In light of the horrors that happened in Virginia, both with the white supremacists and the attack by one of the members, I think it is important for people to know the churches stance on those issues. Let’s take a quick look at history. Continue reading
If you know Bill Maher much at all you know that he is very much anti-relgion. This video is a very interesting video of Bill Maher with guest Ross Douthat. Ross holds his own to say the least.
One of the central doctrines of Mormonism is that the Christian Church has gone through a universal apostasy. In other words Mormons believe that the church is so far removed from what the apostles and Christ taught that it really is no longer the church at all. It is because of this that Joseph Smith is believed to have brought the church back to where it should be.
If you’re ever talking with a Mormon about these issues there are a few things you can bring up to show that the church has clearly not gone under a full universal apostasy.
1. Accuracy of the Bible
Many Mormons will argue that one proof that the church went through a complete apostasy is that the scriptures have been changed over thousands of years, and so we can’t trust the scriptures that we have today. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you simply ask them to give evidence of this fact, they won’t have any. The Dead Sea Scrolls was evidence the accuracy of the Bible that we have now because it predated about any other Old Testament Manuscript we had up to that time by about 1,00 years. When we compare what it to our modern Hebrew Bibles it is 99% identical to what we have now, the only errors being slips of the pen and spelling differences. With that well of copied text there is no reason to think the church had lost track of Christ’s original teaching. They had the Word itself to guide them.
2. Peter the Rock
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Jesus is saying here that hell will not defeat or destroy his church. If complete apostasy has happened this isn’t true. Mormons will argue two points here. First, that the rock Jesus is talking about is not Peter, but the statement Peter makes in the verse before, that Jesus is the Messiah. Second, that this is saying that Hell cannot prevent the church from ‘invading’ hell since it is mentioning gates.
The first objection doesn’t take into mind Peter’s name or why Jesus would mention Peter at the start of the verse. The context lets us know already he is talking to Peter so Jesus has no reason to say Peter’s name again.
So, why say “I tell you that you are Peter”? It’s quite simple. Peter’s name is rock or in the greek ‘Petros’ and the greek word ‘rock’ in the passage is the greek word ‘petra’. Jesus is making a clear connection. “You are the Rock (Peter) and on that rock I will build my church’
As for the second objection it just doesn’t think things through. If Hell has conquered the church altogether and there is no church left then clearly the gates of Hell have prevailed to keep the church out.
3. John the never-dying
In the Mormon Doctrine of the Covenants section 7 John asks God if he can have power over death so he may minister and evangelize till Jesus’ return. God grants this request and so Mormons believe John is still alive. If John is still alive then there has not been a complete apostasy because there would be a remnant of the church still around of at least John and anyone else who may be with him.
4. Church Fathers
Mormons also reference many church fathers or other church writings in which doctrines are being corrected or even whole congregations are being outcast from the church. To them, this must mean that the church has completely lost track of the original Gospel of Christ. There is one massive problem with this argument. It fails to realize that the people doing the correcting clearly have a correct view of the gospel, and so there is still a church that has not gone apostate.
5. Biblical Text
Finally, Mormons will point out, similar to the church fathers, that even in the New Testament epistles we see the apostles themselves correcting and condemning people. If the apostles were having so much trouble even then, it must mean that the whole church would eventually go apostate. The problem here is that it completely ignores and contradicts what what we discussed from Matthew 16:18. Furthermore, there is no scripture which ever prophesies that the entire church will go apostate. There is a huge difference between saying the church needs some correction here and there and that the whole church is completely lost.
Overall you should see a clear grasp of the reasons why unlike Mormons might wish you to believe the church we have now is the same church that was established by Jesus upon the rock of Peter.
When you make a list of the most important people in history, there are a few people that would automatically come up near the top of the list. Political and military leaders like Napoleon, Winston Churchill, or Alexander the Great. Religious or activist leaders like Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, or Martin Luther king. What has always been fascinating to me is two questions that put Jesus in a category all on his own.
The first question is this: who are the moral leaders of their time? This narrows our list of important people quite a bit. Hitler obviously would be dropped from our list because although he was impactful on history he wasn’t someone we see as a moral hero. On a lesser extreme people like Alexander the Great or even Winston Churchill wouldn’t fit our description of a moral leaders. A moral leader isn’t just a good guy, or even someone who is a a good moral example, but someone who advances or improves the morality of the culture of his or her time. That leaves us suddenly with a very slim list. Gandhi, Buddha, Jesus, arguably Muhammad, if you’re a Muslim, Martin Luther King Jr. and some other scattered here and there.
It’s interesting here to note, that almost, if not all of these moral leaders are religious leaders and often founders of those religions.
The second question is what then puts Jesus in a class of his own. Who within history has ever claimed to be God.
