Discuss–Jan. 3, 2009

I’d like to try something new.  Every once in a while I’ll post a quote from a book, a scripture, a topic, etc and turn it over to you all to discuss.  So, this is the first one:

I own an interesting commentary called “Revelations of the Restoration” by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler. While I certainly don’t agree with all of the views of the commentary, I have found much of it to be very refreshing.  You can hear the “McConkie voice” in the text as Joseph F. McConkie speaks and writes a lot like his father Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

I’ve bolded the sections that I think are most pertinent or interesting.

Catholicism is founded on the idea that authority is necessary to represent God and that certain ordinances are essential to salvation.  Those principles in turn dictate that there can be but one true church, meaning one church that has the right to speak for God and perform the ordinances of salvation. Protestantism, on the other hand, in breaking with the mother church, takes the only remaining position–rejecting the need for authority and ordinances. Having done so, Protestantism must of necessity argue that neither ordinances nor church membership is a tenet of salvation and that ‘the one true church doctrine’ is narrow minded, bigoted, and even unchristian. This, of course, is what Protestantism does. Out of this chain of thought grows the popularized notion that it is not what you believe but how you believe that counts and the attendant idea that somehow all churches, even thought they teach contradictory doctrines, are true–assuming, of course, that they are Protestant Churches.

The idea that all churches are true, though satisfying to those who seek salvation on their own terms, defies every principle of truth and logic known to humankind. Let us briefly consider some of the ways it does so.

First, the essence of Christianity centers on the idea that salvation is in Christ. That being the case, everyone who truly embraces the Christian faith must at the same time embrace the idea that it is only in and through Christ that salvation comes. Christ himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The doctrine of all the holy prophets has been that there is “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; see also D&C 18:23; 2 Nephi 25:20; 31:21). Within the ranks of those professing to be Christians may be differences on the requirements of salvation, but all must agree on the acceptance of Christ as the source of salvation. At issue here is not whether a line must be drawn between the believer and the nonbeliever but simply where that line should be drawn. Historically Protestants do not hesitate to draw that line in such a manner as to exclude Catholics, Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah Witnesses. In practice, then, it becomes a Christian duty for Protestants to draw that line, doing so in such a manner as to exclude all who dare disagree with them. It only becomes an unchristian practice when someone suggests that they are on the wrong side of the line.

Second, to argue that the power of salvation rests in the Protestant world is to argue that a live branch can be cut from a dead tree….Protestants claim to have rejected corrupt Catholic traditions in a return to Bible religion. This argument raises two great difficulties.  The first is that they simply do not do it. They have retained as foundational to their faith the most corrupting traditions of the old mother church, namely her creeds. The second great difficulty is that Bible religion is itself unbiblical because no one within the covers of the Bible ever had a Bible. Their religion was one of prophets, apostles, and continuous revelation.…Now it is important to get our history straight. Christian existence predates the Bible by more than three centuries. The great Christian creeds, the very foundation upon which Protestantsism’s whole concept of Deity rests, are Bible free. Their creation predates that of the Bible. Protestantism holds fast to these creeds, refusing to acknowledge that they are part of the Catholic tradition that they claim to have rejected. It is allegiance to these creeds that predetermines the manner in which they interpret the Bible. At the same time they claim the Bible to be the last word on all things. Thus traditions rooted in historical creeds rather than the Bible have been retained as the guiding revelations of the Protestant faith. (pp. 53-55)

Discuss!

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3 thoughts on “Discuss–Jan. 3, 2009

  1. I’ve always argued with anyone in a Protestant religion that there are only 3 possibilities for the true/correct Christian church:

    * There is NO such church currently
    * The Catholic church is that church
    * The true church was lost and then restored

    Some of those people have attempted to argue that their particular sect was restored but those arguments tend to fall apart quickly under scrutiny. There’s only about 3 religions that have even one leg to stand on with regard to claiming to be the true restored church (and they are all mentioned in the quote as being dismissed from protestant circles). The quote you present here will be very useful for me when I next find myself in a similar discussion. Although I suspect most, if not all, of my protestant friends and acquaintances would be offended by the notion that their faith is based on the false creeds of catholicism.

  2. Interesting to me is the move toward the Protestant position by Catholicism: There is no priesthood authority absolutely necessary anymore. Catholicism has embraced Protestant baptisms now and has bought into the philosophy of “the Church” which embraces many sects and denominations. Either way, of course, Mormons fall outside of “the Church.”

  3. When you take the necessity of Priesthood out of the equation, you are bound to get many warring sects.
    Every church must think, to some extent, they are the only true church, otherwise their church wouldn’t exist. There must be something important Baptists have that Methodists don’t, otherwise they wouldn’t be two different churches.
    Christ is the one way, there is one baptism, one Church, etc.
    It may step on some toes, but that’s OK — that’s what Christians do.
    The D&C section 1 verse about being the “only” true and living Church is one the prophets and apostles have never shied away from quoting. “Only” may not be the best word for starting Gospel discussion, but it is the word the Lord has used.

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