LDS Articles of Faith, Part LXV
Article 13, Practical Religion, Part I
The thirteenth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. JOSEPH SMITH.” Those familiar with the Bible know that Smith got some of the content for this Article of Faith from Philippians 4:8, so LDS aren’t the only ones who seek to live life this way. Almost anyone wanting to live an honorable life could say that they live by this standard. LDS Apostle James Talmage wrote the book entitled The Articles of Faith (A of F) explaining the 13 LDS Articles of Faith and he and gave this Article of Faith the title of “Practical Religion.”
In The A of F on page 429, Talmage said, “Honesty of purpose, integrity of soul, individual purity, freedom of conscience, willingness to do good to all men even enemies, pure benevolence—these are some of the fruits by which the religion of Christ (LDS) may be known, far exceeding in importance and value the promulgation of dogmas and enunciation of theories.”. LDS claim they are the “religion of Christ,” and Talmage implied LDS live Christ’s way while others like Bible believers are more interested in preaching dogmas. But have LDS and their leaders always lived by this standard? Rom. 3:23 in the Bible says all (people) have sinned including LDS as well as Christians. Talmage’s statement reminds us of Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:9-14. Verse 9 says, “And He (Jesus) spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” Then Jesus said the Pharisee went to the temple and prayed, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican (tax collector). I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” The publican also went into the temple and wouldn’t even look up to heaven but smote his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And Jesus said the publican went to his house justified while the Pharisee was abased (degraded or humbled). I have lived among Mormons for nearly 90 years but have never met any group that boasted more about their good deeds and their Church than LDS do! But Rom 3:23 says they are still sinners!
Mormon leaders often talk like LDS are the only ones who live their lives as Christ taught. In our previous blogs we have pointed out that what they say and what they do are not always the same. When we discussed the 12th Article of Faith which says LDS believe in “honoring and sustaining the law,” we gave examples when LDS didn’t do that. Part of this 13th LDS Article of Faith says they believe in “doing good to all men” and Talmage added “even enemies.” Many LDS consider anyone who questions Mormonism to be an enemy even though they may just want an honest answer. When I have raised questions about LDS claims, some LDS have treated me kindly, but others have not. Some LDS Priesthood holders have ignored this Article of Faith and been arrogant and hateful to me and anyone else who asked questions about LDS doctrines or about Joseph Smith’s claims. I have been cursed by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood so many times I’ve lost count. Some LDS Priesthood holders have been so angry that they punched me in face or yanked me off my feet by my necktie. Others have lied about me saying I was excommunicated from the LDS Church for some immoral deed (even while I was still on the active LDS membership rolls), and some have said I should be dead. These are just a few of the things I’ve experienced from LDS Priesthood holders who Talmage said “believe in doing good to all men even enemies.”
Christian missionaries go on missions to tell people about the Savior, Jesus Christ. But LDS missionaries go primarily to people who already believe in Christ to tell them that they belong to the wrong church, and they need to be baptized into the one true (LDS) Church. Christians know that LDS have the wrong message and usually reject LDS claims, so LDS missionaries sometimes claim to be mistreated because their message was rejected. Talmage said on page 433 of The Articles of Faith, “One of the most glorious monuments of its (LDS) work is seen in the missionary labor which has ever been a characteristic feature of its activities.” On the same page he said, “Multitudes of these devoted servants have suffered contumely (insolent actions) and insult at the hands of those whom they sought to benefit; and not a few have given their lives with the seal of the martyr upon their testimony and work.” Talmage exaggerated the number who have been killed for their faith. Most of the LDS missionaries who have died while on their missions died from auto accidents or other kinds of accidents or sickness. A few have been attacked by thugs who were after their money, but they didn’t know anything about LDS beliefs. Such things happen to all kinds of people, not just LDS missionaries.
Although Talmage often writes in glowing terms about how LDS live as Christ taught, he says some contradictory things about them. In The Articles of Faith, page 437, he said, “The law of tithing, as observed by the (LDS) Church today, is after all but a lesser law, given by the Lord in consequence of human weakness, selfishness, covetousness, and greed, which prevented the saints from accepting the higher principles, according to which the Lord would have them live.”
Talmage said on page 439 of the same book, “A system of unity in temporal matters has been revealed to the (LDS) Church in this day; such is currently known as the Order of Enoch or the United Order and is founded on the law of consecration. As already stated, in the early days of the latter-day (LDS) Church the people demonstrated their inability to abide this law in its fulness…but the saints confidently await the day in which they will devote not merely a tithe of their substance but all that they have and all that they are to the service of their God.” It is interesting that Talmage brings up the United Order and says the LDS “confidently await the day in which they will devote…all that they have and all that they are.” I have seen no evidence of LDS wanting to give everything they have to God. Our previous blogs showed that in the past when LDS tried to establish the United Order it always failed within a short time because those trying to live that standard were in survival mode and saw that everyone else had a better life.
Next time we will conclude our discussion of the LDS Articles of Faith.