Jerry Falwell ignores his school’s published doctrine to defend Mormonism 37

According to Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Liberty University’s doctrinal statement does not define Mormonism as a cult. In 2012, when students protested the school’s invitation to Mitt Romney, a Mormon, to speak at commencement, Falwell told CNN,

Liberty has no official position on Mormonism. Our statement does not define Mormonism as a cult. There are hundreds of professors here and I’m sure you could find someone like the professor who authored that course that you just mentioned. I’m sure there are some that believe it is a cult. That’s not part of our doctrinal position and not our official position. (HT: Apprising)

Jerry Falwell appeared on CNN in 2012 to deny the implications of Liberty's doctrinal statement

Jerry Falwell appeared on CNN in 2012 to deny the implications of Liberty’s doctrinal statement

This partly explains why Glenn Beck was given a platform to preach his church’s doctrine to a captive audience of Liberty students last week, who were fined if they didn’t attend Beck’s sermon. Let’s take Falwell’s statement line by line.

“Liberty has no official position on Mormonism.”

Why not? Liberty has an official position, at least as expressed in its marketing, that it is a Christian school – the largest in the world, as Falwell often reminds us. If you dare to define yourself as Christian, you logically create a set of Not Christian colleges that you are not a member of. In what set (Christian or Not Christian) does Liberty place Brigham Young University?

“Our statement does not define Mormonism as a cult.”

It does, actually, which means that Jerry Falwell either doesn’t know the statement, or just choses to ignore it. Here’s some of what Liberty’s Doctrinal Statement declares:

  1. We affirm our belief in one God
  2. [God] who exists eternally in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three are one in essence but distinct in person and function.
  3. Human beings were directly created
  4. We affirm that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, though written by men, was supernaturally inspired by God so that all its words are the written true revelation of God.
  5. [Jesus] died on the cross in full substitution and payment for the sins of all.
  6. We affirm that each person can be saved only through the work of Jesus Christ, through repentance of sin and by faith alone in Him as Savior.
  7. We affirm that a church is a local assembly of baptized believers, under the discipline of the Word of God and the lordship of Christ.
  8. We affirm that the return of Christ for all believers is imminent.

By contrast, the Mormons believe the following:

  1. There are three main gods, and many other gods
  2. Jesus was born to the father and his wife, so is not eternal
  3. Humans are eternal beings, sent down from heaven to earth
  4. The Bible is only partial revelation, and is inferior to the Book of Mormon
  5. Jesus’ suffering before the cross atoned for our sins
  6. Jesus’ atonement makes it possible for us to be saved by works
  7. The Christian church is apostate and has fallen away from the faith
  8. Believers return to Christ, not Christ to believers.

Liberty’s statement defines Mormonism as a cult from its very first sentence (“We affirm our belief in one God”).

“There are hundreds of professors here and I’m sure you could find someone like the professor who authored that course that you just mentioned.”

The course that CNN had mentioned was an apologetics course that used a textbook that unambiguously declared that Mormonism was a cult. Falwell here suggests that he has no knowledge, nor any interest in knowing, the fundamental Christian beliefs of the very professors who are teaching courses in Christian belief.

If your chancellor doesn’t know or care if your professors know the difference between Christian and Not Christian, how can you continue to identify yourself as a Christian institution with any confidence?

“I’m sure there are some that believe it is a cult.”

Great. He should promote one of them to be Liberty’s new provost, and another to be its campus pastor.

More seriously, if he is aware that a subset of Liberty’s faculty and students (it was students who were protesting the Romney invitation) think Mormonism is a cult, why didn’t Liberty make a special exemption so these people could stay away from Beck’s sermon last week? If “some” Liberty people do believe that Mormonism is a cult, they probably also take seriously Paul’s command to flee false teachers. It’s a travesty that Liberty knows of their objections, yet forces them to participate in a display of solidarity with a spiritual wolf anyway.

“That’s not part of our doctrinal position and not our official position.”

In case we missed it the first time, he repeats the denial that Liberty’s doctrine includes Mormonism as a Christian denomination.

This is, along with all the other amazing stuff coming out of Liberty recently, just astonishing. Not only is Falwell the chancellor of “the world’s largest Christian university,” he’s the son and namesake of one of America’s most celebrated Christian preachers. What a tragedy that he so publicly denies the Christian faith when put under a little bit of public and political pressure.

Was Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign so fragile and so important that the leader of one of the world’s most influential Christian educational institutions couldn’t articulate basic Christian doctrine?

