Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Teachings of Presidents of the Church - Jesus Christ?

One thing that has been on my mind recently is the lack of real focus on Jesus in the everyday Mormon teachings. I’m going to get flamed for that comment but I just call it how I see it and I will show you why. Each year in Sunday School they pick a book of scripture to read and study. It usually goes in order like Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants/Pearl of Great Price, Old Testament, and New Testament. So once every four years they read the New Testament and, if the one leading the class does their job right, they should get a good amount of His teachings but that is not what always happens. In Priesthood/Relief Society Meeting, they talk about selected topics out of a manual. For the past 9 years they have used a series of manuals called “Teachings of Presidents of the Church”. (On a side note, why do they call them “Presidents” now and not “Prophets” like they used to?) Each year, the books have focused on the teachings of a specific “modern prophet”. The prophets they have focused on so far have been Spencer W. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, Harold B. Lee, David O. McKay, Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, John Taylor, Brigham Young and for 2008 and 2009 they will be learning about Joseph Smith Jr. If I did my math right, that is 10 years and probably more after that, in which they will spend a full hour each Sunday learning what their “Latter-Day Prophets” have had to say about key Mormon doctrine.

I took a minute and looked at each book and sure enough there are a few lessons in each one about Jesus, but interestingly enough, there is also at least one lesson that focuses entirely on Joseph Smith. The rest of the lessons talk about things like temple work, tithing, the importance of scripture study, following modern day prophets, obedience, missionary work, prayer and service. That is just to name a few.

Obviously, the fact that the LDS church claims to have a living prophet is unique to them so they want to emphasize that belief but in doing that, are they neglecting the most important prophet of them all?

The claim is that the LDS church is the “restored” church that Jesus himself established during his ministry. The merit of that claim is a topic for another blog but if they really believe that, why not put His teachings at the forefront of their Sunday worship? Is it not better to read directly what he taught in the New Testament and really delve into His word? Is it not His word that we will be judged against? With all he taught, I would think there would be enough material to last at least a couple of years. If they can get 2 years out of what Joseph Smith taught, I would hope they could do the same if not more from what Jesus did.

When I left the LDS church I went and got a new Bible. I got a King James Version because that is what I was used to but my new one has a feature that I really like. Any time Jesus speaks, his words are written in red so they stand out. How cool is that! It makes it just that much easier to focus on His teachings which is where our focus should be.

I can’t remember if I have used this verse before but it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV)

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

If God spoke to us by way of prophets but now speaks to use through Christ, why are we even talking about "modern prophets" anyway? There does not seem to be any need for them because we now have Christ's teachings which those living before him lacked, thus needing the prophets to remind them of what He was going to do for them. Since we live after him we need to follow His teachings above anyone else's because he fulfilled what was said through the prophets.


  1. Soy Yo,

    Quite right. All the old testament prophets pointed to Christ, including the final OT prophet John the Baptist. There is no need for prophets like Moses or Jeremiah today because God's revelation is fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.

    (BTW, one of my favorite things is to look at the presidents of the church book on Brigham Young and look at his lifeline. You see his first marriage, but oddly no mention of his subsequent marriages. Curious...)

  2. The same can be said of Joseph Smith. For some reason, in the manual and the film they show in Salt Lake City, all you hear about is Emma. I wonder how that makes the families of the other 30+ women he was married to feel?
    A bit off topic but true.

    Those manuals are very interesting to read and can be found on the LDS.org site if anyone is interested. On a side note, my wife and I were at Half Price Books this past weekend and found a bunch of the manuals on sale for $4.00 a piece along with a bunch of Book of Mormons.

  3. Yeah, it is funny you can get part of your tithing back if you never mark in the books and sell them back. Pays for a few coffees!


  4. Since I never paid attention in sunday school, I would bet money these verses were skipped over.

    I will say that the average LDS member believes "false prophets" are the pastors of other congregations since there are so many different denominations. Little do that know.

    Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 25, 30-32,

    This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
    they fill you with false hopes.
    They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
    21 I did not send these prophets,
    yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them,
    yet they have prophesied.

    25 "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?

    30 "Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.' 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. "They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least," declares the LORD.

    Matthew 24:24
    For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.

    1 John 4:1
    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God

    2 Corinthians 11:14
    And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

    So many LDS people come on this blog and tell you that you only focus on anti stuff. This is not anti. This is what they teach. I am so glad you take the time to do this blog. It is ministering to so many people. And uncovering the truth of mormonism.

    Faithful Reader

  5. Re 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

  6. Pops,
    I’m sure you have a point in quoting those passages but I cannot put my finger on it. Care to elaborate so we know where you are going with those?

    Just quoting scripture does not do anyone really any good unless we explain how they apply to the topic at hand.


