Mormon shift toward more traditional Christianity?


#1

This question is for current LDS, Catholic converts from the LDS Church, or students of the LDS Church. Have you noticed a shift in emphasis in LDS belief toward a personal relationship with Jesus and His grace. I’ve even come into contact with LDS who call themselves “born-again” Mormon Christians while still maintaining the Church’s basic beliefs. Even the leadership seems to be encouraging this emphasis. Perhaps some may say that this is just a leadership ploy to make themselves appear more Christian. However, most I know who hold these views seem to be quite sincere. Could it be that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and minds of those LDS who truly want to know Savior better?


#2

Mormons will never be “traditional” “Christians” until they accept the orthodoxy of our most basic beliefs such as the Trinity. Mormons think of the trinity as 1+1+1=3 while Christians think of the Trinity as 1x1x1=1.

reference:

concernedchristians.org/nocomparison_trinity1.php


#3

It appears to me that there is a huge shift going on, and it seems to be fairly successful among the LDS members. I know that the church changed the Book of Mormon since I left Utah, and apparently they are changing a number of other things as well.

I know what I was taught, and what my husband grew up being taught. I know what my mother-in-law believed all her life. All these things were taught openly in the cradle of Mormondom, Salt Lake City. Now I am being told by, apparently, younger Mormons that the church does not teach these things.

The only other option I can see is that all of these people here are being dishonest, and I find that difficult to believe.:confused:


#4

If there is any shift going on in the LDS community, I have a feeling that it’s due to things such as the Internet and the availability of traditional Christian doctrines to Mormons in the LDS church. Sure, a hundred years ago it was easy just to up and move a couple hundred people to keep them isolated from traditional Christians… but it’s not so hard in today’s world.


#5

no…in order for the mormon church to become christian they would have to denounce a lot of their doctrine…and in that case if they do…then they would contradict all of joseph smiths beliefs…therefore all of the prophets before them…which would make their beliefs in vain…they would have to totally disband all their beliefs and proclaim the true jesus…Ceasar


#6

Actually in the early days of the LDS Church before the later Nauvoo period most of Joseph Smith’s teachings were not that different from the teachings of many Protestant churches of that time period. His prophetic calling and the Book of Mormon were what mostly set the Mormons apart. It is some of the later teachings some of which were never canonized or which were adopted that are now changing or are being interpreted differently. For the LDS the living prophet is becoming increasingly more important than past prophets. So there may come a day when Joseph Smith may become just the founder of the LDS Church much as Luther is the founder of the Lutheran Church.


#7

“no…in order for the mormon church to become christian they would have to denounce a lot of their doctrine…and in that case if they do…then they would contradict all of joseph smiths beliefs…therefore all of the prophets before them…which would make their beliefs in vain…they would have to totally disband all their beliefs and proclaim the true jesus…Ceasar”

Because for so many years they have said that either their church it true or the Catholic Church is true, I see them becoming Catholic, but maintaining a split because we all know that they know that they can do a much better job than Catholics. So when they do become Catholic we will be able to learn alot from them. It will be easy to place the cross upon their church because half of it is already there.

God Bless
From Utah


#8

There is indeed a shift occurring but it is nothing new. Ever since the Manifesto of 1896, which ended the Church endorsement of polygamy, the LDS Church has been slowly moving away from it’s unpopular doctrines towards more socially accepted doctrines. Is the Holy Spirit at work? I doubt it. I think it has everything to do with the Church leadership seeing that in order for the Church to be seen as a real alternative to other churches, and not some kooky cult, they would have to move away from distasteful doctrines. And, they have been doing that very thing over the last century. Let’s take a quick look at the most obvious changes.
1896: Rejection of Polygamy
1930’s: Rejection of Brigham Young’s Adam/God doctrine
1970’s: Artificial Contraception allowed
1978: Persons of African descent given the priesthood
1998: Shift away from “God was once a man” doctrine

As the social, secular world continues to press on the LDS Church we will see more changes. Women will eventually hold the LDS priesthood and homosexuality will eventually be accepted. I firmly believe this will occur based on previous examples of Church leadership repudiating long held doctrines in order to create social acceptability for the Church itself.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church will not bend or break under the social pressure that will surely be brought to bear in the next 100 years. Homosexuals in particular will bring all their political clout in order to force all churches to accept them as “normal” or face sanctions of one form or another for the perceived discrimination.

God’s true church would never change doctrines because of society. It would be a slap in the face to the thousands and thousands of early Christian martyrs who were brutalized for believing in the folly of a crucified God. LDS see no connection between their faith and the early Christian martyrs. We Catholics do. The true Church has proven itself time after time, through persecutions of the worst kind, and it will will continue to do so throughout the rest of time until the Lord comes again.


