10 Reasons You Should Be Mormon-A Response

So I was reading an LDS-related forum, and saw a thread about this blog post.  At the outset, I should say that I certainly appreciate the zeal and love that the poster has for her faith, which motivates her to want to share the things that she loves about it (coupled of course with the instruction from church leaders to be “member missionaries”, as well as utilizing technology to share the LDS view of the Gospel).  I thought I’d comment on a few of the points from my perspective (and of course I’ll shortly share a 10 Reasons You Should Be Catholic!):

1) ” Jesus Christ is the center of our faith. A lot of people believe we don’t worship Jesus Christ…but we do! (Just check out the church’s full name.) We believe in the same Jesus Christ that other Christian faiths believe in. He is the Son of God and died for our sins.”

My response: I do agree that Mormons love Jesus Christ, believe that He is the Son of God, and suffered and died for our sins.  Mormons believe that we are to follow His example.  However, I wouldn’t necessarily say that they “believe in the same Jesus Christ that other Christian faiths believe in”.  Primarily, the Divine origins of Jesus Christ are fundamentally different.  Latter-day Saints believe that we are all sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents-God the Father and His spouse, Heavenly Mother.  Jesus Christ, known as “Jehovah” in the pre-mortal existence, was the literal firstborn spirit son of our Heavenly Parents (the Holy Ghost is also a spirit son of our Parents).  In contrast, Catholics and other traditional Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son, but is also the eternal Son of God.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are believed to be in an eternal relationship, and the Son did not have to be spiritually born.  He is eternally the Son of the Father.  There never was a time when God did not exist as God, and there never was a time when Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were not members of the eternal Trinity.   Also, God the Father is not married to a Heavenly Mother, therefore there is no reference to “Heavenly Parents” (an idea found nowhere in the writings of the earliest Christians, including the New Testament).  Latter-day Saints therefore see a “beginning” of sorts with Jesus in the pre-mortal existence, just like with all of us (noting of course their belief in an eternal, uncreated “intelligence” that we all have), while Catholics believe that Jesus has eternally existed as the Son, and did not have to be spiritually begotten at some point (He is said to be “eternally begotten”).

Another interesting difference is that traditional Christians are generally okay with praying directly to Jesus Christ.  Since Jesus Christ is God, is Divine, we can worship and pray to Him.  In contrast, Latter-day Saints believe that you can only pray to the Father, in the name of the Son.
2. “God still speaks to the world through a prophet. Remember in the Bible when God called prophets? Well guess what?? He still does! There is a living prophet today named Thomas S. Monson, and there are also 12 apostles. Joseph Smith was the first modern-day prophet who was called by God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth after years of people creating their own faiths. The only way you can know there’s a prophet is through listening to what he has to say and praying to know for yourself.”

My response: Catholics agree that God still speaks to prophets.  Catholics don’t believe that God has ever stopped talking to His children, contrary to LDS beliefs about the Heavens being closed until they were reopened in the 1800s.  Catholic history is filled with wondrous and miraculous visions, Heavenly visitations, miracles, etc.  Indeed, these have happened, and still do, and are talked about, much more frequently in Catholicism than Mormonism!  Walk into any Catholic church, and you’ll most likely see a statue or painting/icon of Mary, the mother of Christ, depicting one of her many miraculous visitations around the world, throughout Catholic history.  There are many examples of Catholic visionaries and prophets.  Catholics believe that we can all receive inspiration and guidance from God, and also that the Church itself has Jesus Christ at its Head, and is protected by the Holy Spirit from ever failing, being corrupted, and its leaders are guided in Council, and the Pope individually, by the Spirit when they formally expound on Divine truths.  I find that the Catholic Church regards the guidance of God to His children in His Kingdom on earth much more highly than Latter-day Saints; so much more highly that an apostasy of the Church is an impossibility to Catholics, since God is a merciful God, despite our sins and human failures (the Church being a Divine institution, not a man-made one).