37 thoughts on “Jerry Falwell ignores his school’s published doctrine to defend Mormonism

  1. E Marshall Buckles May 1, 2014 1:15 am

    RE: Falwell and Mormonism, yeah, Liberty is meant to be a Christian institution, and it is way more Christian than a lot of other places I could name (like Harvard, for example, which was founded to train Christian ministers) who have pretty much abandoned their original Christian mission. Liberty has also expanded. It not only trains Christian ministers, now, it is also training Christian nurses, will be training Christian physicians, is training Christian lawyers, is training Christian business people, Christian governmental leaders and so on and so forth. Liberty has become a university and as such needs to help its students learn about and deal with various kinds of thought, various political opinions and so forth. If they don’t directly confront the differences between themselves and Mormonism or other beliefs, it does not mean that they have lost their focus of preaching and teaching the Gospel and of serving Christ. It simply means that they are getting along with others and finding ways to be of service to God, out among our state, national and international populations, finding ways to “agree to disagree” on some things while finding points upon which they can agree on other things and finding ways of advancing common interests. Glenn Beck may be a Mormon, if I understand his beliefs correctly (he may have some differences with them, not sure), however, if he is going out, for example, and doing things commanded of us by Christ in Matthew 25, I’m not gonna say “OOOH, it’s a MORMON doing that, I MUST criticize his theology!” NO! I’ll move along side and say, “Hey, friend, I see you are doing things I am supposed to be doing too. May I help you with that despite any theological differences between us?” I’ve heard the saying that “one can accomplish a great deal if one does not care who gets the credit for it.” And, as Christians, we should realize that God is watching all people in all things. Someday, as Matthew 25 tells, us, we WILL get credit for good we have done.

    [Comment has been edited for length]

  2. E. Marshall Buckles May 1, 2014 8:04 am

    http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=118266

    President Falwell presented with 2014 Pilgrim Award

    These words are inscribed on the award:

    “In Recognition of President Jerry Falwell, Jr.

    Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a leader in business and in higher education who has overseen the most significant expansion of Christian higher education in the 2000-year history of the church. Under his tenure as president of Liberty University, the university population has more than doubled, the university has added scores of programs including schools of engineering and medicine, and the university has embarked on a massive $500-million reconstruction of its campus while simultaneously adding more than $1-billion to the university’s endowment and cash reserves.

    As President of Liberty University — now the world’s largest Christian university — Falwell is responsible for leading generations of Christian professionals into the marketplace, and into ministry, with an unwavering commitment to the Gospel and to professional excellence. This year alone, Liberty University will train more than 100,000 students through more than 315 programs of study, and each of those graduates will be inspired to live their lives committed to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

    Falwell’s single priority is to maintain Liberty University’s institutional commitment to its original mission even while it experiences unprecedented academic, financial and athletic achievement.

    Liberty University will, as it always has, continue to train Champions for Christ.

    Luke 12:48 “to whom much is given, much shall be required.”

  3. PastorJeff May 1, 2014 9:07 am

    Mr. Buckles, should not Christ’s command to preach the gospel to every living creature, including Mormon’s, supercede being a “university?” To promote yourself as a uniquely Christian school yet allow a false gospel to be publicly preached without clarification seems contradictory at best, hypocritical at the very least, and disobedient to scripture worst of all. By compelling attendance, allowing without correction, and refusing to separate from the distinctly different beliefs, is Liberty not lending tacit approval and endorsement of a false, sinful religion? Romans 1:32 would seem to apply.

    On a personal note I’ve been exploring opportunities to further my education on line and Liberty was one of the schools at the top of my list. No more

  4. Paul Wilkinson May 1, 2014 9:16 am

    I was told by a University representative that in order to keep its accreditation, Liberty could not continue to have “Chapel” three times a week, so they came up with “Convocation,” a slightly different use of the term than the one with which some of us are familiar. The concept is that a variety of speakers are introduced thereby avoiding any backlash that the meetings constitute a campus church service.

    Had Beck stuck to political analysis, we wouldn’t be having this discussion; but instead he went a different route. Had the university presented a number of Convocations as part of a series on comparative religion, we wouldn’t be discussing this either, but that wasn’t the case, there was both tacit and overt endorsement.

    My greater concern is that this was one of the final Convocations of the year; it’s Beck’s message that will stick with students.

  5. Matthew Grant McDaniel May 1, 2014 1:06 pm

    Excellent work here, Dr. Duncan.

    It is very much worth noting that Glenn Beck’s 2010 Commencement address for Liberty was just as filled with subtle, equivocating LDS terms and doctrines. (Here’s a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeBeCQJM6i0)

    I was there. The spiritual darkness was heavy and extremely present. He had the majority-evangelical crowd there that day wrapped around his little finger. I overheard plenty of folks afterward commenting on how much of a “great Christian man” Beck was. Many will be deceived.

    I only wish the spotlight was cast on Liberty for this (almost exactly identical thing) four years ago. I’m actually thankful that Jerry Jr made the foolish choice to invite Beck back– it blew this wide open for everyone to see clearly.