#9

I see what you’re saying Todd. I would hope that the changes would stop short of the ordination of women ( as our brethren in the Community of Christ have done)and the acceptance of SSM (as some of the more liberal Churches have done). Those are my very questions. If the earlier doctines were once “true”. Why aren’t they “true” now?

I guess I’m just hoping that as the leaders continue to let go of “peculiar” doctines and emphasis more traditional Christian belief that the conversion to true Christianity might come about more easily from within, even if slowly.

After all most of the converts to the LDS Church are already Christian and bring much of their Christian faith into the Church and just add on the extra. So I was hoping it might be the Holy Spirit.

Anyway I welcome th greater emphasis on Jesus and His grace. As I search for God’s path for me it makes my stay here more tolerable and causes less contention in my family.


#10

[quote=searcher]I see what you’re saying Todd. I would hope that the changes would stop short of the ordination of women ( as our brethren in the Community of Christ have done)and the acceptance of SSM (as some of the more liberal Churches have done). Those are my very questions. If the earlier doctines were once “true”. Why aren’t they “true” now?

I guess I’m just hoping that as the leaders continue to let go of “peculiar” doctines and emphasis more traditional Christian belief that the conversion to true Christianity might come about more easily from within, even if slowly.

After all most of the converts to the LDS Church are already Christian and bring much of their Christian faith into the Church and just add on the extra. So I was hoping it might be the Holy Spirit.

Anyway I welcome th greater emphasis on Jesus and His grace. As I search for God’s path for me it makes my stay here more tolerable and causes less contention in my family.
[/quote]

I welcome any shift in LDS doctrine towards orthodox Christianity. The nearer a person is to truth the better, and if LDS had a proper understanding of the Trinity I suspect they would have valid baptisms. So, that would obviously be a good thing. If Joseph Smith had produced the Book of Mormon, started the LDS Church and just kept the doctrines as they were in the beginning, I’m reasonably certain I would still be a Mormon. But, with all of the doctrines that came later that have since been repudiated it became an impossible situation for me. I hope I’m wrong in my belief that the LDS Church will one day, once again change it’s doctrines on matters of morals. The Catholic Church is going to need all the help she can get.


#11

1978: Persons of African descent given the priesthood

I vividly recall the day this was announced. I had joined the church just a year before. All my Mormon friends were stunned. Everyone was convinced that it was now the “11th hour,” the “last days.” The media was buzzing, it was the main topic of conversation at work, home, and church, and there was a feeling of anticipation mixed with horror. Horror, I hope, because of the imminent apocalypse, although I heard more than a few ugly jokes and hateful comments.

[quote=Tmaque]1998: Shift away from “God was once a man” doctrine
[/quote]

This is really interesting to me. Can you give me some background info, or a source? I’ve been away from Utah so long, that this came as a total surprise to me. Even though I returned to Catholicism long ago, I have always had an interest in the LDS church and their doings. If I manage to find the time, I’d love to look into this.

Incidentally, I’d like to state for the record that I am not bitter, nor am I intent on maligning the LDS church. So I hope my comments are not taken to be “anti-Mormon.”


#12

[quote=TeriGator]I vividly recall the day this was announced. I had joined the church just a year before. All my Mormon friends were stunned. Everyone was convinced that it was now the “11th hour,” the “last days.” The media was buzzing, it was the main topic of conversation at work, home, and church, and there was a feeling of anticipation mixed with horror. Horror, I hope, because of the imminent apocalypse, although I heard more than a few ugly jokes and hateful comments.

This is really interesting to me. Can you give me some background info, or a source? I’ve been away from Utah so long, that this came as a total surprise to me. Even though I returned to Catholicism long ago, I have always had an interest in the LDS church and their doings. If I manage to find the time, I’d love to look into this.

[/quote]

In the 8/4/1997 issue of TIME Magazine Gordon B. Hinckley moved away from long held LDS Doctrine in a statement he made. Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley’s interview with Time:

Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follet discourse by the Prophet.

A: Yeah

Q: … about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?

A:** I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.**

The other instance was in an interview with the San Fransisco Chronicle, here’s the excerpt:

Q: “There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?”
A:** “I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, ‘As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.’ Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else.** **That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.”**Q: “So you’re saying the church is still struggling to understand this?”
A: “Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.”

