Comments on the March 2008 Ensign

My order of the Mormon Church's highly touted March 2008 edition of Ensign finally arrived.
You can either view it online or download the PDF version.

The magazine came beautifully wrapped with a thin plastic cover and back. I've never seen a 
specially crafted magazine like this before from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
This will no doubt be considered a collector's edition.

For those of you who do not know, I am not a Latter-day Saint but I have studied Mormon 
material since about 2004 and have followed her publications since then from time to time.

This March 2008 edition caught my eye because it seemed to primarily focus on Jesus
Christ - the focal figure of LDS and other Christian churches. I wished to know if
the LDS Church would accurately portray His character when compared to how He is
described in her other teaching manuals like Gospel Principles, Gospel Fundamentals,
and Religion 430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual.

In the opening pages of the special issue March 2008 Ensign, we are greeted with these
words: "We invite you to study these messages prayerfully, take them to heart, and share
them with others."


Let us do this ...


Article - We Testify of Jesus Christ, p. 4

"This Jesus Christ of whom we solemnly testify is, as John the Revelator declared, the
faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of
the earth."


Considering that Latter-day Saints view Jesus as the Only Begotten Son of God in the
flesh, I wonder what they mean by Jesus being the first begotten of the dead.

"He was and is the Son of the Almighty."

If you study the book of Revelation, then you will see that Jesus is the Almighty†
God (Rev. 1:7-8, 17-18; 22:12-13, 16, 20).

p. 6 -> "He, the lowly babe of Bethlehem who two millennia ago walked the dusty roads
of the Holy Land, became the Lord Omnipotent."


The Book of Mormon says Jesus is the Lord Omnipotent, from all eternity to all†
eternity (Mosiah 3:5). Jesus did not have to become the Lord Omnipotent.

Evangelical Christians believe that Jesus has always been the Lord Omnipotent. Jesus
did not have to become God. The Mormon Jesus in LDS theology became a God. 

p. 7 -> "He is the chief cornerstone of the Church that bears His name, The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."


Jesus is the chief cornerstone of all Christian churches.  But the LDS Church teaches 
a different Jesus than Mosiah 3:5. 

p. 7 -> "There is none to equal Him. There never has been. There never will be."

This is not accurate.

According to LDS theology, there are many many Gods in addition to Jesus Christ. He is
not unique either because other Gods have their own version of Jesus Christ who
provided atonement for the people on their own worlds.

Also, Joseph Smith revealed that faithful and obedient Latter-day Saints would someday
have the same power, glory, and dominion of God himself (see Doctrine and Covenants
76:95). 

p. 7 -> "He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God,
the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh."


To some, this begotten in the flesh means that Jesus was born through some special
relationship between Heavenly Father and Mary. "That Child to be born of Mary was 
begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in†violation of natural law but in accordance 
with a higher manifestation thereof; and,†the offspring from that association of supreme 
sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure†through mortal maternity, was of right to be called 
the Son of the Highest"
(chapter 4, Religion 430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student 
Manual).

Former LDS apostles (and/or elders) have taught that Heavenly Father had
intimate relations with Mary to conceive Jesus, as you most likely born to your
earthly parents. I suppose this is the modern Mormon Church's way to use
"flowery" or "symbolic" terms to mean the same thing.

I wonder if Latter-day Saints would really object if their God wanted to have
sex with Mary to produce Jesus?


Article - We Testify of Jesus Christ, p. 9

President Spencer W. Kimball said, "We place Jesus Christ on a pedestal as no other
group I know of."


This is not accurate.

Evangelical groups do not view Jesus as being one God among a countless number of†
Gods as in LDS theology. Jesus has always been God and there is only one God. This is†
not the case for the Mormon version of Jesus.

In Mormon theology there are an unknown number of pedestals, each with its own
exalted person.


Article - Who is Jesus Christ, p. 15-16

"Nephi testified that the Bible once contained the fulness of the gospel of the
Lord ... He [Nephi] then prophesied that the precious things would be restored
(see 1 Nephi 13:34Ė35). And they were restored."


The LDS Church seems to contradict this teaching of Nephi because the Introduction
page of the Book of Mormon currently asserts that itself and the Bible both contain
the fulness of the Gospel. Many important LDS doctrines are not found in the Book
of Mormon. These are the Word of Wisdom, Eternal Marriage, Temple Work, and the Law
of Consecration. All Evangelical doctrines are found in the Bible. All LDS doctrines
are not found in the Book of Mormon. If anything, the Book of Mormon should not be
said to contain the fulness of the Gospel based on this criteria.

