Ever since Joseph Smith reported that Jesus told him not to join any church, mainstream protestant Christianity has been offended. They took it personally both then and now.
In the small town where I live (La Grande, Oregon) local ministers are still refusing Latter-day Saint outreach to participate in ecumenical activities, and why? A group of them once said it was because they’re still offended by what Joseph Smith said about their Churches. So what did Joseph report?
Pearl of Great Price, JS-History 1:18 – 19
18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
One of my personal heroes is Frederick Douglass, one of the greatest men who ever lived and a contemporary of Joseph Smith. Here’s what Frederick Douglass said about the churches of the early 1800’s:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave
… For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others. It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of such religionists.
I FIND, since reading over the foregoing Narrative that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, … I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. … I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families,– sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. … The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. … Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean, by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.
So there you have it. If you argue against Joseph Smith on this subject then you have to argue against Frederick Douglass too.
The Latter-day Saints profess to have new revelation and divinely restored priesthood authority and simply invite all to upgrade their Christianity. Insincere and dishonest Christians prefer to hold on to their positions of authority and status and worldly considerations which lead them to reject additional words from God. And this is exactly the stance of the ancient Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s who rejected Jesus. Sincere Christians are intrigued and open to the possibility of God speaking and acting in our day.
From Joseph Smith:
Doctrine and Covenants, Section 123:12
12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
Many Christian churches have been so offended by Latter-day Saint claims that their leaders retaliate by saying that the Latter-day Saints are not Christian – a truly arrogant stance – and one they know to be dishonest.
Yet I am heartened by the good things I see that God inspires among many of the “gentile” Christians. When I recently saw the movie FIREPROOF I was most impressed with it’s message, inspired of God.
Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:13, 16
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
As the events of the last days unfold and The New Jerusalem/City of ZION is established, huge numbers of people will gather together: current Latter-day Saints, non-Latter-day Saints of Gentile nations, lost (unidentified) tribes, and descendants of Lehi in the America’s. A huge number of people will gather to the City of Zion. The Latter-day Saint/covenant people gather together and the many good not yet Latter-day Saints will gather too. Events unfolding in the last days cause the process to accelerate.
Pearl of Great Price, JS-Matthew 1:26 – 27
26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.