Monday, February 26, 2018

American Jewish Committee mourns the passing of Mormon President Thomas Monson

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as the Mormon Church, believes that its members are true Israel either by blood or adoption. Mormon founder Joseph Smith taught that when "Gentiles" were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the "Holy Ghost" literally performed a transfusion, replacing Gentile blood with Jewish blood:

...The effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. History of the Church, Volume 3, p. 380, cited in Ed Decker & Dave Hunt, The God Makers (1984, 1997).

As a result, Mormons have historically referred to themselves as being true Israel, while referring to Jews as "Gentiles." Given this strange doctrine, it seems surprising that Jews--or at least, Jewish organizations--seem to have relatively friendly relations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as compared to other evangelistic religious movements.

Another distinctive Latter-day Saints practice is that of baptizing the souls of dead people into the Mormon Church. They derive it from I Corinthians 15:29:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Gleason Archer, in his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (1982), pp. 401-402, provides a helpful explanation of a verse that I've always had trouble understanding. It seems to have been the practice in the early church of Christians who were on their deathbeds to call their loved ones to them and exhort them to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Enough people came to know the Lord through such deathbed testimonies as to be mentioned by the apostle Paul in the passage above. The phrase "for the dead" really means "for the sake of the dead" in the original Greek, meaning that those who had come to Christ as the result of their loved one's deathbed exhortation were being baptized for the sake of that loved one. 1st-century readers would not have understood "for the dead" in I Corinthians 15:29 as meaning "on behalf of." The Mormon Church's understanding of this passage is erroneous, and has led to an unbiblical practice.

Jewish organizations took offense when they became aware that Jews who had perished in the Holocaust during World War II were being baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2010, the Mormons promised to discontinue the practice, but it comes as no surprise to this blogger that in 2017 they were still doing it. After all, if baptism into the Mormon Church is necessary for salvation, how can they refuse something to the Jews that they do for the supposed salvation of everyone else?

Tensions over the issue of baptism for the dead notwithstanding, the American Jewish Committee issued the following statement on the passing of Mormon "Prophet, Seer and Revelator" Thomas Monson, who died on January 2, 2018 (bold in original):

AJC Mourns Passing of LDS President Thomas Monson
January 3, 2018 — New York

AJC stands with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in mourning the passing of Thomas Monson, who served as LDS President since 2008. He was 90.

“Under Thomas Monson’s leadership, AJC and the LDS Church deepened a mutual relationship, focusing on complex religious liberty issues, humanitarian disaster relief, sustaining religious identity, support for the State of Israel, and other shared concerns,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “Significantly, President Monson led the church in renewing in 2012 its commitment to prevent posthumous proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims and other well-known Jews.”

The relationship with the LDS Church, a fast-growing faith group, has been a priority for AJC in its pioneering interreligious work. High-level national AJC delegations visited LDS Church headquarters in August 2012 and November 2013, and in February 2014, LDS apostles visited AJC’s global headquarters in New York.

In addition, several AJC regional delegations visited with key LDS figures in Salt Lake City, and AJC has initiated LDS-Jewish dialogues in multiple cities across the United States. Senior LDS delegations have met with AJC leadership in Jerusalem, as well.

“President Monson played a key role in deepening Jewish-Mormon relations,” said Marans. He had major success in the supervision and expansion of the Church’s welfare program, and its humanitarian work and developmental projects around the world to help those in need, regardless of faith.

Monson had said, "I'm a great believer that by working together we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute the strength of many standing together."
See my posts Mormon leaders attempt to restrict baptisms of dead Holocaust victims (March 14, 2012) and Researcher claims that Mormons are still baptizing Holocaust victims and other dead Jews (December 29, 2017).

1 comment:

  1. Jews should know better than to mourn that sort of false teacher. Mormons really don't do Jews any favors and what they teach is pure blasphemy -- a man-god who lives on another planet?!??!