Is Your Faith Like That of a Mormon?

Awhile back I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a couple of Mormon missionaries. They explained to me the way that Joseph Smith received the Book of Mormon. Here was a bit of my response.

“So…let me get this straight. Joseph Smith saw these golden plates. And he was permitted to read them. But nobody else was with him…”

They corrected me and informed me that one other fella was with him and saw some of it, but later denied the whole thing. (If I’m getting some of my Mormon history incorrect please forgive me, I’m only going by what these two chaps told me).

“Okay then, so one other guy saw it but then later denied it. But nobody (and I really was emphatic on the nobody) else saw these golden plates? And this doesn’t bother you? Why didn’t he show other people these golden plates?”

“No, he tried to show other people,” they informed me. “But when he went to show them the plates had disappeared and an angel told him later that they weren’t ready to see it. So yes, Joseph Smith was the only one that saw the golden plates. And no, that doesn’t bother me. We have faith. It is by faith that we believe and receive these things.”

Now pause with me for a moment and ask yourself a question. “Is my faith different than that of these Mormon missionaries?”

Sadly, a number of Christians have an understanding of faith that is similar to these Mormon missionaries. Their faith is a blind faith. It is a faith that values the unverifiable claims of Joseph Smith as somehow a more pure test of faith than a reasoned faith.

Misunderstanding John 20:24-29

In part I believe this comes from a misunderstanding of John 20:24-29 in the account of the aptly named Doubting Thomas. Here Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is really resurrected until he can see with his own eyes and touch the wounds of Jesus with his own finger. The Lord Jesus in his grace shows up and admonishes Thomas to touch his side. As he does this he admonishes Thomas, “Do not disbelieved, but believe”. Thomas responds in faith—a faith that responds to sight.

Jesus notes his faith as sight response and then says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

It is at this point that many make a leap that is not in the text. They read this as if what Jesus is saying is that there is the faith of sight and there is a blind faith—and those with blind faith are better than those that see with their eyes. Not seeing=blind faith. But is that really what Jesus is saying?

We have imposed this idea of blind faith onto the text. What Jesus is contrasting is the faith of Thomas and the other disciples—that see Jesus with their eyes and were able to touch him with their hands—with that of those that will believe after the Ascension. Once Christ returns to the Father then the faith of sight is no longer an option until His return.

Yet this does not mean that our faith is a blind faith. Notice the way that Paul reasons with the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection. He points to the written Word of God in 15:3-4; the written—verifiable, see with your eyeballs and see with your brain–Word of God. he then backs it up with eyewitness testimony in 15:5-6; go ask those 500 other dudes that are still living and they’ll tell you the same thing, type of testimony.

There isn’t in 1 Corinthians 15 any sort of, “Well, you see we saw an empty tomb and the risen Lord, but whenever I went to go tell somebody else…well the darndest thing happened, he was back in the tomb and he had disappeared. But you know I still believe what I saw—after all that is faith—believing in something that cannot be verified”.

There is none of that. And there is none of that because the Bible doesn’t exalt blind faith. There is the faith of sight that was given to the apostles and will some day be given to us. And there is reasonable faith—an I’ve tested this thing and found it legit type of faith. But there is no such thing as an “I just feel this in my heart and know that it’s true” type of faith in the Bible.

Today in Blogworld 04.15.14

Happy Birthday, Jake

I’ve always benefited from the writing of Greg Lucas. This heartwarming letter to his son, Jake, is no exception.

Putting Golf in Its Place

I’m not an avid golfer but I know a few. This might be helpful.

Porn, Salt Water, and Longing for More

“The first time I viewed pornography was at the tender age of four.” Statements like this are becoming increasingly common.

T4G Talks Now Available

These are all good, but the ones that the Lord used the most so far in my life is that of Kevin DeYoung, David Platt, and John Piper.

“There is a first time for everything”, so goes the old saying. If you’ve ever wondered what a baby looks like the first time he/she eats a lemon then wonder no more:

A Generation of Ham’s

The flood has subsided and Noah—not to be confused with Russell Crowe—becomes a man of the soil. As part of this he planted a vineyard and one day decided to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He got a bit tipsy and somehow wound up naked in his tent.

The details of what happens next are sketchy. And that is actually the point. Moses, our author, does the exact opposite of Noah’s youngest son, Ham. Ham is not ashamed to look upon the nakedness of his father. In fact he goes and gets his two brothers–conceivably to bring them in on this shameful event. Ham exposes Noah. Moses doesn’t give us sordid details of this good man’s fall. But instead he makes a contrast between Ham and Noah’s other sons. These other two sons do everything they can to cover the sin of their father.

