*I have not yet figured out how to view comments made on my articles when google+ comment is enabled. If you can tell me how to view google+ comments, please message me here: thepulsiphyer@gmail.com*

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5 More Truths About Christianity Most People Aren't Aware Of

This is a sequel to the first 5 truths about Christianity I wrote about back in October.  The last one was written by pointing out misconceptions and then clarifying the truth about them, so I'll follow the same format here.  This time I hope to go over some issues that seem to be more prevalent in recent events.

Misconception

Christ and His apostles never said anything about same-sex attraction or same-sex "marriage".

Clarification

This was clarified in Mosaic law and in the New Testament.  The Lord declared to Moses: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination...".  For those who actually clicked the link there and saw the "they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them", the law of Moses and was given to the Israelite nation because they couldn't handle the higher law (see Exodus 32-34).  It was much more strict and detailed in both particulars of daily living and penalties for disobedience because they were so unwilling to accept a higher way of living the Lord wanted for them.

Also, Paul declared to the Romans: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." (Romans 1:26-27).

God's modern prophets have also warned about the dangers of the deception of such practices.  However, they have also quite clearly declared that we are hate the sin, but love the sinner.  Said the modern apostle, Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

"There shouldn’t be a perception or an expectation that the Church’s doctrines or position have changed or are changing. It’s simply not true, and we want youth and all people to understand that. The doctrines that relate to human sexuality and gender are really central to our theology. And marriage between a man and a woman, and the families that come from those marriages – that’s all central to God’s plan and to the opportunities that He offers to us, here and hereafter. So homosexual behavior is contrary to those doctrines – has been, always will be – and can never be anything but transgression. It’s something that deprives people of those highest expectations and possibilities that God has for us. That being said, it’s important to remember a few things that people don’t always understand or remember. And that is that homosexual behavior is not the unforgivable sin. The atonement and repentance can bring full forgiveness there, and peace. And secondly, I’d say, though we don’t know everything, we know enough to be able to say that same-sex attraction in and of itself is not a sin. The feeling, the desire is not classified the same as homosexual behavior itself. And the third point I would mention is that when people have those desires and same-sex attractions, our attitude is “stay with us.” I think that’s what God is saying “Stay with me.” And that’s what we want to say in the Church: “Stay with us.” Let’s work together on this and find friendship and commonality and brotherhood and sisterhood, here more than anywhere. It’s important that there be love, and that there be hope. Love is not to say acceptance or endorsement, but it is to say inclusion and not ostracism. We want to be with you and work together."

Misconception

God is three different people in one physical form (trinity).

Clarification

Matt 3:13-17, John 17, John 5:22, John 7:26, Acts 7:55-56, and 1 Tim 2:5 among many others are evidence that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Ghost are three separate, individual beings, one in every way except physical identity.  Any idea to the contrary was never a part of primitive Christianity.  As The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity tells us: "...at Nicea, the term [homoousios] had only a generic meaning, one affirming the full deity of the Son, not a numerical identity of essence.... During the fifth and sixth centuries, a numerical unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was understood as the meaning of homoousios"(pg. 541-42) The concept of all three being the same person was introduced several centuries after any creeds were introduced.  To be totally candid, the idea of the Three as one being mocks the sanctity of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  When He plead in the Garden of Gethsemane "If thou be willing, remove this cup from me" and "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done", if They were the same person it would mean He was pleading with Himself that He could do His own will.  If He was the same person as the Father, there would be no point in differentiating between His will and the Father's because they would have been one and the same with no possible concession of one person to another.  God is a God of logic (not always matching mortal logic) and such a thought is completely illogical.  The whole purpose of Jesus life was to submit to the will of another person, His Father, and offer Himself as payment for our sins and flaws.  That's the whole point of humility and self sacrifice, denying our will for the will of another, in this case, our Father's will.

Misconception

The Atonement of Christ took place solely on the cross at Calvary.