  6. Carlos Benz May 1, 2014 4:59 pm

    I am a Mormon and let me clarify the statements about what we believe:

    1. There are three main gods, and many other gods

    Officially, yes, Mormons believe there are three Gods: The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost, but The Father is higher than the other two. The belief that there are many other gods is not official doctrine, but generally implied and believed by Mormons.

    2. Jesus was born to the father and his wife, so is not eternal

    Wrong, Mormons believe Jesus as all of the children of God are eternal beings. He always existed before this earth was created.

    3. Humans are eternal beings, sent down from heaven to earth

    Yes, Mormons believe that human mortal beings were created by God on this earth by the creation of Adam and Eve and their posterity, as the Bible teaches.

    Liberty’s belief number 3. “Human beings were directly created” Is it understood mortal human beings or pre-mortal human beings? If mortal human beings then it is the same as Mormons who believe that mortal human beings were created by God.

    Also, when I say “mortal human beings” I mean the mortal physical bodies not the spirit residing in physical bodies.

    4. The Bible is only partial revelation, and is inferior to the Book of Mormon.

    We, Mormons, believe the Bible is not complete and it has not been translated correctly in many cases. The Book of Mormon is not complete either and its translation also has errors. However, in general terms, we do consider the Book of Mormon to be better than the Bible in relation to the explanation of the doctrine of Salvation by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    5. Jesus’ suffering before the cross atoned for our sins

    Not really true. Mormons believe that Jesus’s suffering before the cross, meaning in the Garden of Gethsemane, and also his suffering on the cross and death on the cross atoned for our sins.

    6. Jesus’ atonement makes it possible for us to be saved by works

    In Mormon theology we do not make good works to be saved, we do good works to be obedient to covenants we made with God. Salvation is only possible by accepting the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. It is his atoning blood that cleans us, perfects us and enables us to get into Heaven

    7. The Christian church is apostate and has fallen away from the faith

    Let me rewrite this: The Christian church today is not the same as the one Jesus organized it with Twelve Apostles. The perpetuation of the original church that Jesus organized never happened, therefore all of the Christian churches today are the product of a general apostasy that happened after the death of the original apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Mormon Church claims to be the re-establishment of the original church that Jesus organized during his earthly ministry.

    8. Believers return to Christ, not Christ to believers.

    Wrong, Mormons believe in the Great Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Mormon church claims it is the Kingdom that is being prepared to be delivered to the Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back in his Great Second Coming.

  7. Pastor C May 2, 2014 1:48 pm

    Carlos,
    If the Book of Mormon was translated letter by letter then with divine assistance then how can there be mistakes? This is just one seemingly obvious intellectual hurdle that must be dealt with to believe Mormonism is true.

    • Carlos Benz May 2, 2014 5:34 pm

      Pastor C,

      The translation per se is not be the source of errors but the account itself. Assuming that the story about the Book of Mormon is true (which I do believe is true). There was a man named Nephi who lived 600 B.C. who started a record engraving on metal plates.

      Since a human being wrote such record, it is obvious that that record has to have errors since the human element was continuously present during the work of writing.

      The translation process with divine assistance or not, only changes the writings from one language into another. It is not the job of the translation process to fix up errors that the author has written.

      Also, a good translation is not a word-per-word translation neither much less a letter-per-letter translation. A good translation is about transmitting ideas from one language into another.

      In the case of the Book of Mormon, in addition to the divine assistance to translate the record from an ancient language into English, Smith also inserted into the English version his own words or expressions, like “adieu” in Jacob 7:27 in order to convey the exact meaning.

      Also, when it came to translate passages of the Old Testament found on the original record written by Nephi, Smith deliberately inserted the equivalent verses found in the King James Version. That also explains why full chapters of the King James Version Old Testament are found in the Book of Mormon. This is congruent with a good work of translation,

      Even today when it comes to translate biblical lectures, translators do not translate the quotes taken from the Bible but they use the Bible in the target language to replace the verses given in the original language.

      Pastor C by your words I can tell you only speak one language and are not familiar with the process of translating languages. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have asked me in the way you did it.

      Anyways, thank you for your question. I hope it clarified the matter.

  8. PastorJeff May 2, 2014 10:39 pm

    Carlos, being Mormon you clearly know more of the religion than I do, so maybe you can help me with some questions I have.

    Why do the Biblical verses and chapters seen in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words of the King James bible which were added by translators in 1611 if the plates used to translate the book of Mormon are from thousands of years ago?

    If the book of Mormon is inspired of God why have their been over 4000 changes made to it since 1830?

