Thursday, August 13, 2009

Conversations with Latter Day Saints

I have stated it all along, sometimes more clearly than at others, that I have never believed the Latter Day Saints, true Latter Day Saints, are even remotely Christian. This is apparently a concept that is sinking in, and several good friends who are FLDS have written me in concern, I will do my best to explain. Please know that I do so out of Love, for all of you.
I wrote this as a reply to one of them, but the conversation has occurred between myself, and several members of the LDS and FLDS over the years.

The word Christian is first used here:
Acts 11:26: "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
Previously, Christians were not named among the gentiles, and the only names given to them were Pharisees (twice believers are referred to in Acts as also being Pharisees), and those of the "sect of the Nazarene."
Acts 24:5: "For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."
Or they were called believers of or in "That Way."
Acts 19:9: "But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of 'that way' before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus." (emphasis added)
It's important then to know, that originally as persuaded Pharisees (Paul for instance says "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee) who were the believers in the concept of Resurrection, that believers among the Gentiles in Antioch were characterized as CHRISTIANS while in a state of belief that is most similar to the faith of the Jewish PHARISEES.

Pharisees, by EVERY EVIDENCE, did not share the view of who God is, that the LDS or FLDS have. The Latter Day Saints believe the Father of Christ to be once a mortal being, limited as we are, who ascended to status of God, and hope that they will also ascend in some way to a similar status. Christians, Pharisees, and those of the religion of Judaism, see God as eternal, unbegun, unbeggining, never ending and above all. So wholly other in that regard as to be completely unlike us.

Simply put, if the LDS and FLDS are correct about the nature of God, then the Pharisees were wrong, and any follower of their sect among Judaism or among those who accepted Christ as Messiah and called "Christian," were also wrong. Wrong in the sense that they are entirely in opposition to the concept of God that the Latter Day Saints have. They are therefore wrong about who Christ is. Thus Christians are in fact from the Latter Day Saints perspective, deceived persons, who are wrong about God and necessarily, his son.

We are left with two choices, assuming Christ is the Son of God.

Choice one: Christians are not Latter Day Saints and Latter Day Saints are not Christians. Christians are correct, and Latter Day Saints, those that truly believe what the religions of that bolt of cloth teach, are LOST.

Choice two: Latter Day Saints are not Christians and Christians are not Latter Day Saints. Latter Day Saints are correct, and Christians those that believe as any denomination of Christianity does, are LOST.

In any case one is not a subgroup of the other, nor is their any intersection of the two faiths. We do have common scriptures, which means we do have a basis of dialogue. The fact though is, I as a Christian have claim and historic right to the term "Christian" whether they are right, or wrong, the LDS or any of it's divisions or sects, do not.

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karateka said...

Interesting idea, but I'm not sure it is an accurate one. There are some assumptions going into it.
First is the "primacy of Paul."

Should the teachings of Paul be rated as more important as more accurate or more authoritative than those of Peter, John, or James (reputed to be the earthly brother of Jesus)? Sensible analysis would say no. Paul was not a "Christian" while Jesus was performing his ministry, and may not have even been in the Middle East during those years. The aforementioned three, along with Mark, were all in the "inner circle" during his ministry. Further, it was they who developed the church in the formative years after the death of Jesus, not Paul.

Paul is a secondary witness, not a primary witness. Thus, in my opinion any argument in which his writings are the primary source are extremely suspect.

The Pharisee said...

Actually, these are all the observations of Luke, who wrote Acts, not those of Paul. They are reported by Luke as a witness to those events or by Luke after receiving verifiable reports and confirmations of those events.

In the first verses of both Luke and Acts, the writer addresses himself to "Theophilus" and states he investigated the facts.

karateka said...

As I understand the it the "Pharisee-Cristian" connection is still coming from Paul. It may be written by Luke, but it was Luke quoting Paul. Incidentally, is this where you get the "Modern Pharisee" handle?

Moving on, though, it seems to me that the early Christians may have been more influenced by sects such as the Essenes and Zealots than the Pharisees and Sadducees. Many early Christians were also likely followers of John the Baptist, who doesn't exactly fit the mold of a Pharisee.

Further evidence is that Jesus himself often railed against the Pharisees and Sadducees. It seems what he taught was, in part, a rejection of contemporary religious beliefs, and a rejection of the current religious leadership.

