Son of God or Simply Another Jesus?

Over the weekend the latest “larger-than-life story of The New Testament” received a “larger-than-life treatment in the stand-along feature SON OF GOD.”  At least that’s what the blurb on the official website said.  But, after sitting and watching this “epic” movie about Jesus for over two hours, twice, larger-than-life actually means convoluted, with an extraordinary twisting of the New Testament to create a Jesus that he warned against.

The movie itself is produced by the husband and wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the latter of which also cast herself as Jesus’ mother, Mary.  Roma was also instrumental in producing The Bible television series, which, depending on who one talked to, also depended on whether it was loved or hated.  From my perspective, although I did not view the series, anytime someone is endorsed by Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and/or T. D. Jakes, then that ought to send up red flags of warning that deception abounds.

I had originally critiqued this movie once, but chose to see the movie a second time, simply because the movie is so disorderly that it took me two viewings to try and make sense of it.  Call me slow in the uplink, but it was just that hard for me to wrap my mind around.

After the second trip to the theater, though, I am persuaded that the Jesus portrayed in this movie is not about the Son of God, but about the figment of another lost person’s imagination, who selectively borrowed a wide range of themes from the Bible and then imposed an aberrant theology upon it.  In other words, one ends up with “another Jesus,” as the Apostle Paul wrote about in his warning to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:4), when others were doing the same thing at that time, with the exception that there were no cameras and special effects around to help them.

The problem with a linear critique of this movie begins by noting that there is nothing linear about the movie in the first place.  That is why I labeled it “convoluted” above, since there are so many anachronisms, embellishments, and outright distortions of Scripture.  To try and straighten it all out would require a small book in itself.  At best all one can hopefully do is point out a few examples of just how twisted the movie is, and then leave it up to whomever to see it themselves, hopefully with some advanced warning.

The opening scene begins with John the Beloved isolated in a cave.  Only those familiar with the Bible, and particularly the Gospel of John (since John 1:1 is quoted) and the Book of Revelation, would know this, since nothing is stated at the outset who the character is.  The knowledgeable viewer is left with the assumption that the Son of God story is going to be told from John’s perspective, but as already noted, there are so many conflicting scenes throughout that such an assumption is completely dashed shortly after the opening shifts to another scene.

The first error occurs early on, shortly after Jesus’ birth, when he is in the manger and the three wise men show up to pay homage to him.  Not only is Jesus’ birth not recorded in John’s Gospel, this a common error that many Christians make, especially around Christmas time.

As is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt. 2:11 cf. 2:16), the wise men do no show up until Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have left the manger and are living in a house—two years later!  While such a scene tugs at the emotions and garners favor during the Christmas presentation at church, it is erroneous in terms of what the Bible has revealed about Jesus’ birth and those men from the east who come to acknowledge him.

A faulty theme is also seen toward the beginning of the movie, and is repeated throughout, when Jesus meets Peter for the first time.  As a work of fiction Jesus offers to help Peter in his fishing effort, since Peter had been unable that day to catch any fish.  Peter at first resists, but when Jesus says to him, “Peter; just give me an hour, and I will give you a whole new life,” Peter changes his tune.  Eventually they end up out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus stirs the water with his hand and Peter begins to catch fish by the net-full.  After asking Jesus what he did, Jesus responds by saying, “I’m giving you the chance to change your life.”  It is the faulty concept of chance, that is later repeated when Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector, that plays itself out time and again.

Changing one’s life or attaining salvation have absolutely nothing to do with chance.  They occur according to God’s purpose, plan, and design.  Chance, though, has everything to do with an equally fallacious assumption about humans, which is that they are free to do whatever they will, including either the acceptance of God’s redemption or the denial thereof.

If chance and human autonomy were true, then not only was the Son of God’s appearance in the world vain (Gal. 2:21), but so was the production of this movie.  Men and women could simply earn their way back to God with a little luck.  Yet, Jesus’ coming was not in vain, meaning that this movie only served to undermine his coming, not accentuate it.

Another error in the Jesus-Peter exchange happened in response to Peter’s question, after Jesus invites him to follow him.  Peter asks, “What are we going to do?”  Jesus asserts, “Change the world.”  That is an abject lie.  It is was never Jesus’ mission to “change the world,” but as the Gospel of Luke records, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (19:10).  John, who was alluded to earlier, also wrote that, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8).  So, right out of the gates we have another Jesus whose mission is contrary to the one stated in Scripture.  We have a self-help “Son of God,” rather than a savior who will give the devil his due reward by undoing his diabolical works to destroy man and mock God.

Aside from taking the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13) and conflating it with Jesus’ healing of the paralytic that had been lowered through the roof (Mk. 2), as well as the conflation of Matthew’s call to follow him (Matt. 9) with the lowly sinner (Lk. 18) in contrast with the Pharisees, all of which occur before Jesus Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), among other twists and turns, there was the blatant misquote of Jesus which is found in John 14:6.

John 14:6 reads, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’”  Jesus had just got done predicting his future demise to his disciples, but also promised his return.  That where he was going was to prepare a place for his followers in his Father’s house.  Jesus’ response to Thomas’ question is one of exclusiveness.  There are no other ways into God’s kingdom except through Jesus.  It is the latter part of Jesus’ assertion that the producers leave out, twice, that serve to expose this Jesus created by Burnett and Downey as the son of someone other than God.

