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February 9, 2021 8:17 pm
Answering questions by doing what you were doing.
Johnson deals with 36 commonly asked questions by your LDS friends and neighbors. It's a great resource for Christians want to share their faith with friends and loved ones. We should pick up your copy today at your favorite Christian bookstore viewpoint: Mormonism program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism welcome this addition of the viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM this week were looking at an article that Eric has written titled 10 common mistakes Latter Day Saints make when reading the Bible and one of the reasons why we wanted to go through these 10 points is because it's not all that impossible for professing Christians to make the same mistakes that we need to be careful not to make these kind of mistakes when we're reading God's word today were looking at point number five where Eric writes, not recognizing the audience to whom the biblical author is writing, by the way this article can be found on MRM.org/10 common mistakes 10 is 10-common-mistakes. And so you can read the whole article, but I start off this article by saying Christians like to talk about how it is through faith that a person is saved by grace and not through works great. We like to refer to Ephesians 289, but a common verse. Often times used by many Latter Day Saints to respond to the time when we refer to Ephesians 2 was going to be James 220, and it says in the King James but wilt thou know all vain man that faith without works is dead. Verse 26 ads for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. So some Mormons claim that one's efforts are required to be able to get to the celestial glory and the problem of course is James is addressing one problem at that particular time.
Paul is addressing another problem. So the audience and the problems affecting those audiences needs to be taken into account. Now Mark Strauss, a good friend of ours had something to say about this in his book how to read the Bible in changing times and were looking at pages 35 and 36. What did Mark say on this. Paul says that Amanda saved by faith alone, apart from works from 328, James insists that faith without deeds is dead. James 226 so that faith plus work saves you. These differences can be resolved when we recognize that Paul and James are addressing two different situations. Paul writes against legalists who are claiming that a person can earn salvation by doing good works, or who perhaps are claiming that salvation is come through the works of the law. The hallmarks of Judaism, such as circumcision, dietary laws and Sabbath observance. James, on the other hand is writing against those who are abusing the doctrine of free grace by claiming that once you are saved by faith. You can live in any way you want. James rejects such libertarianism and insist that authentic faith will always result in actions so that the two work hand-in-hand. The key to harmonizing Paul in James is understanding their distinct context.
There's that word again.
Eric context context context context but notice here. I find that when a letter to St. often quickly quotes James 220, my response has been for many many years I find to be quite effective is will how come you didn't quote James 210 because James 210 speaks of keeping the whole law, and if you don't keep the whole law, and you offend it in one point. It's as if you were guilty of violating the entire law more missile usually cite James 210, but that's the consequence and some might say will isn't James contradicting what Paul was saying and I would say no, not at all because if you look at James 210 and compared to what Paul writes in Galatians 3 he says this in verse 10 for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written curse.
It is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
So here we find a very clear example were Paul in Galatians 310 is agreeing with what James wrote in James 210, so they're not in conflict with each other at all and if we look at all the writings that Paul puts out we see very clearly that he is emphasizing sanctification throughout.
I mean he talks about in Galatians 5 he talks about the acts of the sinful nature are obvious sexual immorality, debauchery, go through a list. He says the fruit of the spirit is also going to be obvious love, joy, peace, patience, etc. and so when a person becomes a believer. We do believe in having good fruit and when Paul writes in Ephesians 289 that your saved by grace through faith. This is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, lest any man should boast.
Many might think well I guess he's teaching that you can do whatever you want now in verse 10 he says we are God's workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do and so when we look at verse 10 we see that goes right along with what James is saying because James is saying if you're Christian you can't say while I have faith you have works now you put the two together when you're justified by faith in faith alone as Romans 328 says, then you are going to have fruit that comes the result of that. If you have a genuine conversion, and I think it's it's unfair of Latter Day Saints to assume that we are taking a more antinomian position, which is what James is addressing because we do emphasize the fact that we should live holy lives that honor the one who saved us. I often refer people to the pastoral epistles.
For instance, I will speaks a lot about the necessity of good works and showing people who you are as a Christian. In fact, if you don't show them who you are as a Christian by your works, you fall into the problem that we read about in James go back and read it you'll see exactly what I'm saying no and somebody does bring out James 220, I think a good question to ask is, are you suggesting because were saved by grace through faith according to what I believe Paul says in Ephesians 289.
