Monday, September 10, 2007

September Dawn

Recently I went to a movie called September Dawn. It was one of the most riveting movies I've seen in recent history.

It's really a story that chronicles the painful, violent way in which Mormons slaughtered the inhabitants of a wagon train passing through Utah on the way to California. And it makes clear that the historic Christian faith, not Mormonism, is the way to having peace with God. It demonstrates that the divide between Mormonism and Christianity is a divide that cannot be papered-over with mere rhetoric. It gives you glimpses into a lot of Mormon peculiarities such as blood atonement, temple sacrifices, the revelations which are given to the Mormon prophet and apostle.

In light of seeing this movie, I was reminded once again that we should understand the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which was birthed in 1820 by an alleged vision in which two celestial personages appeared to Joseph Smith and claimed that all existing churches were wrong, that all their creeds were an abomination, that all their professors were corrupt, and according to these personages Joseph Smith had been chosen to restore - restore, mind you, not reform but restore - a church that had disappeared from the face of the earth. The Mormon doctrines that evolved from this vision compromise, confuse, or outright contradict the nature of God, the authority of Scripture and the way of salvation.

Let me take just a moment to elaborate on that. First, while Christians believe that God is Spirit, Joseph Smith taught that "God Himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man who sits enthroned in yonder heavens." Mormonism also holds to a plurality of gods and contends that as man is, as we are right now, God once was, and as God is, man may become. In other words, we can become gods.

Not only so, but the Latter-day Saints compromise the nature of the God-Man Jesus Christ, and this is really the acid test. "Who do you say that I am?" asked Jesus. In Christianity the response is that Jesus is the self-evident, self-existent, Creator of all things. In Mormonism, by way of contrast, He is the spirit-brother of Lucifer who was conceived in heaven by a celestial mother and came in flesh as the result of the Father having sex with the virgin Mary. Now this is not something you paper over with rhetoric. This is a substantive difference when it comes to essential Christian doctrine. In sharp distinction to Christian theology, Mormons do not believe that the Bible is the infallible repository for redemptive revelation. In their view it is "the Book of Mormon that is the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion." Again, this is not a distinction without a difference.

And while Christians believe that they will stand before God dressed in the spotless robes of Christ's righteousness, Mormons contend that they will appear before Heavenly Father dressed in fig leaf aprons holding good works in their hands. And they believe that only those who are sealed in secret temple rituals will make it to the third level of the Celestial Kingdom and become gods of their own planets.

These and a host of other doctrinal perversions exclude Mormonism from rightly being called Christian. Again, September Dawn gives you a glimpse into how the perversions of Mormon theology have a practical implication on things that have happened in the past. I think one of the most stunning things about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which this film is all about, is that the Mormon church has not accepted responsibility for it, and I think it's high time that they did. This is not conjecture. This film is dealing with actual events that were carried out because of the supposed revelations given by God to the apostles and prophets living at that time.

It is incumbent for us to know what Mormonism teaches and to use our well-reasoned answers as springboards for opportunities for sharing the grace and love and truth that only Jesus Christ can bring to the human heart, to use the deviations of Mormonism as an opportunity to reach Mormons who are trapped in a system which is decidedly anti-biblical and against the biblical worldview.

19 comments:

Carmen said...

Amen, Hank. Thanks for your clarity, as always. Unfortunately, more people have seen the Mormons' "Isn't it about time...?" commercials than have studied Mormon doctrine. And unfortunately, they see those commercials and think "ah well, they can't be all bad!" (as if having a good family life is the key to salvation or something!)

But doesn't that have Satan written all over it -- "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!: 'Of course, we're Christians, just like you!' "

Right.

Anonymous said...

If we were to judge a traditional Christianity by the acts committed by its members, you could make all sorts of negative judgements. To cite wisdom from the Bible, you could say this is a "cast-the-first-stone sort of situation. It is a fact that many, many dark acts have been committed by members of the Christian faith in the name of their religion, based upon their religious doctrine, or as an act of religious devotion. The Salem witch trials, Martin Luther's antisematism, the Sand Creek Massacre lead by a Christian minister, Calvins execution of non-trinitarians, the religiously-base race lynchings of the south, the Crusades, the terrorist killings by Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

I think that for a traditional Christian to pass judgement on other religions is the very act of warning of the mote in another's eyes.

Traditional Christians should come to grips with their own violent, racist, antisemetic history.

Starting To Learn said...

