Christian Rejection

I received an email rejecting a request for a speaking venue. The rejection included the writer’s assessment that I was “not a Christian” because of her narrow, Evangelical interpretation of the word. I responded as follows:

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As one who, like the Apostle Paul, has stood in the presence of Christ, and likewise been caught up into heaven and been taught unspeakable things, I know from the Lord’s own voice my standing before Him. Whether others regard me as a “Christian,” I know that Christ regards me as His devoted follower and faithful servant.

I likewise comprehend His grace for others, including those who would exclude me from being defined as “Christian,” and therefore exclude me from salvation itself.
 
Rather than debate, deny, or judge the “Christianity” of others using any criteria, Bible verse, or Protestant hope for salvation, I accept any person’s claim to be “Christian” as welcome news. Whether they lived for the first millennium and a half of Christian history when only the Catholic Church existed, or they divide themselves into groups claiming to hold the exclusive qualifications to be saved today.
 
I judge no man. I encourage them all to hold fast to the hope of salvation offered by Christ, even if they hold beliefs by which they judge and reject me as a fellow Christian.
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This intolerant and anti-Christian view rejects as un-Christian all those who think there is a necessary role for works in addition to faith. (See James 2:20 & 26: “Faith without works is dead”.) They ignore two verses penned by James. They reject three chapters of Christ’s teachings. (Matt. 5 through 7.) They reject Christ’s own submission to the ordinance of baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15.) These dogmatic and blind guides base their entire false construction on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which states in passing: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9.) It is a mistake to interpret Paul to be in conflict with Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and if there is a conflict, we ought to obey Christ.
Paul taught in Ephesus, resided there for a time, and was acquainted with the arguments going on in that community when he wrote his letter to them. The document is literally “reading someone else’s mail” without the benefit of knowing the background of weeks of Paul’s teaching and information related to him from visitors to the city. We cannot now have any confidence that these two verses represent Paul’s understanding or even Paul’s oral teachings.
What we do know for certain, however, is that Christ instructed us to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13) and light of the world (Matt. 5:14). It is anti-Christ to deny the obligation to be salt and to provide light. It is anti-Christ to reject Christ’s admonition to let the world “see your good works” if we are to follow Him. (Matt. 5:16.)
Christ warned us to “keep the commandments.” He cursed those who proclaim we are merely saved by grace and have no obligation to obey His commandments. He declared, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19.)
Christ then elevated the commandment to not kill, by warning Christians to “not be angry” with their brothers. (Matt. 5:21-22.) He explained that His followers would not even engage in Christian giving without first forgiving all those who offended them. (Matt. 5:23-24.)
Christ commanded us to agree with disputants, and not oppose them. We are to give what they demand of us rather than withhold even our cloak. (Matt. 5:25-26; 39-42.)
Christ elevated the commandment against committing adultery by commanding His followers to not entertain “lust in your heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28.)
Christ revoked divorce as an option for His followers, except in the case adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32.)
Christ commanded us to love even our enemies and return good for evil. (Matt. 5:43-47.)
Christ commanded us to “be perfect” as a follower and believer in Him. (Matt. 5:48.)
This is only the first of the three chapters of Christ’s instructions about what following Him requires.
James explained how a Christian is to follow Christ: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18.)

My Kingdom

I was asked an interesting question.  I thought the question and answer might be worth posting.

Question:

  
“In 3 Nephi 28, the 9 disciples are promised that when they die they will go to “my Kingdom” meaning Christ’s.  However, the other 3 who tarry are promised to go to the “Kingdom of my Father.” Are they different? They must be, but how? In what way? Different levels of Exaltation? This same thing is discussed in D&C 7. Peter is promised “My Kingdom” while John is promised the greater blessing. I’m assuming it’s “my Father’s Kingdom” like the 3 Nephite disciples.”
Answer: 
I’ve written about this in Beloved Enos. The offer is extended to all those whose calling and election is confirmed.  The 9 chose to move into the post-mortal inheritance at their death. That is, they would not be required to return here for anything else, but would be judged, crowned and exalted upon death. Because this is a blessing conferred by the Son, it is “His Kingdom” into which they will move. When the work is at last completed and delivered to the Father –at the end of the earth’s temporal existence– it becomes the Father’s at that point. The 3 will be awaiting that moment to receive that inheritance. The 9 will enter into the “Son’s” until then, and will likewise be among those who are received by the Father, in the due order of things. 

