It is clear that Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson have followed the oft’ repeated pattern of most anti-Mormon literature by presenting the same old material in a slightly different format. Despite their claims to new research and current up-to-date material, the large majority of the points that the authors bring up have been more than adequately treated in responses by Latter-day Saint apologists. In fact, the authors are aware of these LDS responses and are ignoring them, as will shortly be shown.
USING QUESTIONABLE SOURCES
McKeever and Johnson start off Chapter 13 by citing one of the favorite anti-Mormon references of all, The Seer by “Apostle Orson Pratt.” To give the reader some background, Brother Pratt was ordained an Apostle on April 26, 1835 but was subsequently excommunicated on August 20, 1842 and rebaptized and reordained an Apostle on June 20, 1943. The information in The Seer was published as a periodical in Washington D.C. and Liverpool, England between January 1853 and August 1854. This material was not reviewed by other Church leaders and reflected Orson Pratt’s personal beliefs and not LDS doctrinal views. An excellent summary of LDS views regarding the information found in The Seer has been given by W. John Walsh:
The Seer was a newspaper published by Elder Orson Pratt while serving a mission for the Church. In the paper, Elder Pratt gave his viewpoints on a number of gospel principles. When the Church discovered what Elder Pratt had written, he was censured and the writings were officially and publicly condemned for containing false doctrine. In a Proclamation of the First Presidency and Twelve, dated October 21, 1865, the Church said:
“The Seer “contain[s] doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works, or parts of works, are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed; with proper care this can be done without much, if any, injury to the volumes.
“It ought to have been known, years ago, by every person in the Church-for ample teachings have been given on the point-that no member of the Church has the right to publish any doctrines, as the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, without first submitting them for examination and approval to the First Presidency and the Twelve. There is but one man upon the earth, at one time, who holds the keys to receive commandments and revelations for the Church, and who has the authority to write doctrines by way of commandment unto the Church. And any man who so far forgets the order instituted by the Lord as to write and publish what may be termed new doctrines, without consulting with the First Presidency of the Church respecting them, places himself in a false position, and exposes himself to the power of darkness by violating his Priesthood.
“While upon this subject, we wish to warn all the Elders of the Church, and to have it clearly understood by the members, that, in the future, whoever publishes any new doctrines without first taking this course, will be liable to lose his Priesthood.”1
For McKeever and Johnson to quote this work as representative of LDS beliefs is either dishonest or poor scholarship.
CAN WATER BE USED FOR COMMUNION?
Returning to the subject of “Communion” or the Sacrament, as Latter-day Saints refer to it, McKeever and Johnson construct a straw man argument2 regarding LDS usage of water in place of wine. The following excerpt from Answering Challenging Mormon Questions is especially applicable:
Latter-day Saints emphatically affirm our reliance on the atoning blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins as attested to in the Bible (Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Jn. 1:7; Rev. 7:14) and modern scripture (1 Nephi 12:10; Mosiah 3:7, 11; 4:2; Alma 5:21, 27; 21:9; 24:13; 34:36; Helaman 27:19; Ether 13:10; Moroni 4:1; 5:2; 10:33; D&C 20:40; 27:2; 76:69; Moses 6:62).
Even the sacrament prayer given at the beginning of the administration of the water affirms the symbolism of the atoning blood. It states in part: “… bless and sanctify this water to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them…” (D&C 20:79).
As to our use of water in place of grape juice (new wine-see Isa. 65:8), it is important to note that initially grape juice was used in the sacrament both in the early church (Matt. 26:28-29) and in the latter-day church (D&C 20:79; History of the Church, 1:78). As a precaution against enemies of the Church poisoning or adulterating the grape juice sold to the Saints, a change was authorized by the Lord (History of the Church, 1:106-108; Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:132; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 55). The Lord revealed, “that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory-remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:1-2).
It is interesting to note that the command throughout the scriptures was not to partake of the bread and wine but rather of the bread and the cup (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25-26). It therefore appears that it was not the wine that was being emphasized but the “bitter cup” (D&C 19:18) of which Christ would partake (Matt. 20:22-23; 26:27, 39, 42; Mark 10:38; 14:23, 36; Luke 22:17, 20, 42; John 18:11; 1 Cor. 10:21; 11:25). This is also in conformity with the Old Testament usage of the term “cup” to symbolize suffering (Ps. 11:6; 75:8; Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15, 17; 49:12; see also “Jesus the Christ”, p. 620, note 8).