    Why does the book of Mormon say that Jesus was born in Jerusalem(Alma 7:10) when the bible prophecies in Malachi and states in Matthew 2:1 He was born in Bethlehem?

    Who else saw the plates and transalted them other than Jeseph Smith? I know their were supposed witnesses to him translating them but who else saw the plates and the writings and translated what they said. Reason being is the bible says that any testimony must be verified by at least 2-3 witnesses to be valid in both the Old and New Testament.

    Can you cite any non-Mormon acheological or historical evidence that any of the places or history contained in the book of Mormon has been verified? The bible has been verified by archeology over and over.

    Does the “Pearl of Great Price” really teach that Jesus and Satan are “Spirit Brothers?” If so how can Jesus be the only begotten Son of God?

    How can Joseph Smith truly be a prophet when he said New Jerusalem would be established and a temple would be built in Zion, Missouri in his lifetime? God’s standard for a prphet is that they are never wrong according to the bible.

    Same for Brigham Young, who stated people live on the moon and the sun. And if he was a prophet, how could his declarartion that blacks could not serve in the priesthood be overturned?

    Just a few I have. Many more as well.

    TIA

    Jeff

    • Carlos Benz May 3, 2014 1:49 am

      Pastor Jeff,

      It is very disappointing that you have asked me questions that have been already answered many times in LDS apologetic websites. I myself am tired of answering this type of questions over and over to different people. It seems to me that that people, and you among them, are reading the same anti-Mormon literature and getting your questions from there, instead of reading from the original sources of LDS theology.

      Which is more disappointing to me is that you are asking me questions that I have already answered in this discussion. Which makes me think that either you never read my previous comment or you are just copying and pasting your questions to me without even reading them. For instance, I have already answered your questions 1 and 2. Why are you asking me again on the same matter?

      On the other hand, your other questions reveal that you are not knowledgeable about the Bible, neither about the basic knowledge of the story of the Book of Mormon or the basics of archaelogical matters in relation to the Bible and to the Book of Mormon. Also your understanding of what is a prophet is also lacking of fundamental basis of a prophet calling according to the Bible.

      If you want me to educate you on these things, I am not going to do it now and neither right here. You can get answers to your questions and some others in LDS apologetic websites. If after reading those websites, you still have questions, I will be more than happy to address them and answer them.

      Also, studying more your Bible from the very beginning (Genesis 1) you can get answers to some of the questions you are asking me in here.

      In Christ,

      Carlos

  9. PastorJeff May 3, 2014 8:33 am

    Carlos,

    Where did you answer these questions? Humor me. God’s standard for a prophet is he must be accurate 100% of the time. When did that change? Many on here probably have not seen the answers to these questions, so enlighten us as to why Mormonism should not be considered a cult. A religion that uses Christian language but with entirely differing meaning for the words. Your better than to just say “I should study more.”

    • Carlos Benz May 3, 2014 2:32 pm

      Pastor Jeff,

      It seems to me that you have reading problems.
      First off, I did not say I answered ALL of your questions. I said that in the past, in other occasions, I have answered this type of questions over and over to different people. So read again before start laughing.

      My previous post did answer your first two questions before you even asked. Again read back and please do not ask me to answer them again because it is a waste of time and I don’t like to waste my time.

      In relation to Joseph Smith’s prophecy about the New Jerusalem, he never said the New Jerusalem would be established and a temple would be built in Zion, Missouri in his lifetime. Have you ever read that prophecy from the book Doctrine and Covenants? or are just you repeating something you heard someone said about it? Because the prophecy never said that it would happen in Smith’s lifetime. So, you need to be informed better first from primary sources, not secondary sources before jumping into conclusions.

      About the “Many on here” the many on here are only five people following this conversation. And I am sure if they are interested in answers about LDS doctrines, they had already asked their questions. But they are not interested in learning about Mormons, so there is no reason to educate people not interested in learning anything about Mormons.

      If you want a serious and edifying debate, you have to ask me questions based on primary sources not just coming up with questions that reveal you have not done your own research first.

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  11. PastorJeff May 3, 2014 5:35 pm

    Carlos, I’m reading through your post I responded to. So the answers to my first 2 questions is since the plates were translated by a man their has to be errors? Really? Smith wasn’t translating from ancient manuscripts as biblical translators are. The translation was being given to him supposedly by God, so how could there be errors? 4000 of them? Really? How does well it will have errors explain why the italicized words of the KJV bible, many translated by the KJV bible in error and later corrected, are in the book of Mormon? Why would God give Joseph Smith errors from the KIJV bible? What sense does that make?

    Doctrines and Covenants, 84:1-5 says the temple will be dedicated by Smith himself and that the generation present would not pass before it happened? How am I to take this?

    You haven’t even attempted answering any of my other questions, and you see, that’s the issue I’ve had when talking with other Mormons. They deflect and use word gymnastics to avoid the questions, although most have been genuinely nice and not as rude and condescending as you are.

    The book of Mormon was revealed by every account I’ve read, Mormon and non Mormon, to Joseph Smith alone. He alone translated. If I am wrong, correct me. And if he did, he is the only witness to the actual “letter by letter” translation. The one who wrote down the tranlsation did not actually see it. That’s one witness, and a direct contradiction to what the bible teaches, that God will provide a minimum of 2-3. The false prophecies of Smith. Brigham Young and many other Mormon leaders are well documented. When did the 100% rule God sets out in Deuteronomy 18 end?

    And what I’ve read from Mormon websites such as FAIRMORMON I cannot make any sense of the lack of archeological evidence and their attempts to explain. The reason Mormons such as yourself keep getting asked these questions is because other than a Mormon, no one understands the answers they get, or they cannot be documented outside of a Mormon controlled source.

    You came to a Christian website and told of what Mormonism actually teaches. Think of me as the parable of the sower. Consider me the wayside, or rocky or thorny soil. Spread the seed of Mormonism and educate me. Only do so without contradicting the bible, of which God said that anyone who added to or took away from would be cursed, or with actual scientific, archeological or historic evidence. I’ve yet to meet the Mormon who can, and yes, I’ve spoken to many. We have Mormon missionaries in our church neighborhood and 2 Mormon families across the street from our church right now. They simlpy refuse to talk about these things.

    • Carlos Benz May 4, 2014 3:01 am

      Pastor Jeff,

      First off, I want to apologize for being rude with you, I recognize I wrote hard words to you. I wrote with my liver instead of with my heart. I sincerely apologize and will try from now on to answer to your questions, if I am allowed by the blog owner.

      As you said, I came to this blog to clarify some issues about Mormonism. It was not my intention to teach individuals or resolve the problems of Mormonism in here. Neither I came to this blog to preach my religion or educate specific individuals about Mormonism. I wrote what I wrote having in mind that it was going to be the only time I was going to write on this blog. But soon, Pastor C showed up with one question about the translation of the Book of Mormon that I took time to answer and that I thought I answered very well.

      Later you showed up with an question-machine gun to shoot a lot of questions, to be precise, 8 questions and wanted me to answer all of them at once.

      I was particular bothered by your first two questions, because I thought I had already answered them when I answered to Pastor C.

      The reason I did not answer your questions was because it take a lot of time and space to answer each question. Look at how much space I took to answer just one question to Pastor C; now multiply that by 8. Also, I was not sure if the owner of this blog would allow me to teach Mormonism in here. Also, I was bothered that your questions did not seem to be from a person who was really interested in learning but in arguing. I am not in here to argue with others.

      Now, on this post I am not going to answer your 8 questions, but only 1:

      You quoted D&C 84: 1-5. These are your words:

      “Doctrines and Covenants, 84:1-5 says the temple will be dedicated by Smith himself and that the generation present would not pass before it happened? How am I to take this?”

      The answer is easy: You are to take this in the same way you take Mathew 24:34 where the Lord Jesus Christ said:

      “34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

      What are “all these things”? If you read Mathew 24 you will realize that he was giving the signs that would happen before his Second Coming, and at the end he said that all of those signs will be fulfilled before “that generation passed” and that was said 2,000 years ago!

      Many generations have passed in 2,000 years and still many of the signs foretold by the Lord Jesus have not been fulfilled yet. Did he also give a false prophecy? or it is that we don’t understand the meaning of the words: “this generation” in the prophetic context?

      Certainly the Savior gave a true prophecy when he taught that “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” in the same way the Savior revealed to his prophet Joseph Smith that “For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord” (D&C 84:5)

      These words are not Smith’s but are the Lord’s which he revealed to Smith. No wonder why the Lord Jesus would use the same expression when revealing about future events.

      Finally, the way God measures time is not the way man measures time. One day for God is not the same as one day for man. In the same way, the meaning of “this generation” for God is not the same meaning we men give to the same words.

      Pastor Jeff, if you are a real pastor, you are supposed to know these things, why I have to teach you these things about the way God measures time? If you are a true pastor, I am sure you have read Mathew 24:34 many times. How is it possible that you never realized that according to your understanding of the words: “this generation” the prophecies given by the Lord Jesus Christ become false ones?

      The Good Lord Jesus may give you more light and understanding of his holy word.