Interview of Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, April 13, 1997

With these questions GB Hinckley had an opportunity to confirm the “first principle of the Gospel” as it was taught by Joseph Smith and every prophet and apostle right up to Hinckley himself. Instead, he moved away from the doctrine. At first I thought it was just “spin” rather than a real doctrinal shift. But since then, in correspondence with some high level LDS apologists, and other LDS I have talked to, it appears that a real theological shift is taking place that moves away from the doctrine. This has been confirmed in this very forum by posts from several different LDS, none of who believe in the doctrine the way it was taught to you and I. Many LDS still hold to the old belief but more and more are rejecting it all the time.


#13

[quote=Tmaque]In the 8/4/1997 issue of TIME Magazine Gordon B. Hinckley moved away from long held LDS Doctrine in a statement he made. Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley’s interview with Time:

Q: … about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?

A:** I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.**
[/quote]

Wow, that seems to me to be a rather strong, telling, statement about the administration of the LDS church. If the prophet says he doesn’t really know anything about it, how can we believe those things he claims he does know about? Guess that’s why they have the belief that the current prophet trumps all the others. For some LDS that is like a foundational belief, and here is their prophet saying “Well, maybe, maybe not. We don’t really know.”


#14

Todd, thanks for the information. That really is news to me. A lot has happened since I left Utah, obviously. It sure helps explain why so many Mormons are unaware of this teaching.

I just can’t help but wonder what Spencer W. Kimball would have thought of all this. Regardless of the fact that I stopped believing he was a prophet, I always felt he was a man of integrity. Still, in Spence’s waning years it did appear that Hinckley was the power behind the throne, so to speak.

As Alice said, curioser and curioser…


#15

[quote=TeriGator]Todd, thanks for the information. That really is news to me. A lot has happened since I left Utah, obviously. It sure helps explain why so many Mormons are unaware of this teaching.

I just can’t help but wonder what Spencer W. Kimball would have thought of all this. Regardless of the fact that I stopped believing he was a prophet, I always felt he was a man of integrity. Still, in Spence’s waning years it did appear that Hinckley was the power behind the throne, so to speak.

As Alice said, curioser and curioser…
[/quote]

I think Spencer Kimball would be a little bit surprised, but not totally shocked and certainly not offended. On the other hand, I’m quite sure, given his teachings, Brigham Young would be shocked, appalled, offended and would outright reject the teachings of the modern church, particulary it’s new doctrines on the priesthood, contraception and abortion. This latest doctrinal shift would shock and trouble him deeply as well. I’m certain he would be very concerned about the recent changes to the Book of Mormon and to the temple ordinances. It’s fair to say, based on it’s doctrines, Brigham Young would barely recognize the modern LDS Church. Joseph Smith was coming up with new doctrines all the time. It seems like he enjoyed continually changing things. So, his only objection to the changes would be that they weren’t his(God’s) idea. Anyway, I hope I haven’t offended any LDS out there. It’s just my opinion for whatever it’s worth.


#16

As I have stated before in this forum, often Prophets spoke as men and with their own understanding of things, not with the spirit. Maybe Brigham Young was trying to encourage the people in a particularly trying time to keep going. Who really knows why he said what he said. BUT it has never been church doctrine, anymore than the Mary walking on the roof of the Egyptian Cathedral is Catholic Church Doctrine, or appearing under the freeway. It is simply the belief of one man and because he said it and he was a prophet, some people expounded on it and believed it also. In my 62 years I have never been taught(as in a class) that God was once a man. I have only been taught the principle of eternal progression, and even though I have heard it said by certain people, I have never been made aware of it being anything but opinion. We know the things that are gospel, they are written in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. Anything else is the writings and speculations of man, and subject to misinterpretation or are simply a man’s thoughts. They were not always on their knees receiving revelation, most of the time they were acting and speaking as man and subject to the failures of man. They forgot to take out the garbage for their wives, they acted just as you or I do now. There are times I feel spritual guidance and later find it is, as you all like to say, indigestion. Prophets had other lives besides being prophets, they were also men with human failings.
I am reading books on the lives of the Prophets of the Church and it is really amazing to hear the stories of their progression in the Church from child to Prophet. They are most always humble and when they aren’t, God takes them down a notch or two. They are men, but more inclined to inspiration from God, and more in tune to God’s promptings as regards the Salvation of Man. They have the same growth as we do in learning to make right choices, and the big difference is that they make more right choices to follow the Lord Jesus Christ than I have, or you have. Just as the Pope makes that choice and is closer to God than you or I. He still has human thoughts and failings no matter how close to God he becomes. None are perfect, except Jesus Christ.
I am sure you don’t jump on everything the Pope says and hold him to it as being straight from God. Well, we don’t hold everything the Prophet says as being straight from God. They are men, do you understand that concept? We listen, and for the most part agree, but sometimes we don’t agree because we are also men with our own thoughts and interpretations of things.
I hear many different Catholics with thoughts of their own that do not go along with the teachings of the Church, but they are still Catholics and what they believe does not change the basic doctrine of the Catholic Church. What the Pope says is not always popular or current, but sometimes it is acted upon and becomes part of the Church Doctrine. Of course it is always explained as that it is not church doctrine, but only rules to be changed if they need to be changed. For instance Latin to English, or priests and nuns celebacy, eating fish on Friday.etc etc. None of those things were present in the original church, so how do you explain the change? Are those simply the ideas of the pope thinking as a man and making changes to God’s church?
Well, I have rambled again as usual, but please do not hold our Church up to a higher level than your own. We are all human beings still.
:thumbsup: BJ