It is noteworthy that some early Christians used both water and wine in the sacrament. Justin Martyr (ca. 140 A.D.) recorded:
“On Sunday we hold a meeting in one place for all who live in the cities or the country nearby. The teachings of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time is available. When the reader has finished, the president gives a talk urging and inviting us to imitate all these good examples. We then all stand together and send up our prayers. As noted before, bread, wine and water is brought forth after our prayer. The president also sends up prayers and thanksgivings. The people unitedly give their consent by saying, “Amen.” The administration takes place, and each one receives what has been blessed with gratefulness. The deacons also administer to those not present… We all choose Sunday for our communal gathering because it is the first day, on which God created the universe by transforming the darkness and the basic elements, and because Jesus Christ-our Redeeming Savior-rose from the dead on the same day” (First Apology, pp. 65-67, as cited by Vestal and Wallace, The Firm Foundation of Mormonism, p. 231).
This practice was also mentioned by Pope Julius I (A.D. 337) in a decree which stated: “But if necessary let the cluster be pressed into the cup and water mingled with it” (Gratian, De Consecratione, Pars III, Dist. 2, c. 7, as cited by Leon C. Field, Oinos: A Discussion of the Bible Wine Question, New York, 1883, p. 91, and Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine in the Bible, pp. 109-110). This practice of mixing wine and water may be related to the fact that both blood and water were shed on the cross. John recorded that, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). John latter recorded that, “there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 Jn. 5:8). In like manner baptism by water was also related by Paul to Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3-5).
Samuele Bacchiocchi, a non-Mormon scholar, has observed that, “An investigation… of such Jewish Christian sects as the Ebionites, the Nazarenes, the Elkesaites, and the Encratites, might provide considerable support for abstinence from fermented wine in the Apostolic Church. The fact that some of these sects went to the extreme of rejecting altogether both fermented and unfermented wine using only water, even in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, suggests the existence of a prevailing concern for abstinence in the Apostolic Church” (Wine in the Bible, p. 181). It also suggests that early Christians understood that “it mattereth not what ye shall eat or drink when [partaking] of the sacrament” (D&C 27:1-2).
Catholics at a much later period also substituted the Eucharist for the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, believing that it would literally be turned into the flesh and blood of the Lord (See Mormon Doctrine, p. 241 or James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, pp. 235-250).
Although the later practice was introduced during a period of apostasy, it nonetheless shows that some Christians felt it was permissible to modify the observance of the sacrament even without direction from the Lord. The LDS sacrament service, on the other hand, is observed often and within the guidelines given by the Lord as prescribed in LDS scriptures (See Jn 6:53-54; Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-30; Moroni 4 and 5; D&C 20:75-79; 27:1-4). For additional information on the LDS reliance on Christ’s atonement see Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth About The God Makers, pp. 192-193.3
Eric Johnson was aware of this 1995 response before he co-wrote Mormonism 101,4 but he chose to ignore it and ask the same questions-questions which were already answered by this and by many other LDS authors. Despite Mr. Johnson’s access to LDS apologetic responses on this subject, he chose to ignore this information and present the typical anti-Mormon diatribe attacking our modern use of water in preference to wine. The authors also quote The Encyclopedia of Mormonism on the subject but fail to quote the part that explains the use of water in preference to wine:
Unbaptized children, however, being without sin, are entitled and expected to partake of the Sacrament to prefigure the covenant they themselves will make at the age of accountability, age eight (see Children: Salvation of Children). In administering the Sacrament, Christ himself used emblems readily at hand at the Last Supper-bread and wine. To Joseph Smith the Lord declared “that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the Sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory-remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27:2). In typical LDS practice, bread and water are used.5
A LOOK AT BAPTISM
When the authors move on to the subject of baptism their treatment is not much better. They start by asking us to “consider the following quotes from LDS prophets:”
Many talk of baptism not being essential to salvation; but this kind of teaching would lay the foundation of their damnation. I have the truth, and am at the defiance of the world to contradict me, if they can. (Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 361)