Now we have a new grouping of people. Once again, some rulers like Julius Caesar would fit nicely. They believed that their powers of rulership were rooted in their divinity, and therefore claimed to be God. We would also have some crazies. I once helped a man who after being in a horrible motorcycle accident who claimed to be God. I had my doubts God would have been hurt traveling at 40mph on a Harley. Crazies are the guys or girls who while they claim to be God, should instead be in a room with a lot of padding.
But there is one person in that group of people, that claim to be God, that is unique
Out of all the Moral leaders in the world, only Jesus claimed to be God. We have lots of rulers who claimed to be God, but none of them were religious leaders, in fact none of them would we even view as good moral examples. We also have moral leaders, but none of them claimed to be God. Except one.
He was smart, he was a sage, a religious leader, a moral teacher and leader, but unlike anyone else who fit those descriptions he alone claimed to be God.
Does this prove that Jesus was God? No. But it does give us reason to think about what we think about Jesus, because unfortunately, Jesus claim to be God puts us in a tough spot.
If Jesus isn’t God, the alternatives become hard to swallow. If Jesus thought he was God, but wasn’t, this suddenly puts Jesus into the category of both the insane not a moral leader. Both of which most people wouldn’t ascribe to God. But why is this our alternatives?
It’s pretty simple to see that if Jesus believed he was God, he was insane at some level. But people don’t simply believe they are God, and live a functional, and exemplary life like Jesus did. At least, I haven’t met one.
If Jesus just lied about being God he wouldn’t be a moral leader either. Keep this in mind. Jesus was killed because he said he was God, and John the Baptist, while Jesus was alive was killed for believing Jesus was God. If Jesus was the least bit wise he would ahve knownt that his followers would be killed for believing he was God. If Jesus knew he wasn’t God and never told them is he really a moral example anymore? No.
All of us have had experience with street preachers in one place or another. Sometimes these men or women do a good job presenting the gospel. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many of these preachers messages are offensive, condemning, name-calling, and rarely teaches the hope of the Gospel, and therefore not a Gospel at all. If you’re like me hearing this sort of ‘preaching’ makes your blood boil. The last time I heard one of these bullhorn preachers I had a big final that I needed to study for, but I just couldn’t focus when I knew someone was out there damaging the Gospel. So instead of studying the rest of the day, I confronted the preacher and I thought you may be interested to know things that you should bring up to one of these ‘preachers’ next time you encounter one. Continue reading
Frank Turek Explores why the radical change of Muhammed’s immediate followers is not equal to the radical change of Jesus immediate followers:
I’ve recently been researching Jehovah Witnesses. I’ve attended the local Kingdom Hall, read a number of the Watch Tower Publications, and debated a Jehovah Witness online. It’s been fun. If you know me at all, you know that I really enjoy these sort of tensions and conversations.
The most important thing I have come to realize about Jehovah’s Witness is that they don’t believe that Jesus is God. In fact they don’t believe in the trinity at all. This is of course a huge break away from Orthodox Christianity. So I thought I would take some time to show one reason why such a view is unbiblical.
Most of you are well aware that Jehovah’s Witneses are not the only people that believe Jesus is not God. In fact, it’s a pretty common belief that Jesus is not God these days. Whether an atheist, a Jehovah Witness, aMormons, or even a Muslim, many people believe Jesus is not God. So what does scripture teach? One passage in particular seems to make it abundantly clear.
In John 20 we see Jesus appear to Thomas after the resurrection. Thomas had declared that he would not believe unless he felt Jesus wounds and saw Jesus himself. When Jesus appears and tells Thomas to feel his wounds Thomas says to Jesus, “my Lord and my God”.
Thomas is very clearly calling Jesus God! It’s possible that Thomas is somehow wrong in his exclamation here, but Jesus’ reply makes it clear that he has no problem with what Thomas has said. Instead of condemning or correcting Thomas for calling him God, Jesus says ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’
Rather then correcting, Jesus confirms Thomas’ statement by saying those who believe what Thomas has proclaimed without seeing, as Thomas has seen, will be blessed.
Some would like to argue that Jesus makes no actual claim to deity here. To some extent this is true, Jesus does say ‘I am God’. But an understanding of the strict monotheism of Judaism would show that Jesus should have condemned such a statement and He didn’t. In fact he encourages Thomas for calling him God. Clearly Jesus did not disagree with what was being said.
Others claim that Thomas was not speaking to Jesus but actually to God, but the context makes it clear, ‘Thomas said to him (Jesus), my Lord and my God’. John is being explicitly clear that Thomas is addressing Jesus.
There is only way to interpret the passage within the context, Thomas is calling Jesus God and Jesus is confirming that Thomas is speaking the truth. So is Jesus God? This scripture certainly is saying so.