LDS Sunday School Teaching on Ephesians

Just when I thought that LDS teachings on the Bible could not upset me more, I was duly upset.

Attended a meeting in San Francisco on the Book of Ephesians. Chapter 1 v10 was quoted by the teacher:

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…”

Followed by the explanation that “most people outside of the [LDS] church” believe that this scripture is talking about Christ. But it is not. It is actually referring to Joseph Smith.

Okay, he then clarified the statement by referring to the Bible Dictionary on “Dispensations” in the LDS Bible which says in part:

“Paul writes of “the dispensation of the fulness of times” in which the Lord will “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Eph. 1:10). The fulness of times is the final dispensation and began with the revelation of the gospel to Joseph Smith. It is a dispensation of restoration and of fulfillment of the Lord’s plans and purposes since the world began.”

So, Paul was referring to the times of Joseph Smith. I wonder if Paul knew this, or whether he was thinking that he was writing about Christ heralding in the Final Dispensation.

Anyway, does anyone know how I can answer this? I think that it is incorrect and the LDS teacher was stuffing the scriptures into a mould to make a point - though strictly speaking he did not teach false doctrine from an LDS stance.


May I ask why you are going to LDS bible study? You self identify as Christian so I’m curious why you would go to anything LDS if it upsets you.

As far as the teaching at that meeting, it’s just wrong, just as all teachings of the LDS church are. St Paul was NOT writing about Joseph Smith or the LDS church. Most often to dispel LDS theory of what certain scripture mean one just has to look at surrounding scripture to get the full meaning.

Ephesians 1:7-10
Fulfillment through Christ.
7 In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, 9 he has made known to us the mystery
of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him 10 as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.*

Horton, thanks for your post.

Why do I attend? My wife is still Mormon. I attend with her for family unity. I have friends who are Mormons. I attend the class to converse about the scriptures, but I am thinking very carefully about no longer attending the Sunday School class because it does get me upset.

Or perhaps it is my duty to attend and respectfully to give true doctrine where that does not disrupt the meeting. There are things that we agree on.


Thank you. I understand a bit better. That is a tough spot to be in. I don’t know if giving true understanding of scripture will change any minds but the one thing I’ve learned is to try to get them to see scripture in context within surrounding text, like above, or within the cultural, social norms of the time the books of the bible were written. Its easy to take one verse and twist it to fit an agenda. much harder to do when taken contextually.

Hi PrinceHal,

How come you’re upset that Mormons interpret scriptures differently than Catholics?

One would think that if such things upset you, our whole take on the Godhead vs. the Trinity might sort of dwarf what Paul meant or didn’t mean in Ephesians…

I’m not sure Hal is Catholic. He does self identify as Christian and he states his wife, some family, and some friends are LDS. My understanding is he no longer believes in the LDS “Godhead” or any of LDS theology.

I think I would be upset too if I had to sit through Sunday school classes that teach such heretical teaching when I know the truth.

It seems he’s upset that Mormons interpret scriptures differently than all other religions.

If Mormons are Christian, why would this be?

On the surface I agree, but then I’m obviously not Catholic and come on to this obviously Catholic website all the time to learn and converse. But I’m not here to shape my own faith per se, but more to see how others shape theirs and what they specifically believe (again in this case primarily practicing Catholics as this is a Catholic website). But if I disagree with something someone on here believes on a specific point of scripture or the like it doesn’t phase me spiritually as I fully expect to have points where we don’t agree… I’d be crazy not to expect it.

I’d expect the same of a Christian of any denomination attending an LDS Sunday school. If you’re not an LDS believer, simply view it as an academic exercise learning about another religion’s views (or in the OP’s case his wife’s views). If you’re not going to do it that way, I honestly don’t see the value in continuing to go to the Sunday School class. I mean you’re not going to shape your faith by it, and you’re not likely going to convince them that your view is the correct one. :shrug:

Does this mean that either Catholics or Eastern Orthodox aren’t Christians because they disagree on the doctrine of Original Sin?

I thought as far as the Catholic church was concerned baptism in the Trinitarian formula qualified one as Christian. This scriptural disagreement does not involve the Trinity and therefore wouldn’t qualify as a discriminator of Christianity. But, I’m not Catholic and I may be wrong.

Both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are Christian. Christianity is determined by a faith being followers of Jesus Christ AND believing in the Trinity as commonly understood by all Christians. I don’t believe anyone here would say all non-Roman Catholics are not Christians. The CC does not teach this.

However, since the LDS church has a distorted view of who Jesus Christ is and His role on earth AND a distorted view of the Trinity, they are not Christian. May be good people, but not Christian.

Every Christian religion would disagree with the Mormon scriptural interpretation that Paul was speaking of JS not Jesus Christ.

Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic…not one would agree. It’s not just a Catholics that interpret scripture differently than Mormons.

An LDS guy once ran an experiment back a decade or more ago. He sent a small handful of questions to a dozen or more different Christian denominations (including Catholic and Mormon). Basic, basic stuff like “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” and “Are works necessary for salvation?” and “Can a person who never tithes be saved?”

Then he tallied the answers and put them on a handy chart next to each other. They were all over the map. Nobody agreed on the answers. Many answers utterly contradicted the others. Yes, there were recurring themes, but nobody agreed on everything.

This phenomenon certainly isn’t unique to Mormon Christians. So you tell me lax. If Christians are Christian, why would they all interpret scriptures differently?

There is a world of difference between divergent interpretations of scripture and replacing Jesus Christ with your own religious hero.

Are you (or the LDS guy) looking for answers from random people of various faiths or from the churches themselves? Does it matter if people agree on the answers?

Should I ask a random Mormon their belief in gay marriage or the baptism of children with a gay parent, or should I turn to the handbook of the Mormon church on the subject?

You tell me - if Mormons are Christian, why do they interpret scripture unlike any other Christian faith? Why don’t they believe in the Trinity as believed by all Christian denominations?

Catholics do not worry about an individual’s interpretation of scripture. That is what we have the Church for and our beliefs can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


And Mormons wonder why non-Mormons think they do not focus on Jesus and borderline worship Joseph Smith… :shrug:

Hello Hal,

The LDS church teaches more than this one scripture as a prophecy of either JS or their idea of restoration. It isn’t surprising, though, right?

I don’t know what you could say in an LDS Sunday school class that wouldn’t come across to LDS as being contentious. At these moments, say a silent prayer for all those in your class and forgive them.

Just to clarify, this appears to be an example of an individual member teaching something that’s not church doctrine. Whilst the church teaches that the dispensation of the fullness of times began with Joseph Smith’s “first vision” as it’s referred to, it does not teach that all things will be gathered together in Joseph Smith.

The gathering in of all things is taught, in multiple lesson manuals, as a gathering in Christ that will occur in preparation of, and also at the time of, His second coming. The ‘fulness’ will only be at that time.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:

So things taught by a member don’t come from the church? Is there no official manual for teaching?

The things taught in Sunday School definitely should come from the church. In this case, it should have been chapter 39 in the New Testament Sunday School Manual.

The really interesting thing is that the focus of the lesson is supposed to be to help class members identify ways to build their faith in Christ, strengthen the unity between the saints, and protect themselves from the spiritual dangers that are in the world. As far as I understand it, that’s something that all of us on the forum here can agree is important.

So unfortunately, in the case of the poor brother here, he seems to have sat through a class where someone made a few mistakes and taught things that were neither in the lesson, or the church’s theology.

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