It is present salvation and the present influence of the Holy Ghost that we need every day to keep us on saving ground. When an individual refuses to comply with the further requirements of Heaven, then the sins he had formerly committed return upon his head; his former righteousness departs from him, and is not accounted to him for righteousness; but if he had continued in righteousness and obedience to the requirements of Heaven, he is saved all the time, through baptism, the laying on of hands, and obeying the commandments of the Lord and all that is required of him by the heavens the living oracles. (Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 15)
Baptism for the remission of sins is an ordinance of the gospel. Says one, baptism is not essential to salvation. Jesus not only taught it, but rendered obedience himself to that requirement, not that he was baptized for the remission of sin but, as he said, “to fulfil all righteousness,” thus in this, as in all other respects giving the example for all who follow. (Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 19)
No mortal man or woman will ever receive celestial glory unless he or she has been baptized, receiving this ordinance personally or by proxy is the order that God has established. (Snow, Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 96)
Salvation will come only to those who repent and have their sins washed away by baptism, and who thereafter show by a godly life that their repentance is genuine.” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham (Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1943), 8.)6
The authors infer that these statements by five early Presidents of the Church are not biblically based by then presenting several pages of their somewhat biased views on “Baptism as practiced by Christianity.” They then launch into “Bible passages [that] have been misused in an attempt to show that baptism is required for salvation.” Again, this subject has been treated by numerous apologetic works including Answering Challenging Mormon Questions. The authors make no attempt to acknowledge or answer these works by LDS authors, which include quotes by early Christians affirming this view, but instead give their own interpretation on the pertinent “misused” scriptures. I will comment on just a few at this point and touch on others later.
The authors’ comment on Luke 3:3:
“And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” The word for (Greek: eis) in “for the remission of sins” can mean with a view to or because of. Those who responded to John’s invitation of baptism had already heard his message of coming judgment and of the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). They responded to baptism based on the convicting message they had already heard. The word eis is also translated at in Matthew 12:41, where it says the men of Nineveh “repented at the preaching of Jonas.” Did the men of Nineveh repent in order to get the preaching of Jonas? Or did they repent because of the preaching of Jonas? The latter, of course, is the proper answer.7
None of the translations I have consulted translate Luke 3:3 as the authors suggest it should be. Most all translations use “for” while a few use “unto” or “to the remission of sins.” Latter-day Saints agree that a remission of sins only comes by repentance through the atonement of Jesus Christ and baptism itself is just a symbolic ordinance, but a necessary one nonetheless. I would observe also that the authors make no comment on the fact that much of Christianity-including Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches-disagree with their view regarding the necessity of baptism.
The authors comment on John 3:5-6:
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We must ask what being “born of water” would have meant to Nicodemus. In his commentary on John, Leon Morris writes:
“Nicodemus could not possibly have perceived an allusion to an as yet non-existent sacrament. It is difficult to think that Jesus would have spoken in such a way that His meaning could not possibly be grasped. His purpose was not to mystify but to enlighten. In any case the whole thrust of the passage is to put the emphasis on the activity of the Spirit, not on any rite of the church.”
The emphasis throughout the passage is on the Spirit, with no other reference to water. Verse 6 shows that, as each of us has had a physical birth, so we must have a spiritual birth to enter the kingdom of God.8
The authors imply that Latter-day Saints de-emphasize the baptism of the Spirit but Joseph Smith taught that “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected.”9 The authors themselves seem to be ignoring the fact that Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The “and” infers that both are necessary and connected. It is obvious that Nicodemus did not understand what the Lord was teaching him, but just 16 verses later John tells us, “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing.”10 To infer that baptism was a non-existent sacrament at this point seems unjustified. Notice that John 3:22 mentions Jesus and his disciples baptizing first while the other gospels mention John the Baptist baptizing first. It seems as though the Gospel of John is not as concerned with chronological accuracy at this point. Thus, whether the Lord’s encounter with Nicodemus preceded or followed the start of John’s preaching is unknown. These verses speak of baptism as if it is not something new-a concept the authors seem loathe to accept. The fact that none of the Gospels explains the ordinance of baptism and that the name “John the Baptist” is used by Matthew even before baptism is mentioned, seems to infer that baptism was not new. As to the necessity of baptism, it will be shown shortly that there are plenty of other scriptures which emphasize this requirement.
