Bible Versions, Mormons, and other topics
It's been a little while since I posted a blog entry here. My interests of late have been diverse. But I still check in here at users.bible.org pretty regularly.
Several weeks ago, around the same time I was getting more involved on this site, I started a group on Ning.com, for the purpose of discussing different versions of the Bible. It's called The Bible Bookshelf, and so far we've only got 11 members, so I certainly encourage anyone here who's interested to go and check it out. We've started quite a few interesting subjects on the Forums there, about everything from gender language in Bible translations to the Joseph Smith Translation, and other heretical versions.
Speaking of heresy, I had the chance to chat with a couple Mormon missionaries a week or so ago. I find Mormons really interesting, because I've known a few of them, and they seem to be hard working, devout, nice people. They certainly are devoted to spreading the Gospel, as they understand it. Which leads to the big difficulty. The Gospel as they understand it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it appears in the Bible. Towards the beginning of my chat with the missionaries, I asked them what their understanding of Jesus Christ is. Their initial reply would have made any Christian happy: "He's the Son of God, and our Savior." But I pressed a little further: "But do you believe He is divine...God incarnate?" One of them replied,"Well, we would say he's a god. He's everything His Father is." I explained that I disagreed with that position, but encouraged them to continue. Among other things, they truly believe that the Church entered a Great Apostasy, immediately after the death of the original Apostles. Thus, their belief that Joseph Smith "restored" the True Church in 1830, or thereabouts... Then, of course, they talked about the Book of Mormon. And they shared their belief that, if I simply prayed earnestly for God to reveal the Book of Mormon to be true, that He would do so. I explained that God had not revealed any such thing to me, and thanked them for visiting.
Since that time, I've had the chance to read James R. White's book Is the Mormon my Brother? White quite neatly sums up the great divide between Mormon theology and Christian theology, explaining that the Mormons believe that God was once a man, and that all faithful Mormons can eventually become gods, like God the Father did. White convincingly shows that Mormon theology is essentially polytheistic, unlike Christianity, which is montheistic. The book is well worth reading, and made me reexamine my views of Latter-day Saints.
I find the topic of New Religious Movements, such as the LDS movement, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, and others, to be a fascinating one. The popularity of such movements is a constant challenge for us to understand our faith, and to learn how to defend it. I personally think the threat of atheism pales, in comparison with these competing ideologies that are constantly gaining new members, many of them former Christians.
So that's what I've been up to lately. I encourage you to check out The Bible Bookshelf, and to read up on the Mormons, if you ever get a chance. Lots of people don't see any difference between Mormons and Christians, but there certainly are differences. There's common ground, too, but sometimes the Mormons' use of Christian terminology with unorthodox meanings can obscure where the common ground and the opposing ground really lie.