Are you suggesting that I don't believe in good works get them to say what you must, not because there are many Latter Day Saints who think that Christian churches are teaching all you have to do is walk down the aisle, raise your hand and say I believe, and you can go out the two sins. You always hear about murder and adultery can go do whatever you want in any licentious way you would like and that's not what the Bible teaches. That's not what being a Christian is all about. Why would you want to disobey God when you realize that you are justified, not based on what you have done, but what God has done for you when you understand the value of justification by faith alone. You want to do good works I haven't in the past, joked with Latter Day Saints and talking to you and say well I guess you're right.
I I am saved by works there, just not my home and then I get to explain what I mean by that, and usually after that explanation, I think they start to get why we separate what justifies and what sanctifies point number six. Eric you write ignoring the context of the situation and the purpose of the verse and passage. What are you referring to her while I use so the verse first Corinthians 1529.
Very commonly used when is talking about temple work. It says, else what shall they do, which are baptized for the dead. If the dead rise not at all. Why are they then baptized for the dead, and so the Latter Day Saints will take that verse and say that's why we do baptisms for people who are already dead in our temples so that they will have a chance in the next life to be able to accept or reject, especially if they hadn't heard the gospel.
But today, many Latter Day Saints will do this for people who did hear the Mormon gospel but chose not to follow it, but to use that verse and not understand the purpose of that passage because Paul is not trying to bring out in first Corinthians 15.
The ability to do works on behalf of dead people, but rather he's talking about the resurrection of the body. The whole chapter is about that and to support that BYU professor Charles R Harrell we did a whole series on his book called this is my doctrine. This is what he says on page 355. It should be noted that in the passage in first Corinthians 1529.
The voice changes from weed today for this verse only else what shall they do and why are they baptized for the dead. Then the shift is back to we. Why stand we in jeopardy. Could Paul be alluding to a practice that only they not we were participating in and I think he's making an excellent point.
I have to wonder, when I read what Harrell has said there you think Harrell is been reading DA Carson because I think Carson use that same argument. I know we've use this argument.
It is important to note that he switches from weed today is referring to someone we don't know who because this passes we have to admit is pretty vague but another point I want to bring out Eric the Latter Day Saints want to look at first Corinthians 1529 and mention help baptism for the dead is absolutely important to save their their ancestors, their relatives, but are we to assume that when Paul says this that he's referring to something that's done in the temple because that's the only place you can do it and Mormonism. It has to be done in the temple. We can't be done at a local chapel will if you're going to say that's a restoration of the way it was done in the past, you're going to have to demonstrate that this alleged baptism for the dead that you think was being practice was also practiced in the temple. The Christians were not in charge of the temple area and I doubt very seriously that any Orthodox Jew at that time would've allowed the Christians to use their facility to perform an ordinance that they personally did not agree with or believe in the fact bill that you don't find baptism for the dead, ever discussed in any other of verse. I think that's also important.
There were groups that did take this verse in a literal way and did two batches for the dead back in in in those early days, but this is not something that was common with the church and certainly was not something that was taught by Peter or Paul or the other apostles in end the I think of Mark Strauss. I want to bring him up again because he says this in the book, how to read the Bible in changing times on page 87. He said this first first Corinthians 1529, is one of the most obscure statements in the Bible it is nowhere else referred to by Paul or any other New Testament writer that does not appear elsewhere in the early church. Paul does not explain it or affirm it, but merely uses that as part of his argument for the reality of Christ's resurrection.
Such an obscure and disputed passage should never be used to develop a theology of baptism for the dead or to encourage a particular pattern of behavior.
Fringe passages like this should not be used to establish core tenants for faith or practice. I remember Dr. Ronald Youngblood inner hermeneutics class in San Diego warning about building doctrines.
Unlike one verse. That's a very dangerous thing to do and I think he was absolutely correct and I would think it would be just as dangerous for Latter Day Saints to do the same and one other thing, chapter 34 certainly contradicts anything that first Corinthians 1529. If it really were talking about baptism for the dead, 34, says there is no work that can be done for anybody. It is something that's impossible. According to the book of Mormon. It says this life is the time to prepare to meet God. And if you don't do it in this life, the devil has sealed you here and so you're right. I think that would nullify any notion that there would be any type of quote "second opportunity to make up for things that you didn't do during this mortality.
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