The authors comment on Acts 2:38:
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Just as in Luke 3:3, so Peter was encouraging his hearers to be baptized in view of the remission of sins they had received when they were cut to the heart by his message regarding the Christ. It is interesting to note that Peter made no reference to baptism in his next recorded sermon (see Acts 3:19).11
The authors again impose their own beliefs on this scripture. As with Luke 3:3, no Bible translations were found to justify their conclusion that a remission of sins preceded baptism here. We are told that following this first sermon: “they that gladly received his word were baptized and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”12 Why would so many be baptized if this was only an optional ordinance? Our authors infer that if baptism were essential, Peter should preach baptism in every recorded sermon he gave, but what if these sermons are only brief summaries? What if he did preach baptism and this concept was just not included in these 15 verses because a new concept was being emphasized in this chapter? We can go too far using assumptions to justify our beliefs and the authors seem to be doing just that. Their conclusions are built on flimsy assumptions and very little if any scholarship. It is very apparent that the authors have made up their minds on this issue and are desperately searching for reasons why the obvious meaning of these passages must be wrong.
The authors continue to nitpick Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12-13, and Romans 3:18-20 in the same manner. I will only comment that there are many more scriptures that could be cited on this subject (Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:4; Luke 7:30; Acts 8:12, 10:48, 16:33, and 19:2-6; Hebrews 6:2; and 1Peter 3:21, to cite just a few) and which the authors ignore as usual. They conclude their arguments with the following bewildering assertion: “It needs to be remembered that baptism, like partaking of the Lord’s Supper, is a work. It is something that an individual must personally perform. As such, it is not a requirement for receiving salvation under the guidelines of Ephesians 2:8-9.”13 By this same logic, we must exclude “calling on the name of the Lord” and repentance as requirements for salvation as well, since these are both “works” “that an individual must personally perform.” Are the authors serious about this? I would like the authors to deal with the following quotes from Answering Challenging Mormon Questions:
Scripture strictly associates the ordinance of baptism with the washing away of impurities or sins. John the Baptist affirmed this link by preaching “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3). Some Christians have tried to indicate that John’s baptism was somehow different from later Christian baptisms, but this is contradicted by the scriptures and later authoritative statements. Peter instructed new converts on the day of Pentecost to “Repent, and be baptized, every one… in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul was likewise commanded of Ananias to “be baptized and wash away [his] sins” (Acts 22:16).
Tertullian, in the first century after the death of Christ, stated that “There is no difference whether one is washed in a sea or a pool, in a river or in a fountain, in a lake or in a channel: nor is there any difference between those whom John dipped in the Jordan, and those whom Peter dipped in the Tiber…We are immersed in the water.” (See Millennial Star, vol. XXI, pp. 769-770 or James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy, p. 125) Modern scriptures also confirm the role of baptism in the remission of sins (Alma 6:2; D&C 13; 55:1-2; 68:27; 84:64, 74; 138:33; JS-H 1:69), though the actual cleansing is accomplished through Christ’s atonement (Mosiah 3:11, 18; Alma 7:14; D&C 20:37; 76:41, 69; Moses 6:59; see also p. 128 and following) and reception of the Holy Ghost.
Justin Martyr (ca. 150 AD) said the following regarding baptism:
“Those who are persuaded and believe, and promise that they can live accordingly, are instructed to pray and beseech God with fasting for the remission of their sins, while we pray and fast along with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for then they are washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, ‘unless you are born again you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’ (John 3:3-4).” (First Apology of Justin, 61)
Origen at about 220 AD, taught baptismal candidates, “Go and repent, catechumens, if you want to receive baptism for the remission of your sins…. No one who is in a state of sin when he comes for baptism can obtain the remission of his sins”. (Jean Danielou, Origin, p. 54, Comm. John, 2, 37; De Princ. 4, 3, 12; Hom. Ez. 1, 1).
The scriptures clearly state that baptism is a commandment. Luke reports that “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of [John]” (Luke 7:30). Peter also “commanded” the Gentiles “to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). And finally, the importance of this ordinance was emphasized by Christ in his last admonition to the eleven apostles to “Go… and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). If baptism was not essential, why then the command to baptize all nations?
