What’s Wrong with the Creeds of Christendom?

January 12, 2008
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After nearly 1800 years of silence, the heavens at last reopened. The boy prophet knelt before God the Father and the Son, who told him to “join [no Church], for they were all wrong.” (JS-H 1:19)

And why are they wrong? I suppose Jesus could have mentioned any number of reasons for considering no Church His own. The loss of priesthood authority comes immediately to mind. The loss of the Gift and powers of the Holy Ghost is another contender.

But Jesus’ condemnation of Christendom was instead rooted in their creeds: “all their creeds were an abomination in [God’s] sight…” he stated. (JS-H 1:19)

Allowing for the possibility that the word “creed” might just be a general term meaning “what a church teaches” it should not surprise us that the more common interpretation is that Jesus was rejecting the literal creeds of Christendom, those pillars of belief hammered out in ecumenical councils. Starting with the famous Nicaea council in 325 A.D., there were approximately 21 ecumenical councils that produced the creeds of Christendom over the course of 1640 years. The Catholic Church accepts all 21 while Protestants differ on which they accept; usually limiting their accept to the first 7.

Mormons have traditionally understood God’s denunciation of the creeds to be that they contain doctrinal falsehoods. While this is undoubtedly true, I question if this alone could account for God’s concern with the creeds.

For example, the original Nicene Creed (which actually comes in several variants) reads:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

There isn’t much here to be concerned about. All the hubaloo in the LDS Church is over a single phrase: “being of one substance with the Father” which seems like it might contradict D&C 130:22: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also.”

Since the term “of one substance” is not really defined, I can’t be certain if I agree or disagree with it, though I’ve been told by many an Evangelical Christian that the Mormon view of the Trinity does not qualify as “being of one substance” in their own minds.

There are a few phrases that I have no idea what they mean, such as “very God of very God” but I can’t say I disagree with something that has no meaning to me. As a Mormon, I can truthfully say I have no problem with the content of the Nicene Creed except, perhaps, for the one phrase.

This begs the question: Did Jesus really come all the way from heaven to a boy prophet just to condemn all of the Church’s of Christendom over one phrase?

The content of the creeds, even at their worst, seem innocuous to me. Does it really matter if Jesus had two natures – divine and man – or not? Does it really matter if Christians defined the Father and the Son as being “of one substance” instead of “of one purpose”?

If the Nicene Creed helps Christians understand the Divinity of Christ, I say “Good on them! Believe as you wish!” At least they have a working interpretation of the idea that Jesus was real, our savior, and truly divine, right?

In a church where we value non-definition and allow a multitude of interpretations, it seems a bit odd for God to suddenly condemn what was undoubtedly a Biblically valid interpretation of God’s nature. (And by that, I mean it doesn’t directly contradict scripture, though it can’t be found there in full either.)

In this post, I will argue that God wasn’t offended at the content of the creeds, but at their existence as authoritative litmus tests of one’s allegiance to Christ. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of anyone else in the LDS Church. However, this theory serves as the basis for future topics I will blog on.

I do not intend this post as an attack on any other faith. I have huge respect for Catholic and Protestant religions that adhere to the Creeds of Christendom. But it would be difficult to explain my own personal beliefs without explaining where I have honest concerns with some beliefs of other religions.

The Nicene Creed was one of the outcomes of the Nicaea council held in 325 A.D. The reason this council was called was to “resolve disagreements in the Church of Alexandria over the nature of Jesus in relationship to the Father.” (link) Though this was the top item on the agenda, the council also resolved a number of other issues including officially deciding on the date of Easter.

Emperor Constantine had called the council because of a growing division in the Church over the teachings of Arius. As Wikipedia states, “The Arian controversy was a Christological dispute that began in Alexandria between the followers of Arius (the Arians) and the followers of St. Alexander of Alexandria… Alexander and his followers believed that the Son was of the same substance as the Father, co-eternal with him. The Arians believed that they were different and that the Son, though he may be the most perfect of creations, was only a creation. A third group… tried to make a compromise position, saying that the Father and the Son were of similar substance.”

Initially the Nicene council had several bishops supporting Arius, who was essentially on trial during the council and wasn’t a direct participant in the discussion. However, a reading his writings lead most of the bishops present to denounce Arius’ teachings as blasphemous. “To most bishops, the teachings of Arius were heretical and a danger to the salvation of souls.” (link)

Arius’ teachings were considered a danger to salvation because Arius believed Jesus was a creation of the Father and thus, in their minds, less divine than the Father. If Jesus was less divine, they reasoned, then He was incapable of saving anyone.

The famous Saint Athanasius attended the Nicene Council as a representative for the Alexandrian group. “Athanasius of Alexandria, a young deacon and companion of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, was among these assistants. Athanasius eventually spent most of his life battling against Arianism.” (link)

Both Arian and Alexandrian camps could quote scripture to back up their views. Arian was fond of John 14:28: “the Father is greater than I” while Athanasius liked to emphasize verses like John 10:30: “The Father and I are one.” (link) The scriptures were insufficient to resolve the conflict and both views were valid possible interpretations of the Bible, in that sense.

With Arius now on the outs with most of the Bishops, the Alexandrian camp pushed for a creed that would forever banish Arius and his doctrines from the Church. To this end, they favored the phrase “of one substance” to be included in the creed. If this phrase were included in an authoritative document then, they believed, Arius’ doctrines would be provably false and the Arian doctrine would fail.

The middle camp, concerned over the unscriptural phrase “of one substance,” instead pushed for the phrase “of similar substance;” a phrase that I suspect most Mormons would be more comfortable with or even embrace.

But this wasn’t to be. “Of similar substance” would not be strong enough to banish the now nearly universally disliked Arius. Wouldn’t that phrase allow Arius to claim he was in alignment with the very creed they were producing?

With this counter suggestion failing, the Alexandrian camp won out and the creed included the phrase “of one substance.” After decades of back and forth, eventually this view became deeply ingrained into the consciousness of Christendom. Today “of one substance” is a significant doctrinal teaching of nearly all modern Christian Churches that have their roots in Catholicism.

With this issue now decided, Arius was banishes and his writings were ordered to be burned. Later on, Arius died a violent death that many scholars believe was a murder via poisoning by the Alexandrian party. (link)

Imbued now with the same or greater authority than scripture itself, the Nicene creed became the basis for whether one was considered a true believer. To be worthy of Christ, one had to swear allegiance to the creed. Failure to do so resulted in deportment or possibly death.

It strains credulity to imagine an perfectly loving God that would damn an Arian to hell just because he or she had failed to imagine Jesus being “divine enough” to past muster. I no more believe that Arius’ false views of God would damn him than I believe Athanasius’ false views would damn Athanasius. I no more believe this whole conflict mattered to salvation than I believe celebrating Easter on the wrong day matters to salvation. Ironically, it was the Alexandrians that were imagining a less divine God – one that fell short of God’s actual attributes of godliness: love and mercy in this case.

A common defense of the creeds is that they obtain their authority by merely summarizing scripture. This charge lead Stephen E. Robinson to ask if they could please just point out which scriptures they were summarizing and let him affirm belief in the un-summarized version instead. (How Wide the Divide?, p. 133) More than a mere summary, the teachings of the creeds of Christendom are, even today, the primary basis for excluding Mormons from being Christians.

Perhaps more concerning, the creeds solidified a disturbing trend away from salvation by sanctification through faith-driven obedience and repentance towards an view of salvation based on what beliefs one mentally held in one’s mind.

As merely one possible way to understand scripture, the Creeds of Christendom are non-offensive and perhaps even helpful. But once empowered with assumed Divine authority they become, for Mormons at least, a concerning possible basis for the disappearance of the original teachings of Christ.

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27 Responses to What’s Wrong with the Creeds of Christendom?