Another bogus recounting of events occurs during the raising of Lazarus from the tomb (Jn. 11).  In the movie revision Jesus enters the tomb, after being only confronted by Martha, and then speaks with Lazarus while Martha looks on.  Jesus, while standing at the head of Lazarus’s body, bows down and appears to kiss him on the top or his head and voila!  His eyes open, he recognizes Martha, he gets up and walks out of the tomb.  Forget the burial wrappings.  Forget the biblical account of Jesus standing outside the tomb and calling out, “Lazarus, come forth.”  Forget the shortest verse in the Bible where it says, “Jesus wept,” in reference to Lazarus.  With so much forgetting going on, who needs the Bible?

One particularly curious scene occurs when Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Great jubilation abounds everywhere.  The people of the city are ecstatic to see him, laying palm branches in his path as he rides in on a donkey.  So far, so good.  Then, out of the blue, and not recorded in the Bible, Barabbas confronts Jesus, demanding that he set the Jews free from Roman oppression.  Jesus silences Barabbas by holding out his hand and then proceeds to enter the Temple.  In essence, we have another bogus scene that has nothing to do with the Son of God and everything to do with highlighting a person (i.e. Barabbas) who had minimal exposure in the Bible.

Added to the embellishment of Barabbas is the embellishment of Pilate’s wife, and perhaps even Pilate himself.  Both receive an inordinate amount of attention in this movie, which is interesting given that Downey, herself, had said elsewhere that she intentionally left the devil out of the movie so that Jesus would receive all the attention.

Well, Pilate’s wife becomes a veritable sage herself, as well as an attention-getter, since she has a dream (Matt. 27:19) and then confronts Pilate more than once concerning his handling of Jesus.  Even Pilate is a focal point throughout the movie with his harsh treatment of the Jewish people, Jewish authorities, and then Jesus himself.  While the devil may have lost some formal attention himself, he makes up for it in an indirect supporting role.

Then there’s the betrayal of Jesus scene.  Up to this point Judas Iscariot had been colluding with the Jews to have Jesus arrested and tried, but it is at the Last Supper that things get a little weird.  Not only do the producers put words in the mouths of the disciples that were spoken in another context (Jn. 14:1-6), Jesus says and does something that is not recorded in the Bible when he identifies his betrayer.  When asked who it is that will betray him, Jesus says, “Whoever eats this,” and then turns to Judas and sticks a piece of bread in his mouth.  Judas jumps up and leaves, and then later regurgitates the force-fed morsel.  All I could do was laugh, although quietly, while shaking my head.

Then, when Jesus is confronted by the Jewish and Roman authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane, a riot nearly breaks about as instigated by Peter.  After Judas comes and kisses Jesus, Peter delivers a “kiss” of his own by running up and slugging Judas, calling him a “Traitor!”  Of course, Malchus’s ear is then cut off and healed.  But the whole scene, which is clearly an embellishment of what is recorded in Scripture, is wild to say the least.  Additionally, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden is enhanced by the bogus accounts of the Jewish and Roman officials praying at the same time in their respective sanctuary’s.  What one has is a tiny nugget of truth combined with a heavy overdose of Hollywood nonsense.

At Jesus’ kangaroo court hearing, Burnett and Downey revised it to exclude the false witnesses and then conflated it to include false testimony—yet not all of it—and then also left out the question about Jesus as the Christ.  Given Downey’s New Age background, that is probably typical, since most New Agers do not see Christ as a person, but as a principle.  And in Jesus’ case, the Christ principle simply rested on him for a while and then departed at his death.  In this case, they had the Jewish authorities asking about his Sonship and left the Messiah part out, and then condemned him accordingly for blasphemy.

The scourging and crucifixion of Jesus in this movie are graphic, but do not approach the level of blood and guts that Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ did.  That said, however, the imagery is pretty brutal and hard to watch.  Of course, the storyline is severely abbreviated and Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Mary Magdalene, along with John, stand nearby (where was Mary, the wife of Cleopas? cf. Jn. 19:26) throughout the ordeal, which is contrary to the biblical record (see Jn. 19:27).  Moreover, Jesus is not nearly as physically obliterated as either the Passion or the Bible depict him to be.  In fact, toward the end he’s looking around as if he’s admiring the darkened clouds rolling in.

An interesting omission occurs shortly after Jesus announces that he’s giving up his spirit on the cross.  The Bible records that because the Sabbath was about to commence, it was against Jewish custom to leave dead bodies on the cross.  Therefore, the Roman guard would come along and break the legs of the victims to hasten death, and then they could be taken down.  Although Jesus had already expired, neither of the two prisoners crucified with him had.  Yet, their legs were not broken.  Jesus, however, was pierced with the Roman’s spear, but only a little blood was found on the end of it, not blood and water as John records (19:34).

Another revision of Jesus’ crucifixion occurred right after his death.  In the movie the two Marys and John receive Jesus’ body for preparation for burial, while the Bible tells us that it was Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who performed the preparation!  Now, Nicodemus does show up and eulogize Jesus at the dwelling where apparently Mary lived.  That said, we simply have another biblical error to go along with a boatload of others.