“…love covers a multitude of sins.”

I am convinced that we are a generation of Ham’s and not Shem and Japheth. We glory in exposing sin and shame instead of covering it. Certainly we should “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” I think we’ve got that part down for the most part. What we lack, however, is a love which covers sin instead of exposing it.

Three Reasons We Are a Generation of Ham’s

I see three things in our church and culture which has converged to make us a generation of Ham’s.

First, we love authenticity. Or at least we love the idea of authenticity. If you have a few too many glasses of wine and end up naked in your tent why not just go ahead and frolic down the street? After all this is who you really are and what you’ve really done. No sense in having your own personal Watergate and covering up your sin.

Authenticity is certainly a good and biblical thing. We are not called to be hypocrites or white-washed tombs that betray what is really inside our hearts. We ought to be authentic and not hypocritical. But authenticity does not demand scheduling an interview with Barbara Walters whenever a pastor says something jerky to his best friend. Yet our culture would have this offended friend write an article for the local paper, take the pastor on Jerry Springer, and do all of this in the name of authenticity. When what really should happen is the whole thing is simply covered over in love.

Secondly, we live in a graceless culture. Our culture is graceless not because they have never heard a message of grace. They’ve likely heard that drum whacked about several times. No, our culture is graceless because we live in a culture that does not believe in a God of Justice. Because of this, each man believes that if justice will be served then it must come from our own hands. We cannot leave our Noah’s in the tent without his sin being exposed—otherwise, we reason, it will never get dealt with.

In our minds, we can’t afford to give grace and allow any sin to go unpunished. Heaven knows that if we did such a thing—allowed things to just be covered in love—that nobody would ever change, and we’d likely split our lower intestine in half from holding in such a thing. You cannot let a person go free when she has wounded you, otherwise you’ll never heal and she’ll never change. The only way to really find healing is to beat her to a bloody pulp until she has paid for every ounce of her sin. Now you can truly find some healing.

The other option—the biblical option—is to understand that there is a God and he is Just. He does not let the guilty go unpunished and vengeance does indeed belong to him. Now of course he might in His sovereign love choose to pour out His wrath upon His precious Son instead of your bumbling friend—but the sin will be paid for all the same.

Lastly, we have a waiting audience. Ham would have had a field day in the 21st century. He’d have grabbed his iPhone shot a picture of his drunken dad, hopefully blurred the unmentionables, and then sent the photo to Instagram—which would have then went to his Twitter account (@Hambone) and then to his Facebook wall. In his time he did the next best thing—got his two brothers.

We don’t know what was going on in the heart of Ham—but we know it wasn’t good. If he is anything like us in the 21st century he was exposing his dad for the sake of making himself look better. Perhaps, he thought, this was time for the brothers to rally together and finally overtake the old man. His fall would be their rise.

It is this same reason that bait us into clicking that link that threatens to expose the latest evangelical leader. You click, you read, and part of you grieves. But let’s be honest, the other part of you delight in his exposure because it means you can congratulate yourself for being a tad better than this newly crowned idiot of the week.

Of course real love doesn’t desire to gain popularity or camaraderie by exposing a fallen brother. Real love covers the offense even if exposing it would mean better blog traffic, better feelings about self, and a more esteemed view in the eye of others. Real love will put a blanket over the father and weep for his sin.

Yes, we are a generation of Ham’s. But the gospel transforms us and calls us to be as Shem and Japheth. Brothers and sisters, let’s be intentional about covering offenses in love. Let’s at least pursue understanding what this means.

Today in Blogworld 04.14.14

The Narcissitic Leader

Narcissim is not fitting to a Christian. It’s even more unfitting for a Christian leader. Thom Rainer gives five suggestions for the leader to combat narcissism.

Ten Lessons from a Hospital Bed

John Piper recently spent 30 hours in a hospital bed, these are his reflections.

How to Deal With False Teachers

Hopefully  you don’t need to use this—but you likely will. Here are ways to handle false teachers in your midst.

The Uselessness of the Twitter Battles

Twitter battles are dumb. Trevin Wax explains.

This is shocking. I’m not an economist so I don’t know how well it is backed up. But this will leave you with plenty of questions about Wal-Mart and macaroni and cheese: