There have been many thought-provoking comments made, which stem from the polygamy article that I posted earlier this week. However, the discussion has moved away from polygamy to prophets, authority, faith, trust and so forth. I feel that I should post my answers to these questions where all can see them easily. These are in response to Jeremy LaDuke’s questions and my answers are addressed to him, but they apply to all. To read his entire statement, please see the comments on the polygamy post. I have taken his questions and other statements and inserted them as I have responded to them.
You have raised some good concerns and you think that there are contradictions in my statements. However, it is my hope that you will take this opportunity to learn about Mormon beliefs. What I have stated is the doctrine of our church and what I have come to know by studying the doctrine. The understanding of this doctrine has come at a high price of diligent study and seeking to understand. Therefore, it is easy for me to understand that you might not see things the way I do, because you have not sought for understanding of these truths the way that I have. Now, I am making some assumptions here, one that you are not a member of our Church and two that you have not sincerely searched pondered and prayed about such things as the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, revelation, prophets, priesthood (as Mormons understand it) and a plethora of other doctrines. I believe that if you were to go through these same sorts of experiences and sincerely desire to know if what I am telling you is true you would find that it is true. However, it appears that you and I are on different sides of the stadium trying to understand the game that we are watching and seeing different perspectives.
“In the first paragraph of your response you say that you put your faith in God and not man who can err. However most of the response after that seems to be defending the credibility of the men whom you call prophets.”
As far as me seeming to contradict myself by saying that I trust in God and then defend men whom I regard as prophets, I think I must not have been clear enough. I believe that God has called these men to be prophets, they are God’s mouthpieces. They teach us what God would teach us. Therefore, I am defending my beliefs in God and his reality when I defend these men. I trust these men, the prophets, because once again, I believe they are teaching me what God has told them to teach. Thus, if I choose to reject one then I am rejecting the other and vice versa. (See below also)
“In fact, most of the beliefs that you as a Mormon hold and that diverge from orthodox Christianity are dependent upon the validity of Joseph Smith’s testimony”
You are exactly right. The truths we proclaim and teach are dependent upon the validity of Joseph Smith’s testimony. Either he saw God or he didn’t, I think that we would both agree that it is that simple. Either there was an apostasy and the authority given to man to speak in God’s name was lost, or that authority continued on down through the popes and the Catholic church is right. Now, this puts Mormons in an interesting position. If Joseph Smith is a true prophet and what he said was true, then what we teach is true and the Mormon church is true as is the Book of Mormon, the reality of a living prophet, the concept that the Godhead is three separate beings and so on and so forth. If this is the case, well then we are the only church on the earth that can offer true and abiding salvation and the opportunity to gain it. However, if we aren’t right, then we are just another church, with our peculiar beliefs that diverge from mainstream Christianity. The last thing is that we believe that Joseph Smith didn’t diverge from orthodox Christianity, rather through him God restored the true Church and Gospel.
“Also, what exactly qualifies as God ‘removing someone from their place’? Joseph Smith was killed in a jail, Brigham Young died at 76. Were these men ‘removed’? If you answer no – why?”
No, they were not removed as a result of leading the Church astray. At any point in our lives if we ever question anything, we believe that we can ask God in prayer and he will tell us what is right. Therefore, we have the right to ask God if what the prophet has taught is true and God will confirm whether it is or isn’t through the Holy Ghost. Therefore, Jeremy I leave it up to you to find out if God removed these men because they led the church astray or if they were true and faithful to the end. Personally, I know that they were not removed because they led the church astray.
When I do what the prophet says it is because I believe that what the prophet asks me to do is what God asks of me. Thus, there is no reason for me to doubt what the prophet asks.
I want to say that there is plenty of reason to doubt what a prophet says sometimes. When Joseph Smith prophesied that he would never be overthrown and that God would continually strengthen him, and then less than two years later he was murdered – that gives me plenty of reason to doubt. I understand that many prophets have given sound advice, but so has Dr. Phil.”
I have no reason to doubt if what a prophet has taught is true, because I have already gained a confirmation from God that he is God’s prophet, therefore I believe that what he says is true. When a prophet speaks in the name of God, it is what God would say if God were there, as I alluded to before. It is then our opportunity to accept or reject it. Let me put it this way, if God is God and he knows all and if he does have a prophet on the earth today, do you think that God will call a person to be his prophet if he knows that that person will lead the church astray and cause, in our time, millions of people to be led astray. I sincerely doubt that will happen. God wants all of his children to come home, so why would he call someone to be a prophet who is going to hinder them from coming home?
“I am also curious if there is a list of the eternal laws, or if they can be deduced from the whole of scripture like you have done? For many of the prophecies that can be overturned are in your Doctrines and Covenants and hold the position of scripture, right?”
No, Jeremy there isn’t a master list of eternal laws. However, I think that it is pretty simple to see that when God or his prophets say “No unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God” that is an eternal law. Or when Christ, teaching Nicodemus says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” These are eternal laws and these sorts of statements are what I was referring to.
The last thing that I would like to add is that I believe what I believe because of what I have experienced in my life. I do not blame you for not believing me, I assume that you haven’t experienced what I have. I can see that you want to understand and perhaps you just want to try to show the world how myopic you think Mormons are, but I cannot deny what I know. My testimony of the reality of the prophet Joseph Smith has been seared into my heart and soul by the Holy Ghost and I will not waver from that, nor will I waver from all that rests upon the validity of Joseph Smith’s testimony. It is a valid story, but you have to pay the price to find out if it is true. Acquiring a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ comes by putting in the effort required to gain it and by showing God that you really want to know by sincerely seeking, not seeking to disprove it. I will never regret the price that I have paid to gain the knowledge that I have of these things.