I would think the persecution of Christians by Pharisees and other members of the Jewish establishment would further cement theological differences. As religious discussion broke down under persecution, there would be even less crossover between the beliefs of Jews and Christians.

The Pharisee said...

This is in fact where I derive the blog name "Modern Pharisee." In human terms, all true Christians are the successors of all true Pharisees. All true Pharisees were true believers in Judaism. There is no Christ without Judaism.

The term Christian was applied to those persons who inhabited Churches seeded and built up by the Apostle Paul. Those persons were gentile mirrors of the sect of Judaism known as the Pharisees, with the modification that they realized, as all true Pharisees would, that Christ was Messiah.

This hardly makes them perfect. This hardly makes their vision the only vision of Christ as you point out with the followers of John the Baptist. This does not make them right. This DOES make those who believe as they did the legitimate and first claimants to the name Christian, which was interestingly enough, a derisive epithet flung at them by unbelievers.

The Essenes are not mentioned in the texts of Scripture on which our historic understandings of Christianity rely.

The Sadducees are in my view, most complicit of all in the murder of our LORD, and they no longer exist.

The documentary evidence says, that whether it was a large number of them or not, it was the Pharisees, as a sect, that contributed the largest number of converts to Early Messianic belief. In all likelihood more that called themselves Pharisees did not convert, but only they are mentioned in the earliest annals of Christianity.

"Certain" Pharisees once "saved" the life of Christ.

Proverbs 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

Hebrews 12:6: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Christ devotes most of his negative attention to the Pharisees, as opposed to the Sadducees. It is not proof of love that you are punished, but it is proof of hatred, that you are not.

Ron in Houston said...

Man, you are so off the FLDS Christmas card list....

The Pharisee said...

I have said this all along. Apparently it has not been clear to friend and foe alike.

They are my coincidental allies for several reasons on this "Long dark ride."

I am a polygyny advocate.

I am a political libertarian.

"The key to understanding the American system (of government) is to imagine that you have the power to make nearly any law you want. But your worst enemy will be the one to enforce it."

Dale Kemp said...

It's pretty silly for you to tell us members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that we aren't Christians. It's like walking up to a Parisian and telling him that he isn't really French.

At the heart of our beliefs is that it is through Christ's atoning sacrifice that we all may be saved.

What we are not is Catholic or any of the Protestant groups that broke away from them for they all lost their way long ago. (There is much good there but not the fullness of the gospel.)

What we are is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. But then I'm sure you already know that is one of our beliefs.

In the end it matters very little how you classify us. It only matters what God thinks of any of us anyway.

But I still like you and your blog, Modern Pharisee, and I hope your Vermont experiment goes well for you.

The Pharisee said...

As long as we understand each other. said...

Here are the most important similarities between ancient Pharisees and modern sectarian Christians:

1. The Jews, under the religious dominance of the Pharisees, had not had any prophets or revelation for four centuries. Modern Christians have gone 18 centuries denying that further revelation would ever occur.

2. When God sent contemporary prophets to the ancient Pharisees to call them to repent (John the Baptist), they rejected him. When God called a prophet in modern times (Joseph Smith) the sectarian world rejected him.

3. Pharisees and modern sectarians believe in a closed canon of scripture.

4. Pharisees used scripture to justify their rejection of living oracles of God: Jesus and his apostles. Likewise, sectarian Christians use scripture to justify rejection of living prophets and apostles today.

5. The Pharisees used their influence with government officials to have Jesus arrested and executed. Modern Christians conspired with local and state authorities in the 19th century to have Joseph Smith arrested and assassinated.

6. The blood of the prophets is to be found on the hands of both groups.

Those are the primary similarities. I would invite you to do as Paul did, to forsake the wickedness and hypocrisy of those who reject God's messengers and persecute his Church. All the blessings that came to Paul, visions, revelations, spiritual gifts, and most of all, eternal life can be yours. Follow Paul's example, not the example of Annas and Caiaphas.

The Pharisee said...

Since Pharisees had no prophets for 4 centuries (not true actually, there was John the Baptist), tell me, what books of scripture were written in that time (prophetic revelation) that we reject?

karateka said...

>>"Man, you are so off the FLDS Christmas card list...."

I think whatever Pharisee does it out of conviction, and not whether he will make it on some list.