Refuting LDS Doctrines

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I’d say one of the things that make the LDS church unique are its doctrines. What’s surprising to life-long members is how few there really are compared to other religions.

I have great faith in these basic doctrines. I hope that, at least, is obvious. By faith, I mean I not only believe they are true, but I try to behave in accordance with my belief.

There are a lot of misrepresentations about our doctrines out there. It’s sad to see some members of our church fall into the same trap. It’s even sadder when members of our church lose their faith in the church because they have come to believe we don’t believe what we do, or do believe what we don’t.

It’s understandable why people who assault our religion in logical debates have to bring up strawmen doctrines. I myself cannot think of any argument that can logically threaten any of our doctrines. (If I could, I wouldn’t be LDS, would I?) You can’t threaten them on emotional grounds either. Nor can you find a single scripture anywhere in accepted Christian canon that denies a single word of any of them. (Of course, how those words are interpreted is another matter altogether!)

The strawmen arguments are, to the best of my knowledge:

  1. We don’t really believe in Jesus Christ, but in something else. (Usually, this is Joseph Smith or something along that lines.)
  2. We believe that we are saved by works.
  3. We don’t believe we are saved by the grace of Christ.
  4. We don’t believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

These are all easily refuted. You simply have to turn to what we really teach and really preach to see how easily refuted they are.

Point 1 has been refuted so many times it seems pointless to even try anymore. Yes, there are members of the church, I am sad to report, who have taken their “eye off the ball”, so to speak. These members have forgotten that the entire mission of the church is to bring people to Christ; that the threefold mission is to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can come to Christ; that the priesthood organization and auxiliaries exist solely and for the express purpose of bringing people to Christ. I cannot think of any part of our church, from church basketball to temple worship, that does not center on Christ, and is not intended to bring people closer to Christ.

On points 2 and 3, let me expound on this. We do believe that after all we can do, it is nothing. We can only be saved by Christ. There is no other way.

What’s even worse, when we put ourselves to obeying God, He immediately rewards us. And then what can we say? Have we repaid our debt to God? No! We are further in His debt than we were before!

Ultimately, what saves us is Christ’s atonement and intercession. Only when He stands before us as our advocate, and when He calls us to stand on His right hand, only then will we obtain salvation. Anything we do before then is worth nothing.

However, we believe, deliberately and to the fullest extent, in a doctrine called Free Moral Agency. Simply put, you are accountable for what you do, and you have complete freedom to choose good or evil on this earth. In fact, that’s the entire point of life on earth—to see how you will spend your moral agency. Only when we deliberately attempt to choose good, and deliberately put our faith in Christ can Christ begin to unlock His infinite and compassionate mercy for us.

He will, in all fairness, present the option to us in as many ways as possible. But ultimately, we have to reach out and take it. Once we intend, sincerely to take His hand, then he can start unlocking His mercy in our lives, and then we can start preparing to receive the salvation He has in prepared for us.

The parable of the bridegroom and the feast is very, very relevant. All we have to do is show up and eat. The feast is already laid out, and we just have to accept His invitation, and reach out to partake of all we can handle.

On point #4, I would like to point out that we do believe in the Bible, and every word of it. Yes, we add “as far as it is translated correctly”, but honestly, so does everyone else. If I handed you a poorly translated Bible, you would, rightly, ask why there are so many mistake, and demand a better translation. I applaud the efforts of those Christians who have taken it upon themselves to create a more faithful translation of the Bible in English and other languages. Bravo! Keep it up!

I don’t know anyone that agrees that the King James Version is the best translation out there. I admit it is not. However, it is the most standard in English. The language is really not that hard to understand. It’s the same version we’ve worked with since our founding, so it’s been incorporated to our famous sermons, ordinances, and lesson manuals. There may come a point when we abandon the KJV in favor of something else. Honestly, I don’t think the actual words matter that much, as long as we search for and understand the meaning of the original authors.

Yes, Joseph Smith did add and remove parts of the Bible in the Joseph Smith Translation. (Usually, he added.) However, I invite you to peruse through the changes to the Bible that Joseph Smith made and ask:

  1. Does this pervert the gospel message of Christ, or clarify it?
  2. Does this help bring people closer to Christ, or distance them?

I think the answer is obvious. If you have a legitimate beef with his changes, I’d like to hear it. I haven’t heard any complaints about the JST.

What about our other scriptures? Is the Bible closed canon? Of course not. Anyone that thinks so has no understanding of what the Bible actually is and where it came from. The Bible is a collection of various books, all assembled in a somewhat meaningless order. Each book, taken alone, is scripture in and of itself. (Well, except Songs of Solomon… not so much.) Thus, the whole collection is scripture.

However, if someone were to discover a lost book of the Bible, and there are quite a few mentioned in the Bible itself, would you stand up and shout, “No! No! You can’t believe in that because it’s not in this Bible!” That’s simply absurd. If that were the case, then the Bible would end after Genesis, because the Jews would’ve murdered Moses for introducing Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. And the Jews would’ve murdered the inspired historians of Kings and Chronicles, and the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, and others. The Bible is not, and can never be, a closed book.

Along that line, adding scripture that in no way contradicts the Bible (or rather, our interpretation of the words of the Bible), does no harm to the Bible. When those scriptures point back to the Bible and exhort us to not only read but study the words, since they contain critical messages regarding our salvation, what can you possibly say against them? Do we believe in the Bible less because we have additional scriptures that tell us to believe in the Bible more?

There are legitimate doctrines that you can have fascinating discussions over. However, attacking strawmen doctrines isn’t productive, and rather frustrating. At least criticize us for believing what we truly believe.

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