As mentioned in other posts, I also am troubled by  the 15 men sustained as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators in the LDS Church.  I know others have expressed similar views.  They simply don’t function as prophets!  In my view, they don’t do or say anything different from the leaders of various Protestant churches.  Gone are the days of talking about Heavenly visitations for LDS (indeed, when asked if the leaders have actually seen Christ, we are often told that it is too sacred to talk about, which contradicts how the early leaders, including Joseph Smith, viewed such things).  Gone are the days of discovering ancient texts and translating them.  The last time the D&C was updated, in 1978, it was to open the priesthood to all worthy males, when blacks were restricted from holding the priesthood until then (they were also restricted from entering temples).  And even in that case, it is not an actual revelation that is found in the D&C; it’s only an official declaration that a revelation was received.  Where is the canonized text of the revelation, just like we can read in the rest of the D&C?  For that matter, where is the text of the revelation ending plural marriage?  In my view, the LDS prophets, seers, and revelators today do not function like the Biblical ones, let alone like Joseph Smith.   See these posts for more:

Is The Prophet a Prophet-Two Interesting Articles

The Heavens Are Closed?-LDS Misunderstanding of Orthodox Views on Revelation

6. Death does NOT separate families. God put us on this earth in families so we can learn and grow together. We all have a need for a family unit where we can learn how to avoid the evils of this world and become strong. Satan is constantly attacking the family today because it is the most important thing in our lives. But would God put us here in families just to break them apart at death?? Of course not! That’s why when we are married it is not til death, but for all time and eternity. This is done in the 141 temples around the world, where families are being united every day.”

My response: This is something that I thought about a lot.  Generally, we love our families, and want to be with them forever.  LDS claim to be able to seal families together for eternity, and that traditional Christians believe that families end at death.  Fortunately, as a Catholic, I can say that the LDS criticism does not hold water, and also that you have nothing to worry about.

I like beginning discussing this issue with a brief thought exercise:  the LDS view on sealing ends up with exactly how traditional Christians view life in Heaven.  When you hear about eternal families, it’s often explained and imagined as you being with your spouse and children forever.  However, here is how I see it ending up: I am sealed to my wife.  We are also sealed to our children.  I am sealed to my parents, and my wife is sealed to  her parents.  Our parents are sealed to their own parents.  Our children become sealed to their spouses (and remain sealed to us), and their spouses are already sealed to their own parents, who are sealed to their own parents.  So, how does this eternal families concept really work?  What ends up happening is that everyone is sealed to everyone else.  There is no eternal nuclear family unit, since we’re all sealed to others outside of our nuclear family (and our children will start their own nuclear families).  This is similar to the Catholic view on life in Heaven.  For Catholics, God does not break up families in Heaven.  Rather, He expands them!  In Heaven, we are all one Family, members of the family of God, united in Christ.  In Heaven, we love the way God loves, and He loves all of us.  If our spouses and children are in Heaven, we can be with them.  We’ll have all of our earthly memories.  There won’t be some sort of amnesia where we forget who our wife was, or who our children were.  So, while the LDS claim of eternal families is certainly attractive, it doesn’t end up working out how it is imagined, and the Catholic view of Heaven is much more expansive and demonstrative of God’s universal love for all His children.

7. Temples!!!!!!!!! You’ve probably seen a temple in a picture or real life, but they aren’t just pretend castles. In ancient times, God commanded His people to build temples to perform sacred ordinances, like marriage which I mentioned above. With the restoration of His church through the prophet Joseph Smith, temples became a commandment once again. They are beautiful and the House of the Lord on earth. You can feel the peace there even just walking around the grounds.

My response: As I’m sure you know, I love the temple and the temple concept.  The temple was probably my favorite thing about being a Latter-day Saint.  I loved going, and at one point, I went once a week.  Coming from a Catholic background, the temple was something I needed, especially when compared with the more bare and noisy meetinghouses.  So, I’ve read a lot about temples, ancient and the modern LDS ones, and have extensively read the LDS-related apologetics on the matter (I actually just bought the book “Ascending the Mountain of the Lord-Temple, Praise, and Worship“, composed of articles from the upcoming BYU Sperry Symposium).

Yes, in ancient times God commanded His people to build a tabernacle and temples.  However, no, marriage was not performed in those sacred edifices.  Nor were proxy baptisms and confirmations.  The primary ritual that occurred there was sacrifice.  Interestingly, as I’ve read about the temple and ancient rites (Margaret Barker especially), I have been strengthened in my belief in the authenticity of Catholic liturgical practices, finding them to be in direct continuity with ancient Israelite practices, including those related to temples.  Indeed, Catholic churches, basilicas, chapels, and cathedrals are all regarded as temples, being the literal House of God, where His presence dwells (i.e. the Real Presence).  Sacred rituals are performed there, including sacrifice (the Eucharist is regarded as a real propitiatory sacrifice offered by the priesthood), washings, anointings, the singing of psalms, sacred feasts and festivals, sacred vestments, blessings, incense, bread and wine offering, the presence of angels, altars, a division of the building into three major parts, etc.  As much as I loved the LDS temple, I found the Catholic equivalent to be more temple-like, and more in continuity with the ancient Israelite tabernacle and temples.  And as mentioned, the ancient Biblical temples did not involve the performance of marriages.