  1. kodos
    January 13, 2008 at 2:57 am

    You may be interested in this old post by Ronan at BCC:

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2005/08/reading-the-nicene-creed/

  2. January 13, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Well, since Joseph Smith made mention of the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, I thought to look up the creeds they would have been using at the time, to see what Joseph would have been likely to understand God to be saying. These seem to be based on the Athanasian creed more than the Nicene:

    But I’m not so sure that it’s their misconception of the nature of God that’s so objectionable, although there’s something wrong with anything teaching that makes God out to be a is a remote, incomprehensible mystery.
    I think what really made them abominable is the presumptuous declaration that future “revelation of the Spirit” was to be rejected as scripture: Not only that there were no more prophets, but that there would never be any others. If you’re willing to accept correction, almost anything can be corrected, but the language of these creeds comes perilously close to pre-determined rebellion against any word God might ever send.

    Mormon has some strong language about this attitude:

    3 Ne 29:6 Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!
    7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ!

    Methodists:
    Article I.-Of Faith in the Holy Trinity
    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost

    The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

    Baptist (1689 confession)
    1. The Holy Scriptures

    - it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, to which nothing is to be added at any time, either by new revelation of the Spirit, or by the traditions of men.

    2. God and the Holy Trinity

    The Lord our God is the one and only living and true God; Whose subsistence is in and of Himself
    - Who is infinite in being and perfection; Whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself;

    - Who is a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions

    Presbyterian (Westminster Confession)
    I
    VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men…

    II
    I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions…

  3. Bruce Nielson
    January 13, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Confutus,

    Excellent research. Do you, by any chance, have links to those creeds?

    You are driving at the same thing I am, I think, but perhaps more directly.

    kodos,
    I loved that link. It’s good to see I’m covering ground all ready somewhat covered. It stood to reason someone else had noticed that the Nicene creed was harmless in content. Actually I personally find the Nicene creed to be quiet beautiful. I find the whole Trinitarian doctrine to be quiet beautiful. It only becomes ugly when it’s elevated to the level of scripture.

  4. January 13, 2008 at 8:44 am

    You might also be interested in this discussion over at NewCoolThang:

    http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/09/why-are-creeds-an-abomination/

  5. Bruce Nielson
    January 13, 2008 at 8:59 am

    The Yellow Dart,

    That post is saying exactly what I am getting at.

    I’ll have more to say later. But Blake has nailed it.

  6. Bruce Nielson
    January 13, 2008 at 9:03 am

    That last link from Yellow Dart also linked to this:

    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/arianism.html

    I’ve started reading it and it is very interesting.

  7. Peter Brown
    January 13, 2008 at 10:02 am

    I find that the creedal problem is at the root of Christianity distrusting Mormonism Christianity. They like to asses that we aren’t Christian, and we like to assess that we are. I have found that if we tweak the language a bit, we can both be write. I can therefore astutuely announce that I am not a Creedal Christian by any imagination. I can also therefore propose a question to the Biblcally based: Where does it say in the Bible that I have to be a Creedal Christian to be saved? It doesn’t. If Christians want to trademark that term and link it to the creeds, I’ll be fine with that. I’ll say I’m a Biblical Christian, and we would have to agree since before the creeds, anyone who believed in Christ resurrected was a Christian, regardless of his comprehension of the subsance and oneness of Him with God the Father.

  8. Peter Brown
    January 13, 2008 at 10:06 am

    “Save the E-Word,” was the headline on a fall editorial in Christianity Today, the 50-year-old magazine founded by Billy Graham. It quoted opinion polls in England and the USA showing “the tide has gone out” on the term, increasingly seen as negative and extremist. “When I travel, I call myself a ‘creedal Christian’ now,” says Francis Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society and a professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-01-22-evangelicals-usat_x.htm

  9. Doc
    January 13, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    An interesting observation was made on a Podcast I was listening to here One interesting point they make is that creating a touchstone to define what makes one a believer is what religions do, given time. They cite the Parley cannon created in Buddhism, the Schools of Law in Islam, both about 400 years after founding. He states this is how religions develop, going from a charismatic phase, then large growth and then consolidating.
    Is it possible our nicene creed is coming, but we are too young? Are we as Mormons at a turning point right now where we feel the need, are pressured really, to come up with a definitive set of beliefs that separate Mormons from Non-Mormons through correlation?