Several glaring problems are evident with Jesus’ return after three days in the tomb.  First, Burnett and Downey have Mary Magdalene arrive at the tomb in broad daylight, rather than early in the morning “while it was still dark” (Jn. 20:1).  Second, she is by herself, rather than with “the other Mary” (Mt. 28:1).  Third, she finds the stone rolled away, but there is no earthquake nor an angel perched atop the stone that had covered the tomb (Mt. 28:2).  Fourth, there was no Roman or Temple guard present, even though surely one must have been appointed after the Jewish officials confronted Pilate (Mt. 28:4 cf. 27: 64-66).  Sixth, Jesus, in the movie, tells Mary not to be afraid, rather than the angel (Mt. 28:5).  Seventh, Jesus tells Mary to go inform the disciples, rather than the angel (Mt. 28:7).  Eighth, there is no mention in the movie of Jesus having the appearance of the gardener which contributed to Mary’s momentary confusion.  Ninth, Mary clings to Jesus in the biblical account, but he suddenly disappears after giving her the order to go tell the rest about him.  Finally, only Peter shows up to investigate Mary’s claim, while there is no mention of “the other disciple” (most likely John) who accompanies him in the Bible.

In short, the post-resurrection movie account of Jesus is a complete mess of conflicted story-telling that has very little to do with the biblical account.  The same conflict carries over in a highly revised great commission statement by Jesus.  Rather than simply tell his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of the age” the movie version has Jesus telling them, “The Holy Spirit can be with you wherever you are.  Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Peace be with you.”  Then, poof.  He disappears, though not on a cloud, as is recorded in Scripture (Acts 1:9)

As the movie began, so it ends, in the cave with John.  With some extraneous commentary attributed to John, he tells the audience that all died for their testimony, except him.  He is living out his life in exile.  Then guess who shows up?  Why, it’s none other than Jesus!  After recounting the misquote of John 14:6, Jesus asserts that he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Rev. 22:13).  He then promises John that there will be no more death, crying, pain, etc., and that he is making all things new.  An emotional John can hardly control himself, as Jesus appeals to the “grace of the Lord be with all,” which is nothing more than another embellishment not found in Scripture.

Now you know, at least in part, why this movie about the Son of God is such a convoluted mess.  Was it better than a diabolical slasher film or maybe even a skin-flick?  That’s a tough question to answer, since the motive behind slasher films and skin-flicks is to horrify, shock, or titillate the movie-goer.  In most instances the audience wants the bad guy, so to speak, to die or be captured and punished, or, the movie-goer just wants to be left alone to drool.  Such is not the case here, since most people’s conception of Jesus is that he is a good guy that ought to be followed.

The problem, though, with this particular portrayal of Jesus is that by biblical standards, he IS a bad guy wearing sheep’s clothing, a Hollywood smile, and speaking soft, soothing words.  Very few people are biblically literate enough to discern that they are being duped.  So, the majority will walk away thinking that they have learned something about Jesus, when the reality is, they have learned about an imposter.  Worse yet, they will have learned nothing about what the Bible says about him, and will end up following the imposter!

So, is a slasher or skin film better?  Probably, since a Trojan Horse to the mind is ultimately going to be more devastating to the person than a frontal, open attack that temporarily shocks or stimulates the senses.  The Son of God in this movie is a psycho-spiritual Trojan Horse!

This movie about the Son of God, therefore, should not be attended by anyone who does not have a firm grasp on the Bible.  It is twisted (convoluted), is filled with endless distortions of events, including conflations of Scriptural passages that add to the distortions, and in the end presents a false gospel of human self-governance.  What one has here is not the Son of God, but simply another Jesus, among many, who in the latter days were to proliferate.

Jesus warned, “For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many” (Matt. 24:5).  “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, there is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is, do not believe him.  For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.  Behold, I have told you in advance” (Matt. 24:23-25).

May the prudent beware.

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Filed under Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies, Social Issues, Son of God

Marlise Munoz, Frankenbabies, and God’s Sovereignty

Marlise Munoz is dead.  She is not disabled.  She is not in a vegetative state.  She is not in a coma.  She is dead.

In case you are unaware of Ms. Munoz’s demise, last November she experienced a health-related trauma (it is speculated that she suffered from a blot clot in the lung) at home which caused her to lose consciousness.  Her husband found her after a period of time had past, during which time her body had been deprived of oxygen, and for all intents and purposes she was dead.  God have mercy upon her.

The twist in the whole event is that she was also 14 weeks pregnant when her illness struck.  Yet, with the marvels of modern medicine Ms. Munoz was placed on a ventilator, pumped full of drugs and chemicals to keep her body from decaying, in an effort to try and preserve the child she was carrying.  Unfortunately, that effort has failed as well, and as of Friday (January 24, 2014) a judge in Texas (R. H. Wallace, Jr.) handling the case has ordered John Peter Smith Hospital administrators to cease artificial life-saving measures.

To say how heart-rending and gut-wrenching this whole event has been for everybody, who has even spent five seconds thinking about what has transpired the past three months concerning Ms. Munoz and her baby, is an understatement. No one has had to deal with the tragedy more so than Marlise’s husband Erick.  Ultimately, somewhere along the line, he saw the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, and wanted all the artificiality to cease.  But, that is where several additional problems came along. Problems that that we, as humans, cannot foresee, and finally must concede our insignificance to the mind of the Almighty.

The first problem was Texas law.  God bless Texas when it comes to its desire to save human life.  Texas has some of the strictest laws on the books when it comes to abortion and the preservation of life, and that is a very good thing in a country where life is often looked at as more of a video game than an actual reality.