#17

In my humble opinion–the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become an Evangelical church wannabe. They WANT to be accepted as just another conservative Protestant denomination (with a few unique, distinctive quirks and a somewhat colorful founding history), but they don’t quite know how to accomplish this without totally undermining the basic foundations of their belief system. If they totally disavowed the radical departures from orthodox Christian doctrine, they would lose the ability to claim that they possess a re-established priesthood, for example. To give up that claim would doubtless cause a massive defection of converts, in much the same way that moves towards orthodoxy in the Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong have all but gutted that denomination. The LDS Church has other precedent for fearing such an outcome–look at the decline of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the ‘RLDS’ Church, now called the Communities of Christ), for example, which although it was always much more mainstream and orthodox, never really thrived.

On the other hand, if they insist upon the prophethood and special revelations of Joseph Smith and his successors, they find it inescapable to accept at least some of the truly abberant and eccentric doctrines taught in the Doctrine and Covenants. I find it amazing that the LDS Church has disavowed the teaching of the King Follet Discourses and of Lorenzo Snow that “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become”. Such efforts to incrementally back away from doctrines which have been clearly taught by the LDS Church for decades is likely to eventually bring down the Mormon Church lke a house of cards. I think the leadership of the Church knows this, and thus move with great care in bringing any element of LDS doctrine under the shadow of doubt. BUT LDS leaders also recognize that it is increasingly ridiculous to claim historicity for such things as the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, or even for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Scholarship will eventually explode Mormonism if LDS leaders do nothing, and so the LDS leaders are engaged in the risky experiment of backing away slowly in hope of forestalling the crackup. That’s my opinion, anyhow.


#18

[quote=BJ Colbert]As I have stated before in this forum, often Prophets spoke as men and with their own understanding of things, not with the spirit…I am sure you don’t jump on everything the Pope says and hold him to it as being straight from God. Well, we don’t hold everything the Prophet says as being straight from God. They are men, do you understand that concept? We listen, and for the most part agree, but sometimes we don’t agree because we are also men with our own thoughts and interpretations of things.
[/quote]

I hear many different Catholics with thoughts of their own that do not go along with the teachings of the Church, but they are still Catholics and what they believe does not change the basic doctrine of the Catholic Church. What the Pope says is not always popular or current, but sometimes it is acted upon and becomes part of the Church Doctrine. Of course it is always explained as that it is not church doctrine, but only rules to be changed if they need to be changed. For instance Latin to English, or priests and nuns celebacy, eating fish on Friday.etc etc. None of those things were present in the original church, so how do you explain the change? Are those simply the ideas of the pope thinking as a man and making changes to God’s church?

Well, I have rambled again as usual, but please do not hold our Church up to a higher level than your own. We are all human beings still.

I think it would serve all to stop calling these men “Prophets” with the exception of Joseph Smith. Prophets of the Old Testament were called from God directly not appointed by a quorum of men. Joseph Smith is the only Mormon Prophet who fits this definition or traditional means of becoming a Prophet. The main difference between the Prophets of the Old Testament and Joseph Smith is that they did not have false prophecies like Smith did. It would be better for all to call the “Prophets” after JS, Presidents of TCoJCoLDS. This is one of the reasons that Mormons cannot compare the Pope with LDS "Prophets” When a Pope Speaks, ex-cathedra, it is not in contradiction with Christ’s teachings, the Bible, Church doctrine or Cannon law. As I have explained before we have had councils that help define or change ceremonial or doctrinal aspects of church traditions that you have mentioned, but they do not contradict the Bible or teachings of Christ. Church Doctrine has been changed 6 times in 2000 years and has not contradicted the teachings of Christ or the Bible. The same cannot be said of the Mormon church in its 175+ year history, the revisions in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Journal of Discourses, and Church history are so numerous it would take a complete volume to show these changes. The LDS want to ignore previous teachings and Doctrine like it never happened. With that said, it sounds like they are closer to mainstream Christianity (Protestantism) than anyone would have thought. This line of thought shows the true divide between “Mainstream Protestant Christianity”, (Mormons included) and the Catholic Church. We have stood by Christ’s teachings and defended his Church from the gates of hell, while all others have embraced part of his gospel and ignored the rest and expounded it upon for the self serving purposes of man. New or easier ways to obtain salvation that are only partial or added too teachings of Christ and his Apostles can only be seen as “Mainstream Protestant Christianity”.

