NEWS on Dec. 7, 2010: Read the very first FIVE STAR review of The Rogue Shop, from Heather Gardner of Fire and Ice! Heather is a prolific reviewer with nearly 1,000 followers.
Also, I’m interviewed by Peggy Urry on her blog.
I picked up this new book for a couple of reasons: It was recently released by my publisher, Cedar Fort, and I’m seriously considering investing in a new copy of the scriptures (the set I took with me to Brazil in 1985 have just about been reduced to dust, and the first five pages of Genesis have already fallen out). Starting fresh with a new set, I’ll want a good reference manual that will help me organize my marked bible references by topic. From a brief look at the book, I gathered the authors (Eric Shuster and Chuck Sale) had done a good job at bringing together the most applicable verses on each subject, and the subject list was solid and complete. Eric Shuster, a convert from Catholocism, is also the author of Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest, a book I plan to read soon.
I love the Bible, from the ringing truths declared by Jesus to the densest prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel. Despite what many people think, the Bible is an integral part of the Standard Works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We use the King James Version, although the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide are extensively cross-referenced with The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Our 8th and 9th Articles of Faith declare:
So what are the “biblical roots of Mormonism?” Many people don’t believe Mormonism has a biblical basis, and some don’t even classify us as Christians. Certainly, if you define “Christian” as someone who accepts the bewildering creed of Athanasius or the output of the Council of Nicaea, I’ll agree that I can’t be counted in that number. However, Mormonism is deeply rooted in the Bible, as the authors show with more than 1,000 references from both testaments.
Christian believers fall into one of four camps, to my knowledge:
1) The Church Christ established before his crucifixion survived the death of the Apostles and the persecutions, and the authoritative line of popes can be traced back to Peter and Christ.
2) The “true” church as established by Christ and the Apostles did not survive, but later efforts by the Reformers put church doctrines and organization back into line with what Christ intended. Although protestant sects vary widely in their doctrines and performances, including exactly what is required for salvation, what matters is that each person find the church that works best for him or her.
3) We don’t need “organized religion”, because all you need is the Bible and a gathering of “two or three” in Christ’s name to be a Christian.
4) Christ’s church did not survive the “grievous wolves”, “false teachers”, and “falling away” foreseen by Jesus and the Apostles, and a lengthy period of apostasy and spiritual darkness ensued. The prophesied “restitution of all things” has come to pass in a RESTORATION of the gospel in this current “dispensation of the fullness of times”. The Reformers certainly helped pave the way, but it took the calling of a prophet, in a pattern repeated many times through all biblical dispensations, to bring about true restoration. New wine cannot be poured into old bottles, so Christ re-started the organization of his true church in preparation for his Second Coming.
Latter-Day Saints fall firmly into the fifth camp, and therefore cannot avoid parting ways with nearly everyone else at some point. The reasons for these differences are some of the things the authors explain in this book, using biblical references exclusively. Topics such as priesthood, authority, Church organization, apostasy and restoration, the role of prophets, baptism, spiritual gifts, and many more are covered in detail.
Those who know the New Testament know that Christ established a church organization that included twelve Apostles, a quorum of Seventy and missionaries going out two-by-two (Luke 10). Later the offices of Deacon, Elder, and Bishop are mentioned. Spiritual gifts, healings and miracles were performed and experienced by church members. Men were called to priesthood service not because they wanted the job and went to school for it, but because they were called (Heb. 5:4) and set apart with the proper authority, as was Aaron. Peter continued to fish, and Paul continued to make tents, long after their calls to the ministry. Jesus cautioned them against accepting financial compensation for their service.
I’m humbled and grateful to belong to a Church today that has every one of these characteristics. I belong to a church founded by Jesus Christ. I follow a living prophet (Amos 3:7) and a quorum of Twelve Apostles. Under their direction groups of Seventy administer throughout the world. Unpaid missionaries (more than 50,000 currently) are sent out two-by-two to all nations that are open to them. My local congregation is led by a Bishop, a man duly ordained, but otherwise a man like me, husband of one wife and holder of a full-time job on top of his ecclesiastical duties. I myself currently hold the office of Elder, charged with preaching the gospel and anointing the sick with oil and blessing them, among many other responsibilities. My thirteen-year-old son is a Deacon, whose duties include passing the sacrament to our congregation and collecting fast offerings. Our priesthood offices are conferred by the laying on of hands by those with the same or higher authority, just as done in ancient days. There are no degrees or “qualifications” for these offices, other than membership and worthiness.
These are just a few of the “biblical roots” pointed out by Shuster and Sale. Although anyone could come up with the same collection of references using the Topical Guide in the LDS scriptures, they have added meaningful commentary on the “Mormon perspective” for each subject. This book will be very useful in creating the cross-references in my new Bible for teaching and answering questions as they come up.