Texas law, though, did not, nor could it have, anticipate what was to happen with Marlise Munoz.  So, when hospital administrators were faced with the no-win event that was handed to them, when she showed up at their door, they chose to preserve life, as best they could, versus death.  As already noted, it took a court order to stop them from continuing on with their plan to deliver the baby despite the reality that the mother had deceased some time ago.  Hospital admins, however, were applying a law that did not apply to her.  It was a law for the living, not the dead, baby excepted.

The second problem had to do with all the outside rhetoric.  Pro-life and pro-murder (abortion is murder) on both sides of the isle ramped up their standard arguments to either try and persuade whomever that to “pull the plug” on Ms. Munoz would either be an act of abortion or an act of free “choice.”  The fallacy in such arguments is that this was not an abortion decision.  This was a decision that Erick Munoz and his immediate family had to make based on the decease of his wife and the malformed condition of the unborn baby.

As already mentioned, when Marlise died, her body immediately began to decay, just like all deceased persons do once death sets in.  How long she had been dead is something only God would know.  In the interim her husband and hospital officials had her artificially preserved, with the hope that the baby she was carrying would be born.  Sadly, the efforts were too little, too late, as the baby began to development abnormally.  Water on the brain, lower torso malformation, and indistinct sexual identification after 33 weeks were enough to conclude that if the child was born, it had zero opportunity to turn out normal, if it lived at all.

Of course, all of that did not matter to certain senseless fideists.  To them, life is all that matters, no matter the abnormality, the pain, or the cost.  Who cares if a Frankenbaby is created?  It’s a life, isn’t it?  Who cares if the father and immediate family have to endure possibly years of emotional or financial grief because of endless trips to specialists to replace malformed body parts?  It’s a life, isn’t it?  In fact, who cares if the immediate family does not want the Frankenbaby?  Someone will instantly step forward and adopt it.  It’s a life, isn’t it?

It is this kind of equally brain-dead nonsense that has only contributed to the problem; it has not offered anything by way of helping to resolve an otherwise helpless and hopeless situation.

Finally, though, there is the sovereignty problem.  So many well-meaning Christians love to tout that “God is in control,” that is, until the occasion arises when they believe God needs a little help controlling things and they interject their opinions where they are not needed.  What they fail to realize is that there are times when things happen that only God is privy to know just why they did.  They forget Job.  They forget Jesus.  The forget even some of the more mysterious happenings in their own lives.  Unexplainable tragedy just should not happen, so they take it upon themselves to make sure it doesn’t.

Unfortunately, when a well-meaning Christian decides to try and wrestle control away from God, or he/she attempts to help God out, the occasion, 100% of the time, becomes worse, not better.  And that is what has happened with Ms. Munoz.  Rather than stand back and let God be God, in a totally unexplainable event that only God could answer the question “Why?”, certain hypocrites of the faith have decided to interject and opine where their interjection and opinion are unneeded and unnecessary.  They have made the sad turn of events worse, not better, and the only resolution is that if they really believe God is in control, then they need to quit acting like God and let him.

Death and dying are the two most pathetically sad topics that any human being will ever have to deal with.  Whether it is one’s parents, siblings, friends, or one’s self, when death and the dying process come calling, everything comes to a dark standstill.  Sometimes we are prepared for death, sometimes we are not.  Whether or not Marlise Munoz was prepared is, again, something only God would know.  One thing is for sure, though, and it is this: her death has exposed a lot of people who are not ready to die, much less how to handle it when others do.

So, rather than prolong the discussion, using thoughtless arguments that only make a mockery of life and death, opponents of Judge Wallace’s decision need to step back and reconsider just what it is that they are arguing for.  It cannot be about human life, since (1) the mother is already dead, and (2) the malformation of the baby will not allow that.  It cannot be about abortion, since the decision to “pull the plug” had nothing to do with abortion.  It cannot be about biblical precedent and the need to preserve live by any and all means possible, given that there is no biblical mandate to do so.

The real argument, in this case, that certain exponents ought to be arguing and defending is that there are some things in life that happen and humans are completely helpless and at the mercy of God to deal with.  That humans simply need to get out of the way and let God do his will.  That in the grand scheme of things “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  And if they cannot or will not do that, then just what might those same persons expect when death and dying comes calling for them?  Will it become an ignominious charade as well?  Let’s hope not.

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Filed under Abortion, Living Will, Medical Ethics, Right to Life, Social Issues

Jihad Is Not Just About “Extremists” & “Fanatics”

While I appreciate that Bill O’Reilly recently shined some light on the ever-growing problem of Islamic jihad, I still don’t think he, like so many in the media, quite “gets it” himself.

Islamic jihad is not solely about “extremist” or “fanatical” Muslims going about “murdering” or killing infidels.  Islamic jihad is what Islam is mainly about period.  (see The Radical Muslim).  It is about conquering the world for Allah.

As the “radical” Muslim activist Seyyid Qutb wrote, “According to the Islamic concept and actuality, God’s rule on earth can be established only through the Islamic system, as it is the only system ordained by God for all human beings, whether they be rulers or ruled, black or white, poor or rich, ignorant or learned.”

Also, Islamic jihad is not “just getting started,” as O’Reilly opined.  It has been going on for the past 14 centuries, ever since Muhammad strolled in and took Mecca, and then his caliphs (successors) rampaged across the Middle East and up into Europe threatening anyone and everyone if they did not convert to Islam.  The alternatives were that they either paid the jizya (a poll tax only paid by Jews and Christians if they wanted Muslim protection) or fought to the death.