[My answer provoked a follow up question:]

  
“But doesn’t Peter, James and John have the earthly role of teaching Adam and Eve (us) further light and knowledge as shown in the temple? Do they send ministering angels or maybe even John since Peter and James don’t come to earth anymore?”
I answered:
Peter, James, and John were added to the endowment by Brigham Young, but weren’t part of what Joseph originally portrayed. They were added to remove required narration. When added, they are a “type,” and not intended to be the personalities or individuals. Much like Elias is a “title” and not a name. Peter, James, and John are in the endowment types, or “titles” – not intended to be the actual persons who were known by those names while in mortality.

The endowment used to include the words, “You should consider yourselves respectively as if Adam and Eve.  …This is simply figurative so far as the man and woman are concerned.” The same could be said about other roles – which all represent truths, but the truths are not tied to personal identities. You are Adam. The endowment is about your life. Those true ministers who are sent are explained in D&C 130: 5, which include those who do (i.e. currently living individuals who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) or have (i.e., those who have left mortality and are returning as angelic, or resurrected, or translated individuals, who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) belonged to this earth.

 
 I should add: Without ministering of angels there is no longer any faith, as Moroni explained.  (Moro. 7: 37.) Only a fool would take their own message and portray it as coming from God. As Joseph Smith put it, “only fools trifle with the souls of men.” [I’ve noted, however, an endless abundance of fools here. The Historic Christian religions are filled with them.  …Unfortunately, they’ve crept into the restored faith, as well.] 
 
P.S.  A reminder – I do answer questions from time to time.  However, before you ask me a question, read or review the books I have written (there are 6 of them). Much of what is written in the books following The Second Comforter is written because of the questions I am asked most often. Therefore, I suspect you’ll find things in what I’ve already written which make it unnecessary to ask.

Alma 13: 17-18

Alma 13: 17-18:

“Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;  But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.”

He was a king over people who had “waxed strong” in both “iniquity” and also “abomination.” Keep in mind that “waxing strong” means to be increasingly determined or committed.  “Iniquity” is generally evil practice, but “abomination” involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes “abominable” when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error.

The people to whom Melchizedek would minister were not simply in error, they were motivated by a false set of religious beliefs and errors. The result was that “they had all gone astray.” They were “full of all manner of wickedness.” This was a challenging audience for this man to minister to and try to convert to the truth.

Melchizedek began by “exercising mighty faith” in order to understand the truth and discern the difference between truth and error.  Remember how difficult it is to be taught truth. It is more difficult to learn truth than it is to perform miracles. (3 Ne. 17: 2-7.)  Despite this, Melchizedek was able to set aside all he beheld and through faith acquire an understanding of the truth for himself.  Conferred upon him as part of this education was the priestly authority with which to minister to others.

He “did preach repentance unto his people.” This required him to expose the errors, show them they were involved in iniquity and to expose how their religious errors had made them abominable. This preaching is always most difficult because it confronts the audience with a challenge to their mistaken beliefs, and false religion. There is a risk of violence when this happens. People who entertain abominable religious practices are more often moved to violence than to repentance. The Lord was greeted with violence. So was Lehi, Isaiah, Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, Peter, Paul, Stephen, James, Zacharias and too many others to mention. To their credit, and to Melchizedek’s, the preaching resulted in repentance.

The serious errors, iniquity, and abominations of these people did not prevent Melchizedek from establishing a Zion. These people were able to acquire “peace in the land” because of their repentance. As used here, however, peace means more than the absence of violence, it means the presence of the Lord.

The statement that he established peace as the King of Salem (Shalom means peace) and “he did reign under his father” is a play on words. Which “father” is being identified in the statement. Was it Noah, or Gabriel? (A man who would also be translated and have a ministry as the Lord’s herald before the birth of John the Baptist and Christ.) Or was the “father” Him would would declare that Melchizedek was “begotten” as a “son of God?” It likely meant both. But it is also likely written this way to let those who do not understand what is being said to read it in a way that conceals the dual meanings. The scriptures are filled with such dual meanings.

What is hopeful for us today, is that no matter how much “iniquity” and religious error we engage in that results in our “abominations” in our pride and foolishness, we still may be candidates to receive something similar to what befell the City of Salem. The first step is to acquire the presence of this priesthood through individual repentance.

We envy these ancients. But we do nothing to try and follow the pattern revealed to us in their course. The Book of Mormon is a course in ancient failure and ancient success. We just do not respect what we have in that volume.

Well, let us press on…