  7. Faithful Reader,
    I can’t say I remember reading those passages either unless they were pointed at all other churches except the Mormons. I used to think the same way. Now when I read things like that, my only thought is of Mormonism and other Kool-Aid drinking groups.

  8. Alpha and omega means first and last. So the first quotation means that Jesus is the first, the last and everything in between.

    The second is just what it says, Listen to Jesus.

  9. Just the down grading of Jesus from God to "a god", a created being, ought to raise some questions I would think. Mormons don't see Jesus in the same light. He is a cosmic super hero and not the living God worthy to be praised.

  10. Couple of comments.
    1. I have to agree with Soy Yo that the LDS church puts way too much emphasis on modern prophets (namely JS) than on Jesus.

    2. The scripture mentioned in Hebrews certainly does nothing to support modern prophets, but I picked up something else in it. This is Paul writing to the Hebrews (2000 years ago) saying that they are in the last days. How long do the last days last?

    3. I'm not sure that LDS lower Christ from God to god. I was always taught that Jesus was the God of the OT. In other words, when God is talking in the OT, it was actually Jesus speaking. I personally have to disagree with that though, The God of the OT and Jesus have 2 totally different personalities. The God of the OT killed people indiscriminately, where Jesus is all about love and forgiveness.

  11. Rick,

    While I don’t think I am qualified to answer your third point I can say something about your second. How long are the “last days”? Well Mormons apparently think we are in the last days because it says it in their name. The Church of Jesus Christ of LATTER-DAY Saints. I would assume that we are in the last days until the second coming of Christ, whenever that may be. I take from that the idea that since we are still in the last days, there is no need for any other prophet except Jesus because He is the one that God sent to speak to us.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have an interesting point of view that challenges the way I personally see things and I like that.

  12. "This is Paul writing to the Hebrews (2000 years ago) saying that they are in the last days. How long do the last days last?"

    That's a very good point bishop rick. It wouldn't make any sense to have the last days last 2000 years or so, would it?

    The last days began at the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist with his proclamation of repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And ended with the destruction of the jewish nation, the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD. We are now in the age to come which Jesus spoke of in the gospels. And the new heavens and new earth mentioned in Isa. 65,66, II Peter 3, and Rev. 21.

  13. With regard to the mo's name of "latter day saints," it is interesting to consider that at the time the mos began there was and still is for that matter a great deal of interest, concern, etc, about the second coming of Christ. JS, not one to let public concern go underutilized, used this, I believe, to promote his new improved religion.

    I believe that JS even made some predictions concerning the time of the second coming, which of course did not come true. I suppose the mos say he was not speaking ex cathedra or they bury that. In fact JS and the other mos made a number of predictions which were false.

    So I would have to say that even the "latter day" part of their name is false and misleading.

  14. Pops is right, when John the Baptist proclaimed "Behold the Lamb of God" and Christ was baptized, that inaugurated His kingdom. There is a now and not yet aspect of eschatology, that the Kingdom is in place but has not been completely fulfilled. That will come at the judgment. How long will the last days last? Until the very second ordained by God to bring all things to an end.


    "3. I'm not sure that LDS lower Christ from God to god. I was always taught that Jesus was the God of the OT. In other words, when God is talking in the OT, it was actually Jesus speaking. I personally have to disagree with that though, The God of the OT and Jesus have 2 totally different personalities. The God of the OT killed people indiscriminately, where Jesus is all about love and forgiveness."

    Uh, no. First those who died in the OT were deliberately put to death for rebellion against God. Second, Jesus is not all about forgiveness and love. Christ speaks early and often and harshly regarding judgment. It is Christ who will judge, and Christ who will say get away from Me, I never knew you. The Jesus of Christianity is the Judge of the world, the Creator of the world and the Savior of His people. The Jesus of mormonism has been perverted into an exalted man, a created being. That is certainly more than semantics.

  15. arthur,

    genocide cannot eliminate the sinner without dragging the sinless with it.
    Are you saying that unborn children, infants, toddlers, all women and all men, and all friggin animals deserved to die?

    The LDS do not teach that Jesus is an exhalted man. They believe God the father is an exhalted man. So, the "perversion" would be with God, not Jesus...unless of course you believe they are the same person.

  16. pops,

    I have never heard that the Last Days refer to the time period leading up to the destruction of the temple. That's an interesting interpretation that merits more research. You may be on to something.

  17. Aren't we supposed to stay on topic here? The topic was what the LDS religion teaches in sunday school and rs/priesthood. I suggest Soy Yo be the moderator and try to keep people on subject. Not on all these rabbit holes. This is not Arthur, pops, Bishop Ricks blog it is Soy Yo's.