Search the official Mormon church website (http://lds.org) for the doctrines you mention and especially with the wording that you have given them. Can you find them there? Is that then what Mormons really believe? Are they hiding some "secret" doctrines somewhere?

On that website are all of the teaching manuals used in the church, the texts of all the church magazines back to the 70s. There's also all of the speeches of the leaders of the church and their semi annual conferences. That is what Mormons are taught, and that is what they believe.

If you must attack the doctrine of another religion, at least attack their actual doctrine.

Tracy Hall Jr said...

Hank,

I'm sorry to see a fellow Christian choose to misrepresent another Christian faith as badly as you do here.

You obviously have not studied Mormonism from Latter-day Saint sources, and no lover of truth could accept that trashy piece of Hollywood propaganda as history.

All your mis-information parrots anti-Mormon nonsense that I've heard over and over.

I would be happy to discuss with you why I believe that the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ minced no words when he told 14-year old Joseph Smith that the creeds of historic Christianity were an "abomination in his sight."

You might start with an attempt to defend the Nicene Creed from the Bible.

When that council of rulers of the newly-minted state church met in Nice to kill the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, so that they could merge him with the Father and the Holy Ghost into the incomprehensible pseudo-plasmic blob they called the Trinity, where did they stash the immortal physical body of "flesh and bone" that Christ showed to his apostles and directed them to feel? (Luke 24)

The farther back you go in examining the beliefs of the earliest Christians, such as the deification of man that you snarkily ridicule, the better you will understand that the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are indeed restored from primitive Christianity.

hthalljr'gmail'com

Anonymous said...

Hank, I absolutely believe that the angel Moroni came to Joeph Smith that day. In fact, the entire incident was forseen by Paul in the Bible. Galatians chapter one reads:

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Moroni is the angel Paul was refering to in verse 8. God knew that Moroni would someday preach another gospel and we have been forewarned.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that interesting. I also believe that the angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith. The only difference is that Moroni was an angel sent by God to help bring back the lost Gospel.

Paulman said...

The difficulty is that I don't believe there are grounds to say that we have "lost" the Gospel at all. The New Testament Gospel accounts and epistles are all pretty reliable and well dated (1st century), as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with the post that points out how Galatians 1 clearly prophesies the rejection of Scripture and acceptance of lies from rogue angels. At least two major religions have formed from such lies. I leave it to your imagination to figure out what these religions are called, but one of the "angels" supposedly called himself Moroni and the other one identified himself as Gabriel. Now whether these were actually angels or the imagination of the receiving "prophets" I cannot say for sure, but based on the way both religions grew so rapidly and powerfully, I have little doubt that a supernatural rogue being was behind this.

Let us rejoice in God's inspired word, The Holy Bible as delivered to us through Jesus Christ. Let us be thankful that it provides such prophetic warnings to enable us to see through such deceptions.

Jamey said...

Hank, I do wish that in your representation of the film that you would clarify what I often hear you say (I love your program), no religion is a monolith. I certainly do not accept the unorthodox doctrine from any "flavor" of Mormonism, but not all Mormons are reflected in that film. I believe your words, which are powerful indeed, give the impression that ALL Mormon sects today would endorse that massacre. By not clarifying, you allow a misconception to go forth--something that we, as Christians, never appreciate. I offer this as a kind reminder for thoroughness in our honest pursuit of truth. Thanks for all you do.

Paulman said...

Hmm, interesting comments :)

I also wanted to make a quick note that not all religions that claim to have angelic revelations as their origin are necessarily a result of demonic influences, instead. There is also the possibility that it was neither angels nor demons (e.g. either psychological, or even simply a false claim).

onewhocares said...

I think the movie depicts the actual words of Brigham Young as they have been taken directly from historical accounts. It might be wise for anyone in LDS to consider the founder of that church by his words given for all history to read. Do your homework. The facts are out there. Do you really want to be joined to such a man for time and eternity? Current "profits" might delare that God changed things but the plan and purpose of the LDS church coming from Brigham Young and Joseph Smith is not anything that could be considered most holy and most perfect. Joseph smith translated the Bible and it was acclaimed as the best translation of all times and yet the Mormon missionaries consistently use the King James Version..Inconsistencies abound in Mormon teaching. Do your research. and choose intelligently with full knowledge what you are vowiing...your life for time and eternity.

Tim Greer said...

