CARM Newsletter 11-22-04

Today is the 18th wedding anniversary of my wife and I. We have been through a lot: the birth of three daughters and a son (who died at birth), several major moves, the loss of dear friends, parents, jobs, etc. Marriage is a journey to a distant land. You don't know what you will encounter. But through all of the good and bad, my wife has been faithful and dedicated both to the Lord and to myself. And I'm thankful for her steadfastness. She is a good woman. She's almost perfect except for one glaring flaw: her taste in men.

I provided a picture of my wife and not me with her because I really bring the scale down quite a bit.

Last weekend, a friend of mine named Marty and I, drove down from Boise Idaho, to Salt Lake City. We met another friend of mine named Bill McKeever of the Mormonism Research Ministry ( Bill, and Marty, and I attended a lecture given by Dr. Ravi Zacharias in Temple Square.

Temple Square is the mecca of Mormonism. It is the spiritual world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons. It is an extremely rare event to have an evangelical Christian present a lecture in the tabernacle in Temple Square on a Sunday evening. But, Dr. Zacharias is a world-renowned Christian defender of the faith and after two years of planning, he spoke from the same pulpit at Brigham Young and other Mormon "prophets" have also spoken. Dr. Zacharias was of course polite, being a guest, and yet at the same time quite profound in his address. He is an excellent speaker and an excellent communicator of the Christian faith.

There were many memorable moments. The president of Fuller seminary, Dr. Mouw, who attended the lecture and who spoke briefly prior to Dr. Zacharias, stated that we evangelicals have sinned against Mormons.  He then offered an apology to the Mormons and asked their forgiveness for our misrepresentations of Mormon theology. Mouw then mentioned celebrating the 200 year anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth (Dec. 23, 2005).  I couldn't believe my ears.  Mouw then said the following about Joseph Smith and justification.  You won't believe it.

"What a wonderful thing it is that we can meet together to talk about the Lord Jesus and about who he is and what he has done on our behalf. There is much here to talk about. I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: "We know," Joseph said, "that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God." And then he added: "And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, and we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength."

When he said this I turned to my friend Bill and said, "Is Fuller seminary going liberal?" Bill's expression to me was one of disbelief at Dr. Mouw's words.  It is very unfortunate.  Bill later wrote an email that he sent to all on his ministry's email list.  I quote Bill:

"For Mouw to quote Joseph Smith regarding justification and sanctification demonstrates that he has no clue as to what the issues really are, unless perhaps Mouw believes that justification is, 'All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations' (D. & C. 132:7), in which men must abide to be saved and exalted, must be entered into and performed in righteousness so that the Holy Spirit can justify the candidate for salvation in what has been done. (1 Ne. 16:2; Jac. 2:13-14; Alma 41:15; D. & C. 98; 132:1, 62.).' I can only hope for the sake of every student attending Fuller Seminary that he doesn’t. And BTW, I will definitely pass on his invitation to join in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s birth. The fact that millions of souls will be cursing Smith’s name throughout eternity gives me no cause to celebrate. To suggest we join in the celebration of a man who was clearly a false prophet is unthinkable. Fuller Seminary should be hanging its head in shame. Since some may not have read what he said..."

One last thing.  I had the privilege of sitting about seven rows back from the front on the aisle seat as Dr. Zacharias spoke. During his presentation, he described the biblical position of man's depravity and sinfulness before a holy God (by contrast, Mormonism teaches that we are basically good). During a crescendo of illustrations and Scripture quotes that were describing the sinful nature that we all possess, one of the general authorities of the Mormon Church (Bruce Porter, a member of the Seventy), looked at me. We were separated by about 40 or 50 feet. It was a perfect opportunity for me to mouth silently the words "That's you." He then turned his head away.

In all, it was a very memorable evening.


As I was preparing this newsletter, I received an e-mail from a woman who had been attending a certain nondenominational church. A friend of hers in the church had converted to oneness Pentecostal theology. Oneness is an error that denies the trinity and states that there is only one person in the Godhead instead of three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). She was confused about what the Trinity taught so she went to the Internet and found CARM. She then read about oneness theology.  She told me that she now understands what the truth really is. She went to her pastor to talk to him about the confusion that she had and the concern she had for her friend. To her shock, the pastor said that the trinity teaching is not all that clear and that we shouldn't be so judgmental. Properly, she is now looking for another church to attend.

As a Christian apologist who has been defending the faith for 24 years, I am no longer surprised by the liberal and weak theology that is taught in many churches.  (Note:  I am not condemning all Christian churches.  There are a great many excellent ones.)  Nevertheless, when I do seminars at churches, I invariably ask the people that I'm teaching if they know what the Trinity is (3 simultaneous persons:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), how many natures Jesus has (two:  God and man; John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9), is Jesus a man right now (Yes; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5), did He rise physically from the dead (Yes; John 2:19-21; Luke 24:39), etc. I'm no longer shocked when the great majority of the Christians are unable to answer the basics of Christianity teaching correctly.

Therefore, if you are a pastor, I urge you to ground your congregation in proper theology. It does not have to be a dry rendition of useless theological facts. On the contrary, every theological point revealed in Scripture has an important relationship to our lives. If, on the other hand, you are a Christian attending a church, ask your pastor to teach christian theology. But don't stop there, study for yourself. Find out what the truth is.

To this end, I have written two schools that are on CARM. They are designed specifically to ground the Christian in proper biblical doctrine (the online school of theology), and also provide the means by which Christians can learn to defend the Christian faith from the false religious systems out there (the online school of apologetics). If you want to learn your faith and want to know why you believe what you do, then study and/or check out the CARM online schools.


Standing Firm

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel," (Phil. 1:27).

Paul tells us to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is a noble command even if it is a difficult one to follow. But if you claim the name of being a Christian, then you are obligated to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This means that when people look at you, they should see Christ in you. It should become evident the more time they spend with you, the more they are aware that you are a Christian.

Part of what it means to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ is to strive together for the faith of the gospel. This striving is for unity in our faith as well unity of the faith. Paul uses the word strive because we Christians, who are sinners, must sometimes strive to be in unity. The fact is that we have many disagreements and sometimes those disagreements get the best of us. The Scriptures constantly warn us to stay in unity. One of the reasons is that if we have a common Lord and Savior, we should have a common attitude of love and forgiveness. But also, another reason for this unity is because we need to present to the unbelievers an accurate faith. To strive for the faith means that you are to defend as well as propagate the truth of Christianity and to do this, you must know what you believe and why you believe it.

Striving for the faith is not an option. We are commanded to do this. Of course, this does not mean you must hijack airplanes in order to crash them into buildings in order to testify of your faith, or enter large crowds and start shouting at the top of your lungs screaming that everyone should repent. Striving for the faith of the gospel means to do it properly, in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, who although He was God in flesh, was loving, kind, long-suffering, truthful, patient, forgiving, and considered others to be of great value. These are the elements of the true faith of the true gospel and they are to be wedded to the truth of the faith.  Paul says in 1 Tim. 1:5, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  This is a manner worthy of the gospel.

May the Lord bless you as you strive with other Christians for the faith of the gospel.

Memorization Verse
2 Tim. 2:22,

"Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels."

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.