of scripture and revelation from God, 3) Sincerity, zeal, and truth, and 4) Christ as Lord.   Beyond these points I have added three appendices which include resources regarding: 1)  Christian apologetics, 2) the formation and reliability of the Bible, and 3) Mormonism and Traditional Christianity juxtaposed[i].   There is also and endnotes section with citations and explanations.

My goal in this type of correspondence is two-fold: 1) To take seriously the subject matter and treat your questions as though I am the one asking them AND 2) To verbalize concisely my worldview while defending the truth of Christianity.  It is in this context that the below comments should be understood.

(for an attempt at brevity, I am not addressing some of your email comments. Mainly the ones that talk about the verses in 1 and 2 Corinthians)

-Method and Definitions-

Before I start, I would like to fully disclose my methods of research on this topic. My points of contact (up to this point) that I have had with Mormonism are the following: You and your family, driving by the Mormon temple in La Jolla, excerpts from the book of Mormon, browsing LDS.ORG, conversations with Mormon missionaries in college, two books, and several articles and podcasts from a Christian point-of-view.  It is important to know that you are my first Mormon friend.  So other than you I have relied on evangelical and orthodox Christian scholars and philosophers who interact with Mormon theology as a basis for my views on Mormonism. So please, correct me if I mistakenly state something that is NOT accurate regarding your religion. I do NOT want to build a straw man argument that is not based on fact.  With this said, I believe that truth is truth, no matter what we think about it or how we were raised.  I want to avoid personal attacks[ii] on you or any Mormon while evaluating Mormon doctrine and truth claims.

Definitions are important in this type of dialogue.  It does me no good to assume that what you mean by a certain term matches my understanding of the exact term.  I might say the word “salvation” or “grace” and mean something that does not comport with Mormon doctrine.  This being the case, I will try to define terms as they arise.  Also, in Appendix 3, there is a list of links that I have gathered from various sources on the web that pertain to these terms and issues.  To name several other topics that potentially have different meanings and associated doctrines for the LDS and TC see the following list: Salvation (including the issue of the unevangelized[iii]), God[iv], Holy Spirit/Ghost, Revelation (discussed later), nature of Man, Jesus (discussed later), Scripture, Truth, the Trinity, Heaven, the Gospel, the Church, etc… Many of these topics are beyond the scope of this paper but the articles provided are insightful and helped me.

From this point on I will be using the term/s Mormon or LDS to represent your view and traditional Christian (TC) to represent mine.

-Burden of Proof-

I believe that the “burden of proof”, when it comes to the TC vs. LDS debate, generally lies with the LDS Church.  The truth of the LDS Church in contingent on the veracity of Joseph Smith who said that all denominations and creeds have corrupted the gospel and have thus fallen into total apostasy (presumably this process began immediately following the death of the apostle John), which required a Restoration of the true church[v].  This is, if true, a very serious allegation with enormous consequences for the whole of Christendom.  After all, Joseph Smith was saying that the last 1800 years of TC history had was all a lie and was NOT in accord with what God wanted.  He also translated his own Bible making “corrections” to it[vi]. In light of this, it is understandable, why the LDS church and message was not received well by adherence of TC communities.  It is not a surprise that the LDS church migrated and ran into much resistance at almost every stop until they reached Utah.   You can understand how this type of news would come as a shock to the sincere and fervent adherents of TC doctrines.  An assertion of this magnitude puts the ball in the court of the LDS to give evidence and reasonable arguments for their position.  Although the TC is right to refute LDS arguments, the burden of proof lies solely in the LDS camp.

-My Position-

My interest in Mormon theology started in college when I was really going through a spiritual journey.  I want to take any religion seriously if that religion claims to be the true way or that God has spoken through its prophets.  I would expect anyone else to take mine seriously as well if they are truth seekers.  In this sense, I have looked into Mormonism in pretty significant depth, minus going to a Mormon church.  The reason for this is that I am unconvinced of its truth or accuracy relating to matters of historical, archeological, philosophical, and theological significance (see both Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock[vii] by Michael Licona (link to PDF of book below) AND Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons[viii] by Ron Rhodes).  It is, for lack of a better term, a non-starter for me as I do not think it is adequately defensible.  For that reason, I have decided NOT to leave what I know to be true, for a religion that has too many defeaters against it. I know that not everything in life has an easy answer including questions of religion and faith. However, the amount of issues that plague Mormon doctrine (and the book of Mormon[ix]) are insurmountable in my opinion.

Do not get me wrong, I appreciate many aspects the Mormon Church except for the main tenets of theological doctrine that conflict with mine.  The people (you and your family) are kind, selfless, and sincere.  I am also attracted to the order, tradition, and organization of the church[x]. Politically, the Mormon Church is right up my ally and I would march in a religious freedom rally arm-in-arm with you any day! (I love the USA) I am arguing against something that you hold very dearly and have spent your life preaching and defending. I do not expect you to take my arguments lightly. I know I wouldn’t.  I respect you Jones. I care about our friendship. I care about your family. The last thing I want to do is to hurt you by some comment in this email. With this said, I believe that this opportunity to share with each other is providential in nature (see Acts 17:26-27). And if that is the case, we should do our best to represent what we believe to be true.

-Doctrine and the Role of Apologetics-

Defending the truth of the gospel of Christ is a Biblical imperative.  The word “apologetic” “…is derived from the Greek word “apologia” which to make a defense. It has come to mean defense of the faith.”[xi] Even so, I have found through conversations with close friends, including you, that there is sometimes a negative view of the apologetic role because it is too divisive and not “kind” enough.  This negative attitude against apologetics, however, should only be attacking spurious apologetic methods as opposed to apologetic practice in general.  This quote is from one of my previous blogs:

People debate for various reasons. Some want to trumpet their beliefs and show how smart they are. Some want to learn more about the other side. Some want to exercise their God given ability to reason and think and debate their beliefs.  If I want to debate it is because the other person represents a TRUTH claim that is opposing to mine and I am interested in whether or not my worldview can properly answer their objections to what I believe[xii].

Sounding smart or simply beating someone in a debate for the sake of winning should not be a TCs goal or approach.  When this happens feelings can be hurt and relationships can be broken or never even started.  This is not the format that the Bible gives us.  A Biblical form of apologetics and discussion about doctrine can be seen through mimicking Christ and listening to the apostles.

-What does the Bible say about it?-

The normative biblical approach to apologetics can be seen in 1 peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” For a more in-depth outline about Biblical apologetics and doctrine see Appendix 1

The following is an excerpt from a previous article:

“Many of the New Testament writers present their information as truth according to eye-witness accounts that were falsifiable. Paul says in 1 Cor 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”  This seems to show that our Christian faith is actually trusting in what we know to be true. This is the opposite of what some people call “blind faith…He brings up 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV) – “…For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,…” He describes an aspect of spiritual warfare as being involved in the creation and proliferation of ideas in our culture[xiii]”

Paul seems to be pointing out that the historical and factual event of Christ’s resurrection are of paramount importance for everyone to know.  Paul is not hesitant to try to defend the knowledge of God in the 2 Corinthians passage.

Listen to what Luke says in the prologue of his Gospel:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

Luke, a well-educated physician, might be writing this historical account for those early church Christians of a more affluent and educated background as he takes a more scientific approach than the other Gospels[xiv]. This Gospel is written to provide “certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”  Apparently, the recipients needed some evidence, which Luke was happy to give.  There is nothing wrong with asking questions and seeking truth with an open heart and mind.  However, seeking truth with an open heart does not preclude following the evidence where it may lead.  This will be touched on more in my section on canon and revelation.

Luke, again, points out the importance of discerning the truthfulness of what we hear by testing it when he says, “11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 (NIV) They did not take his word for it, but searched to confirm the veracity what what he was saying. The Berean’s were what we would call today, “fact-checkers”. And they used scriptures as their source of verification.

-The examples of Jesus and Paul-

Douglas Groothuis in his book, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith[xv], gives just two examples (there are many more) that in the Bible that Christians should emulate (Matthew 22 and Acts 17).   In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus affirms the greatest commandment which is loving God with all our being including the mind. In this same chapter Jesus can be seen as a philosopher and apologist as he is challenged intellectually by the Sadducees[xvi].  The Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus by asking him a question in which there are (seemingly) only two available answers.  Jesus, however, noticing the false dilemma/dichotomy offers the third and correct option while silencing the Sadducees and astonishing the crowd (see Matthew 22:23-33)

Background knowledge and understanding of the Jewish sect known as the Sadducees as well as Jesus’ own view of the Law of Moses is indispensable in understanding this exchange.  Douglas Groothuis goes into further detail on this in his article called Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist.    I highly suggest reading this article at: http://www.equip.org/article/jesus-philosopher-and-apologist/ . Groothuis also provides commentary on other instances in his ministry in which Jesus uses logical astuteness and evidence to persuade and to defend truth.

Groothuis makes another compelling case for Biblical apologetics in his article Learning from an Apostle: Christianity in the Marketplace of IdeasAgain, I highly suggest a look at it here: http://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/learning-from-an-apostle Here he cites Paul and his defense of the Gospel.  See Acts 17:16-34 as Paul finds common ground with the Athenians at the Areopagus by addressing their religious perception. He argues from the creation of all things and describes that the God they are trying to find is the God that he knows personally.  Paul also appeals to common ground in Romans chapters 1 and 2 when he discusses how all men can perceive God through the creation of the universe and in conscience.  He does NOT stop their though.  Although all men can understand that a God exists, this understanding alone does not save them from their sins (otherwise Paul would not necessarily have to be so intentional in communicating the cross of Christ). This is pertinent to the idea of TC vs. Mormon understanding of who is saved and why. What saves a man from their sins is his or her trust in Christ as sufficiently paying the penalty of their sins before a Holy and just God and putting them in right relation to the Father.

Even men who do not know anything about God or the Bible will be held accountable for their sins before God as shown in Romans chapter 2:14-16: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

-Doesn’t 1 Cor 2:1-5 and Col 2:8 proscribe apologetics and philosophy?-

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 says,

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

AND

Colossians 2:8 says,

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.

These passages have been used in an effort to delegitimize the use of philosophical argument and apologetics.  However, do these verses proscribe philosophy and apologetics? In short, no. My dad and I talk about theology and God a lot and he recently sent me 1 Cor. 2:4-5 as an encouragement.  It got me thinking. His point in sending it is that we need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, as Paul did, more than merely our own reasoning/understanding.  However, that verse does NOT proscribe using logic and reason to defend Christianity.  Nothing is explicitly stated in this verse that would prohibit the use of reasoning or apologetics.  Beyond the verse itself, as a rule, when interpreting scripture one should consider the broader context of the chapter, then book, and then the entire Bible in sequence (for more on this see Jefrey Breshears’ An Introduction to Bibliology: What Every Christian Should Know About the Origins, Composition, Inspiration, Interpretation, Canonicity, and the Transmission of the Bible) Questions like the following should help guide the reader to a better interpretation of the text: Who is the author and what is he trying to communicate? Who are the recipients of the message? What is the socio-historical background?  What is the literary genre of the text? (e.g. history, poetry, ancient biography, etc…) With this in mind we can now evaluate these two verses.

The broader context of scripture, as seen above, shows that, “…neither the Old Testament prophets nor the New Testament apostles were hesitant to provide evidence for their claims” (Licona, 1998)[xvii].  Paul, in his mission trip to Corinth, “resolved to know nothing…” and he chose not to preach with wise and persuasive words.  However, this is not what he did in Athens when reasoning with the stoic and epicurean philosophers.  It seems that he trusted in the Lord who sent him on his journey and trusted the Spirit to guide him when preaching the word.  His missionary journeys show different types of preaching and evangelism. Maybe different people need different approaches. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all method. As long as the true Gospel is being received through the Holy Spirit’s work.

 -Canon and Revelation-

You say, Communication from God through the Spirit is the best way to understand truth.  Therefore, how do we best learn to hear and feel communication from God is a more necessary question.  Thoughts?  Do you feel that God only speaks through canonized scripture (Bible), or does He communicate with us in addition to what the early Apostles wrote down?

SEE APPENDIX 2 for a more detailed treatment of this subject.

The issue of revelation and inspiration is a HUGE divide between Mormons and TCs.  Indeed, all my arguments in this paper are going to be based on a foundational understanding of God’s communication with man, which includes the Bible.  My understanding of revelation will be based upon what the Bible says about it. In that sense, I do not believe that it is possible to make normative statements about how God speaks to man unless it is affirmed in the Bible.

This being said, I suppose it is possible for a hypothetical god to do whatever he wants with or without a sacred text. However, in the Christian Bible we do not get a picture of this type of God. My reasoning for trusting the Bible as being accurate in its depiction of God can be seen in the following assumptions: I am assuming that God is real because of various arguments for his existence that are beyond the scope of this paper. I assume that the God of the Bible is real because of the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead attributing his mission on earth to the God of the Old Testament. All of Jesus’ earthly claims were validated once God rose him from the dead, which is considered a miracle. Jesus preached from the Old Testament canon that the Jews of his day used and considered it authoritative. The Bible also has fulfilled prophecy and has continually been confirmed through archeological finds (external evidence[xviii]). The New Testament was predicted in the OT in Jeremiah 31:31-34[xix]. See how Craig Blomberg explains the need for the NT:

It is true that God’s law and God’s word last forever. But the Old Testament prophets also recognize incompleteness in his revelation. Jeremiah 31:31-34[xx] is the clearest and most extensive text to predict a coming new covenant, but many texts look forward to a new, Messianic age. Since the Mosaic covenant led to the writing of one “testament” (a word that in the Greek—diathêkê—could also mean “covenant”), it was logical to expect a written “testament” to accompany the new covenant. At least that is how Tertullian argued near the end of the second century.

But what was the process that led to this New Testament? Already in 2 Peter 3:16 we read of Paul’s “letters,” perhaps implying that they had begun to be collected together still in the first century. By the second century, the four Gospels were circulating together at times. (By about 180, a harmony of the four Gospels had appeared.) The oldest nearly complete New Testament manuscripts still in existence date from the fourth century, but their predecessors probably emerged already in the third. Initially, there was not full agreement on the order of the books. It was natural to group the Gospels together and the letters of Paul together. Revelation naturally came at the end of the collection because it was the last one written and it also discussed the last things of human history. Acts, Hebrews, and the General Epistles “floated” around in several places before they finally settled into where we find them today.1[xxi]

The NT was written by men who either were Jesus’ disciples or those who had direct access to his disciples. The writers of the NT called the NT “scripture” equating it with the OT and describe the method of inspiration in the following verses: 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, and 2 Peter 3:16(also See appendix 2). Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to their rememberance all that he said, which answers the question of how the Gospel writers could remember his sermons (John 14:26).

Thus far, I have explained my understanding and thought process regarding why the Bible is sacred and authoritative text. Another question that should be asked is the question of reliability. Is what we have today reliable to the original text? We can actually see ancient manuscripts written decades after the deaths of the disciples at http://csntm.org/manuscript . Again Appendix 2 has more on this.

Even when someone grants the above argument for the authority of the Bible, it is natural to then ask , “what about people who do not have access to the Bible, does God not speak to them?” This is a question that everyone should ask. The answer, ironically enough, is in the Bible. Romans 1-2 and Acts 17 show that God placed men in the world to seek God and that all are equally judged regardless of if they know the law. God has made himself able to be found. The OT shows us that Melchizedek and Job were both NOT Jewish but still had a relationship with the God of the Bible. This shows that men, who do not have the Bible or religious text can find God. However, it does not show that men who claim to find God without the Bible, have actually found him.

In summary, we can describe the TC’s view of scripture as Groothuis does:

1.The New testament is historically reliable

  1. the new testament accredits jesus as one with unsurpassable authority.
  2. Jesus endorses the divine inspiration of the Hebrew bible and anticipates the divine inspiration of the new testament through his authorization of the apostles, whose teachings inform and ratify the entire new testament.

4 therefore, on the basis of jesus’ authority, we can accept the divine inspiration of the Hebrew bible and the new testament.[xxii]

how do we best learn to hear and feel communication from God?

In my opinion, this is can be an in-house discussion as it has already been debated for centuries within TC communities and denominations.  It is still being debated. There is a great book that I would recommend called Are the Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views.  Here is a preview of the book:

“Are the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing for today? No, say cessationists. Yes, say Pentecostal and Third Wave Christians. Maybe, say a large sector of open-but-cautious evangelicals. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? takes you to the heart of the charismatic controversy. It provides an impartial format for comparing the four main lines of thinking: cessationist, open-but-cautious, third wave, and Pentecostal/charismatic. The authors present their positions in an interactive setting that allows for critique, clarification, and defense. This thought-provoking book will help Christians on every side of the miraculous gifts debate to better understand their own position and the positions of others[xxiii].”

This is a book in which all sides of the debate use the Bible as the primary source from which to argue. I am very interested in how God communicates with man. Regarding the above “views” I tend to teeter somewhere between the Third Wave and open-but-cautious groups. This is something that I can expand upon if you wish me to.

Every person striving to know God should care about and try to find out how he communicates with us. World religions answer this question differently. Islam says the Koran as interpreted by Mohammed is how we should hear from God. They, similarly to Mormons, claim the Bible to be divinely inspired BUT that throughout the years, Christians have corrupted the text[xxiv]. Therefore, the Bible is unreliable and not an authority on what God has communicated to us. I think that if LDS and Muslim scholars applied the same level of critique to their text that they do to the Bible, they would be unpleasantly surprised at how their text stands up to textual criticism.

I remember driving in the car with you one morning and you made a statement that the Bible is accurate as long as it is translated properly.  I agree with you on this point. It seems like you might have been trying to undercut the validity or reliability of the text we have today.  The autographs (or originals) might have been God’s word but what we have today is littered with too many textual variants from years of church corruption or poor copying techniques.  Critics of traditional biblical Christianity love to attack the bible. The arguments, as seen above, are the same from every group. The Muslim, Mormon, Atheist, Agnostic, Deist, etc…, all cite the above lines of reasoning. Please see Appendix 2 for a more detailed treatment on the textual reliability that we have today.

What about innerancy?

When the question of inerrancy comes up it is important to first discuss the authority of the bible, which was touched on above. Once we have established that it is authoritative, we can then can look at the issue of innerancy. Is it without error? TC’s should recognize that humanness and miraculous nature of the Bible. We see David in Psalm 109 praying against his enemies which sounds a lot like a personal journal entry. In 2 tim 4:13 paul asks the reader to bring the cloak back to him and his scrolls especially the parchments. How are these two scriptures supposed to apply to us today? The bible is a VERY human book. We can again, at this point see what Jesus said about it. In Mark 12:35-36, Jesus refers to David as speaking by the Holy Spirit in writing the Psalms. The book is NOT just human, but it has come together miraculously and was written under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I believe that it is correct in everything that it affirms as true. What needs to be taken into account when interpreting the text is the aforementioned things like context, genre, literary style, etc… if these are not understood upfront the text might seem to have contradictions in it. The text is miraculous because of the 66 books by about 40 authors written over about 1500 years all pointing to Christ (John 5:39 and Luke 24:25-27)

William Lane Craig explains,

But inerrantists have maintained that belief in biblical inerrancy is justified as a deduction from other well-justified truths.  For example, the late Kenneth Kantzer, Dean of the seminary I attended, argued for inerrancy by means of the following two syllogisms:

  1. Whatever God teaches is true.
    2.  Historical, prophetic, and other evidences show that Jesus is God.
    3.  Therefore, whatever Jesus teaches is true.
  2. Whatever Jesus teaches is true.
    5.  Jesus taught that the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God.
    6.  Therefore, the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

The claim here is that we have good reasons to think that the Bible, despite its difficulties, is the inerrant Word of God and therefore we should accept it as such.  As Friedrich Schleiermacher once put it, “We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ.”  One of the best examples of this approach to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is John Wenham’s Christ and the Bible (InterVarsity, 1972).[xxv]

A concise explanation of TC understanding of Biblical Authority and Innerancy can be seen here: The International Council on Biblical Innerancy met for a conference in Chicago in 1978. This is what they came up with: http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_2.pdf

Sincerity and Truth

My original question to Jones was:

The idea of trusting our feelings/heart to draw conclusions (and be at peace with truth) came up.  How would you respond to the below quote?:

“”Romans 10:1-2 says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Paul prayed for the Jews’ salvation, although he recognized they had a zeal for God. Their zeal, however, was not compatible with truth. Sincerity is not a test for truth and is not enough for eternal life. Several other verses in the Bible indicate that Jesus is the only way to obtain eternal life. (See John 3:36; 14:6, Acts 4:12; Hebrews 10:26-31.)”” -quote from Mike Licona

Part of your response to this was:

He makes a great point that sincerity isn’t a test for truth.  However, believing with the heart ≠ sincerity or zeal.  In the biblical sense, believing with the heart is akin to having faith on and in Jesus Christ.  Later on in the same chapter, Paul explains this:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

– (Romans 10: 9 and 10)

I am going to address the Romans 10 passages in the next section because they speak directly to the difference between Mormon theology and TC on the subject of Jesus.   However, I want to address your initial response regarding sincerity and truth. I brought up the point about the Jewish religious people having zeal to make a comparison with Mormonism. When Mormons came to visit me in college they suggested that I read the Book of Mormon and pray to God that he would tell me if it was true or not. That was their suggestion for finding out truth. Paul apparently believes that zeal for something and sincerity about following what you believe is not what saves a man. In order to better address I want to let Mike Licona explain in the rest of the chapter that I quoted from him (The entire book by Mike Licona: Behold I stand at the door and knock is available as an online free pdf at this link http://www.4truth.net/what-to-say-to-mormons/:

Chapter 5 Mormon Evidences?

“So what evidence is there that Mormonism is true? While Mormon scholars admit valid challenges to Mormonism from archaeology and the Book of Abraham, they say the evidences of Mormonism’s truthfulness is the Book of Mormon itself, God’s confirmation in your spirit, and the number of changed lives. When talking to Mormons expect to hear them say, “I know the Book of Mormon is true because I have prayed to God and asked him to tell me if it is true. And he has confirmed it in my spirit that it is.”47 In other words, “We don’t need evidence. God has told me that the Book of Mormon is true. He has confirmed it in my spirit so that no amount of evidence against Mormonism would convince me that it is wrong.” Mormon missionaries are trained to keep on telling you how the Holy Spirit has confirmed to them that the Book of Mormon is true, thatJesus has changed their life and has meant so much to them. Expect it and don’t let it surprise you. This belief is extremely difficult to overcome when talking to your Mormon friends. Much is going to depend on them having an open mind. So we have now come to the heart of the matter in talking with Mormons. In this important chapter we will discuss the insufficiency of these evidences provided by Mormons for Mormonism’s truth.

  1. Feelings are often inaccurate.

Have you ever doubted your salvation? Many have at some time. However, your feelings do not change the fact that either you are or are not saved. Can you imagine God requiring a new conversion every time you have a mood swing which results in doubts? It is possible for someone to have doubts about being a Christian, and still be one. Likewise, it is possible for someone to feel confident that they are okay in their relationship with God but in reality are not (Matthew 7:21-22). Think of the confidence many of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time had that they were doing the will of God. Yet, Jesus said to them, “You are of your father, the devil” (John 8:44). The apostle Paul was a perfect example. He believed he was doing the will of God by persecuting and killing Christians, but found that he was actually persecuting the Son of God (Acts 22:1-8).

People of other religions claim a confirmation from within themselves as evidence that their religion is true. Islam makes the same claims and yet Mormons do not regard the Qur’an or Islamic doctrine as being divinely inspired. Mohammed made claims of visions similar to Joseph Smith’s. Regarding the Qur’an he claimed that “this Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than God” (10:37). He further boasts “if the whole of mankind and Jinn [good and evil spirits] were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support” (17:88). What supposedly makes the Qur’an even more amazing is that someone alleged to be illiterate wrote it (7:157). Muslims also argue that the number of changed lives and cultures by the Qur’an are evidence of its divine origin.48 In other words, the Qur’an is so beautiful in its literary style that all of mankind and spirits working together could not produce it, only God could. The truthfulness of Islam is also evidenced by its incredible transforming power.

Is Islam true? No.49 Certainly Mormons do not believe that it is. So one can be sincere and confident that God has shown them the way and still be mistaken, as is the case with Muslims. Satan can counterfeit feelings of certainty and

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47Mormons appeal to Moroni 10:3-5 found in the Book of Mormon: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

48Islamic scholar, Ajijola claims that “the transformation wrought by the Holy Qur’an is unparalleled in the history of the world and thus its claim to being unique stands as unchallenged today as it did thirteen centuries ago. . . . No faith ever imparted such a new life to its votaries on such a wide scale.” Alhaj A. D. Ajijola. The Essence of Faith in Islam (Lahore: Islamic Publications, Ltd., 1978), pp. 100-101.

49For a critique of Islam see Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995). For a debate between a Muslim and Christian, see Josh McDowell and John Gilchrist. The Islam Debate (San Bernardino: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1983). For an audio taped debate, see Jamal Badawi and William Craig. The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity: A Muslim-Christian Dialogue (Madison: InterVarsity Audio, 1997). This tape can be ordered by calling 1-800-828-2100.

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answer prayer.50 The Mormon says, “God has confirmed it to me.” But the Muslim says the same thing and so do Christians. What is the difference between the confirmations of Mormons, Muslims, and Christians?

Mormons are not the only ones to err on this point. Many Christians, myself included, have been guilty at some point of presenting feelings and spiritual experience as evidence that their beliefs are true. I don’t want to downplay the authenticity of feelings and spiritual experiences. I believe much of the peace in the life of the Christian and his or her spiritual experiences are authentic. I acknowledge that people of other faiths have experiences as well. However, I interpret them as having a different source than my own (e.g., self or demonic). The only way to determine the true source is to look at outside evidence. When we do this with Mormonism, the prognosis is not good.

  1. Defenders of the faith, both the religious leaders of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, used proof, not feelings.

The Old Testament leaders encouraged people to remember what God did for them: delivering them from Egypt, the plagues and the parting of the Sea, delivering them in the wilderness from the snakes, giving them manna from Heaven, and bringing them into the land he promised (1 Chron. 16:12; Is. 46:9). The New Testament leaders “reasoned” from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2; 18:4, 19) and offered proof, namely Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 9:22; 17:31). No one ever suggested, “Just read this book and pray about it. God will show you that it’s true.”

I once had a discussion with a Mormon gentleman who works for the Mormon Church in Utah. I shared many of the challenges to Mormonism presented earlier. He responded that Mormon leaders are continually telling Mormons that they must believe in spite of the facts. I pointed out to him that neither the Old Testament prophets nor the New Testament apostles were hesitant to provide evidence for their claims. I continued, “What the Mormon Church is asking you to do is to believe that God worked a certain way until less than 200 years ago.”

Be prepared to present the evidence for your position. For example, you can say to Mormon missionaries, “We both are confident and assured that we are correct in our own beliefs. Since our beliefs differ, and they do or you wouldn’t be here today, one of us is wrong. How will we know which one? Only by looking at the evidence outside of ourselves. When we do we observe that the Bible is reliable and has been accurately preserved. This verifies my position, because I accept the Bible. When we look at Mormonism independently we observe that there is no confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from archaeology or history. In fact, the lack of archaeological evidence that ought to be there is hurtful to Mormonism. Finally, since Smith’s translation of the Book of Abraham has been shown to be fraudulent, his ability to translate the Book of Mormon accurately is also in serious question. Since we both have inward feelings that our own view is true, the outside evidence makes my position much more likely than yours.”

  1. One can be sincere but wrong.

When Mormons sense they are losing a lot of ground during the conversation, they may bring up universalism, the belief that every sincere person will make it to Heaven, regardless of their beliefs. This is in accordance with Mormon doctrine. However, it is not compatible with biblical doctrine.

Romans 10:1-2 says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Paul prayed for the Jews’ salvation, although he recognized they had a zeal for God. Their zeal, however, was not compatible with truth. Sincerity is not a test for truth and is not enough for eternal life. Several other verses in the Bible indicate that Jesus is the only way to obtain eternal life. (See John 3:36; 14:6, Acts 4:12; Hebrews 10:26-31.)

————————————————————————————————————————————-


50See Luke 4:5-7 where Satan offers to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world if he will worship him.

———————————

The biblical view of faith is that it is always a trusting commitment based on known fact. The disciples knew their faith was grounded in truth, not because they had the feeling that it was true but because Jesus had fulfilled his promise to rise from the dead. There are three (3) types of faith:

  • 1)  Faith with evidence. This is reasonable faith (e.g., many events in the Bible including Jesus’ Resurrection).
  • 2)  Faith with no evidence, for or against. This is blind faith (e.g., the Exodus from Egypt).
  • 3)  Faith in spite of evidence against it. This is stubborn faith (e.g., archaeological problems with 
the Book of Mormon and the translation problem with the Book of Abraham).

The type of faith Mormons exhibit is the third type and is not the way God works as modeled throughout the Bible. Unless there is a better foundation than feelings for your faith in a system that you

hope will allow you to have eternal life, it may be time to start looking around at alternatives.”

Again, the above chapter is found at: http://www.4truth.net/what-to-say-to-mormons/

Christ as Lord

“it is interesting to observe that the early Christians- who had a solidly jewish background-did not hesitate to refer to Jesus as “Lord” and “God” despite their unbending monotheism (Romans 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:2; 1 Peter 2:3; 3:15)”

-Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons

Jones, in replying to my claim that sincerity is not truth, you inadvertently brought quoted a passage that specifically deifies Christ as Lord. This is NOT (to my understanding) what Mormons wish to claim. According to Mormon doctrine Christ is our older spirit brother who is not God. He is “a” god but not God. This is a point of contention between the LDS and TC. Read what William Lane Craig says about that specific verse:

Romans 10

“Second indication: the title kyrios, or “Lord”, that is attributed to Christ.4 The title kyrios is the Old Testament name of God translated into Greek. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word kyrios is used for the name of the “LORD.” So the LORD is Yahweh in the Old Testament. What the New Testament writers do is pick up this word kyrios, and they apply that to Jesus of Nazareth instead of ho theos. So they are saying that Jesus is the Lord, and then they apply to Jesus Old Testament proof texts about Yahweh – they take Old Testament proof texts speaking of Yahweh, and they apply these to Jesus.

A beautiful example of this is found in Romans 10:9,13. Paul says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the confession that is required to be a Christian in the New Testament church: Jesus is Lord. Then in verse 13 comes the Old Testament proof text. Quoting now from Joel 2:32: “For ‘everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’” They take this Old Testament passage about Yahweh from Joel and apply that to Jesus Christ and say if you confess that Jesus is Lord, then, just as the Scriptures promise, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s5-2#ixzz3hnBe3Bkp

Jones, I suggest reading the transcript of the link above or even listening to the entire podcast series by William Lane Craig. He goes verse by verse describing the reason for the doctrine of the trinity and the Lordship of Christ. He evaluates the greek and explains how and why the early church picked up the doctrine. Here is a link to the series: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/s5

Conclusion

 I respect and care for you Jones, and that is part of the reason I spent time researching for this paper. Truthfully, I have often thought of the possibility of Mormonism being true. This is because it has much appeal. The people are sincere and live what they believe. They serve and care about the community. They raise good children who grow up to be upstanding citizens. They risk being called fools for what they believe to be true. But for the Mormon it is worth it. I admire this and want to emulate your ferver for your faith. However, I also want to make sure that what I believe is based upon the truth that is set forth in scripture.

I hope that we can continue our discussion and dialogue and I welcome any challenges to what I have said here. Please challenge me. If I am wrong, tell me why I am. I would do the same for you. I am wrong a lot and, although I am stubborn, I will hopefully come around to admitting when I am in error. Do not take this paper as my closing the door to you sharing your view of truth with me. Even if I never convert to Mormonism, you still have so much to offer from your wisdom and experience in life.

Thank you for the opportunity to share.

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Disclaimer: the links to articles listed in ALL below appendices are NOT necessarily my views. I have read many of the articles and agree with them, but cannot vouch for the ones I have not read.

 APPENDIX 1

Biblical apologetics and doctrine

The following was taken from an outline that I created for a small group at my church. The info was found at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-3-podcast/transcript/t01-01 AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/foundations-of-christian-doctrine

  1. The normative biblical approach to apologetics can be seen in 1 peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” also see- Romans 1:32 and its referent Lev 19:17-18 (Dr. Robert Gagnon compares the two passages as analogous in terms of similarity between the ideas of reasoning with your neighbor in Leviticus 19 and giving approval to those who practice sin in Romans 1. The idea being, one should not give approval to those who practice sin but we should love them as ourselves and reason with them so that they might stop what they are doing. Gagnon makes the comparison in the context of a scriptural polemic against homosexual practice) – Gagnon’s website is: http://robgagnon.net/
  2.       Two Types of apologetics – 1) offensive and 2) defensive
  3. Offensive- is a positive case for Christianity.  Examples include:
  4. Natural theology AKA General Revelation through nature and conscience. Romans ch. 1 and 2 deal with this.
  5.       This question asks- does God Exist?
  6. Discussion question -Can you believe in God and not be a Christian?
  7. Christian Evidences – 1) Fulfilled prophecy, 2) Radical Claims of Jesus, and 3) Jesus’ miracles and resurrection evidence.
  8. Defensive – An attempt to rebut objections to Christianity and its truth claims.
  9. Objections to the existence of God
  10. Problem of evil and suffering in the world
  11. Hiddenness of God – Why can’t we see him?
  12. Discussion question– if we saw God would we automatically believe and follow him?
  13. Objections to Christianity
  14. Biblical criticism – is the bible reliable?
  15. Religious diversity/pluralism – How can only one religion be right?
  16. Internet definition of doctrine– a rule or principle that forms the basis of a belief, theory, or policy. Or- a body of ideas, particularly in religion, taught to people as truthful or correct.
  17. Discussion Question- Should we have a firm doctrine?  If so, what are the most important items that we should have a firm doctrine on?
  18. “Christian Doctrine” includes the above mentioned truth claims of Christianity.
  19. Discussion Question – Where are Christian truth claims found?
  20. EPH 6:10-18 Full Armor
  21. Discussion Question – Why study Doctrine? Four Reasons
  22. Everyone of us is a theologian
  23. Eph 4:12-15
  24. Gal 1:6-9
  25. Titus Chapter 1 – As Christians we should strive to emulate the elders of the church.
  26. Right living presupposes right thinking/doctrine. – When we know how to live right, we are more likely to do it. Paul’s writing reflects this as well:
  27. Eph 1-3 talks about doctrine, then from Chapter 4 forward he discusses practical application of the doctrine in everyday life.
  28. The same is true for phil. 1-3 and then chapter 4 forward.

iii.      An expression of loving God with all your mind

  1. Matt 22:37-38
  2. Also, 2 Peter 1:5-11
  3. Christ cannot be separated from the truths about Christ or Christianity.  Dealing with false doctrine/false prophets-
  4. 2 John 1:9-11
  5. Gal 1:6-9
  6. 2 Thess. 3:6;14-15
  7. Titus 3:10-12
  8. Romans 16:17
  9. 1 john 5:1-3
  10. 2 Timothy 2:24-26

APPENDIX 2

Canon and Revelation

For a comprehensive look at the reliability of the New Testament that we have today see Matt Slick’s article Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament reliability at: https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

Here is part of the article by Matt Slick:

…There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.1 If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.2

Author Date
Written
Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between original & copy Number of Copies Accuracy of Copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. 1,100 yrs 2 —-
Pliny A.D. 61-113 A.D. 850 750 yrs 7 —-
Plato 427-347 B.C. A.D. 900 1,200 yrs 7 —-
Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. A.D. 1100 800 yrs 8 —-
Herodotus 480-425 B.C. A.D. 900 1,300 yrs 8 —-
Suetonius A.D. 75-160 A.D. 950 800 yrs 8 —-
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. A.D. 900 1,300 yrs 8 —-
Euripides 480-406 B.C. A.D. 1100 1,300 yrs 9 —-
Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. A.D. 900 1200 10 —-
Caesar 100-44 B.C. A.D. 900 1,000 10 —-
Livy 59 BC-AD 17 —- ??? 20 —-
Tacitus circa A.D. 100 A.D. 1100 1,000 yrs 20 —-
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. A.D. 1100 1,400 49 —-
Sophocles 496-406 B.C. A.D. 1000 1,400 yrs 193 —-
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
New
Testament
1st Cent. A.D. (A.D. 50-100) 2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. A.D. 130 f.)
less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition, there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.

Almost all Biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30., then that means the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years. This is important because it means there were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned–people who could have contested the writings. In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out. But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the First Century that contest the New Testament texts.

Furthermore, another important aspect of this discussion is the fact that we have a fragment of the Gospel of John that dates back to around 29 years from the original writing (John Rylands Papyri A.D. 125). This is extremely close to the original writing date. This is simply unheard of in any other ancient writing, and it demonstrates that the Gospel of John is a First Century document.

Below is a chart with some of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts compared to when they were originally penned. Compare these time spans with the next closest, which is Homer’s Iliad, where the closest copy from the original is 500 years later. Undoubtedly, that period of time allows for more textual corruption in its transmission. How much less so for the New Testament documents?

Important
Manuscript
Papyri
Contents Date
Original Written
MSS
Date
Approx.
Time Span
Location
p52
(John Rylands
Fragment)3
John 18:31-33, 37-38 circa
A.D. 96
circa
A.D.
125
29 yrs John Rylands Library, Manchester, England
P46
(Chester Beatty Papyrus)
Rom. 5:17-6:3, 5-14, 8:15-25, 27-35, 10:1-11, 22, 24-33, 35, 16:1-23, 25-27, Heb., 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col., 1 Thess. 1:1, 9-10, 2:1-3, 5:5-9, 23-28 50’s-70’s circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
150 yrs
Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin & Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan library
P66
(Bodmer Papyrus)
John 1:1-6:11, 35-14:26, fragment of 14:29-21:9 70’s circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
130 yrs
Cologne, Geneva
P67 Matt. 3:9, 15, 5:20-22, 25-28 circa
A.D.
200
Approx.
130 yrs
Barcelona, Fundacion San Lucas Evangelista, P. Barc.1

If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors mentioned in the chart at the beginning of the paper. On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors, after all, the evidence for the New Testament’s reliability is far greater than the others…”

For more go to: https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

Also, see http://www.4truth.net/Bible/

The following resources and links have been very helpful for me regarding this subject:

  1. How was it formed?
  2. Were the Old and New Testament faithfully transmitted? http://coldcasechristianity.com/category/writings/bible/ AND https://carm.org/bible

iii.      Are the gospels historically accurate? http://www.reasonablefaith.org/establishing-the-gospels-reliability AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/inerrancy-and-the-resurrection

  1. Is it full of contradictions and errors? http://coldcasechristianity.com/?s=errors AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/?s=contradictions
  2. Dealing with Bible difficulties:
  3. Genesis-Deuteronomy- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy
  4. Joshua-Esther- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/joshua-esther
  5. Job – Song of Solomon- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/job-song-solomon
  6. Isaiah- Malachi- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/isaiah-malachi
  7. Matthew- Mark- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/matthew-mark
  8. Luke, John, Acts- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/luke-john-and-acts
  9. Romans- Philemon- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/romans-philemon
  10. Hebrews- Revelation- https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/hebrews-revelation
  11. Is it archaeologically verified? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/verifiability-is-a-christian-distinctive/ and  http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/a-brief-sample-of-archaeology-corroborating-the-claims-of-the-new-testament/  AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-doesnt-archeology-corroborate-every-detail-of-the-new-testament-accounts/ AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/a-brief-sample-of-old-testament-archaeological-corroboration/ and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-challenge-of-history-an-interview-with-william-lane-craig AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/problems-with-the-old-testament
  12. Does the Old Testament and New have fulfilled prophecy? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/from-reliable-to-divine-fulfilled-prophecy-in-the-old-testament/  AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/yes-jesus-fulfilled-prophecy-but-he-also-spoke-prophetically/ AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/perhaps-the-greatest-old-testament-prophecy-of-all/ and http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/the-gift-of-christmas-was-predicted-with-the-gift-of-prophecy/
  13. Why are some books in it and not others?

vii.      https://carm.org/apocrypha-it-scripture  AND https://carm.org/why-apocrypha-not-in-bible

viii.      Aren’t there missing books and gospels that were not let into the bible? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/the-unsurprising-depth-and-variety-of-ancient-stories-written-about-jesus/  AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-other-non-canonical-texts-attributed-to-the-gospel-authors/  AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-non-canonical-gospels-attributed-to-bartholomew/ AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-non-canonical-gospels-attributed-to-james/ AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-non-canonical-gospels-attributed-to-thomas/   AND http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-shouldnt-we-trust-the-non-canonical-gospels-attributed-to-peter/

Wasn’t it just voted on at some council?  http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/how-the-ante-nicene-church-fathers-preserved-the-eyewitness-gospel-accounts/  and… http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/how-ancient-eyewitness-testimony-became-the-new-testament-gospel-record/ and  http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-the-bible-reliable-the-value-and-limits-of-the-early-church-fathers/ and http://www.reasonablefaith.org/monotheletism#ixzz2y3Nvp1Ju AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-the-problem-of-material-constitution-illuminate-the-doctrine

The Importance of and Biblical Nature of Church Creeds: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/the-importance-and-early-use-of-creeds/

  1.        Did God inspire the Bible?
  2. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/men-moved-by-the-holy-spirit-spoke-from-god AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-price-biblical-errancy  AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-3-podcast/s2 (Click on “transcript” for written version of each episode)
  3. Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics: http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_2.pdf
  4. Does the New Testament actually claim to be the word of God? This section (xi-xvii) below was found in Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons by Ron Rhodes[xiv]:

xii.      John 14:26- jesus promises holy spirit would work through his apostles to provide accurate information about him.

xiii.      2 TIM 3:16- paul says that all scripture is given and inspired by God

  1. he is not just talking about the old testament- he had already described another new testament book as scripture in 1 tim 5:18 when he talks about the book of  Luke.

xiv.      2 peter 3:16- peter uses the same greek word for “scripture” to describe the writings of paul.

  1. By the time 2 TIM 3:16 was written all of the books in the NT had already been written except for 2 Peter, Hebrews, Jude, and the apostle John’s writings.  Later on the remaining books were acknowledged as being in the canon of scripture as well.

xvi.      1 Tim 5:18-  Paul joins OT and NT verses together and calls them both scripture.  (Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7)

  1. Only 3-6 years had elapsed between the time that Luke was written and then 1 Tim.  And yet paul still sees luke as scripture and counts it equal to old t.

xvii.      Jesus’ View of the bible:

  1. Jesus was a jewish man brought up in the tradition of the ot. He taught it was divinely inspired – Matt 22:43 Indestructible – Matt 5:17-18, Infallible – John 10:35, Final Authority- Matt 4:4, 7, 10, Historical – Matt 12:40; 24:37, Accurate – Matt 19:2-5, Factual – John 17:17, Christ –centered Luke 24:27; John 5:39, Spiritually clear – Luke 24:25, Sufficient for faith and life – Luke 16:31

xviii.      Other verses about NT’s Origin

  1. I cor 2:13 – Not from man
  2. I Cor 14:37 – commandments of god.
  3. I thess 2:13

Bible

Below found at http://www.4truth.net/Bible/

This section explores the reliability of the Bible. Does archaeology confirm or disprove the Bible? What are the reasons for believing God inspired the Bible? Does the Bible ever contradict itself? Does the Bible really contain fulfilled prophecies?

Accuracy

Are There Any Errors in the Bible?

Audio Interview with Craig Keener on the Reliability of the Gospels

Audio Interview with Craig Keener on the Reliability of the Book of Acts

Audio Interview with Daniel Wallace on the Reliability of the New Testament Text

Audio Interview with Peter Williams on the Reliability of the Gospels

Inerrancy and the Text of the New Testament

Is the Bible Today What Was Originally Written?

Joshua’s Conquest: Did It Happen?

Joshua’s Conquest: Was It Justified?

The New Testament Canon

The Historical Reliability of John

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

The Inerrancy of the Bible

Video Interviews: Bart Ehrman Answered (Free Small Group Resource)

Why All the Translations?

Archaeology

Archaeology and the Bible

The Da Vinci Code

A Da Vinci Code panel discussion with William Lane Craig and Michael Licona

Exploring The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code Essentials Video

The Da Vinci Code Seminar Video

Inspiration

The Inspiration of the Bible

Other Scriptures

Audio Interview — Charles Quarles: Gospel of Peter & Gospel of Thomas

Audio Interview – Darrell Bock: Apocryphal Gospels

Coptic Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Peter

What About the Gnostic Gospels?

What should we think about the Gospel of Judas?

Christian Origins

Audio Interview with Thomas Schreiner on the Apostle Paul

Did Paul Invent Christianity?

Above found at http://www.4truth.net/Bible/

Appendix 3

Differences between TC and Mormonism (from TC perspective)

The following is found at http://www.4truth.net/

Mormons

Audio Interview with Clark Berryman on Mormonism

Comparison Chart on Mormonism and Christianity

FAQ: Are Mormons Christians?

LDS Apostles and Prophets: What Did the New Testament Apostles Say?

LDS Church Holdings

Mormons

Mormon Plan of Salvation

The Book of Mormon

The Mormon Puzzle – Video

The Truth About Mormonism

The Truth About the Mormon Family

Trusting in Joseph: Why Mormonism Depends on Testimony of One Man

7 Habits of a Highly Successful Mormon

What To Say to Mormons When They Knock on Your Door (Online Book)

Chapter 1 About the Mormons

Chapter 2 The Bible is Reliable

Chapter 3 Archaeology and the Book of Mormon

Chapter 4 The Book of Abraham

Chapter 5 Mormon Evidences?

Chapter 6 Conclusion and Application

End Notes

Also see:

http://coldcasechristianity.com/?s=mormon

More

Below found at https://carm.org/mormonism

Mormonism, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claims to be the restoration of the true gospel and a revelation of the true God.  Find out about its teachings of men becoming gods, temples, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith who claimed to have seen God the Father.

Introduction

Regarding Mormons and Mormonism

The Book of Mormon

Mormon Writings and Church

Issues and Answers

o    A Response From (and to) S.H.I.E.L.D.S.

Proofs that Mormonism is False

Miscellaneous

Mormonism and the Bible

Quotes

Mormonism Unveiled

Documentation from Mormon sources

Important Mormon People

Real Discussion

Other websites on Mormonism

LDS Research CD

Evangelism Tracts

Music

Debate

Above found at https://carm.org/mormonism

JOSEPH SMITH’S PROPHECIES?

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/can-we-trust-the-prophecies-of-joseph-smith/

Resources on video:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ldsvideoencyclopedia/videos?sort=dd&view=0&shelf_id=1

 TRINITY?

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-the-problem-of-material-constitution-illuminate-the-doctrine

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/a-formulation-and-defense-of-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity http://www.reasonablefaith.org/why-god-the-father-and-god-the-son http://www.reasonablefaith.org/trinity-monotheism-once-more-a-response-to-daniel-howard-snyder

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/why-is-the-trinity-an-essential-christian-doctrine/ http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-the-trinity-is-so-important-in-the-first-place/ http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/the-trinity-is-not-a-problem-its-a-solution/

-Jesus-

Taken from http://www.4truth.net/Jesus/:

Jesus

This section looks at the nature, person, and works of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus really exist? Did he physically arise from the dead? Did he perform miracles? What claims did Jesus make about himself?

His Existence

Did Jesus Really Exist?

Josephus and Jesus

His Miracles

The Credibility of Jesus’ Miracles

His Nature

Jesus as God

The Trinity

Who was Jesus: Divine or Prophet?

His Self-Understanding

Did Jesus Believe He Was the Son of Man?

Messiah/Christ

Son of David/Wisdom of God

Son Of God

The Son of Man

His Exclusivity

Concerning Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel

Is Jesus Superior to All Other Religious Leaders?

Is Jesus the Only Way?

What About Those Who Have Never Heard The Gospel?

Historical Jesus

Audio Interview: Craig Keener on the Historical Jesus 

Can We Be Certain Jesus Died on a Cross?

Did Jesus Predict His Death and Resurrection?

Has the Family Tomb of Jesus Been Found?

Passion Problems

The Family Tomb of Jesus

His Resurrection

Audio Interview – Gary Habermas: The Resurrection

Debate on Jesus’ Resurrection with William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman

The Empty Tomb of Jesus

Near Death Experiences: Evidence for an Afterlife? 

The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

Were the Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Hallucinations? 

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/jesus-is-the-only-way-to-heaven-because-god-is-the-only-way-to-god/

 -Denominations-

Denominations found at: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbdenominations.aspx?pageid=8589952160

Major American Denominations
Bill Gordon

 Creeds?

What about the Creeds? Aren’t they just man made and not from God?

See: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/the-importance-and-early-use-of-creeds/

Also see one example, the Nicene Creed, with scriptural back-up. Taken from: http://rti.myfineforum.org/archive/nicene-creed-with-proof-texts__o_t__t_1536.html

The Nicene Creed (with Scriptural references)

We believe in (Romans 10:8-10; 1 John 4:15)
ONE God, (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ephesians 4:6)
the Father (Matthew 6:9)
Almighty, (Exodus 6:3)
Maker of Heaven and Earth, (Genesis 1:1)
and of all things visible and invisible. (Colossians 1:15-16)

And in ONE Lord Jesus Christ, (Acts 11:17)
the Son of God, (Matthew 14:33; 16:16)
the Only-Begotten, (John 1:18; 3:16)

Begotten of the Father before all ages. (John 1:2)
Light of Light; (Psalm 27:1; John 8:12; Matthew 17:2,5)
True God of True God; (John 17:1-5)

Begotten, not made; (John 1:18)
of one essence with the Father (John 10:30)
by whom all things were made; (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Who for us men and for our salvation (1 Timothy 2:4-5)
came down from Heaven, (John 6:33,35)
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1:35)
and became man. (John 1:14)

And was crucified for us (Mark 15:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3)
under Pontius Pilate, (John 19:6)
and suffered, (Mark 8:31)
and was buried. (Luke 23:53; 1 Corinthians 15:4)

And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures. (Luke 24:1; 1 Corinthians 15:4)

And ascended into Heaven, (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:10)
and sits at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55)

And He shall come again with glory (Matthew 24:27)
to judge the living and the dead; (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1)
whose Kingdom shall have no end. (2 Peter 1:11)

And in the Holy Spirit, (John 14:26)
the Lord, (Acts 5:3-4)
the Giver of Life, (Genesis 1:2)

Who proceeds from the Father; (John 15:26)
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; (Matthew 3:16-17)
Who spoke through the prophets. (1 Samuel 19:20; Ezekiel 11:5,13)

In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
holy, (1 Peter 2:5,9)
catholic, (Mark 16:15)
and apostolic Church. (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-22)

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. (Ephesians 4:5; Acts 2:38)

I look for the resurrection of the dead, (John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:12-49; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 20:5)
and the life of the world to come. (Mark 10:29-30)

AMEN. (Psalm 106:48)

-found at http://rti.myfineforum.org/archive/nicene-creed-with-proof-texts__o_t__t_1536.html

WHO IS GOD IN MORMONISM???