    Another possiblity I see, and this is relative to Blake Ostler’s point, The Nicene creed functioned to streamline Christianity into the State Church. Could the political intent be part of the corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Every major religion before our time has been established by the sword. In that sense, Mormonism is rather different. It was created, propagated and is thriving in a atmosphere of religious freedom and committment to pluralism. Concepts like agency and choice and accountability are central to us.

    Are the creeds abominable because they take away our right to discover truth for ourselves and still belong to God’s Church?

  10. Doc
    January 13, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Or to Confutus point which is well taken, Are the creeds abominable because they shackle God from giving further light and knowledge?

  11. jayspec
    January 13, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    The way I see it the problem with the creeds is this:

    1. It’s not the words, but the interpretation: I agree with Bruce that the “being of one substance with the Father” is the difficult phrase. It leads me to two questions,”Was it translated from the original correctly?” I don’t know what language the Nicene creed was written (Greek?) but does the english reflect the intended meaning of the authors. The second question follows: ” Is that what the authors meant to say? An amplification of that term “one substance” might have helped. In other words, if they would have said, “One substance with the Father, the same as we are,” we’d have zero problem and much of the arguing would be over.

    2. Committee was not the way to make doctrine: In the absence of any Priesthood authority, this method for deciding on doctrine is clearly unbiblical. I can’t recall a time when a committee was organized to make doctrine on behalf of God. So that is problem right there. In the LDS Church, the sole decider of doctrine is the Prophet. He may and does seek counsel from others but he is the only authorized person to declare doctrine for the Church. Now, having said that, the Church must accept new doctrine by common consent, but is that the same as having a committee decide? I don’t think so.

    I also like the last point made by Doc, that having a “cast in concrete” creed does not give God the opportunity to expand the believers knowledge if everything must always be measure, not against scripture, but the creed. On the other hand, would our other Christian friends say that they live by “God’s Word” and not by the creeds?

  12. Bruce Nielson
    January 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    >>> On the other hand, would our other Christian friends say that they live by “God’s Word” and not by the creeds?

    Yes, they would. That’s exactly what I was addressing with this comment:

    “A common defense of the creeds is that they obtain their authority by merely summarizing scripture. This charge lead Stephen E. Robinson to ask if they could please just point out which scriptures they were summarizing and let him affirm belief in the un-summarized version instead. (How Wide the Divide?, p. 133) More than a mere summary, the teachings of the creeds of Christendom are, even today, the primary basis for excluding Mormons from being Christians.”

    There is more I could say here, but this should suffice to make the point. Our Christian friends (non-Catholic at least) want to have it both ways. They want to say there is no authority but the Bible but also don’t want to allow for an alternate, but valid, biblical interpretations that fit all the biblical data — such as Mormons have, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or, well, everybody else.

    I can’t say that I blame them. It would be mighty ineffective to simply define their unique interpretations of the Bible, such as the Trinity doctrine, or creation from nothing, as “our best guesses.” (And in my opinion, if you only have the bible, pretty good guesses.)

    But if they don’t assert those beliefs as authoritative and binding, that would mean that a group like the Mormons would have to be accepted *while* the Mormons made truth claims that to some degree exclude everyone else. Why not just be a Mormon and make sure you are covered both ways? What could it hurt?

    So while I do not blame our Christian friends for becoming creedal — it was necessary for their survival — I also see no logical way for their beliefs to end up being anything but an extension to the bible that they treated as authoritative and equal to the bible. It’s a conundrum that I do not believe could ever be adequately explained.

  13. Zane C.
    January 13, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Doc – in response to:

    “Are we as Mormons at a turning point right now where we feel the need, are pressured really, to come up with a definitive set of beliefs that separate Mormons from Non-Mormons through correlation?”

    We don’t need to feel any pressure at all. We already have our set of beliefs defined for us. Joseph Smith took care of that when he penned the 13 articles of faith. I don’t think that any council could come up with a more inspired, concise set of beliefs.