Jihad is one of the main themes in the Koran and is obligatory for all Muslims to engage in.

o9.1  Jihad is a communal obligation (def: c3.2).  When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is not longer obligatory upon others (O: the evidence for which is the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace), “He who provides the equipment for a soldier in jihad has himself performed jihad.”—Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, 600.

So, kudos to O’Reilly on the one hand for the exposure of growing danger to one-and-all of the imposition of Islamic jihadism.  But, woe to O’Reilly for getting caught up in making a distinction that does not apply, namely, that jihad is only about extremism.  In Islam, jihad applies to all Muslims, not just a small faction of “fanatics.”

“Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you.  Allah knows but you do not know.”—Koran 2:216.

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Filed under "Radical" Islam, Islam

Addendum #2 Mormons Cannot Be Christians

In one last dash attempt to validate the claim that Mormons are Christians, Dr. Dan Brown basically rehashes his previous misleading, if not downright erroneous, apologetic.

Therefore, this final entry rebutting his arguments will be somewhat repetitive, but only because Dr. Brown, like so many Mormons, ran out of steam and so ended his defense spinning in a circle.

Dr. Brown wrote,

Clearly, Jesus Christ is the central figure in the doctrine and practice of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He is the Redeemer.  He is the prototype of all saved beings, the standard of salvation.  Jesus explained that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  We worship him in that we look to him for deliverance and redemption, and although we fully acknowledge our human frailties, we earnestly seek to emulate his matchless life.  As one Book of Mormon prophet proclaimed, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ…that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

Again, Jesus Christ is not the central figure in Mormonism, nor could he be.  That position belongs to Joseph Smith, whom the Mormons have had drilled into them constantly his greatness, wonder, and splendor.  This is perhaps best captured in a song especially written about him entitled “Praise to the Man.”

While Jesus is the Redeemer in orthodox Christianity, as already emphasized earlier, Mormons are not orthodox, and they are proud of it.  Yet, such pride only betrays them, since to be orthodox simply means to “think right” (Gr. orthos = “right” and dokein = “to think”).

Since Mormons are almost giddy about being unorthodox, then to say that Jesus is the Redeemer is shallow, if not misleading when a Mormon utters the statement.

Moreover, when one considers that Mormons must merit or earn their redemption via their own good deeds, then it logically follows that whatever they have to say about Jesus and redemption is loaded with extraneous commentary that has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus redeeming anything, and everything to do with the sinner attempting to redeem himself.

So, in reality what the Mormon should say is: “I am my own Redeemer; Jesus is my afterthought.”

To say that Jesus is “the prototype of all saved beings” is outright blasphemy.  What it implies is that Jesus sinned and needed to be forgiven and then spiritually regenerated himself.

Yet, when one considers that Mormonism teaches that Jesus was a created being, who came into existence from a pool of nebulous “intelligences,” when a male and female deity had cosmic sexual intercourse, then it is no wonder that Dr. Brown would imply that he was a sinner that ended up being a “prototype of all saved beings.”

While Jesus did say that no man could come to the Father except through him, it was Brigham Young who said,

Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail [sic] in the great work of the last days…that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent (Journal of Discourses, 7:289).

So, either Jesus was telling the truth and Joseph was not OR Joseph was telling the truth and Jesus was not OR neither one was telling the truth.

Whichever way a person goes, Jesus and Joseph Smith were diametrically opposed to one another in terms of who determines the eternal destiny of the deceased.  There is no reconciliation between them.  It is either Jesus or Joseph, but it cannot be both.

Finally, Mormons do not worship Christ, because they can’t.  As already noted, Joseph Smith gets in the way of any kind of true worship of Jesus.

Mormons may talk and preach about Christ, but given all the false statements they make about him, then their talk and commentary is reminiscent of what Jesus will say to the “Many [who] will say to Me on that day [of Judgment], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:22-23).

And Mormons cannot rejoice in Christ, mainly because the main focus of their redemption is in themselves.  If they do not do their part “to perfect their lives,” as Spencer W. Kimball once wrote, in this lifetime, by keeping all the commandments of God in legalistic fashion, then the only joy a Mormon can experience is superficial at best.

There will always be this haunting doubt hanging above their heads, as their doubting consciences eat away at their very internal being, always wondering if he or she has done enough to appease Humanly Father.

So, with Dr. Brown’s last ditch effort to make a positive case for Mormons being Christians we close this critique.

Over the past seven articles it was shown that Mormons cannot be Christians for a variety of reasons: wrong Jesus, wrong salvation, wrong atonement, misguided works, and so on and so forth.

Now, some will take exception to what has been written, but it is to be expected that none of the counterarguments will have anything to do with the points put forward which prove that beyond the shadow of a doubt that Mormonism is not Christian, therefore the individual subscribing to the anti-Christian nature of Mormonism cannot be Christian either.

Nevertheless, the challenge is always open.  If anyone can actually rebut anything put forth as evidence that Mormons cannot be Christians, based on Dr. Dan Brown’s arguments, then they are welcome to do so.  In fact, a public apology will be offered and this writer will run down to the local ward and be baptized a Mormon if he can be proved otherwise.

But, that will never happen.  The biblical evidence is not on the Mormon’s side, and if the biblical evidence is lacking, which is the Christian’s guide to faith and practice, then just what kind of Christian could the Mormon be?  The answer is, he would not be a Christian at all!

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Addendum #1 Mormons Cannot Be Christians

In the previous five articles we saw five reasons why Mormons cannot be Christians.  The arguments presented by Dr. Dan Brown were found to be totally faulty through either revision of Christian concepts and doctrine or simply out of touch with historic, biblical, Christian orthodoxy.

