LDS Articles of Faith, Part LXI
Article 11, Freedom of Worship, Part 2
The 11th LDS Article of Faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.” LDS Apostle James Talmage wrote the book Articles of Faith to explain the meaning of the thirteen LDS Articles of Faith, but in it he also ridiculed what other churches believed or did. On page 398 he said, “Intolerance has been the greatest hindrance to progress in every period of time; yet under the sable cloak of perverted zeal for religion, nations, while boasting of their civilization, and professed ministers of the Gospel of Christ, have stained the pages of the world’s history with the record of such unholy deeds of persecution as to make the heavens weep. In this respect, so-called Christianity ought to bow its head in shame before the record of pagan toleration. Rome, while arrogantly, though none the less effectively posing as the mistress of the world, granted to her vanquished subjects the rights of freedom of worship, requiring of them only that they refrain from molesting others or one another in the exercise of such freedom.” Talmage only saw what he wanted to see in world history. But “tolerant pagan Rome” killed multitudes of Christians during the first three centuries after Christ! Christians were burned alive, cast into lions dens and eaten alive etc. Some professing Christians were intolerant, but it is false to say all were intolerant. Some Mormons killed 120 California bound emigrants at Mountain Meadows in So. Utah and other enemies too. Does that mean all Mormons are murders? Talmage tries to make Christians look bad in order to make Mormons look good! The 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses have some messages by LDS prophets and apostles in the 1800’s which ridicule Christians and say certain people needed to have their blood shed, but Talmage didn’t mention any of that!
Talmage said Luke 9:49-56 shows that James and John were intolerant. James and John came to a Samaritan village that didn’t receive Jesus, so they asked Jesus if they should call fire down from heaven to consume them like Elijah did? But Jesus rebuked them and said in Lk.9:56, “The son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Talmage said Luke 9:56 shows Jesus was tolerant of His enemies, even though He didn’t accept their beliefs, so we should be tolerant too. But Talmage didn’t explain why that tolerant LDS Jesus in Luke 9:56 was intolerant of Book of Mormon people in America when He was crucified in Jerusalem. No records show that anyone died in Jerusalem except Jesus and the two thieves crucified with Him. But III Nephi 8 and 9 in the Book of Mormon says in America 16 cities, some of them “great cities” and all of their inhabitants were destroyed by fire, earthquakes, floods etc. when Jesus was crucified. Multitudes of people died according to III Nephi 8-9! Does that sound like the same Jesus who said in Luke 9:56 “The Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them?” The Book of Mormon Jesus said In III Nephi 9:12, “And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land and upon this people…”
There are other problems with the Book of Mormon story in III Nephi 8-9 besides the portrayal of Jesus Christ as a mass killer. There is no real evidence that the Book of Mormon is a real history of real people. Not one name, event, place or anything in the Book of Mormon has been verified by archaeologists, in spite of scores of LDS books that use pictures from National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Institution etc. to try to validate the Book of Mormon. There is no other historical evidence or record that supports the Book of Mormon stories either. The destruction of at least 16 large cities in the Americas described in III Nephi 8 and 9 should have left some evidence of their existence but not a single remnant of any of those cities has been found. Destruction of that magnitude almost always leaves some trace of what was destroyed. The Book of Mormon says in III Nephi 8:6, 17, 18,19 and 9:2 says the whole earth was shaken and deformed at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, so the entire world supposedly experienced the same kind of destruction as the Americas! But there is no evidence that Christ’s crucifixion caused great destruction all over the world and no cities unearthed by archaeologists were destroyed at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. The Christ of the Bible is called the Just One in Acts 3:14; 7:52; and 22:14. Why would the Just One destroy multitudes of people in America who never saw Him while doing nothing to those in Israel who saw Him and heard His messages, but rejected and crucified Him? Is that really just?
In the Articles of Faith pages 400- 401, Talmage said some people use Galatians 1:9 “to justify persecution on account of differences in religion; but such misconstruction must be charged to “shallow reading” and evil prejudice.” Like many LDS, Talmage doesn’t seem to know the difference between persecution and disagreement. Many have used Galatians 1:6-9 when talking to LDS and then been accused of persecution when all they did was challenge them to show where Paul preached the LDS gospel. Since Paul never taught the LDS gospel, it is a distortion or perversion of the gospel he preached. So, the “shallow reading” of Galatians 1:9 that Talmage spoke of was done by him, not by those who challenged LDS doctrine!
Talmage and other LDS know that their founder, Joseph Smith claimed that the Lord told him ALL existing churches were wrong, ALL their creeds (beliefs) were an abomination, and ALL who professed to believe their doctrines were corrupt (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:18-19). That is the LDS basis for claiming there was a universal apostasy for about 1800 years between the time of Christ’s apostles and when Joseph Smith “restored the true church.” LDS fail to see that what Smith claimed was intolerance or bigotry and try to excuse it by saying the Lord said that, not Joseph Smith. But Joseph Smith’s word is all they have to support that claim. Christianity had been on earth for over 1800 years when Smith said it was ALL false and corrupt, so it was Smith who attacked Christianity, NOT Christianity that attacked Mormonism! Christians have as much right to defend their beliefs as LDS and it is not persecution to do so!
On pages 401 of the Articles of Faith Talmage quoted II John 10-11 which says, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Then Talmage said, “By no rightful interpretation can these words be made to sanction intolerance, persecution and hatred.” Talmage knew that Christians sometimes use II John 10-11 when rejecting the LDS message when LDS try to proselyte them. But rejecting a false gospel is not persecution, intolerance and hatred! Joseph Smith accused those who didn’t believe him of persecution, intolerance, and hatred, but Talmage didn’t mention that.
Next time we will discuss the twelfth LDS Article of Faith on submission to secular authority.