Getting Flak For My Attitude Problem

In recent weeks I have received a lot of flak from those who incorrectly perceive in me a faulty attitude towards churches other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is truth in all religions, I am told by those who arrogantly suppose I do not already know this. But it is a fundamental Mormon doctrine that a person who is baptized without the proper authority remains unbaptized as far as God is concerned, and a proper baptism is essential for obtaining eternal life. This is official Church doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is true doctrine.

I invite all my critics on this point to explain to me what the following means when the Savior teaches it in the Sermon on the Mount from 3 Nephi 14: 13-14, 21-23.

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

[…]

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Those who cannot make a good explanation for this passage from Jesus himself are not qualified to critique my attitude toward other churches that teach large amounts of false doctrine.  Had there been no Great Apostasy, there would have been no need for a Restoration, and the Savior was just wasting his time when he visited the boy prophet Joseph Smith. A man cannot be saved in ignorance. And a church cannot save its members by teaching false doctrine. To say that there is some truth in another church is no different than saying that not all of its teachings are false. Either way it doesn’t matter: If one isn’t properly baptized, he loses his eternal life. I didn’t make the rules. Jesus Christ did.

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13 Responses to Getting Flak For My Attitude Problem

  1. Kniguh says:

    Of course… this is all contingent on whether or not the church or the book of mormon is true; which cannot be proven either way.

    Ergo, there will never be a “right” answer to your challenge.

  2. Doc says:

    John,
    While there is a difference between incomplete and incorrect understandings, I think you overstate the case of our being immune. The Pharisees and Saducees were also quite sure they were correct and understood all the workings of things the right way. They were God’s people after all. Christ was not shy about putting them in their place. I see the dangers of phariseeism as much more applicable to us than to other religions precisely because we can easily fall into the trap of thinking our misunderstandings of doctrine have to be correct because we are the true church. We make mistakes too. We can misunderstand. In my mind, our unwillingness to consider the good in other religions or to respect them will clearly drive us away from God leaving us to lean on our own imperfect understanding. From there it is a very short road to personal apostasy.

    • We are the only church that is led by prophets and continuing revelation. Can you see how that means your argument about Pharisees is irrelevant? Such arguments do not apply to us. Our understanding of doctrine is informed by men who are just as surely prophets or spokesmen for God as Moses was. If there were any false doctrine in the Church, they would get rid of it.

  3. rizza says:

    hello , folks , basically Iam a Born -again Christian , but I do believe that each person is entitled to his /her opinion. what is so important nowadays is to share the word of God and be prepared to His Second Coming! now, that alot of persons are living so worldly! Till here, and God Bless us always..

  4. rizza says:

    hello folks, as far Im concerned evey perso is entitled to his /her opoinion, basically I am a Christian a Born Again one , but I do believe that each one of us must respect other’s opinin. evryone’s advocacy in his / her faith , he or she is accountable for it ! whether to share it to it to others or not! But ,one thing is needed that nowadays a lot of people are living so worldly, what is so much important is for us who believe on God to share His word and to encourage people to read the Bible ! and be prepared as always on His Second Coming! till here, folks and God Bless us!

  5. Truth Seeker, my life-long motto is “All my opinions are tentative pending further data.” When I express my opinion as established fact, sometimes in a challenging or even truculent manner, what I am really doing is trying to provoke others to shoot me down with their best reasons or arguments. Then I judge the value of my own opinion by the excellence of the arguments brought against it. I want my own understanding, that is, my own opinion to be subjected to the refiners fire of others, many of whom are more intelligent and better educated than I am. Because this has long been my method of testing my own understanding, I am often perceived as dogmatic, set in my views, blind to reason, etc. However, the facts of my biography proves conclusively that I am none of these things. I have changed my mind far too often about basic, fundamental and extremely important things. If your last comment was an apology for calling me a “Pharisee,” I certainly accept it with all my heart. Don’t feel too badly, however. I myself have resorted to name calling from time to time when in the heat of debate. I think it is almost inevitable when emotions run high.

    Doc, while it is true that we do not yet have a perfect understanding of the gospel and God, and continuing revelation is a fundamental part of our doctrine, there is a vast difference between having an incomplete understanding and having an incorrect or false understanding. Since men cannot be saved in ignorance, they not only need to learn more, but also they need to discard their incorrect and false beliefs. The damnable thing about the doctrines of traditional Christianity is not that they are incomplete but that they include so many teachings that are satanic in origin. When men mingle their own faulty philosophy with the scriptures, the result is religion that needs to be unlearned before further spritual progress can be made. Unless unlearned, their false doctrines are an insurmountable stumbling block upon the road to eternal life. This is not true of the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which have been given to us by genuine prophets just as Moses and other Old Testament prophets gave true doctrine to their followers. None of the traditional Christian churches are led by prophets. They don’t even claim such a thing.

    And while it is true that we do not need to focus on the shortcomings of the traditional Christian churches, the Savior seemed to think it was pretty important to point them out in JS-H 1:19 when the Prophet Joseph asked which church he should join. If baptism is essential for obtaining eternal life, and if only one church is authorized to perform those baptisms with God’s authority, the “shortcomings” of the traditional Christian churches are very important indeed. And I am far more concerned about Latter-day Saints forgetting the importance of their own beliefs than I am about possibly offending the occasional traditional Christian who might read this blog.

  6. Doc says:

    My question to you would be, do we have a perfect understanding of the gospel and God. If so, Why will God yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. If we really believe this than our religion is also incomplete. I don’t see much use in focusing on hteir shortcomings when we have our own understanding and imperfect knowledge in constant need of refinement.

  7. truth seeker says:

    Most people believe themselves to be right and others wrong. However I would like to stand up for Brother Redelfs. Certainly I don’t agree with everything he says, but he has the righ to voice his opinions. Also I think John is a good person and I regret calling him a pharisee. Brother Redelfs, even if we don’t see eye to eye, I want you to know that I love you.

  8. Jeff G says:

    I should be a little clearer. I’m not sure what your attitude problem is supposed to be. Is it that you believe your right? Is it that you believe everybody who disagrees with you is wrong? Is is that you believe that all who disagree with you will be punished for it? Is it that you have too much confidence in your beliefs? Some of these do seem to be problems, but others seem to be little more than human nature.

  9. Jeff G says:

    So those verses can pretty much be used to justify pretty much any and all bigotry. Absolutely anybody can say “there are few who believe as me, but look what Jesus said.” I think the responsibility lies with you to provide an explanation of the versus which not only excludes those who should be excluded, but also shows how your interpretation is among them.

    Now let’s say that you could actually due such a thing (an accomplishment which would not be inconsequential by any means), I’m still not sure how much it would establish. In our post-Enlightenment time, your “attitude problem” has come to be seriously frowned upon and for good reason. Unless you can provide some justification beyond “Jesus said so…” your justification probably won’t be terribly compelling.

  10. Johnna says:

    Hi John,

    Where have you been getting the flak? I’m just delighted to see you posting anywhere again.

  11. truth seeker says:

    Oh and by the way, if I offended you I apologize. Sometimes I am not very careful with what I say. I try to be a good person, but I will be the first to admit I am far from perfect.

  12. truth seeker says:

    I understand the need for a restoration John. Of course it was needed. I never said it wasn’t. I was only telling you to be careful about how you talk about others faiths. It’s better some people have a faith, as long as it encourages them to do good and live justly, than to have no faith at all. Maybe the current religion they have is what they need at the moment. Maybe later they will accept the Restored Gospel. Remember, line upon line, precept upon precept.

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