  14. Mark D.
    January 13, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I think anyone with an interest in the potential problem with extensive creeds really ought to take the time to read one of the influential modern creeds such as the Westminister Confession:

    http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html

  15. January 13, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I was asked for my references on the creeds.
    I did a google search on Baptist creed, Presbyterian creed, and Methodist creed, and looked for the latest edition prior to 1820.
    For the Baptist creed, see http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds.htm, I used Spurgeon’s 1689 edition
    For the Presbyterian, I used the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, found at http://www.creeds.net/reformed/Westminster/contents.htm
    For the Methodist, I quoted the Twenty-five Articles of Religion, found at http://www.crivoice.org/creed25.html

  16. Doc
    January 13, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Zane,
    Yes, we could accept the 13 articles as a creed, but if someone decides that they don’t think that the literal lost tribes are being gathered and will be restored or the New Jerusalem will be established on this continent, are they no longer Mormon? Do we brand them heretic or excommunicate them?

  17. John Nilsson
    January 13, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Two things of interest to me in this discussion:

    1. The decision-making process in defining theology is remarkably similar between our church and the early Christian church. A bunch of human beings, some more inspired than others, gather to discuss and decide on matters of eternal significance. If you look at the doctrinal statements made in this dispensation, they are all done by consensus vote of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. There is nothing controversial which prophetic fiat summarily overrules. Likewise, unity was the main consideration in the early Church as well. The main difference is that current LDS leaders are not co-ruling a theocratic state, as early Christian bishops found themselves doing after the collapse of Roman institutions. If they were, they would have to take that into account in their decision-making. Most LDS folks I know object not to decisions by committee, that is actually accepted Church practice, but to the fact that church and state mixed intolerably to produce the Nicene Creed.

    2. Joseph Smith entered the grove believing that the creeds of the various churches were an abomination in the sight of God. It was not a new insight, but a powerful confirmation of his disillusioning experiences at Methodist camp meetings and Presbyterian services. His father believed this and held aloof from organized religion as a result, holding universalist leanings. Reading The History of Joseph Smith by his mother and other sources show that Joseph was concerned with uniting his family religiously when he decided to make the choice of a church the matter of prayer. He didn’t know his Arius from his Athanasius. He knew that the salvation of his family was his first priority, and took it upon himself to be the agent of inspiration in this regard.

  18. January 13, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Joseph was greatly surprised, after recounting his vision to one of the Methodist preachers, when the preacher claimed that it was of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days, that all such such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
    That sounds like a straightforward intepretation of the Baptist creed. I wonder the creeds were written because without them, you would have a hard time telling one variety of Protestant from another, and because the biggest fights sometimes arise over the smallest differences.
    In his visit to the Nephites, Jesus condemned contention over points of his doctrine. I have a suspicion that the practice of drawing up formal written statements of doctrine winds up creating more quarrels than it settles.

  19. WestBerkeleyFlats
    January 25, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I think it is clear that Nielson has written a parody of the insipid reasoning offered up by LDS apologists. Let us examine his masterful pastiche of their faulty reasoning and lack of familiarity with historical evidence.

    Nielson writes, “But Jesus’ condemnation of Christendom was instead rooted in their creeds: “all their creeds were an abomination in [God’s] sight…” he stated. (JS-H 1:19)

    Allowing for the possibility that the word “creed” might just be a general term meaning “what a church teaches” it should not surprise us that the more common interpretation is that Jesus was rejecting the literal creeds of Christendom, those pillars of belief hammered out in ecumenical councils.”

    Nielson is obviously aware that the most reasonable understanding of “creeds” here is a system of beliefs given that Smith would not have been particularly concerned with the historical development of conciliar creeds in the thoroughly Protestant milieu of the Burnt-Over District. Moreover, Nielson is obviously aware that some of the groups that Smith was acquainted with did not consider themselves to be creedal in nature, most notably Baptist churches, given that members of this movement traditionally affirmed that their churches had no creed but the Bible, although these groups did create statements of beliefs to clarify their theological positions.

    Nielson continues his satire by stating, “Starting with the famous Nicaea council in 325 A.D., there were approximately 21 ecumenical councils that produced the creeds of Christendom over the course of 1640 years.” This statement is obviously rather meaningless given that ecumenical councils have done much more than produced conciliar creeds. One need only think of the Lateran Councils, or Trent, or Vatican I and II.