If baptism is for the remission of our sins and is a commandment, it must also be essential to salvation. The scriptures clearly affirms this: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). Paul affirms that Christ “saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5) while adding that baptism is the appointed way to “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
The Savior also clearly taught the link between baptism and salvation. Mark concludes his gospel with the Savior’s teaching that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).14
The reader should note here that McKeever and Johnson make a very weak argument that,
If belief plus baptism truly equals salvation, then why wasn’t this formula used when it says that a person who ‘believeth not’ would be condemned? To support the LDS position, this passage should read: ‘he that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned.’ Taken at face value, this says that a lack of belief, not a lack of water baptism, is what damns a person.15
They never address why someone “that believeth not” would ever want to be baptized. Of course anyone who does not believe would never consider baptism. It’s obvious that the authors believe this argument totally destroys the necessity of baptism in regard to salvation, but their own logic is just as obviously flawed. Consider the following information, readily available to McKeever and Johnson before they wrote their book:
John likewise quotes Jesus Christ as saying that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus asked the meaning of this statement, Christ responded, “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Those who contend that baptism in water is not necessary have asserted that “born of water” implies only the necessity of physical birth from the water within the womb. Justin Martyr made it clear that this was not the true meaning of this verse in the Second Century AD. In describing his practice of the baptismal ceremony, he explains, “After [repentance] they are led by us to where there is water, and are born again in that kind of new birth by which we ourselves were born again. For upon the name of God, the Father and Lord of all, and of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and of the Holy Spirit, the immersion in water is performed, because the Christ hath also said, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven'” (Dialogue with Trypho, xiv, l; see also The Great Apostasy, p. 125). Thus, the early Christian Fathers understood that the “new birth” referred to baptism of water and not to one’s physical birth.
Paul emphasized both the importance of water baptism and the authority to baptize in Acts 19:2-6. Upon finding some disciples who were apparently baptized by an unauthorized individual, Paul rebaptizes them and lays his hands upon them to give them the gift of the Holy Ghost. If baptism were either optional or acceptable under any authority, rebaptism would not have been necessary in this circumstance. The disciples could have proceeded directly to confirmation (i.e. the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost) if this were the case, but instead they were first rebaptized.
Michael T. Griffith has also discussed the importance of authority and the baptismal ordinance in the early church. He cites Ignatius and other church leaders who declared that baptism was valid only under the proper authority:
“It is not right either to baptize or to celebrate the agape apart from the bishop; but whatever he approves is also pleasing to God, so that everything you do may be secure and valid. (The Apostolic Fathers, p. 113).
“Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in the middle part of the third century, stated that no one outside of the church could administer a valid baptism (Jeffrey Burton Russell, Satan: The early Christian Tradition, [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University, Press, 1981], p. 106).
“On the necessity of the ordinance of baptism, Tertullian, known as the first great Latin theologian of ancient Christianity, taught the ‘sole necessary way’ of obtaining Christ’s protection against evil was through baptism. (Ibid., pp. 100-01). In fact it was universally believed in the Early Church that ‘we obtain the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice by baptism’ (Ibid., p. 103). (Signs of the True Church of Christ, pp. 94-95).”
An early Christian document known as the Didache (The Teaching) states that baptism was the accepted rite of admission to the Church and “only those who have been baptized in the Lord’s name” may partake of the sacrament. (Didache, 9:5; see also J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, pp. 193-211).
Justin Martyr, in about 150 AD, confirmed that “no one was allowed to partake [of the sacrament] except one who believes…and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth” (First Apology of Justin, p. 66).
Tertullian held that baptism was necessary for salvation (De bapt. 1:12-15; see also J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 209). He also suggested that children not be “baptized until they reached years of discretion” (De bapt. 1:18; J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 209).
J.N.D. Kelly also notes that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Hippolytus believed that baptism was very important. “Clement of Alexandria speaks of baptism as imparting regeneration, enlightenment, divine sonship, immortality, [and] remission of sins [where] sonship…is the result of regeneration worked by the Spirit” (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 207; Paed. 1, 6, 26). Origen insisted on penitence, sincere faith, and humility “as prerequisites to baptism as well as gradual transformation of the soul (Ibid., p 208; Hom. in Lev. 6, 2; Luc. 21; Ex. 10; 4). Hippolytus associated the remission of sins and reception of the Spirit with baptism (Ibid., p. 208; trad. apost. 22, 1).16
McKeever and Johnson have the gall to end this chapter with a comparison of LDS beliefs on the Sacrament and baptism and Christianity’s beliefs on the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist and baptism, as if the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox beliefs in these areas were non-existent. They also throw in the concept of authority in this final summary, berating the LDS concept as well as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. They say that “according to Christianity:”
Bread and wine or grape juice are used in the ordinance of Holy Communion [Does the Eucharist count?]