Of course, some might say among those in Mormonism, of course Mormons are not orthodox.  After all, Joseph Smith restored the church to its primitive roots that orthodoxy destroyed via the grand apostasy.

But, such a rebuttal is nonsensical, given that all orthodoxy means is to “think right.”  So, if Mormons admit that they are not orthodox, then that is simply a confirmation of just how un-Christian Mormonism is, as well as proves that it cannot produce Christians either.

If Mormons don’t think right when it comes to Christian belief, then the only alternative is that they are unorthodox, or that they think wrong.  Plain and simple.

That said, Dr. Brown offers two additional statements after making his five-prong argument that he believed proved Mormons were Christians.  The first statement will be dealt with here, with the next one coming later.

Dr Brown, in shotgun fashion, loads up and blasts away several comments that he believes finalizes his argument.  Little does he realize that not only is his second-to-last attempt at validity poorly presented, they seem more like an act of desperation than one born out of confident reassurance.

He wrote,

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians because “we believe in Christ…and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ….We are made alive in Christ….Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore we bow down before Him and worship Him with all our might, mind and strength, and our whole soul” (2 Nephi 25:24-29 in the Book of Mormon).

All that needs to be asked concerning the Mormon belief in Christ is “Which Christ?”  For as seen before, if the Mormon Jesus is as claimed, namely a created being and the brother of Satan, then placing one’s trust in that kind of Christ will only result in a one-way trip to hell.

Dr. Brown argues that Mormons are “alive in Christ,” but that cannot be true, simply because of all the legalisms that the Mormon must perform in order to be recognized as “worthy” in God’s sight.

Now, some Mormons scoff with the rationale that they’re not perfect, and so when they fail to keep their end of the bargain with God, then Jesus acts as a sort-of stop-gap measure, filling in where the Mormon failed.

Yet, such a rebuttal does not fly among the Mormon General Authorities.  According to them, it is the individual Mormon who must perfect himself by keeping all the laws.  It is not Jesus who does it for them.

Late Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, “Being perfect means to triumph over sin.  This is a mandate from the Lord.  He is just and wise and kind.  He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable.  Perfection therefore is an achievable goal” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 209).

Does that sound as if Jesus is going to make-up for the sinner’s lack of fulfilling his obligations?

Again, Mormon President Joseph Fielding Smith echoes Kimball by alluding to the Mormon reality that if anyone is going to attain redemption is must be earned.

“Man must be redeemed according to law, and his reward must be based on the law of justice.  Because of this, the Lord will not give unto men that which they do not merit, but shall reward all men according to their works” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:27).

So, if salvation is according to individual merit, according to their works, then how could Jesus intervene in their behalf to do something that is, once again, their obligation to fulfill?

The point is, no Mormon can be alive in Christ if it is incumbent upon him to keep the law to achieve liveliness.  Why?  Because no person, Mormon or otherwise, has ever been able to keep the whole law perfectly.

As James points out, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10).

Or as the Apostle Paul, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall not flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

Rather, a better description of the typical Mormon is one who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

Finally, Dr. Brown claims that the Mormons bow before Jesus and worships him with their complete wherewithal.  Is that really the case, though, when so much time and effort is spent by the average Mormon lauding the person and wonders of Joseph Smith?

Please note the late Gordon B. Hinckley words of fawning when mentioning Joseph Smith in the same breath as Jesus.

Great was his vision.  It encompassed all the peoples of mankind, wherever they live, and all generations who have walked the earth and passed on…I can echo the words of John Taylor who was with him at Carthage Jail when he was killed and who in his account of that tragedy wrote this appraisal: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).

High praise, indeed, for someone who preached a counterfeit Jesus, married other men’s wives while they were still married to their husbands, and never uttered a prophecy as a “Prophet and Seer of the Lord” that actually ever came to pass as stated.

The fact is, no Mormon can focus upon worshiping Jesus with their whole being while maintaining the delusional image of Joseph Smith in their memory.  And it is because Joseph Smith’s image has been so ingrained into the psyche of the typical Mormon, that the real object of worship is him, not Jesus.  As noted before, Jesus is window dressing to a Mormon, he’s not the main object of attention.

So, while Dr. Brown tries to reinforce his earlier five-point argument with another smattering of disjointed ideas that he thinks proves that Mormons are Christians, it is clear that his shotgun was shooting blanks.

Mormons do not believe in Christ, are not alive in Christ, nor do they worship Christ.  Instead, they believe ultimately in themselves, they are dead in trespasses and sins, and they worship Joseph Smith.  Hence they cannot be Christians.  Any other assessment to the contrary is not accurately describing Mormonism, nor Christianity.

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Reason #5 Mormons Cannot Be Christians

The fifth and final reason offered by Dr. Dan Brown in his quest to try and legitimize Mormonism as a accurate representation of Christianity that is capable of producing biblical Christians is an institutional appeal itself.

Brown feels that as long as the Mormon Church has any one of a number of individuals occupying offices such as apostles, teachers, pastors, etc., then its membership must be Christian.  So, with that in mind, we’ll call this last appeal

Reason #5: Illegitimate Leadership

Dr. Brown’s argument, as stated in the St. Helena Star goes likes this:

5.  We are Christians because “we believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” (Articles of Faith No.  6), as well as all other offices mentioned in the New Testament, such as deacons, bishops, and high priests.  Just as in the early church, we believe that Christ’s church in our day should be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20)

First of all, nowhere in the Bible will one find that as long as someone believes in “apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” that that entails that they are Christians.  It merely means that they happen to believe something that is nonessential when it comes to spiritual regeneration, which, interestingly enough, Dr. Brown completely fails to mention in his defense.

