Difficult questions — “The Trial”
During my mission to New Zealand in 1971-1972, I obtained a copy of “THE TRIAL”, a booklet produced by the Auckland Stake Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (P.O. Box 13-119, Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand). It presents a mock trial in which representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ and representatives of other Christian religions discuss doctrinal differences. Presented below are the various sections of The Trial’, with the various doctrinal points presented in each section. You can CLICK HERE to see a chronological index and an alphabetical index of the doctrinal topics presented. I have taken the liberty to soften the language of the booklet. I have replaced the confrontational and accusatory phrasing with more Christ-like conversation.
THE TRIAL — A discussion between missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and representatives of other Christian faiths
SECTION ONE — Introduction
Participants: Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, the Church of Christ, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Christian Science Church, the Salvation Army, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Baptist Church, the Pentecostal Church, and the Canadian United Church. An agnostic and an atheist were also present. The judge is a rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish faith.
Rabbi: Friends, our purpose in this trial is to establish truth. I am hopeful that we will discuss the question of divine revelation, the need of apostles and prophets today, and many other doctrinal points. I thank all present for your participation in this worthy venture.
SECTION TWO — “All truth” versus ongoing revelation
Gentlemen, it is my belief that the last revelation given to man was sent to John on the Isle of Patmos. John 16:13 states: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Christ was speaking to His apostles, and if he gave ALL TRUTH to His apostles, the claim that MORE TRUTH was given to Joseph Smith does not seem plausible.
We agree that Christ did give all truth to His apostles through the Holy Spirit, but did His apostles give all that truth to man? Matthew 10:1-4 tells us that Christ chose twelve apostles, and Matthew 10:8 tell us that He gave them great powers. Acts 2:1-4 affirms that these apostles received the Holy Spirit, and Acts 8:14-17 tells us of the apostles bestowing the Spirit on others. However, the ‘all truth’ mentioned in John 16:13 was only given to the apostles, and we only have the writings of five of the sixteen apostles chosen in New Testament times. In Matthew 13:11 Christ says to his apostles, “…it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” This verse makes it clear that Christ gave truth to His apostles that He did not give to the people. Additionally, John received his revelation on Patmos in approximately 96 A.D. Peter was martyred in 66 A.D. It seems unlikely that Peter and the other martyred apostles had received all of the incredible ‘truth’ revealed to John on Patmos. Ongoing revelation seems to have been applicable then, as it is now.
We would next have you consider 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 where Paul states that he was taken away in a vision. The scripture reads: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” Here is an example of an apostle knowing something that was not recorded in the Bible.
I must mention that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”. If ALL scripture is given, how can you claim that MORE scripture was to come through Joseph Smith?
Friend, verse 15 in that chapter states: “…from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures…”. Paul was speaking specifically to Timothy. Also, John had not yet received his revelation on the Isle of Patmos, so “all scripture” could not have been given at that time. The ‘scripture’ available in the time of Paul and Timothy consisted solely of the Old Testament scriptures. Hopefully all now would agree that “all truth” was given only the the apostles, and was not all given to man. Also, we do not have all the apostle’s writings.
SECTION THREE — The Nature of God, corporeal body or spirit essence
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Answers to other ‘difficult’ questions:
- Figurative or literal: some thoughts from Joseph Fielding McConkie, taken from his book ‘Gospel Symbolism’
- Finances, Church finances: response to allegations that the Church misrepresents its financial activities
- Prophets: why Latter-day Saints can trust their prophets
- ‘When Shall These Things Be?‘: by Elder M. Russell Ballard, a young returned missionary loses his faith, Elder Ballard’s inspired counsel