    He continues, “Mormons have traditionally understood God’s denunciation of the creeds to be that they contain doctrinal falsehoods. While this is undoubtedly true, I question if this alone could account for God’s concern with the creeds.”

    Nielson continues his ruse by questioning whether Mormons should understand their tradition’s condemnation of creeds as being due to doctrinal falsehood, when it is obvious that this is the source of the tradition’s opposition to other denominations’ systems of beliefs.

    Nielson then begins a discussion of the Nicean Creed by suggesting that the only doctrinal difference between it and Mormon beliefs concerns the nature of the relationship between God and Christ. Nielson is obviously kidding when he states this, given that the opening statement of the creed, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible,” from which Mormon theology came to depart fundamentally with the introduction of the notion of the existence of a multiplicity of gods and goddesses. Nielson is without doubt thoroughly aware that the Christological debates of the early Christian church were fundamentally about how to understand what was perceived as the distinct nature of Jesus Christ within a context of monotheism. One approach, exemplified by Arianism, stressed the uniqueness and oneness of God the Father. Another view, which ultimately emerged as the dominant orthodox position, stressed the oneness and unity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. As an example of this type of thinking, the creed of Gregory states:

    “And in this Trinity [I] confess that there is one Deity, one power, one essence.”

    Nielson then concludes his parody by including a litany of historically inaccurate statements about early Christian thought that are based on a reading of early church history through the perspective of modern Mormon belief, a common tendency among unsophisticated LDS apologists:

    “Perhaps more concerning, the creeds solidified a disturbing trend away from salvation by sanctification through faith-driven obedience and repentance towards an view of salvation based on what beliefs one mentally held in one’s mind.

    As merely one possible way to understand scripture, the Creeds of Christendom are non-offensive and perhaps even helpful. But once empowered with assumed Divine authority they become, for Mormons at least, a concerning possible basis for the disappearance of the original teachings of Christ.”

    This is quite a tour-de-force on Nielson’s part. He has really captured the provincial mindset of the object of his satire.

  20. sonoben
    February 16, 2008 at 10:07 am

    After reading this post I decided to go back and look at the account in JSH and I think that there is one thing overlooked by both the the post and all the comments namely in JSH vs 19 it says “the personage who addressed me said that all there creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt” This is Joseph Smith’s own words (he is paraphrasing ) but then he quotes what the lord says “they draw near to me with their lips, but there hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power there of.” This is what the lord said was wrong – this is not Joseph paraphrasing anymore. And I think this supports what was mentioned above but it talks about motives of people and how there words were hollow.

  21. Bruce Nielson
    February 16, 2008 at 10:55 am

    >>> And I think this supports what was mentioned above but it talks about motives of people and how there words were hollow.

    Good point, Sonoben

  22. Blair Lucas
    May 16, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Greetings…John Welch give a 50 min. presentation at the 2004 Sperry Symposium entitled “All Their Creeds Were and Abomination”. His review is informatiive and inspiring…plus he references three books on the subject of “creeds” which could help someone who prefers a more in depth study on the subject… http://byub.org/sperry/?selectedYear=2004 thanks, Blair Lucas

  23. Tom Zelaney
    March 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    All this is the same old warmed over unproven testimony piled on testimony piled on BOM quotes. We prove the LDS by siting the LDS foundational documents and these in turn discredt all the other churches. What a surprise that is to everyone here. We prove Mormonism by Mormonism and we sti back in our smug middle class world so self satisfied that we have proved everything we ever wanted to prove by siting the very thing we set our to prove. What a philosophy that proves all its conclusions except its first and by that very lack of proof the house of cards we build collapses.

    Who says Jesus appeared to J. Smith? Why we have J. Smith’s word for it so it is true. All the other creeds and churches are an abomination. How do we know it? Why we have J. Smith’s word for it so it is true. Whoever first came up with such circular mind numbing argumentation should be institutionalized. They must have assumed everyone they were preaching to had had a lobotomy.

    This whole defence of Mormonism by Mormonism boils down to “You can fool some of the people all the time and that’s enough to make a decent living.