8. Authority from God. No one can just stand up and decide they have authority from God to start a church. That’s what people thought in the days after the death of Christ and His apostles. Many churches were formed and people had this idea that they could start a church however they wanted. Some had good intentions as well. But that authority that was given by God to baptize, preach the gospel, basically run His church on earth, was brought back! Now it lies in our church, because God restored it through a prophet just as He always has.-

My response: Catholics agree.  Catholics believe that authority comes from God, from those in authority from Him.  While there were people in the days after Christ that thought they could just decide for themselves that they have authority and start a church, the Catholic Church maintained the true authority from God to baptize, preach the Gospel, and run God’s Church.  That authority remained after Christ gave it, and it did not disappear (since Christ maintains His own Body, His own Kingdom).  A restoration was not necessary, since the authority was never gone.

10. HAPPINESS FOREVER! I am in no way going to say that being a Mormon means no trials. FALSE. Sometimes our trials are even greater because we have the whole truth. But, we can handle our hard times and our struggles so much easier with the knowledge we do have. Happiness is so much more abundant when we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and try to be better everyday. People often ask me how I can be so happy all the time, and it’s because I know where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going.-

My response:  Happiness isn’t limited to those in the LDS faith.  Indeed, since leaving the LDS faith and returning to my Catholic faith, I have literally never felt happier, including when I was LDS.  I do agree that happiness is much more abundant when we follow the teachings of Christ and try to be better everyday.  Indeed, by following His teachings, we can have eternal happiness.  However, people of many faiths would claim the same thing, including the Catholic faith.  What I find that is most important is what is eternally saving, and while LDS believe that is found in their faith, I believe that it is found in the Catholic one.  As a Catholic, I also know where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going (God willing).

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Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest-Book Review Shortly

So I’m about halfway through the book Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest by Eric Shuster.  This book discusses the conversion to Mormonism of the author and his wife.  After their conversion story, he then dedicates subsequent chapters to compare and contrast the LDS and Catholic views on specific doctrinal matters, such as the Creation, the Trinity/Godhead, Priesthood, Mary, the Sacraments, etc.  So far, I’m not impressed at all by this book.  Shuster attempts to present himself and his wife as previously “informed” Catholics, knowledgeable about Catholicism and therefore making an informed decision to leave the Catholic faith for the LDS faith.  Unfortunately, actual knowledgeable Catholics will not be in agreement with this self-assessment.  Only halfway through, Shuster makes numerous fundamental mistakes in expounding on Catholic doctrine, even when claiming to derive his understanding from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an official compendium of Catholic beliefs.  He shows that he does not understand Catholic doctrines as a Catholic would, and he ends up critiquing a straw man, and not actual Catholic teaching.  This is readily apparent in the section on the Trinity, where he bungles the definition of the Trinity (no Trinitarian would ever claim that it means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three beings but not three beings but really one being), and ends up critiquing the heresy of Modalism (this is a frequent LDS mistake, even occurring in General Conference, where they rhetorically ask why  Jesus was praying to Himself, which no Trinitarian would ever claim, nor is that a valid result of Trinitarian belief, but is one of the ancient Modalism heresy, and it seems as if Shuster is not aware of the difference between Modalism and Trinitarianism).  The “mystery” explanation is not a valid excuse for his misunderstanding, since the Catechism clearly defines the Trinity, and “mystery” does not mean that the Trinity does not have a clear definition, which it does.

