The LDS Church Acknowledges Facts About Joseph Smith and Polygamy

polygamydrawing

As we’ve noted in our Facebook and Twitter feeds, on October 22, 2014 the LDS Church added an essay to its website that—when combined with an earlier essay—gives a more complete picture of polygamy in early Mormonism (particularly as practiced by Joseph Smith) than the Church would previously publicly acknowledge.

Mormon blogger Jana Riess lists five things the LDS Church has acknowledged in its essays:

  1. Joseph Smith was sealed to women who were already married.
  2. While some of these relationships were for “eternity only,” others may have been sexual.
  3. Joseph Smith’s first plural marriage took place as early as the mid-1830s.
  4. Many of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages occurred without the consent—or even the knowledge—of his first wife, Emma.
  5. Most of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were to women between the ages of 20-40, but others were to teenagers—including a fourteen year-old.

These acknowledgements are significant because, as Riess says in the summary for her article, “Some used to consider it ‘apostate’ to say that Joseph Smith married women who were already married to other men. Now the LDS Church has acknowledged it openly.”

Over the years Watchman Fellowship has published many articles about Mormon polygamy, one of the most notable of which is on our website. In “The Pain of Polygamy,” Jill Martin Rische looks at the practice of polygamy in the early LDS Church, the continuing practice among Mormon splinter groups, and a biblical response to the practice.

We also have two books in our resource center on the subject (each is available for a donation of $20 dollars):

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

Advert

The Long Island Medium Profile

longislandmediumprofile

We’ve just added to our website a Profile of Theresa Caputo, host of the popular The Long Island Medium television program. In this free Profile, Brady Blevins looks at the history and distinctive beliefs and practices of this TV personality, and presents a Christian response.

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

Surprising Survey Results Are In – Should Christians Practice Yoga?

yogapoll

This surprised me! We just tabulated the results of our One Question Reader Survey “Should Christians Practice Yoga?” We contacted over 5,000 Profile readers like you by email and 451 of you participated in the survey. I really thought our readers would be divided about evenly on this and I would probably get a lot of “hate mail.”

I was wrong. We were amazed to see that over 90% of you (401 total) answered “No” to the survey question while 20 did not vote but left comments. I was surprised and encouraged to see that only 32 responded “Yes” to the question “Should Christians practice Yoga.” Even some of those voting “Yes” included qualifying stipulations or other words of caution. There were also some very good comments posted on both sides of the discussion.

Want to learn more? We are still offering our 4-page Profile on Yoga and leaving the survey open a little longer so you can still add your voice.

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. I also greatly appreciate your continued prayer and support for our ministry. If you would like to help, you may partner with us today. Just click here: http://www.watchman.org/donate.

Satanism in the News

satanismarticles

A recent spurt of public Satanic activity has attracted the attention of the mainstream media. Whether it involves a Black Mass held in Oklahoma City (which failed in attracting attendees, but succeeded in attracting the media), or attempting to distribute an activity book in Orlando-area public schools, Satanists have been highly effective in using the media to garner attention for their groups.

How should Christians respond to all this activity from Satanists? Should we simply follow the practice (as some commentators assert) of “ignore them, and they’ll go away?”

It is, of course, important to avoid falling into what folklore and occult expert Bill Ellis calls “”Satanic panic,” ascribing greater power and levels of activity to Satanists than they currently employ (you can read more in our interview with Ellis). As we say in our Index of Cults and Religions,

Contemporary expressions of traditional Satanism are rare, and popular elements of it, including the testimonies of alleged former Satanists and Satanic Ritual Abuse have been discredited.

At the same time, however, we have also frequently warned against the danger of Satanists who truly believe in diabolical, occult power. For example, in the same Index definition quoted above we also say:

(Satanism is) represented by two separate groups, secular and traditional Satanists. The secularists do not believe in in a literal, personal, spiritual being called Satan, but rather consider Satan to be an archetype or symbol that represents the ideas of Satanic philosophy. Various satanic ideals include self-interest, indulgence, an anti-herd mentality, and an emphasis upon rational self-interest. Examples of modern Satanism include The Church of Satan founded by Anton LaVey and now led by Peter Gilmore as High Priest, Michael Aquino’s Temple of Set, and Lord Egan’s First Church of Satan. Traditional Satanism, which involves the worship of the Satan of the Bible through a perversion and parody of Roman Catholicism, appeared in the fifteenth century coming out of the Inquisition.

You can learn about the best-known Satanic group, the Church of Satan, in our free Profile, which gives this Christian response to Satanism:

It is best to keep in mind when talking to Satanists that they generally are both atheists and hedonists. That being said, it is best to deal with them on both levels…Satanists need to see clearly that any pleasure they derive from sin is ultimately shallow and short-lived. It is sweet at first, but bitter soon afterward, and the philosophy of a Satanist eventually leads to a vacuous and wrecked life.

You can see the full response in our free Profile, and you can equip yourself for the vital ministry of reaching out to people in cults and false religious groups by subscribing to our free newsletter.

If you are a pastor and want the staff of Watchman Fellowship to speak in your church about Satanism or other topics, see our list of programs and feel free to contact us.

Patterns in the Cults Profile Updated

patternsprofile

We’ve updated our popular Patterns in Cults Profile. In this free Profile, James K. Walker looks at the differences between biblical Christianity and false religious systems, focusing on the ways in which pseudo-Christian groups add to the Gospel, subtract from the deity of Christ, divide members’ loyalties, and multiply the requirements for salvation.

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

Quick Witnessing Tip: A Four-Minute Video on Reaching Mormons

ldstipsvideo

Here is a fast, 4-minute video witnessing tip for sharing the gospel with Mormons.

This is great illustration we were using earlier this year on our mission trip to Manti, Utah. One of hardest concepts for Mormons to grasp is the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone — apart from our good works.

I think this little illustration does a great job of helping Mormons understand what we mean, even if they don’t agree with us. Click here to watch:

http://www.watchman.org/MormonWitnessTip.htm

Please help us continue to reach out to people of other faiths with the true Gospel of Grace. Your donation helps make it possible: http://www.watchman.org/donate

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) — Ephesians 2:4-5

I welcome your feedback. Thank you for your prayer and financial support of our ministry!

Michael Gungor and the Importance of Biblical Authority

gungorauthority

Popular musician Michael Gungor has recently been the focus of a flurry of stories in the Christian media regarding his position on the literal truth of a variety of biblical doctrines. Gungor has stated that he is no more able to believe in the existence of Adam and Eve, or the great flood, than he is able to “believe in Santa Clause or to not believe in gravity.”

Why is this significant—so much so that even one of Gungor’s close friends says “he wouldn’t consider (Gungor) a Christian anymore”? It is important because, as Craig Branch writes in article on our website, “Those who lose faith in the Bible ultimately and naturally lose their other Christian beliefs as well. Having lost the rudder of a trustworthy Bible, they usually drift toward cultic doctrine. This is most tragic in the case of individuals and churches who were once committed to an orthodox course.”

To help Christians to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21), Watchman Fellowship is committed to sharing true biblical Christianity, as well as responding to false and cultic teaching. Below are a list of resources—both free articles from our website, as well as books available for purchase from our store—that will help you better understand and defend Christian doctrine.

Free Articles

Books

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

Brian McLaren Profile

mclarenprofile

We have just added to our website a Profile of Brian McLaren. McLaren is one of the most popular leaders of “emerging Christianity;” what makes some Christian commentators say his “generous orthodoxy” is neither generous nor orthodox? Jason Barker’s free Profile of McLaren looks at the history and teachings of the teacher, and presents a biblical perspective.

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

Racism in Mormonism

racismlds

A recently published book looks at the forgotten stories of fifty African-American Mormons who were members of the early LDS Church. A review of the book concludes that, while hopeful, these stories are also “wrenching” and “tragic.” What is wrenching and tragic about these stories, and why have they been forgotten—deliberately so, says the authors of the book?

Over the years in The Watchman Expositor we published a number of articles on racism in the LDS Church. You can find three of these on our website:

You can also subscribe to our free newsletter to receive the latest information and resources from Watchman Fellowship.

The Stranger in the Manger

strangermanger

I wanted to share a free video of a message I delivered last October at the Witness Now Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Convention in Pennsylvania.

I was asked to address what is perhaps the most crucial questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses who are leaving the Watchtower Society — Who is Jesus?

The title of my message is Stranger in the Manger: What Child is This? and I share the main differences between the Jesus of the Bible and the many “Christs” of the cults. Just about every religion believes in Jesus. The question is which Jesus?

Can You Answer These Key Questions?

The issues and controversies I discuss are essential not just to former Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are key questions every Christian must be able to answer. Here are some examples:

  • Where does the Bible teach the doctrine of the Trinity?
  • What really happened at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD?
  • Since Jesus said “the Father is greater than I,” is He less than God?
  • What is the  difference between the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and the Modalism of “Oneness” Pentecostalism?

You may watch my message and download the outline for free here:

Video: www.watchman.org/StrangerInMangerVideo.htm

Outline: www.watchman.org/StrangerOutline.pdf

Please help us continue to reach out to people of other faiths with the true Gospel of Grace. Your donation helps make it possible: http://www.watchman.org/donate

After you get a chance to watch the video, I would value your feedback! Also, I’ve been asked to speak again at this year’s Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Convention this September. Would you please pray for all of the former JWs around the world who have left a lie but have not yet found the Truth (John 14:6).