Responding to LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland on "Are Mormons Christians?"

 

In my Facebook dialogue adventures, I've discovered there is a popular video that LDS think wins the day for them in their efforts to be considered Christians. The short 10 minute video is a talk by LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland called, "Are Mormons Christians" at the 177th October General Conference (2007), and it may be viewed here.

As for Holland's arguments that the members of the Godhead are "separate," none of those arguments (Jesus' prayer, baptism, transfiguration, martyrdom of Stephen, Jesus saying He can't do anything except what He sees the Father do, claiming the Father is greater than Him, or being forsaken of the Father) use the term "separate" in relation to the members of the Godhead. So Holland merely imposes LDS categories onto these passages. Further, the meaning of separate isn't even there, since we know the Bible teaches only one true God as Holland read from John 17:3, and the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are each called God in the Bible. The Son and Holy Ghost are not false Gods, so they must be the true Creator of the heavens and the earth or all things as 1 Corinthians 8:6 says. So since there is only one Being who created all things, then the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost must be inseparable, yet obviously different or distinct from each other. As such, there is no problem with the Omnipotent creating a separate form or nature to show up in (e.g., the Holy Ghost descending in the bodily form of a dove or the Son taking on a human nature).

Underlying Holland's assumption is a basic straw-man argument that LDS continue to perpetuate, viz., that Christians are modalists (i.e., that we think the Father is the Son, the Son is the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is the Father). That was an early heresy that was kicked out of the early Church and declared not Christian, just as the Church does with Mormonism today.

Now if one doesn't hold to the Christian doctrine of the Triune God, then it is easy to see how LDS must think that the Father hasn't literally always been the Father or that the Son hasn't always been the Son. Why? Simply because the God of Mormonism is an exalted man, who had to score a wife before He could become God, and He had to impregnate that wife before He could become a father. That is what traditional Christianity claims is blasphemous, since it obviously devalues each of the members of the Godhead from the loftier position of God "from everlasting to everlasting" as Psalm 90:2 says.

For more on why Christians hold to the Trinity, here is my video lecture on the Trinity.

As for Holland's second point of continuing revelation, that is also a misunderstanding, since many Christian denominations hold to it. So basically this Holland video demonstrated that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
August 22, 2011


Add Comment
Claude O'Donovan says... (Reply)
"The only time God has ever had a body of flesh and bones was the 33 years that Christ walked the earth. What Holland and the LDS Church cannot comprehend is that Christ, during that period was fully a man and maintained His relationship with God the Father as a man. There are more proof texts confirming Christs oneness with the Godhead than those quoted by Holland separating Him from it (Jon 1:1-3, 14-15, Matt 16:15-17,1 Cor 16:22, Rev 1:8, 17-18, etc.,etc.).
LDS apologetic arguments always end up being without basis when confronted with the completeness of the Bible scripturally. " (1/8/13)
Rob Sivulka says... (Reply)
"Well the Bible is clear that Jesus continues to have a body today. He had it when He resurrected and ascended to heaven. Jesus is also declared to be a man today as well (2 Tim. 2:15). But God is not a man (Num. 23:19 and Hos. 11:9). However, the Bible is clear that Jesus is God, the Creator of all things (Jn. 1:1-3, 14, 18 and 1 Cor. 8:6). There's nothing contradictory here for the Christian who holds that the 2nd person of God took on a man nature 2,000 years ago, which has different properties to it than the divine nature He eternally has. There's also nothing in scripture that would suggest that the man Jesus does not have a body today either. For the Mormon, they only have 1 nature that the Father, Son, and Spirit have... a human one, which may be exalted to a divine office/team." (1/8/13)
Ron den Boer says... (Reply)
"http://thetruthaboutmormonism-creeksalmon.blogspot.com/

