At times they said some really honest/transparent statements which was refreshing. One of the first things mentioned was that Joseph F Smith (I think that is who he said is was) actually took the “History of the Church” that was written and took out all of the embarrassing or negative parts. I must say he is the only one who I have ever heard actually admit that their history has been hidden or whitewashed. The thing that puzzled me though is that it did not seem to bother him. He just passed it off as fact but of no real significance. I don’t understand how they can openly say that the Mormon church is not being truthful but not see that as a red flag.
The other thing I thought was interesting was that one of the guys there was a seminary teacher for the church. He told a story about how one day he was teaching and he inadvertently taught “false doctrine”. It happened to be on a day when he was being observed and after class, he was called out on it and had to correct his statements the next day. I asked what the false doctrine was and he said that it was the idea that God was once not just a man but a “savior” like Jesus. Oddly enough, I had earlier this week read the King Follet Sermon which was given by Joseph Smith in the Conference of the church in April, 1844 (just 2 months before he died). It is in this sermon that the Mormon belief on the nature of God was defined and the topic he said was a “false doctrine” was addressed. Here are some quotes from the sermon.
It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.
The scriptures inform us the Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power – to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious – in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.
I tried to find where Jesus says those things and the closest thing I would find that was in John 10.
17.Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18.No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
If that is what he is talking about then I think it is a bit of a stretch.
Why am I writing about this particular part of the King Follet Sermon? Because it points out not only the outlandish claims of Joseph Smith but it also shows how there is no unity in doctrine amongst the members today. Joseph Smith clearly states that Jesus laid down his life and took it up again “as my Father did”. To me, that cannot be taken any other way but to say that Joseph Smith taught that God was once a savior and that he laid down his life when he was on his earth like Christ did on ours. Somehow, the person who was observing the seminary teacher took it upon himself to correct a teaching that really was not out of line with what Joseph proclaimed. This teacher believes to this day that he was in the wrong, even after going over the quotes again.
The LDS church really has failed to solidify their doctrine and make it clear what they really do believe. That fosters an atmosphere of confusion and really makes conversation hard. I’ve heard it said a lot of times that getting a firm answer on doctrine is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Impossible!