Shuster does not understand the Catholic view on Revelation.  Catholics do not believe that God stopped speaking, nor do we believe that God is quiet.  When Catholics speak of Revelation ending with the death of the apostles, we mean that all that is necessary for salvation has already been revealed, culminating in the birth, ministry, death/atonement, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Catholics don’t believe that next week a revelation could be received saying “now, anointing with the blood of a goat on your 21st birthday is necessary for salvation”.  God has already revealed how we are to be saved and receive eternal life, therefore there is no more Revelation to be given on that.  However, that does not mean that God stopped speaking, or that the Heavens closed.  Indeed, Catholicism is rich with various miraculous and Divine events throughout its history, up to the present day.  Catholics are well aware of God not only providing personal guidance through the Holy Spirit, but miracles, healings, visions, visitations, etc.  The Marian visions are one subset of such matters.  Catholics believe that the Ecumenical Councils are guided by the Holy Spirit.  Catholics believe that the Church is guided by God and will never fail or fall into apostasy.  Therefore, Shuster fundamentally misunderstands how Catholics view revelation.

Shuster also does not understand how Catholics view prayer.  He criticizes the Catholic practice of intercessory prayer, without realizing that he condemns a very common, Biblical, Christian practice: asking others to pray for one another.  He asks “why pray to Mary or a saint, when you can go right to the Father himself with prayers?”.  The answer is simple: for the same reason that you would ask your wife or your neighbor to pray for you!  Why ask your mother to pray for you when you can just pray to God directly?  Catholics believe that the Church is a Communion of Saints.  The saints on earth can ask the saints in Heaven to pray for us just like we can ask our friend next door to pray for us.  I don’t know about his parents, but my parents and catechists explained that we don’t pray to statues (he expresses that he prayed to statues as a child based on his misunderstanding what others were doing), and that God answers our prayers, and we can ask our friends on earth and Heaven to help us by praying for us too.  Further, his commentary on “vain repetition” is not based on how knowledgeable, practicing Catholics understand things like the Rosary or elements of the Mass (no actual Catholic would view them as “vain”, or would go about such things without actually understanding what they’re doing, which seems to be the problem with Shuster’s criticism).  Many times, Shuster bases his criticism or negative observation on his own misunderstandings and failings, and not on how the practice is supposed to be done (and anyone that has been to a LDS ward for an extended period of time will become familiar with formulaic prayers.  While they are not written down prayers, they all follow the same format, 9/10 times you’ll hear something like “we’re thankful for this beautiful Sabbath day…please bless that we will get home safely…we pray for those that were unable to attend today…please bless us as we go about the rest of our meetings/our day…etc”.  And nowhere is repetition more present than in the LDS temples, I say from experience in all of the ordinances performed therein).

A detailed review of this book will be published on this blog hopefully in a week or two (busy with the new semester), however so far, I cannot recommend this book, nor do I think it is convincing to a Catholic that actually understands their beliefs (see the Amazon reviews and comments for a few others that agree).

New Books Just Arrived!-Continuing the Temple Theme

So as I probably mentioned, I love reading.  When I’m not studying for school or work, I try to fit in reading in addition to being a “normal” 20-something.  A couple of books just arrived from Amazon, and while I haven’t started reading them (time to enjoy the holiday weekend outside), I did read something interesting on the back of one of them that I thought I’d share, since it briefly mentions the temple theme that I brought up in the last post.

In addition to Angels of God-The Bible, The Church and the Heavenly Hosts by Mike Aquilina (can’t wait for Scott Hahn’s Angels and Saints: The Power and Glory of our Heavenly Hosts to come out next year), The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles by Scott Hahn, Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology  of Mary’s Queenship (which naturally complements Hahn’s Hail Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God) by Edward Sri, I also purchased two companion books by Mike Aquilina and Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Archbishop of Washington DC): The Mass-The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition, and the book I’m specifically pointing out briefly in this post, The Church-Unlocking The Secrets To the Places Catholics Call Home.

“The Church” was published in March 2013, and I remember seeing it in Barnes and Noble around then, but still being actively Mormon, I ignored it.  Now, as a reverted Catholic, I’m pretty excited to read it, since it talks about a concept that I love, as mentioned in my previous post: Catholic churches, cathedrals, and basilicas as continuing Biblical temple concepts and practices, and for the readers of this blog, a continuity that demonstrates their temple character is more prominent and clear than the LDS temples.  When I was a Latter-day Saint, I attended the temple frequently.  Before I was Endowed, I attended the temple with my ward congregation for baptisms for the dead every other month.  After I was Endowed, I attended once a week, then once I was familiar with the Endowment ordinance, I attended at least once a month.  When I traveled, I made a point to visit the temple in the area, not always for an Endowment session, but at least to go inside, since being in the presence of God on sacred ground is something that has always been of interest to me.  I remember going to the Los Angeles Temple and just walking around with a friend, then watching the youth do proxy baptisms.  I even wanted to be a temple ordinance worker!  But there was always something…missing, especially when I read LDS apologetics on ancient temples.  Many of the things that went on in the Biblical temple complex that they point out, such as singing psalms, Bread of the Presence, incense, candles, sacrificial

priesthood, etc don’t occur in LDS temples.  But they do occur in Catholic and Orthodox churches, cathedrals, and basilicas (in the East, church buildings are specifically called temples as well).  Concepts like washing, anointing, “initiation”, new names, sacred clothing, making covenants,

entering the presence of God, etc, while certainly present in the LDS temples in some fashion, are also present in Catholic churches as well, along with the other things mentioned that aren’t found in the LDS temples.  So, when I reverted back to Catholicism, I was happy to know that the temple concept isn’t lost in traditional Christianity, and sacred space where God dwells is very much an important reality in the Catholic Church.  As mentioned in my last post, Latter-day Saints curious about Catholicism can rest assured that the temple is still found in ancient Christianity, specifically Catholicism and Orthodoxy to this day.

For those interested in some of what goes on in LDS temples and what they look like inside (rememb

Temple de Sagrat Cor (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in Spain

er, Mormons have meetinghouses, where they worship on Sundays, and temples, where special ordinances, including baptism for the dead, Endowment, and eternal marriage, are done), these two videos may be of interest.  The first was just released by the LDS Church a two days ago:

Anyway, a longer post on LDS temples and my thoughts will be provided later on.  I just want to point out a quote by Scott Hahn on the back cover of “The Church” that captures my viewpoint:

“”What the Temple was to the Israelites, our churches are for us Catholics. They are sanctuaries of God’s presence — the meeting place of heaven and earth. This is apparent, however, only to eyes of faith. This book trains our eyes to see the domes and spires, tabernacles and votive candles, pews and altars as they really are. As good guides, the authors take us beyond the visible to the invisible, beyond the material to the spiritual, beyond the human to the divine.  Highly recommended.”
-Scott Hahn, author of The Lamb’s Supper and Signs of Life”

I’m pretty excited to read this book and learn more about the different appointments found in Catholic church buildings, and how they relate to the mysteries taught and experienced there.  The authors discuss things like the shape of the church, the sanctuary, the altar, holy water fonts, candles, relics, the baptismal font, the tabernacle, and sacred images.  Knowing more about the rich symbolism found in Catholic sacred buildings that point us to Heavenly realities certainly makes going to church and participating in the various devotions and liturgical rites that take place there a higher experience.  Can’t wait to actually read this!

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

One of my favorite topics to study is how ancient Judaism relates to Christianity.  As a Latter-day Saint, I was attracted to the writings of various LDS apologists and scholars attempting to connect ancient Israelite beliefs and practices with current LDS beliefs and practices, in areas such as a plurality of gods, God the Father married to Heavenly Mother, priesthood, and temple worship.  While some arguments seemed more tenable than others (for example, I never was convinced by the arguments about the Old Testament peoples believing in multiple gods.  While they may have fallen into false beliefs in worshipping more than one deity, the Old Testament records are clear on God always chastising them and calling them back to worshipping the one God), the area that I specifically was interested in was how the ancient Israelite temple practices compare to the LDS temple practices.  I think I’ll devote a separate post to that topic specifically later on, but for now, I’d just say that after awhile, the LDS apologetics on that topic seemed less convincing.  Indeed, when I read the works of non-LDS temple scholar Margaret Barker (praised by many LDS apologists and scholars), I actually became more convinced of the ancient Israelite temple origins and connections of the Catholic and Orthodox liturgical rites and church architecture.  For more on that from Barker, I highly suggest reading her Temple Themes in Christian Worship.  Her website also has various papers she’s written on related matters.   Catholic and Orthodox readers may be interested in: Our Great High Priest: The Church as the New Temple, Temple and Liturgy, The Holy Anointing Oil, Belonging in the Temple, and Temple Roots of the Liturgy, if you don’t read all of the articles (there are a lot!).  It is clear to me, and many others, that Catholic and Orthodox churches, cathedrals, basilicas, etc not only carry on architecture and practices related to the Jewish synagogue, but also architecture and rites associated with the temple.  Eastern Catholics and Orthodox even refer to their churches as “temples”.

One practice that relates to the temple quite explicitly is the Eucharist, the consecrated bread and wine.  Catholics and Orthodox believe that their church buildings are sacred ground.  Each church is regarded as a literal House of God, where His presence literally dwells.  This is typified in the Eucharist, which is reserved in a tabernacle.  Catholics and Orthodox believe that during the liturgical rites of the church, we join with the Heavenly angels, as well as the deceased saints, in worshipping God.  They worship God in the Heavenly liturgy (as we see in Revelation.  For more on that, please see Dr. Scott Hahn’s popular book The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth).  In the church, Heaven and Earth join together, and we are in the presence of God, clearly tying to the Old Testament temples.

One book that is relevant to this topic, and which I highly recommend, is Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, by Dr. Brant Pitre (Professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary, PhD in New Testament and Ancient Judaism from University of Notre Dame).  Quite often, Evangelical Protestants, as well as Mormons, who do not share the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist with the most ancient Christian churches (i.e. Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, etc), attempt to demonstrate that it is not only contra-Biblical, but is not found anciently, and goes against the Jewish context that Christianity developed in.  Dr. Pitre not only demonstrates that this is false (and countless Catholic/Orthodox apologists and scholars have demonstrated not only its ancient origins, but how it comports with the Biblical record as well, for centuries), but connects the Eucharist to three ancient Jewish practices:

  1. The Passover
  2. The Manna
  3. The Bread of the Presence in the Temple

I highly recommend this book to all Catholics, Orthodox, and LDS readers interested in understanding how the belief in the Real Presence not only is Biblical, but is tied quite significantly to ancient Jewish beliefs and practices, including temple practices, and that it was not invented centuries after Christ, after corruption by Greek philosophy, as some LDS and Evangelical apologists would have us believe.  Here is some information about the book:

In recent years, Christians everywhere are rediscovering the Jewish roots of their faith. Every year at Easter time, many believers now celebrate Passover meals (known as Seders) seeking to understand exactly what happened at Jesus’ final Passover, the night before he was crucified.
  
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist shines fresh light on the Last Supper by looking at it through Jewish eyes. Using his in-depth knowledge of the Bible and ancient Judaism, Dr. Brant Pitre answers questions such as: What was the Passover like at the time of Jesus? What were the Jewish hopes for the Messiah? What was Jesus’ purpose in instituting the Eucharist during the feast of Passover? And, most important of all, what did Jesus mean when he said, “This is my body… This is my blood”?

To answer these questions, Pitre explores ancient Jewish beliefs about the Passover of the Messiah, the miraculous Manna from heaven, and the mysterious Bread of the Presence. As he shows, these three keys—the Passover, the Manna, and the Bread of the Presence—have the power to unlock the original meaning of the Eucharistic words of Jesus. Along the way, Pitre also explains how Jesus united the Last Supper to his death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.           

Inspiring and informative, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist is a groundbreaking work that is sure to illuminate one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith: the mystery of Jesus’ presence in “the breaking of the bread.”

You can also view a lecture Dr. Pitre gave on the same subject.

Discovering the temple nature of Catholic and Orthodox sacraments, liturgies, devotions, beliefs, etc helped me realize that an apostasy of the Church didn’t happen, at least as related to understanding the Eucharist/Communion/the Sacrament.  The most ancient Christian churches did not invent this belief, and instead find continuity with the Judaism it fulfilled.  Further, Catholics and Orthodox continue offering to God bread and wine, just like Melchizedek did (having the same priesthood that he did), but they also have a sacrificial priesthood, just like we read about in the Old Testament, and just like the priesthood that functioned in the ancient temples (which LDS do not have).  Today, they re-present (not re-do) the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Father, in the Sacrifice of the Mass and Divine Liturgy.

Latter-day Saints considering Catholicism or Orthodoxy don’t have to be worried about losing the temple.  The temple is found in Catholicism and Orthodoxy, was never lost, and you can join in many of the same practices found anciently, together with the angels and saints worshipping God in the Heavenly temple, in the presence of God on the sacred ground of the church.  The Eucharist is manna from Heaven, and God is waiting to feed you with Himself through His holy mysteries.

A later post will explore the concept of a temple further.