    Faithful reader

  18. Faithful Reader,

    Everything we are talking about is stuff taught in Sunday School. Blogs take unexpected turns. Lighten up. If this is Soy Yo's blog, then why are you trying to be the moderator?

  19. You ever read Alice in Wonderland, faithful reader? Going down rabbit holes can be pretty interesting.

    Anyway pursuing the meaning of "latter day" as in "Latter Day Saints" seems to me to be pretty on topic. Do they ever talk about that in Sunday School? Just curious.

  20. Faithful reader,
    I appreciate your concern and I know that discussions can often stray off topic but I am comfortable with where this one is leading.

    I’m not sure if they really talk about the origin of the term “latter-day” but I will see if I can dig something up about the name of the church for my next post.

  21. Faithful Reader-

    Like Soy Yo, and many others, I love seeing the direction that these discussions go, even if it does go way off topic. Different interpretations in general will lead to different topics. I find it all fascinating, regardless of how far commenters go astray. As you said, it is Soy Yo's blog and so far he's allowing all these comments to go through, so he must find it interesting as well. The conversation has been very informative from all aspects and everyone is contributing with candor and openness. No one is slinging mud at each other- everyone is respectful of each other's views. I for one, find that refreshing because there are so many places where that does not happen. And many conversations for that matter. I like that there are different points of view here, and I like that it leads to other conversations. So off topic or not, I love reading and hearing what everyone has to say because it just might be the piece of information someone else has been searching for.

  22. good point "on the fence" thanks for sharing

    faithful reader

  23. Rick,

    "genocide cannot eliminate the sinner without dragging the sinless with it.
    Are you saying that unborn children, infants, toddlers, all women and all men, and all friggin animals deserved to die?"

    I am not sure about the "friggin" animals (is that a special kind of animal?) but all men, yes including infants and cute little kids and kindly old ladies, all of us, deserve death. We all die. I will die, you will die unless the Lord returns first. The Bible doesn't share your sentimental view of humanity but instead shows us mankind as hopeless corrupted and depraved by sin, from conception to the grave and the only hope of redemption is faith in Christ. God doesn't condemn the innocent to death, because there are no innocent people. In fact the only innocent person that God ever ordained the death of was His Son.

  24. To get "back on topic", after rereading the original post I thought this was an interesting question:

    "The claim is that the LDS church is the “restored” church that Jesus himself established during his ministry. The merit of that claim is a topic for another blog but if they really believe that, why not put His teachings at the forefront of their Sunday worship?"

    Mormonism makes a big deal out of how they use the name of Christ all the time and therefore must be Christians, but they rarely look at what He taught and especially don't examine too closely what the apostles (incl. Paul) wrote. It is pretty hard to intensively study the Biblical record and what it teaches and then tell people that modern "prophets" are telling people the completee opposite.

  25. A friggin animal is similar to a fargin animal but not to be confused with a flipin or fetchin animal.

  26. arthur,

    Your casual acceptance of the genocide in the OT is both telling and scary. You are not thinking for yourself, but relying solely on an unprovable text. You are displaying the very same things that Mormons are always accused of.

    With Mormons, it is "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done."

    With you, it is "when the bible speaks, the thinking has been done."

    I can't follow that line of blind obedience, especially in light of what we know today concerning the origins of OT texts.

  27. pops,

    your postulation certainly makes more sense than a 2000 (and going) last days. I am researching this.

    Another tid bit:

    35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

    Note that this is a mistake made by the author of Matthew. There are 2 Zacharias in the OT that lived decades apart.

    The first is Zacharias the son of Jehoidah who was killed between the temple and the alter (II Chronicles 24:20-21)

    The second being Zacharias the Prophet, son of Barachias who was not killed in the courtyard of the temple. (Zechariah 1:1)

    It is mistakes like this that support the Gospels not being written by eyewitnesses.

  28. So bishop rick, where did you get that info on matt 23:35 and the others you have mentioned. Did you come up with that yourself? Care to share?

  29. pops,

    I've given my sources. Some of the stuff I come up with myself, but most I read in books and articles.

    The scripture stuff is easy. If something catches my eye I will go to LDS.org in their scripture section and search for the term I'm interested in. It will show all the instances of that term in all of the LDS scriptures. You can filter down to the OT (for instance) if you like. Then you can read and compare.

    Stuff like the Zacharias mistake show up with this type of search. I try to search all prophecies to get the full context of what was originally said. Most times this results in a better understanding of what Jesus was talking about, but sometimes it exposes and error.

  30. Rick, it is not a casual acceptance at all. We all have authority of some sort in our lives. Mormons have false prophets, I have the Word of God, you have yourself.