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/did-joseph-smiths-doctrine-of-god-change-over-time/

Salvation and works vs. faith

SALVATION

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-mormon-salvation-possible/

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/salvation-why-christians-know-they-have-eternal-life-right-now/

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/the-salvation-equation-the-simple-relationship-between-faith-and-works/

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2012/the-difference-between-christian-grace-and-mormon-grace/

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/no-other-name-a-middle-knowledge-perspective

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/brazilian-nightclub-fire-and-salvation-by-works

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/questions-of-faith

works

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/les-miserables-and-the-death-grip-of-works-based-worldviews/

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/faith-and-works

Jesus understood himself to be God:

A CASE FOR JESUS’ RADICAL SELF UNDERSTANDING: https://books.google.com/books?id=irboBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=a+case+for+jesus%27+radical+self+understanding&source=bl&ots=riUGn7NuMx&sig=_5q7MrLkqsdaixiE0uw8l_1qPaY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAmoVChMI4pmOxuuSxwIVF1yICh1TbAKK#v=onepage&q=a%20case%20for%20jesus’%20radical%20self%20understanding&f=false

————————————————————————————————————-

NOTES

[i] See my article “Mormonism and Traditional Christianity: A Brief Look at Some Differences” here: https://williamjosephsblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/123/

[ii] See https://williamjosephsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/avoid-rejecting-an-argument-for-fallacious-reasons/ for a treatment on the logical fallacies: Ad hominem, Tu quoque, and Genetic fallacies.

[iii]   William Lane Craig explains the problem of the unevangelized: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-christ-be-the-only-way-to-god AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/politically-incorrect-salvation

[iv] The Mormon view of God and creation differs sharply with the TC view. See William Lane Craig’s explanation: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/creatio-ex-nihilo-a-critique-of-the-mormon-doctrine-of-creation AND http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-mormon-view-of-creation    

[v] Ron Rhodes (1995) Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons discusses how Mormon
theologians are reading into the text (eisogesis) as opposed to drawing the meaning out of the
text (exegesis) when proposing total apostasy.  Verses that go against the idea of total apostasy:
Matthew 16:18 and 28:18-20; Ephesians 3:21 and 4:11-16; 1 Peter 1:25 cf. Matthew 24:35; and
Matthew 18:20.  Rhodes quotes Reed and Farkas in pointing out the church history is so well
preserved, which helps us see how doctrines were developed and debated.
“We can follow the course of the debates over Gnosticism, Arianism, Sabellianism and so
on. Yet the mountains of manuscripts dating back nearly two thousand years, nowhere do
we find evidence that the church originally thought anything the “restored gospel” of
Mormonism…. If it were true that the church founded by Jesus Christ originally taught
such LDS doctrines as the Plurality of Gods, men becoming Gods, celestial marriage, and
God the Father having once been a man, and if it were true that those doctrines were later
set aside in favor of what is now considered orthodox Christianity there would certainly
be some record of this…. But no such evidence is available.”

-Reed and Farkas Mormons Answered Verse by Verse (1992)

[vi] Compare Romans 4:5 and John 1:1-14 in the Bible with the Joseph Smith Translation.  In each case Joseph Smith changed a few words around which SIGNIFICANTLY changed the verse.  Look at the subtle but profound changes in the verses below.  The Romans passage relates to how we are Justified before God and the John 1 Joseph Smith translation removes original wording that states Jesus was eternally with the father. This would imply that Jesus is not his first-born spirit child. The understanding of who Jesus is (God or our older brother) and how we are justified before God are diametrically opposed between the two religions.

Romans 4:5

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Joseph Smith Translation Romans 4:5

5 But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works, but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

AND

John 1:1-3, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made….14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…

Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:1-3, 14

1 In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.  2 The same was in the beginning with God.  3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made. 14 And the same word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…

JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATIONS were copied from LDS.ORG

[vii] Michael Licona (1998) Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock: What to say to Mormons and jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on your door – PDF of the book is here: http://www.4truth.net/what-to-say-to-mormons/ OR https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fstaging.4truth.net%2FWorkArea%2FDownloadAsset.aspx%3Fid%3D8590118481&ei=mX2zU46KHZSgyASJ-4GIAQ&usg=AFQjCNHf4gx8YMGIHt1XRCsi1KcowJL3OQ&sig2=UumNz37rppywjdz-Um0sIQ

[viii] Ron Rhodes (1995) Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons: https://books.google.com/books/about/Reasoning_from_the_Scriptures_with_the_M.html?id=nNyL18589vsC&hl=en

[ix] J. Warner Wallace’s article Investigating the Evidence from Mormonism in Six Steps: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/investigating-the-evidence-for-mormonism-in-six-steps/

[x] My feelings are akin to J. Warner Wallace’s article The Thing I most Admire About Mormons found here: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/the-thing-i-most-admire-about-mormons/

[xi] Taken directly from: https://carm.org/dictionary-apologetics

[xii] Joe Steinwedell (2015) On Faith, Eastern Religions, AND Why Christians Share Their Faith With Others: https://williamjosephsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/on-faith-eastern-religions-and-why-christians-share-their-faith-with-others/

[xiii] Joe Steinwedell (2015) What is the difference between liberal and conservative Christians and does it matter? : https://williamjosephsblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/what-is-the-difference-between-liberal-and-conservative-christians-and-does-it-matter/

[xiv] Ben Witherington III (2004) The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci

[xv] Douglas Groothuis (2011) Christian Apologetics: A comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Michael Licona (1998) Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock: What to say to Mormons and jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on your door – PDF of the book is here: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fstaging.4truth.net%2FWorkArea%2FDownloadAsset.aspx%3Fid%3D8590118481&ei=mX2zU46KHZSgyASJ-4GIAQ&usg=AFQjCNHf4gx8YMGIHt1XRCsi1KcowJL3OQ&sig2=UumNz37rppywjdz-Um0sIQ

[xviii] http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/

[xix] Jeremiah 31:31-34New International Version (NIV) 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”declares the Lord.33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israelafter that time,” declares the Lord “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”declares the Lord.“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952773

[xxii] Douglas Groothuis (2011) Christian Apologetics: A comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith PAGE 506

[xxiii] Grudem, Wayne A., Et al (1996) Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views: https://www.logos.com/product/53799/zondervan-counterpoints-series#001

[xxiv] For more on this see the following articles: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/establishing-the-gospels-reliability , http://www.risenjesus.com/the-death-of-jesus-the-defeat-of-islam , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-islamic-conception-of-god-morally-inadequate , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/why-does-god-leave-muslims-deluded , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/concept-of-god-in-islam-and-christianity , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/who-is-the-real-jesus-the-jesus-of-the-bible-or-the-jesus-of-the-quran , http://www.reasonablefaith.org/islam

[xxv] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-price-biblical-errancy#ixzz3hoGvI6KC AND, for more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-price-biblical-errancy

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