Clarification

I think it's safe for me to say that a large majority of the world's population doesn't even really know what the Atonement of Jesus Christ is actually for entirely.  I know that most, if not all, Christians are aware that He suffered and died for our sins, but for many, that's the end of their understanding what He really did.

When Adam and Even were in the Garden of Eden, the fall that took place because of their transgressions was not just one sided.  God's plan was to have us return to His presence (Alma 40:11and become like Him (Matt 5:48).  Before the fall, Adam and Eve were like God because they were totally clean and innocent of any wrongdoing, but also unlike God because they didn't have an understanding of good vs evil.  After the fall, they were unlike God because of their sin, but a little more like Him because of their increased understanding of good and evil and their ability to procreate.  The goal of the Atonement was not just to save us from our sins, although that is an undeniable part of it.  As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf put it: "...the grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. If salvation means only erasing our mistakes and sins, then salvation—as wonderful as it is—does not fulfill the Father’s aspirations for us. His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him."

The Atonement of Christ includes His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross and His death and resurrection.  He had to overcome not just our sins, but all other negative effects of the fall, including As the Lord Himself said to the Father: "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."

Misconception

Christians shouldn't give tell others what to do/give advice on something they aren't doing themselves.

Clarification

There's not one place in all of Christian scripture where perfect adherence to a principle is required before suggesting that others follow it as well.  As President Russell M. Nelson said: "Scriptures have described Noah, Seth, and Job as perfect men. No doubt the same term might apply to a large number of faithful disciples in various dispensations. Alma said that “there were many, exceedingly great many,” who were pure before the Lord.  This does not mean that these people never made mistakes or never had need of correction. The process of perfection includes challenges to overcome and steps to repentance that may be very painful. There is a proper place for chastisement in the molding of character, for we know that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”"

Of course there are limits.  Tact and kindness should be applied properly.  But an addict (of pornography, alcohol, gambling, etc.) has every right to encourage someone else to not get involved with those types of things provided they doing so with the intent to say "I'm telling you to not do this because I am currently suffering the horrible effects of it in my own life, so for the sake of your own happiness, don't do what I'm doing now."  If someone is living a principle flawlessly then, of course, they have every right to encourage others to follow it as well.  The message in that case might be, "I've found more happiness and joy following this commandment from God than I ever did when I wasn't, so, (again) for the sake of your own happiness, please follow suit."

In October 1973, Marvin J. Ashton said "a friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am but who is willing and able to leave me better than he found me."

Misconception

The Bible is the limit of God's word to man.  It is the only definitive word of God we have.

Clarification

To begin, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it well when he said of the following of the argument people use about not adding to the word of God when they cite Revelation 22:18: "...the whole Bible as we know it—one collection of texts bound in a single volume—did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000.  The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be, then why, for example, the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah or of Jeremiah, who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and all the rest. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and … my words … never cease.”

God has not stopped speaking through prophets.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and if He spoke through prophets then, and He doesn't change, He still speaks through prophets now.  The Bible, is to be sure, the source of some of the core doctrines of our Messiah, but if it was truly sufficient to teach of all of God's word that we would ever need to know, we wouldn't have tens of thousands of Christian denominations all saying something different about how it should be interpreted.  There is a great need to people in the world today to listen to modern prophets because they are the means the Lord has chosen to help us understand the scriptures and not be "carried about by every wind of doctrine".  The Apostle Paul sent multiple letters to members of the primitive church correcting false doctrines and misunderstandings of the scriptures and modern prophets today provide clarification of them and give us continuous counsel from the Lord on a monthly basis.

__________________________________________________________________

There will always be controversy about truth.  As Truman Madsen said about the prophet Joseph Smith: "he learned early that to testify of divine manifestations was to stir up darkness and to call down wrath."  This is not because it is wrong to speak of truth, angels and other divine things, but because anywhere we find righteousness, there will always be something evil close by trying to snuff it out.  Such is the constant nature of our journey on this earth, our pursuit towards everything Godly.  But if this entry helps just one person understand the true nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all it's glory and flawless splendor, then my mission in writing it is accomplished.