Water baptism is a vital part of Christian practice, but a person receives salvation through faith alone [Do their Catholic brethren agree?]
The validity of water baptism depends on the person receiving it, not on the church or person performing the ordinance [Please explain why in Acts 19:2-6, Paul rebaptized converts before giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost.]17
The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (an ecumenical publication) reported in an item in May 2001 that: “There are…somewhat over one billion Roman Catholics…. 215 million Orthodox,” 80 million Anglicans, and 342 million “other Protestants.” Since Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans would disagree with the Protestants on points 2 and 3 above (point 1 also if they are inferring only bread and wine or grape juice should be used), there are, according to these figures roughly 1.3 billion Christians that would take issue with the position presented by McKeever and Johnson. Since the authors are presenting an opinion shared by only about 340 million Christians as true “according to Christianity,” they are misleading their readers into believing that their position represents the majority of Christianity, when in fact it represents only about 20% of the total Christians listed above.
It is clear that baptism was an essential doctrine and ordinance of Christ’s ancient church, as witnessed in scripture and by the early Christian writers. It is mind-boggling that McKeever and Johnson (and many Protestants generally) can steadfastly deny that an apostasy occurred while refusing to believe the witness of early Christians concerning these doctrines. When Latter-day Saint apologists cite early Christian beliefs that parallel our own, we are told that these teachings must be from heretics. When we cite the beliefs of many modern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and even some Protestant Christians as parallel to our own, we are told they too have erred in their beliefs. Writers such as McKeever and Johnson believe that Latter-day Saints beliefs are wrong, and they are bound and determined to prove it, despite the fact that many Christians today would side with the LDS on these two doctrinal issues. Paul Watzlawick has said it best:
The belief that one’s own view of reality is the only reality is the most dangerous of all delusions. It becomes still more dangerous if it is coupled with a missionary zeal to enlighten the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world wishes to be enlightened or not.18
Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson have fallen into a dangerous trap and are vainly trying to spread their version of reality. If the authors cannot correctly present the truth of what Christianity believes (beyond their narrow view), how can we expect them to present a valid critique of what Latter-day Saints actually believe? It’s obvious to any Latter-day Saint that they are incapable and have not presented it in Mormonism 101.
The key issue the authors have missed is not whether their version of the “real” Gospel more closely approximates the one contained in the Bible, but whether it matches the version God wants us to follow today. Without modern revelation, there is no way to know the answer to this question. Latter-day Saints claim to have received modern revelation concerning these issues through prophets called by God. Those that will not believe them are doomed to the doctrinal chaos found in the world today. Paul described followers without prophets as being constantly misled by doctrines crafted by men and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.19 The truth is only available through revelation by the Spirit and no amount of scriptural exegesis without that Spirit will succeed in finding it.20
1 This information was published on John Walsh’s popular Web site, and until mid-2001 could be found at http://www.mormons.org/response/qa/seer_jd.htm. The Web site has since been discontinued. Additional explanations about The Seer can be found at the FAIR Web site: http://www.fairlds.org/apol/misc/misc04.html.
2 A straw man argument is a polemical tactic in which a person develops a false argument that is easier to refute than the real argument at hand. Time is spent building up the false argument, which is then easily destroyed. All the while, the real argument still stands, as it has not been directly addressed.
3 Michael W. Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1995), 131-133.
4 See Mr. Johnson’s July 2000 critique of Answering Challenging Mormon Questions at Amazon.com’s Web site: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0882905368/qid%3D985390458/107-1790784-8029347.
5 Paul B. Pixton, “Sacrament,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 3:1244.
6 Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2001), 194.
7 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 197.
8 Ibid., 197-198.
9 Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Company, 1976), 360.
10 John 3:22-23.
11 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 198.
12 Acts 2:41.
13 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 200.
14 Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions, 125-126.
15 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 197.
16 Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions, 126-128.
17 McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, 197.
18 Paul Watzlawick, “How Real is Real?: Confusion, Disinformation, Communication,” (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), xiii.
19 See Ephesians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 3:7.
20 1 Corinthians 2:11-13.