      In Christ,

      Carlos

  12. PastorJeff May 4, 2014 8:06 am

    Carlos, I appreciate the kinder tone. All you have to do is click my name here and you’ll see I am a pastor. Regarding Matthew 24, you take the verse out of context. The parable of the fig tree is a parable about the regathering of the nation of Israel. The fig tree is a common stmbol for Israel. Remember, Jesus had cursed the fig tree symbollizing the death of the nation, which would occur in 67 AD when the temple was destroyed and the people dispersed. The nation was not reestablished again until 1948, and Jerusalem was not claimed as the capitol again until 1967. Now whether the generation that witnessed the re-blooming of the nation was 1948 or 1967, it was this generation Jesus was speaking of. He was speaking to Jews also remember, His disciples to be precise, as part of the Olivet discourse there. A generation is not defined precisely by scripture. Could be 20, 40, 100 years, but we are still in that generation that witnessed the regathering and reinstitution of the nation of Israel. Maybe you can enlighten me as to whether symbollic language is used by Smith in that part of the D&C. It was clearly being used here, as if it was not, Jesus uttered a false prophecy, therefore lying, therefore He was not sinless and would be unable to save us as the sin offering must be unblemished

    • Carlos Benz May 4, 2014 12:18 pm

      Pastor Jeff,

      We have in here a problem of interpretation of the scripture. I don’t think I am taking verse 34 out of context and I don’t think the purpose of the Lord’s words is to advise about the regathering of Israel. Why? because of verse 3.

      To start off, what is the reason he started those words found in Matthew chapter 24?
      Because his disciples asked him a question.

      What was that question?
      It was about the destruction of the temple and regathering of the people of Israel ONLY? No. it was about his Second Coming and the end of the world. Let’s read it:

      “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and WHAT SHALL BE THE SIGN OF THY COMING, and OF THE END OF THE WORLD?” (Matthew 24:3)

      What things were the disciples asking about?
      The destruction of the temple.

      What signs were the disciples asking about?
      The signs of His Second Coming and the signs of the end of the world?

      In none of his words Jesus speaks about the regathering of Israel, actually there is no prophecy about the regathering of Israel in here.

      Basically, there are two questions in the disciples’ question?

      1) “when shall these things be? AND 2) what shall be the sign of thy coming, AND of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)”

      The Lord Jesus did not answered the first question. He only addressed the second question, at least that is the way it was recorded in the KJV of the Bible, maybe the original record had a more complete answer.

      Jesus gave all of the signs preceding his Second Coming, in no place he addressed the regathering of Israel. This is not a parable, he is answering directly a question: “What are the sign of thy coming AND of the end of the world?”

      The Lord Jesus is talking about future events related to his Second Coming and the End of the World and at the end of his words he added:

      “Verily I say unto you, THIS generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:34

      If he were talking about a future generation in 1948 he had said “THAT generation” not “THIS generation”.

      Obviously the words “this generation” has a different meaning for the Lord Jesus rather than a period of 80 or so years mortals can live. Since many generations have passed since the year 33 A.D. and still many of the signs preceding the second coming of the Lord and the end of the world have not yet passed.

      This is congruent with the way God measures times because he does not measure time the way mortals do.

      D&C 84:5 are the words of Jesus Christ not Smith’s therefore is also congruent to find the use of that same expression (this generation) since it is the same person the one who speaks about future events.

  13. PastorJeff May 4, 2014 9:20 am

    And Carlos, the scripture you cite is a parable. A story used to illustrate a truth. Is Smith speaking in parables in the D&C?

  14. PastorJeff May 4, 2014 2:46 pm

    Carlos, we do have differing interpretions. In order to interpret, we must determine what the fig tree represents. In Mt 21:18-20 and Mk 11:12-14 Jesus finds s fig tree with leaves but no fruit, and proceeds to curse it. Why? If it’s just a fig tree, no reason to do that. The tree must symbollize something, and it symbollizes Israel and the soon death of the nation. Conversely, in Mt 24, when the fig tree blooms again, Israel becomes a nation again, which occurred in 1948 with the capitol Jerusalem added in 1967, this is the rebirth of the nation, when the Jewish people were regathered to the land. The fig tree must mean something, otherwise it’s just a story about Jesus cursing a tree and another blooming. Old Testament criptures set the precedent for interpreting figs and the fig tree as Israel, Hosea 9:10 and Jeremiah 24:1-10 refer to the faithful of or unfaithful of Israel. Luke 13:6-9 specifically teaches without repentance the fig tree, Israel, would be cut down. Again, the fig tree is a symbol, and it is a consistent OT/NT symbol of the nation of Israel. So when Jesus says the generation that sees the fig tree with leaves again, the nation in existence, the generation that sees that shall not pass before the return of Christ. If the fig tree does not symbollize Israel, what does it symbollize? The disciples asked for signs of Jesus coming. Jesus taught Israel becoming a nation again(which none of those present then could have forseen Israel not being a nation) would be a sign of His coming

    • Carlos Benz May 4, 2014 8:22 pm

      Pastor Jeff,

      I do agree with you that the fig tree the people of Israel, however, I do not see in Matthew chapter 24 any prophecy regarding the regathering of Israel. All what I see is Jesus giving the signs of his Second Coming or before his Second Coming and that all of those signs will be fulfilled “in this generation”, which honestly according to mortal time none of those prophecies or signs happened in his generation (meaning from year 1 to year 100 A.D.)