Mountain Meadows was by no means an isolated Mormon atrocity. Few Mormons I have witnessed to know anything about it, or about the teachings of Heber C. Kimball, or about their church's historic stance on the races, etc., etc.

The LDS church has tried enormously to clean up their act so it can appear fit for mass consumption, but they are a cult, they have always been a cult, and they will always be a cult as long as they hold to their historic teachings and beliefs.

Mountain Meadows is a horrific example of where cultism can lead.

Nick said...

Hank, this posting probably tops the evidence that you are lacking tremendously in your credibility in regards to the LDS Church. There is so much evidence available to disprove your misconceptions. I am not going to give excuses for what happened at Mountain Meadows - because is was nothing more than a terrible crime committed by a bunch of Mormon militia men. However, there are real facts that underline the churches involvement with the event. The Brigham Young ordered them the militia not to harm the emigrants, but the evil men that are to blame went out on their own - and they will be accountable, not the church.

Please don't criticize the church in such an ignorant manner, because you too will be accountable for your faults. It was not the church that ordered this, it was a few evil men within the church that were immediately excommunicated when word got back to the church leaders.

Please read the truth before making other false judgments - http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1c234dc029133110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&locale=0

Jason said...

I do belive that Joseph Smith was visited by an angel. However, I do believe that it was an angel of darkness and not sent from heaven above.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 talks about
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."

John 8:44
"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

I truly believe that the Mormon church has been completly decieved and is unknowling following in the steps of the father of lies.

I feel sad when people are so decieved, especially people who are Christian. I will bet my eternity on Jesus Christ alone...what He gave on the cross for the remission of sin for all people. I hope people who have fallen into the deception of Mormonism will open thier eyes and understand that the Old & New Testiment of the Holy Bible is all you need...you don't need to add the book of Mormon.

Nick said...

That was very interesting, Jason. I'm sorry that you feel that way, but as with most other anti-mormons, you have no foundation for the claims that you make.

I was raised Catholic, attended non-denomination churches while I was in school, and then joined the LDS church in college. It is absurd to think that the church is out to get people and lead them away from truth. I have had so many discussions with various people from different faiths, and the truth is that claims against the LDS church are done mainly out of pride and ignorance.

Time and time again, I have taken claims about the LDS church, whether from Hank, the Tanners, etc., and tried to clarify the misconception. It is so easy to clarify many of the false ideas that people claim about us, and I can only infer one thing:

Most modern Evangelicals do not do as you say, which is rely on Christ alone for your eternal salvation. It is ironic that most of you can't respond intelligently to these absurd claims, including Hank, since I haven't seen a single reply from him. If you can't let go of your pride and arrogance, then it is you that is trapped in darkness, and is trusting in the arm of flesh.

Sorry to speak so directly, but I consider it a sin for people to say the negative things that you do about the LDS church. You don't try to defend your own faith, just tear others down. On top of that, you just show ignorance because these meaningless claims can be clarified, but you choose not to learn.

Anonymous said...

After watching the PBS show tonight, I learned about the Mountain Meadow Massacre for the first time. I wanted to understand more of why it happened, so I visited the internet. I found Hank's article and then read all of the previous blogs. My one comment in response to the differing opinions is that this event in history is not really the issue. Yes, many have done wrong things in the name of right. But, then, man is not the standard to which we should hold up all deeds that are done. Christ is the only perfect, blameless one. The Bible is well documented and proven to be authentic as a true historic document. Jesus gave us His words then. Why would He ever sent an angel to contradict His own words? Out of true Christian love I have written this blog. Please consider my comments and read the New Testament. It is a validated document and still exists today. Where are the golden plates????

Anonymous said...

It’s very saddening to see all the disagreements here among people who at least believe in something. Wouldn’t it be more productive to collectively attack those who believe in nothing (i.e. scientists)? I think they are the real enemy.

Nick said...

Where are the original manuscripts of the Bible? We don't have any. Have you followed up on the City of Nahom, a major archaeological find that gives scientific evidence of the Book of Mormon.

I have read the New Testament, and I believe the Book of Mormon is a great companion to it. Is there anything that you think is contradictory about the Book of Mormon, according to the New Testament? I know that it seems like there is, but I'd love to at least try to explain if there are any misconceptions. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Anonymous said...

Search the net for the atrocities committed by your favorite brand of delusion and the the examples you find will be legion. Dogmatic and non-critical thinking have enabled religious atrocities since the beginning. Diderot was right.