This reminds me of something I once read in the 2004 version of the Mormon Church
missionary guide called "Preach My Gospel."

Section 5, page 114 states, "Help missionaries see how the Book of Mormon teaches
the doctrines from the missionary lessons. In a second column, have them list
side-by-side those same elements as taught in the Bible. Have your missionaries
leave blank those elements that are missing or not taught in the Bible. It will
become very evident to the missionary how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of
our doctrine. This same activity can be done with the other doctrines that
missionaries teach.
"

For an unspecified reason, the missionaries are not instructed to leave blank those
elements (doctrines and practices of the LDS Church) that are missing or not taught
in the Book of Mormon.

This is not a fair way for Mormons to compare the Book of Mormon with the Bible.

p. 16 - > "In the Book of Mormon the word atone in form and tense appears 39 times.
Only once in the New Testament but 39 times in the Book of Mormon. What better
witness that the Book of Mormon is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ?"


This is a rather very weak argument to show that the Book of Mormon is another
testament of Jesus Christ. Using this same approach, one could really study the
Book of Mormon and also argue that the Nephites and Lamanites were non-Israelites
because you hear no record of the Jewish festivals.

p. 17 - > "In mortality men are free to choose, and each choice begets a
consequence."


But Gospel Principles, on page 21 states that the spirit sons and daughters of
God had agency (the ability to choose between good and evil), while they lived
with God in His celestial kingdom prior to coming to earth in a mortal body.

What types of evil exist in God's celestial kingdom for agency to be acted upon was
not explained in that LDS Church manual.

p. 19 - > "We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon,
and in the endowment that manís mortal body was made in the image of God in a
separate creation."


Wasn't Adam's immortal body on earth made in the image of God?

p. 19 - > "At Gethsemane and Golgotha, the Saviorís blood was shed."

Jesus was sweating and not bleeding at Gethsemane. See Luke 22:44.


Article - Who is Jesus Christ, p. 22

"He [Jesus] leads us to the safe pastures of salvation and eternal life, protecting
us from the dangers of death and sin."


The danger in the Garden of Eden was Lucifer.

p. 23 -> "For me, obtaining the Aaronic Priesthood was a wonderful moment because I
knew it was what the Lord wanted me to do. I was following His example."


The Aaronic Priesthood was restricted to the tribe of Levi. Jesus was from the tribe
of Judah.


Article - Faith in Jesus Christ, p. 25

p. 26 -> "He [Jesus] is the greatest among all of Godís creations, the Only Begotten
Son in the flesh and the Firstborn in the spirit."


In Evangelical theology Jesus is not a creation of God.

Latter-day Saints also believe that Jesus was begotten in the spirit too.

p. 26 -> "You exercise faith in Christ when you have ... (2) a correct idea of His
character."


If Jesus was not a procreated spirit child of Heavenly Father and Mother, then it
is safe to say that Latter-day Saints do not exercise faith in Christ since they
do not have a correct idea of His nature.

p. 27 -> "The book of Abraham teaches that the Gods went down to organize man in
their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form
they them."


According to the Bible and the Book of Mormon there is only one God.

When Adam and Eve were formed on earth, they were given immortal bodies. But earlier
we read that "We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon,
and in the endowment that manís mortal body was made in the image of God in a
separate creation" (p. 19, Ensign, March 2008).

So what type of body did Adam get when he was formed on earth, mortal or immortal?

p. 29 -> "We become children of the covenant; we become His children ... ye shall be
called the children of Christ ... for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten
you ... your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of
him and have become his sons and his daughters."


So it seems like Latter-day Saints have 2 Heavenly Fathers. The Book of Mormon also
calls Jesus the Eternal Father.

Now what does begotten mean here?

p. 29 -> "The Book of Mormon exists, in part, to convince the Jew and Gentile that
Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God."


Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals have different views on what the term "Eternal God"
means.


Article - The Atonement of Jesus Christ, p. 35

"As a result of the Fall, all persons born into mortality would suffer these two kinds
of death."