  15. PastorJeff May 4, 2014 9:32 pm

    Carlos, exactly it did not happen then, so it could not have been speaking of then. Jesus was sinless so He could not lie. The fig tree with leaves represents Israel the nation. The lack of fruit also represents Israel the nation, which had became a nation that worshipped God with their lips, not their hearts. Just as Jesus said in Luke 13, they were chopped down. But then Jesus gives the parable of the fig tree, where once again it has leaves and no fruit. This is representative of Israel today, as they once again exist as a nation but still have no fruit. The sign is the reestablishment of the nation of Israel, but in order to do that, the people had to be regathered to the land. In the last 10 years for the first time at least since Jesus’s time and possible back to 722 BC and the Assyrian captivity of the 10 northern tribes, called Israel or Ephraim, their are more Jews actually in Israel than throughout the world. God has been regathering His people back to Israel since 1948

  16. Pastor Chris Myers May 5, 2014 11:25 pm

    I am not ashamed of the Gospel and KNOW that any other gospel is a cult. Let’s not tip toe around the truth. Mormanism is a cult! It does not have the truth and is a non-Christian religion void of any practices of that was proclaimed by Christ his apostles and the church. It does not answer questions about the changes logically because there is no logic to it. It is a blatant attempt by Satan to conceal the truth! It is a CULT and defined as such throughout the Bible. Those who ascribe to this cult are spiritually blind and void of understanding as well as lost spiritually. Those who do not understand faith by grace are not part of the Church Christianity or Christ. I do not post this out of hate but of love for my fellow humans. While the Morman faith has its beliefs they do not believe in Christ as being the only way to salvation and do not believe that He is God manifested in the flesh. By these two tennents of their faith they exclude themselves from Christianity and hence are self proclaimed as being a religion that does not believe in Christianity.

    • David Rhee May 6, 2014 4:49 pm

      I find in this post-modern world, people are too naive (or fragmented as the post modern sociologists would state) and do not understand a simple concept:

      Just because you have Jesus, Christ, and Biblical terminologies do not make it Christian…

      Satan understands Biblical and Christian Doctrines and could use it very well (The “tempting” of Jesus)… But that don’t make Satan a Christian (as we all know)…

      I think people just don’t go into much depth of the Bible nor really understand the underlying foundations of why Christians are to believe the way they are to believe. That is one major issue and why there is a proliferation of false teachers, false Christ, and cults.

  17. TWM May 13, 2014 11:21 am

    “7. The Christian church is apostate and has fallen away from the faith

    Let me rewrite this: The Christian church today is not the same as the one Jesus organized it with Twelve Apostles. The perpetuation of the original church that Jesus organized never happened, therefore all of the Christian churches today are the product of a general apostasy that happened after the death of the original apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Mormon Church claims to be the re-establishment of the original church that Jesus organized during his earthly ministry.”

    That there is just wrong, totally ignoring the Orthodox faith with its direct connection to the Apostles in theological, historical, and geographic ways not found by in any other church.

    • Carlos Benz May 13, 2014 1:58 pm

      TWM,

      You said that right: “theological, historical and geographic ways…” in no way you mentioned any priesthood connection because the Apostles did not pass the apostleship office to others. In other words,the perpetuation of the priesthood did not happen and without the true priesthood of God the true church of Jesus Christ cannot exist.

      • James Duncan May 13, 2014 10:28 pm

        Jesus is our high priest, and the apostles were not expected to act as priests nor pass the priestly or apostolic office to anyone else.

        Carlos, your responses are getting us nowhere because we’re not talking about the same faith or the same Lord. We’re arguing apples and lemons, and there’s not much profit to be had in doing that.

        • Jordan May 14, 2014 4:28 pm

          Carlos Benz and Dr. Duncan,

          Actually, the apostles did pass the apostleship office down to their successors. Acts 1:20-26 (ESV). Immediately after a quote from Psalms, “Let another take his office,” the Apostles cast lots to choose a replacement for Judas. If the Apostles did not hold an office, why would they choose a replacement? Why wouldn’t they just continue on as the Eleven? Plus, we have historical records of those who succeeded the original Twelve, specifically Peter and his successors. Moreover, Christians for 1,500+ years understood that the Apostles and their successors held a particular office (bishops). Why should someone now, 2,000+ years removed from the beginning of the Church, think that he has a better understanding of the role of the Apostles than the Apostles themselves or the early Christians?