That said, though, the office or ecclesiastical positions that Dr. Brown mentions as evidence that Mormons are Christians, upon closer inspection, do not match that found in the Bible either.  In other words, when a Mormon holds those titles, it means something completely other than what is meant when someone in the Bible held the title.

For instance, there are a very specific guidelines for holding the title of an apostle in the Bible, which entailed very specific duties and abilities.  They are found in Acts 1:21-24, 2:43, and 5:12, etc.

Acts 1:21 “‘It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us— one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.’ 23 And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.  24 And they prayed, and said, ‘Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen…’”

An apostle, therefore, had to have (1) been one of those who accompanied Jesus, (2) witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, and (3) been chosen by God.

When we turn to Acts 2:43 and 5:12 we see the supernatural ability that came with being an apostle.

“And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

“And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico” (Acts 5:12).

An apostle of Jesus, in other words, was no ordinary man voted into office by his colleagues simply because he knew all the right secret handshakes, was an astute businessman, and he stood out among the crowd at the local ward.

An apostle of Jesus shared a special and personal experience with him, and his office was validated by his words and deeds that could only be explained as motivated by the divine.

When one turns to Mormon apostles, who among any of them ever accompanied Jesus, witnessed his resurrection, or was chosen by God, and was validated by the demonstration of miraculous signs?  The answer is, none of them!

The same applies to the remainder of Dr. Brown’s list.  None of the Mormon “prophets” ever spoke in conformity with God’s revelation as either a foreteller or forthteller as it pertained to the nation of Israel.

In fact, Joseph Smith and Mormonism has perverted what it means to be an Old Testament Jew by asserting that the followers of Mormonism are actually of the lineage of those Jews themselves!

The teachers in Mormonism, of which Dr. Brown is one of them, teach doctrines completely contrary to what historic, biblical Christianity has taught for two millennia, as is evidenced, in part, by what he has written here in defense of Mormons being Christians.

There is no such thing as a Mormon pastor or evangelist.

The Mormon missionaries, of which many people are familiar, are not really missionaries at all.  They are cheap labor spokespersons and salesmen for the organization.

From the biblical perspective, a missionary does not merely spend two years going about trying to proselytize Christians on his own dime, peddle a “gospel” that tells people if they will simply work hard enough, then they can become gods and goddesses on their own planet, while being united with their family (see Reason #2), nor refrain from establishing Bible-centered churches in the worst neighborhoods.

Yet, when we look at the main focus of Mormon cheap labor, that is exactly what they do.  And with the recent change in policy from the Mormon hierarchy, there will now be more cheap laborers out and about pestering people, whether online—which is where most of the Mormon attention is being shifted—or at one’s front door, with very few of them even knowing what they’re talking about.

As for deacons, bishops, and high priests, none of those offices in Mormonism even vaguely resembles what they were intended in the Bible.

All a deacon is in Mormonism is an Aaronic Priesthood holder, which typically begins when the male turns 12 years-old, and is more of a status symbol, much like the older Melchizedek priesthood holders.  It means absolutely nothing from a biblical perspective, but takes on an air of arrogance for the Mormon who thinks he is actually some kind of deacon or priest.

As for being a high priest, that is an office that only belongs to one person: Jesus Christ; and he will never relinquish that office to anyone, regardless of how many oaths are taken behind closed doors or secret handshakes are learned along the way (see Hebrews 7).

Finally, the Mormon organization is not built upon the foundation of the biblical Jesus.  As noted in Reason #1, the Mormon Jesus is the “spirit brother” of Satan.  He is nothing more than a created being who managed to work his way up the ranks to becoming a god himself, and making him one among many gods and goddesses that Mormons argue exists.

The foundation of Mormonism is built upon the wild imagination of their founder Joseph Smith.  While Mormons claim that they don’t worship Joseph, all things considered, that is exactly where their adoration mainly lies.  Jesus is merely window dressing compared to Joseph.  And why not?  After all lord Joseph said,

I have more to boast of than ever any man had.  I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam.  A large majority of the whole have stood by me.  Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it.  I boast that no man ever did such a work as I (History of the Church, 6:408-9).

Indeed.  Joseph was a legend—at least in his own mind.

So, while Dr. Brown would like for everyone to assume that because Mormonism is based on a primitive church foundation, complete with all the offices, the assumption is purely illusory.  There is nothing truthful about any of it.

Not only is belief in such unnecessary for the production of a Christian, upon closer examination, what Mormonism has erected in terms of its organizational structure is completely at odds with how the Bible describes or discusses the roles of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, deacons, priests, or whatever.  It is all a show and a sham.

Perhaps what is even more disturbing about Dr. Brown’s final point of rationale is that aside from the Mormon organization being built upon an illusion, he wants people to believe that it is the basis that everyone should trust in to be a Christian.

In fact, Dr. Brown’s argument is almost exactly what Mormon General Authority Bruce R. McConkie had written years ago.

After giving the same spiel about the Mormon Church being the only true church, McConkie wrote, “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation.  There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine 1966: 670).

