Monday, February 15, 2010

"Those called Christians" and their "false Christianity"

My friend Chris recently pointed out that the new Gospel Principles manual teaches that traditional Christians are a part of "false Christianity. I couldn't believe it. I quickly googled "gospel principles manual 'false Christianity'" and the Church's official version came up on the third entry.


Here are some select sections from the 16th chapter of the increasingly terrible Gospel Principles Manual. (With some commentary.)


Jesus established his Church when he was on the earth. (Except most scholars today believe that Jesus did not establish anything resembling an organized Church as we understand it today. Paul, the father of Christianity, did not either.)

All of the offices and functions of the Church in the days of Jesus are present in the Church today. (Except pastors, and for the others they often have completely different functions and are present as names only--except in the case of evangelists-patriarchs, in which they differ by name and function.)

The Church of Jesus Christ was a carefully organized unit. (Except that it wasn't.)

Jesus appointed other priesthood leaders to assist the Apostles in the work of the ministry. He sent officers called seventies in pairs to preach the gospel. (Except the seventy that Jesus sent out were not actually called 'seventies.'Other officers in the Church were evangelists (patriarchs), pastors (presiding leaders), high priests, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. (Except that Jesus did not call any evangelists, pastors, high priests, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, nor deacons. Also, there were no high priests or priests in the New Testament church.)

The Bible does not tell us everything about the priesthood or the organization and government of the Church. However, enough of the Bible has been preserved to show the beauty and perfection of the Church organization. (Okay, so it actually doesn't. But we will just go ahead with our constructed narrative and pretend that it does.)

The New Testament shows that this Church organization was intended to continue. (Yes, but the New Testament shows that the second coming was expected within the next several years following Jesus' ascension, and thus the Church was intended to continue for only a generation.) For example, the death of Judas left only eleven Apostles. Soon after Jesus had ascended into heaven, the eleven Apostles met together to choose someone to take the place of Judas. Through revelation from the Holy Ghost, they chose Matthias. (Sure, if we call drawing stones out of a bag 'revelation.')

Throughout history, evil people have tried to destroy the work of God. This happened while the Apostles were still alive and supervising the young, growing Church. Some members taught ideas from their old pagan or Jewish beliefs instead of the simple truths taught by Jesus. (It seems that the so-called "simple truths" (i.e. faith, repentance, baptism, holy ghost) were the ones that were actually retained in the traditional LDS apostasy narrative. The truths that were supposedly lost were complex priesthood structures; post-mortem evangelization; a complex theology of God and deification; and complex temple rituals--all summed up in a complex plan of salvation involving a pre-mortal existence, a war in heaven, a valiant adam and eve, and three levels of heaven, among many many other things--hardly things that could be called 'simple truths.')

Soon pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of those called Christians. The Roman emperor adopted this false Christianity as the state religion. (I certainly hope Mormons are willing to quit whining and crying that traditional Christians don't consider us Christian now. It's a bit difficult to whine about them not seeing us as Christian if we are referring to them as "those" merely "called Christians, who practice a "false Christianity.")

These people lost the understanding of God's love for us. They did not know that we are his children. (Yeah, ask most Christians and they'll agree that they don't understand God's love for us and don't believe that they are children of God.) . . . Many of the ordinances were changed because the priesthood and revelation were no longer on the earth. (When Christians change ordinances, we call it apostasy; when we change them, we call it modern revelation.)

The emperor chose his own leaders and called them by the same titles used by priesthood leaders in the true Church of Christ. Church officers were given honor and wealth. Bishops and archbishops fought among themselves to gain more power. (I won't deny that corruption occured--it does in any organization, including our Church; however, to generalize Christianity in this manner is both ahistorical and offensive.) There were no Apostles or other priesthood leaders with power from God, and there were no spiritual gifts. The prophet Isaiah had foreseen this condition, prophesying, "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant" (Isaiah 24:5). (Except Isaiah wasn't prophesying a Christian apostasy here.) It was the Church of Jesus Christ no longer; it was a church of men. (Well, expect that they still were a Church that worshiped Jesus as the central figure.) Even the name had been changed. (Kind of like when the our church changed from "Church of Christ" to "Church of Latter-day Saints" to "Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints" to predominantly using "Mormon Church" in the mid-twentieth century. By the GP's logic we were switching back and forth between being a church of Jesus Christ and a church of men.)


I do not point out these problems to argue that there was no apostasy and restoration. Rather, my point is that if we are going to make claims about an apostasy and restoration, we shouldn't use false proof-texts, ahistorical claims, and simply make stuff up without any sort of critical eye.



  1. lol, Loyd. You make some excellent points. In many respects, this narrative is no more sophisticated in its treatment of "the other" than your average countercult manual.

    But, I give Mormons more of a pass than the evangelicals, because this narrative is largely a founding Mormon belief, whereas the evangelical narrative is something they came up with on their own time...

  2. Impressive analysis. I admit I missed that statement about "false Christianity." Mormons are Christians indeed.

  3. Wow. Now that is a witty and intelligent response. I salute your snarkiness.

  4. Loyd, I just noticed that you're linking to and critiquing the 1997 version of the manual. There's a few changes to the 2009 one (but only one that's noteworthy), the removal of the sentences about archbishops fighting for power and being given honor and wealth.

  5. Haha what? You're making statements just as ridiculous as the church is.

    Nonsense like "ask most christians..." can hardly be considered anything close to good counterpoint, nor can your own personal interpretations of scripture be played off as facts.

    This article serves well for laughs, but past that...? Propaganda for the brainless...

  6. Nonsense like "ask most christians..." can hardly be considered anything close to good counterpoint

    The point being responded to was, "[The rest of the Christian world] lost the understanding of God's love for us. They did not know that we are his children." Enlighten us: what's a good counterpoint to a bald assertion?

    Because I think pointing out that the rest of the Christian world has quite a bit to say about God's love for us and being his children works pretty well.

    Propaganda for the brainless...

    You have perfectly summarized Gospel Principles Chapter 16. I couldn't agree more.

  7. Well said Loyd.

    And to Garret I would say I think it's reasonable for Loyd to make an anecdotal comment there towards the end about "most christians" given the tone of a blog, not a paper Loyd was writing. And as someone said, Loyd is merely responding to a contention about ancient attitudes, something hard to prove, by showing that in his experience, many christians admit to the notion of currently not understanding 'God's love'.

  8. Well put Don, except my line about Christian not understanding God's love was meant to be sarcasm (which doesn't carry well in print). I think it's silly to argue that Christian no longer understood God's love.


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