          Interestingly, Protestants who claim that there is no apostolic succession or that the line of succession was broken are on the same ground as Mormons, Muslims, and other restorationists: that God allowed His people to wander from the Truth, but their religious movement is restoring the faith as it was always intended to be. Even setting aside the utter lack of historical evidence for a period of total apostasy, as a matter of principle, I don’t think that God would allow His people to completely stray from orthodoxy such that Truth was completely lost, even if only temporarily.

          • James Duncan May 14, 2014 9:04 pm

            The criteria for apostleship were that the apostle be sent out by Jesus and be a witness to his resurrection (two criteria that Paul emphasizes in his claims for apostleship himself). After the apostles who were alive between the resurrection and the ascension died, no more apostles could possibly exist.

            The regular offices of the church including pastors, deacons and elders (bishops, if you prefer) obviously continued to exist, however.

            If you accept that we have apostles today who can speak with divine authority, you have no basis to refute the claims of teachers like Joseph Smith. If, on the other hand, you believe that there was only a single generation of apostles who were appointed to build the church and write Scripture, once someone today says, “I’m an apostle, listen to me,” it’s a sure sign that the person is a false apostle.

          • Jordan May 14, 2014 9:45 pm

            Dr. Duncan,

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. I see a couple issues with your claims. First, you assert that there are two criteria for apostleship, and that it was this first set of apostles (and only this first set) “who were appointed to build the church and write Scripture.” There are a couple problems with this assertion.

            First, many New Testament books were not written by apostles. Mark, Luke, Jude, Timothy, and Philemon come readily to mind. And, since the Bible wasn’t canonized until close to 400 A.D., obviously the Apostles didn’t have any say in which books made the canon (but their successors did!). If you believe, as you said, that “there was only a single generation of apostles who were appointed to . . . write Scripture,” then you cannot accept the entire canon as the inspired Word of God, but only the books that the apostles actually wrote (John, Pauline Epistles, Petrine Epistles, etc.).

            Second, and most importantly, your claim that there was only a single generation of apostles is utterly unsupported by history. After that generation died, why did Christians universally accept the successors of the apostles as having the same authority as the apostles? Christians did not just view the successors to the apostles as mere leaders in the church, but as the very successors to the Apostles who had the same authority as the Apostles. A casual review of the writings of the Church Fathers and early Christians will reveal how Christians universally viewed those who succeeded the first generation of Apostles.

            My second issue is with your assertion that “if you accept that we have apostles today who can speak with divine authority, you have no basis to refute the claims of teachers like Joseph Smith.” This is quite clearly false. In fact, very much the opposite is true. As a Protestant, you have to say to the Mormon, “Your attempts to restore the faith to its true form are wrong, but mine are right.” It is nothing more than a battle of opinions and interpretations. On the other hand, if we have apostles today who “can speak with divine authority,” I can accept their declarations that Mormon scripture is not the inspired Word of God and that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Rather than refuting them with my opinions (which count for very little, if anything), I can refute them based on the divine authority of the successors to the apostles.

          • James Duncan May 14, 2014 10:09 pm

            Sola Scriptura.

            Unless you can agree that Scripture alone is the sufficient rule for our faith and practice, our disagreement is going to be just as intractable as it was with Carlos.

          • Jordan May 15, 2014 11:39 am

            Dr. Duncan,

            I think I understand your point, but in the interest of not hijacking the comment section, I will leave my response for another article on another day.

            Have a great weekend!

          • Jordan May 25, 2014 11:11 am

            Dr. Duncan,

            Under Sola Scriptura, how would a Christian living during the 4th century have responded to the Arian heresy? First, there was no universally accepted canon at the time, so appeals to Scripture would have been difficult. Second, Arian based his entire heresy on Scripture. He taught that Jesus was inferior to the Father. Of course, almost all Christians now take for granted that Jesus is equal to the Father in the Trinity.

            So, how could we know which position is correct, Arianism or (what we now call) Orthodoxy, without some authoritative voice to interpret the faith? All the apostles (as you have defined them) were dead at the time of the Arian heresy, so they would not have been available to settle the dispute. Both sides of the heresy used prayer and Scripture to arrive at their positions. Who gets to ultimately settle the issue?

  18. PastorJeff May 14, 2014 11:43 pm

    Jordan, Timothy(1 and 2) and Philemon were written by Paul. He was an apostle

    • Jordan May 15, 2014 11:32 am

      PastorJeff,

      You are absolutely correct. Freudian slip, maybe? Although I stand by my original statement, I was incorrect to include Timothy and Philemon on that list. Thanks for catching that, though!

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