two more Christian links about Jeffrey R Holland's lies" (5/3/13)
nibronson says... (Reply)
"You use the word Christian in italics. Does the term Christian not refer to the belief in Jesus Christ and that he is the saviour of all mankind? It makes me sad that you would openly criticize another religion that also has a belief in God the Eternal Father and in his son Jesus Christ. I know and can testify that the saviour would not purposefully and hurtfully criticize others as you are the LDS church. i will pray for you all that your hearts may be softened. " (7/23/14)
Alan Fleming says... (Reply)
"I think Jeffrey R.Holland is more correct. I cannot conceive that Jesus would be praying to himself. Or as someone explained to me that God is like a water. He may manifest himself either a water vapor, or a liquid, or as ice. But my thinking is if their he only one water molecule, then he can only appear in one state of being at any point in time. At Jesus' baptism all three are there at the same time.
And in John 17:11, 20-23, 26 Jesus prays for his apostles and says "that they may be one, as we are"; That they may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us"; "that they may be made perfect in one".
The apostles were separate beings but here Jesus says that they be one. One, as in united in purpose in the same way that the three members of the Godhead are one, united in purpose. The Mormons have a truer concept of God." (1/16/15)
Rob Sivulka says... (Reply)
"Alan, did actually read the blog? Christians aren't modalists, so you're advancing a straw man. No Christian thinks Jesus was praying to Himself, since Christians don't think the Father is the Son. The problem is that your LDS mind can't grasp that because something is different or distinct doesn't entail that they are separate. The angles of a triangle or distinct from its sides, but obviously they are inseparable. You can't have one without the other. The same goes for the God of the Bible. You can't have the Father without the Son or the Spirit. " (1/16/15)
LFRohr says... (Reply)
"The challenge is not to decide between the arguments presented by Mr. Sivulka and Mr.Holland. The conclusion to be drawn comes from the decision whether or not Joseph Smith lied about seeing two personages (God, the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son) in a grove of trees. If he lied then Mormonism is a lie and we still have to answer the question for ourselves. If he didn't lie then we have an eye-witness to an account that settles the matter.

So how do we determine if Joseph Smith was a liar? Maybe we could ask God?" (10/15/15)
Fred W. Anson says... (Reply)
""So how do we determine if Joseph Smith was a liar? Maybe we could ask God?"

Respectfully, that's a fallacious argument. It's like suggesting that the jurers on a jury go pray about whether Bernie Madoff committed fraud rather than looking at the evidence. Of if you would prefer a religious figure, it's like asking God if Warren Jeffs really committed the crimes that he's accused of rather than looking at the body of evidence. And in this case the body of evidence that Mr. Sivulka has consistently cited above as supporting evidence is the Bible.

After all, that's what Christians do isn't it? For Christians the Bible is the ultimate and absolute authority on theological matters isn't it? Again, our ultimate authority for this passage isn't prayer, feelings, or spiritual impressions, it's what God has objectively revealed in and spoken to us the Bible, isn't it?

That said, flipping it over to the theologian context what you're suggesting is like asking God if Muhammed was a liar and if Islam is in fact true. That's what this lady on a Catholic discussion board did and here's the answer that she received:

"For me, I believe that Muhammad was a prophet because of the Qur'an--because I read it, and in my own estimation after reading it, reflecting on it, and praying about it, I found in myself an unwavering belief that the Qur'an is without a doubt revealed by the Lord of the Worlds, by the Almighty God."
(see http://forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?s=c37f3f001ea2276b7b74b15a8cf740c6&p=4462691&postcount=3 )

Sound familiar? Just substitute "Joseph Smith" where it says, "Muhammad" and "Book of Mormon" where it says "Qur'an" and you have the archetypical Mormon Testimony which simply mirrors the "stock" Muslim Testimony known as the Shahada: 

"I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammed is the servant and Messenger of Allah."
(the "Shahada")

And if you would like to read other accounts of those who took your advise in asking God for a spiritual witness and got an answer OTHER than "Joseph Smith and Mormonism is true" here's an entire collection of them: http://www.mormonthink.com/testimonyweb.htm#peopleofallfaiths" (10/16/15)
Molly Miller says... (Reply)
"two more blogs agreeing

http://capro.info/lds-general-authority-jeffrey-holland-on-the-trinity-with-a-point-by-point-rebuttal/


http://thetruthaboutmormonism-creeksalmon.blogspot.com/2013/02/elder-jeffrey-r-holland-lds-telling.html" (3/20/17)