The organization, with all its pretty buildings, clean-cut “missionaries,” and outwardly conservative lifestyles, is what Mormons, like Dr. Brown and Bruce McConkie, want everyone to see and believe is what Christianity is all about, rather than Jesus.

Nothing could be further from the truth, though.  An organization can have all the so-called apostles, prophets, and priests it can muster.  But, if its view of Jesus is skewed, and he is merely window dressing and takes a backseat to anyone, then that organization cannot be Christian, nor can it produce them.

Mormonism is not Christian, despite all the borrowed Christian offices that Dr. Brown alludes to.  Therefore, it cannot produce Christians either.

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Reason #4 Mormons Cannot Be Christians

The fourth reason offered by Mormon apologist Dr. Dan Brown in his defense that Mormons are Christians centers on a theological term very few actually use anymore in everyday parlance, but Mormons cite to dupe those who don’t know any better.

That theological term, which has been revised and perverted to mean something wholly other than what the Bible discusses about it, is atonement.

So, let’s talk about Reason #4: Wrong Atonement.

Before we get to Dr. Brown’s reason, let’s look at what atonement is, first, to familiarize ourselves with the genuine before we get to the counterfeit.

The Hebrew word for “atone” is kipper or kofer, which basically means, in relation to the idea of salvation, to “cover,” “reconcile,” or “forgive.”

It does not mean “at-one-ment,” as some have creatively, if not perversely, imagined.

The Greek word, which is usually translated as “propitiate” or “propitiation,” is hilasmos, means basically the same thing as kipper: to “forgive,” “pardon,” or “reconcile.”

Another Greek word, katallegé, is used four times in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18-19) and carries with it the meaning of “reconciliation,” “restoration of the favor of God,” and “reestablishment of friendship” with God.

Unger defines atonement thus,

In accordance with the force of theses terms ["Heb. kaphar, to 'cover, cancel'; Gr. katallagé, 'exchange, reconciliation'"] of Scripture the atonement is the covering over of sin, the reconciliation between God and man, accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is that special result of Christ’s sacrificial sufferings and death by virtue of which all who exercise proper penitence and faith receive forgiveness of their sins and obtain peace (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 123).

According to G. E. Ladd, the idea of propitiation or atonement throughout Greek literature means “to appease a person who has been offended.  Traditionally, theology has recognized in [the] words of Paul [the apostle] a sense in which the death of Christ has effected an appeasing of the wrath of God against sin by virtue of which the sinner is delivered from God’s wrath and made the recipient of his gracious gift of love” (A Theology of the New Testament 2001: 470).

Finally, John Frame argues that the atonement was sacrificial (Jesus offered himself as the sinless Lamb of God), propitiatory (Jesus bore the wrath and anger of God that was due to human sin), conciliatory (the sinner is no longer an enemy of God’s), and redemptive (Jesus’ sacrifice purchased for God his own possession.  “So, we belong to God both by creation and by redemption”) (Salvation Belong to the Lord 2006: 148-50).

In summary, the Christian concept of atonement may be defined as the covering of sin by a perfect blood sacrifice, whereby when it is applied, reconciles the sinner to God and turns him from an enemy to a friend, from a sinner to a saint.

Now, how is the Mormon idea of atonement vastly different, which leaves the Mormon, once again, on the outside looking in when it comes to actually being a Christian?  Dr. Brown wrote,

4.  We are Christians because “we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith No.  3). Indeed, there is no other way to salvation.

Two fatal flaws are made by Dr. Brown which distinguishes the Mormon concept of atonement from the ones described above.

First, Brown, like all Mormons, wants to incorporate his personal efforts into the concept.  He even cites the Mormon Articles of Faith as evidence that unless the sinner is obedient to God’s laws, then he cannot be atoned for.

The second fatal flaw in Dr. Brown’s argument has to do with exclusivity.  There is no other way to salvation unless there is a mixing of Christ’s atonement and the sinner’s keeping of the law.  What a bunch of diabolical nonsense.

What Dr. Brown is essentially repeating is the argument raised by some legalistic Judaizers in the early formation of the Christian Church.  They had no problem in believing in Jesus, at least verbally.  It was their inclusion of the obligation of keeping the Law of Moses that was the problem.

At the Jerusalem Council, found in the Bible, the Book of Acts, Chapter 15, it was resolved that it was God’s grace that redeems; not the Law.

That is not to say that the Law was unholy or non-beneficial.  It is to say that the Law was not intended to redeem, but to condemn.  Therefore, anyone wanting to mix grace and law as the means to activate Jesus’ atonement unto salvation, only placed themselves under a curse instead (Gal. 3:10).  It did not set them free.

This is the very thing the Mormons are repeating today in their redefinition of atonement.  Oh, Jesus atoned for sin, alright, but it is incumbent upon the sinner to fully put into effect that atonement by willingly placing himself back under the burden of trying to do something that even the Jews could not do: obey the law perfectly unto salvation.

See James 2:10 on the necessity of keeping the law perfectly and the consequences for failure to do so.

Therefore, Reason #4 that Mormons Cannot Be Christians is simply that whatever atonement they’re speaking about has nothing to do with the atonement that Jesus completed.

Because when Jesus went to the cross to atone for sin, it was final.  There was nothing left to do.  All man had to do was believe.

Otherwise, when Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn. 1930), he would have been lying, since there would have been something left for the sinner to do, namely, atone for his own sin, through legalistic means, which would have rendered Jesus’ death on the cross null and void (Gal. 2:21).

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