Originally Posted by BJ Colbert

…None are perfect, except Jesus Christ

I agree that all are just men except Jesus Christ, he is perfect and so are his teachings. Why would anyone man want to ignore his teachings and the Church he established through St. Peter, and embrace the partial or expounded upon teaching’s of “Mainstream Protestant Christianity.” (Mormons included). If only these groups would re-read the Bible, and not take it out of context, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and prayed about what Christ wanted for Man, they would come to have a true Communion with him in his established Church.

God Bless,

ex-mo


#19

God didn’t write the Catechism…did He? Why do you need it when you have God’s word? The Bible. As you say it is the one and only word you need and none other should be accepted or written, or added to it. Catholics do not change God’s word they just add whatever suits their purpose to God’s word, and call it God’s word. Point out in your Bible where it says priests should be celibate, where does it say women should become nuns and be celibate?
The Bible does say to multiply and replenish the earth. Why is it a sin for a regular member of the Catholic Church to practice birth control, and not a sin for a priest and nun to deliberately choose not to follow God’s commandments to have children? It seems the priests should be the first to show the way to their parishners by having wives and children, and learning themselves what God wants them to learn. It seems to me they take the easy way out by not having the responsibility of families, and letting the church support them. That to me, seems like committing suicide, to just withdraw from normal life and hide behind the church.
I wish I could do that sometimes, but too late I have a husband, children, grandchildren and responsibilities which help me to grow and learn.
It is going to be funny to see the looks on all faces when the things you laugh and ridicule now are shown to be true.

:thumbsup: BJ


#20

[quote=flameburns623]In my humble opinion–the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become an Evangelical church wannabe. They WANT to be accepted as just another conservative Protestant denomination (with a few unique, distinctive quirks and a somewhat colorful founding history), but they don’t quite know how to accomplish this without totally undermining the basic foundations of their belief system. If they totally disavowed the radical departures from orthodox Christian doctrine, they would lose the ability to claim that they possess a re-established priesthood, for example. To give up that claim would doubtless cause a massive defection of converts, in much the same way that moves towards orthodoxy in the Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong have all but gutted that denomination. The LDS Church has other precedent for fearing such an outcome–look at the decline of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the ‘RLDS’ Church, now called the Communities of Christ), for example, which although it was always much more mainstream and orthodox, never really thrived.

On the other hand, if they insist upon the prophethood and special revelations of Joseph Smith and his successors, they find it inescapable to accept at least some of the truly abberant and eccentric doctrines taught in the Doctrine and Covenants. I find it amazing that the LDS Church has disavowed the teaching of the King Follet Discourses and of Lorenzo Snow that “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become”. Such efforts to incrementally back away from doctrines which have been clearly taught by the LDS Church for decades is likely to eventually bring down the Mormon Church lke a house of cards. I think the leadership of the Church knows this, and thus move with great care in bringing any element of LDS doctrine under the shadow of doubt. BUT LDS leaders also recognize that it is increasingly ridiculous to claim historicity for such things as the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, or even for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Scholarship will eventually explode Mormonism if LDS leaders do nothing, and so the LDS leaders are engaged in the risky experiment of backing away slowly in hope of forestalling the crackup. That’s my opinion, anyhow.
[/quote]

If what you say is true I guess we will all fall together then, because the Catholic church is going bankrupt all over the USA and can’t seem to sign up enough priests to run things. One priest was shown on a TV documentary covering 3 different parishes. Our own priest covers the orphanage and two parishes, and he is very old, at least 75. Do you worry at all about that? Or do you only worry about the Mormon church which has doubled it’s membership since 1986. I personally have never been taught the things you say have been mormon doctrine. To me they were just interesting personal opinions.
Do you wonder why God does not rescue His Catholic Church from the calamity that is befalling it worldwide?
All we can do is wait and see. Some of us are going to be very surprised and I don’t think it will be the Mormons. BJ


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.