We suffer these consequences because of Adam's transgression.

p. 35 -> "His ransom for Adamís original transgression so that no member of the human
family is held responsible for that sin ... while all members of the human family are
freely given a reprieve from Adamís sin through no effort of their own, they are not
given a reprieve from their own sins unless they pledge faith in Christ ... and press
forward in faithful endurance the remainder of lifeís journey."


I have spoken to several Latter-day Saints. Some believe Adam
and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden while others do not view
it as a sin.

If you study the Pearl of Great Price, both Adam and Eve glorify God
for their transgression (see Moses 5:10-11).

In the end, LDS theology all boils down to this - the Mormon Heavenly
Father really wanted Adam and Eve to disobey Him so that He could
give them great blessings (as Gospel Principles refers to on page 33).
Strangely enough, Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 says that all
blessings are predicated on obedience.

Evangelical Christians are unanimous - Adam and Eve sinned in the
Garden of Eden. "For as by one manís disobedience many were made
sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous"
(Romans 5:19).


Article - The Living Christ, p. 43

"He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and
raising the dead. He taught ... the reality of our premortal existence."


I am not aware of Jesus teaching this from reading the Bible, nor from the Book of
Mormon for that matter.

p. 44 -> "He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh."

The LDS Church teaches that our spirits co-existed (eternally) with Heavenly Father
and Jesus long before they progressed to Godhood. Heavenly Father progressed into
a God first (or maybe Heavenly Mother did first before her husband), then it was
Jesus.

p. 47 -> "We testify that He will someday return to earth."

According to Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, Jesus will first return to a temple
that Latter-day Saints will build in their New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri,
in the United States. This will be a private meeting with certain LDS apostles.


Article - Come Unto Christ, p. 49

"From the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel in this dispensation, it has been
the charge given by Jesus Christ to His representatives. Their charge has been to warn,
expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ."


This is not accurate for those people of African-descent could not come unto Christ
as their other Mormon brothers and sisters because they were denied the priesthood
from 1830 to 1978. Without the priesthood, it was impossible for the Negro to come
unto Christ in the Mormon temples.

p. 50 -> "Obedience, even in small things, brings that blessing from God."

The Mormon Church teaches that great blessings resulted from disobedience in the
Garden of Eden (Gospel Principles, p. 33).


Article - Was I Saved? p. 53

"Christian people sometimes attach different meanings to some key gospel terms like saved
or salvation."


According to the May 1998 edition of the Ensign magazine, the LDS Church has at least six
different meanings for the word "salvation." In Evangelical theology, the trinity is
one God, three Persons. In LDS theology, the trinity is 3 Gods. The example of "Eternal
God" is another important one.


Article - We Believe, p. 55

"Joseph Smith and one of his associates offered this testimony of Jesus Christ in 1832:
He lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing
record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father" (D&C 76:22Ė23).


It is not clear why Joseph Smith would need to give this testimony to the Saints in 1832,
two years after he formed the church.


Article - Becoming a Witness of Christ, p. 59

"We have another testament, the Book of Mormon, the central purpose of which is the
convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting
himself unto all nations."


The teaching of what "Eternal God" means varies greatly between LDS and Evangelical
theology.

p. 59 -> "Our witness of Christ typically begins with the testimony of others ó We have the
Prophet Joseph Smithís testimony that he saw and heard the Father point to Jesus and
declare, This is My Beloved Son (Joseph Smith ó History 1:17).


The Bible is a sufficient witness of Christ.

p. 61 -> "Day by day they [the repentant] move closer to the Lord, little realizing they
are building a godlike life."


This is a reference to the LDS doctrine of eternal progression to godhood.

p. 61 -> "They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said were baptized with fire and with
the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not (3 Ne. 9:20)."


Evangelical Christians have been baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost and the Latter-day
Saints knew it not.


Article - Worshipping through Hymns, p. 65

"Some of our most beloved hymns teach us to follow Christís servants, His chosen prophets
in our day. ďPraise to the Man,Ē for instance, helps us remember the important role of the
Prophet Joseph Smith in the Restoration of the gospel."


To this date, I think there is only one song to one LDS President of the Church - Joseph
Smith. The remainder of this song has Joseph Smith already resurrected and mingling with
the Gods in celestial glory.

Well, that was about it.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Copyright 2004-2017 LDS Learning, All rights reserved. [inquiry -- at -- ldslearning.org]
The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of the web hosting company