An angel of light?

So, here’s one of those things that I meant when I said I have different beliefs than some people who might be reading this.  I am a born-again Christian, so I do not believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.  I do not pretend to have an exhaustive knowledge of all things LDS, but I’m going to periodically post here about how my views are different from my LDS neighbors.  I welcome comments expanding on anything that I say here.

2 Cor 11:13-15–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.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was born out of a vision that Joseph Smith received in 1820.  Here is a summary of that vision and a second vision from the website whatmormonsbelieve.org:

In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith was searching for a church to join. There was a great religious revival in the region of New York in which he lived. He read a passage in the Bible that encouraged any lacking wisdom to ask of God. Joseph went to a secluded grove of trees to pray aloud and ask God which of the many churches were correct. When he began his prayer, an evil power possessed him and prevented his prayer. After a struggle against the dark presence, a light appeared over Joseph’s head which he described as brighter than the sun. It descended until it was just above him. In it he saw two personages of glory. One of them spoke, saying “Joseph, this is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!” Joseph asked which of all the churches was correct and they told him to join none of them, for the true Church of Christ was not on the earth. There were many other things that they spoke of which Joseph never revealed.

. . . On the twenty-first of September, Joseph Smith received another visitation, this time from the Angel Moroni and his work as a prophet of God began. Through him, the Lord accomplished a great deal. The Book of Mormon was brought forth, the restoring of the priesthood to the earth, the revealing of gospel truths, the organization of the true Church of Jesus Christ, and the salvation of the dead commenced in the Mormon temple.

I have several concerns about the vision that Joseph Smith experienced that lead me to believe that it did not come from God.

First, I assume that the “passage in the Bible that encouraged any lacking wisdom to ask of God” mentioned above is James 1:5, which states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  This is a Biblical truth, but there is more to it than that.  The complete passage says,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)

So, if you lack wisdom, by all means ask God for wisdom.  However, don’t think that God will give you the answer if you ask from a doubting heart.  I don’t know what Joseph Smith’s heart condition was at the time, only God does, but I cannot assume that the answer he received came from God simply because he claimed James 1:5.  In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan quotes Scripture, as well, but “even demons believe–and tremble!” (James 2:19).  Claiming that Scripture led you to a conclusion does not mean that it was from God.  Biblical passages have been used to justify slavery, abortion clinic bombings, the burning of the Quran and any number of other acts.  I’m not trying to compare Joseph Smith to these others, I’m just saying that quoting Scripture doesn’t make something right or true.

So, the next thing is that he goes to a secluded grove of trees to pray (kudos to him for praying in private like we are told to do) and, “when he began his prayer, an evil power possessed him and prevented his prayer.”  I’m sure that there are those who claim that this is similar to Jesus’ temptation in the desert, but I see several key differences.  First, Jesus was never possessed by an evil spirit during his temptation.  He was tempted, but not possessed.  He remained in control of Himself and was never under the control of the devil.  Also, of all the demon possessions I have read about in the Bible none of them were overcome by the possessed individual himself.  All were cast out by somebody else (Jesus, disciples, prophets in the Old Testament; Saul’s demon was cast out whenever David played the harp for him).  None of them leave when the person possessed casts them out of themselves by sheer strength of will.  I might be reading too much into this, but I suspect that it is not possible to harness the power of God necessary to cast out a demon while one is possessed.  So, I suspect that if Joseph Smith was in fact possessed by an evil power, said power was not cast out, but remained and influenced his perception of the events that would follow.  He also may have been allowed to give false prophecy in order to bring about God’s Will in some situation, but I cannot say that definitively.

The next thing that happened is, “a light appeared over Joseph’s head which he described as brighter than the sun. . . In it he saw two personages of glory. One of them spoke, saying ‘Joseph, this is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!'”  And this takes me back to 2 Cor 11:13-15.  Paul says that even the devil can masquerade as an angel of light.  How do we know if the spirit that appeared to Joseph Smith is from God?  We are to test the spirits, and any spirit that does not confess that Jesus is God and came in the flesh is not of God.  You can read here that followers of Joseph Smith, that is members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [LDS], believe that Jesus is one of many spirit children born of God the Father and his goddess wife.  He is the literal physical and spiritual son of God, according to the LDS, and “lived a sinless life and therefore was worthy to atone for the sins of all.”  Born-again Christians believe that Jesus was God who was came in the flesh and is worthy to atone for our sins because He is God, not because he lived a perfect life.  He lived a perfect life, but it is because He is and was and always will be God, not so that He could become like God.  So, if the spirits that appeared to Joseph Smith preached a different Jesus, then they are not of God.

There it is, in a nutshell.  I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, therefore, I do not believe his teachings.  It’s pretty simple.  I understand that some people believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and so follow his teachings.  I do not.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ginny
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 23:15:34

    you GO girl!! you are GOOD!

    Reply

  2. Rainer Braendlein
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 04:22:17

    Hi!

    I have done a lot research about the German theologians Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. According to them and the Early Church we get born again by the Holy Baptism (Stop!, I am not Roman Catholic).

    The doctrine of sacramental baptism goes together with the doctrine of cost-free salvation by faith. I just believe in Jesus Christ, no more, no less. It is only that God wants to give us both salvation and a New Life in Christ, and there the doctrine of sacramental baptism becomes important. At sacramental baptism we receive the releasing power of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we become able to overcome sin and live a Christian life.

    That is according to Romans Chapter 6.

    Kind regards,

    Rainer Braendlein

    http://www.confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Trying To Defeat Evil 083111 « Mennonite Preacher

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