Origins of Catholic Christianity-Great Book Series

I collect books.  A lot of them.  In addition to the books I need for school, and books in my favorite genres of fiction (dystopian fiction and science fiction) I have practically a library of books on topics related to religion, including Mormonism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Evangelical Christianity, Islam, Neo-Paganism, and general historical-scholarly Christian works.  Sometimes I peruse Amazon in what little spare time I have to see what books I can buy.  What can I say, I’m a nerd!

So as I was browsing through the offerings on Amazon, I happened upon the “Origins of Catholic Christianity” book series by Taylor Marshall, PhD, a former Episcopal Church (the American branch of the 85 million member Anglican Communion) priest that converted to the Catholic Church.  He gives his academic credentials as:

“I earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Dallas. I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation titled: “Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law and the Twofold Beatitude of Humanity.” (I’m looking for a publisher for it, if you know anyone.) I’m a rocked-ribbed Thomist and I believe that Thomism is at the heart of everything great in Catholic culture.

I am also a graduate of Texas A&M University (BA, Philosophy – Whooop!), Westminster Theological Seminary (MAR, Systematic Theology), Nashotah Theological House (Certificate in Anglican Studies), and the University of Dallas (MA, Philosophy)”

The first of his books in the Series that I found was “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity“.  This is a topic that is always fascinating to me.  Many Latter-day Saint apologists and scholars seek to connect the unique aspects of Mormonism to ancient Israelite beliefs and practices.  Whether it’s the temple and the temple Endowment, events in the Book of Mormon, an embodied God (i.e. the LDS belief that God the Father has a body of flesh and bone), the importance of covenants, Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, etc, they seek to point out where Mormonism is in direct continuity with ancient Judaism, which is especially important when we understand how Latter-day Saints view the concept of Apostasy and Restoration, believing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as old as Adam, and that Jesus Christ in the New Testament wasn’t necessarily establishing something new, but was re-establishing His Church and Gospel.

So, when I looked at the Table of Contents of The Crucified Rabbi, I knew I immediately had to purchase the book for Kindle (I blame the invention of Kindle for my lack of productivity).  Dr. Marshall clearly aims to demonstrate the continuity of the Catholic faith, and many of its unique beliefs and practices, with ancient Judaism, including the knowledge that we gain from the Deuterocanonical texts that are part of the Catholic/Orthodox Bibles, and not found in the Protestant versions (including the King James Version read by Latter-day Saints) nor the latest Jewish canon, as well as other ancient Judeo-Christian sources.

In the Introduction to the book, titled “How I Discovered the Jewish Origins of Catholicism”, essentially giving an overview of his conversion to Catholicism after being a priest in another faith, Dr. Marshall recounts an experience he had talking with a Rabbi in a hospital waiting room (Dr. Marshall was visiting someone as a priest), who told him that Jews believe that “if someone is suffering and you invoke the name of his or her mother in prayer, God will be more merciful in granting your prayer for that person“.  Dr. Marshall then goes on to make a connection with the Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary, and goes on from there:

If Jews believed that invoking the mother of someone caused God to be more gracious in answering an intercession, then wouldn’t the name of Mary be worth invoking?  Even more, Mary wasn’t just an ordinary mother.  She was the only person ever created who could speak to God about our Son.  That’s when it hit me.  Catholic devotion to Mary is not merely based on sound Christological arguments.  Veneration for the Blessed Mother is not just only in the writings of the early Church.  Reaching back even further, the Church reveres and invokes the Blessed Mother because it inherited the Jewish custom of showing profound reverence for the spiritual role of the mother in a family.  The rabbi’s answer was a surprising confirmation that Catholic customs are rooted in a Jewish understanding of reality.

This experience opened up an entirely new way of appreciating Christianity, that is to say Catholic Christianity.  I soon learned that Orthodox Jews pray for the dead-as do Catholics.  Jews have a special ark in their synagogues to house the Word of God.  Catholics have a special tabernacle in their churches to house the Word of God made flesh in the Eucharist.  All of the fascinating elements of the Old Testament-the liturgies, the holy days, the vestments, the lamps, the vows, the rituals-all of these were preserved or transformed in the sacramental economy of the Catholic Church. 

The following year I renounced the ordination that I had received in the Episcopal Church after a considerable amount of prayer, study, and counsel.  The Episcopal Church possessed many ancient elements and practices, but I came to see that the Anglican schism of the sixteenth century, and the Protestant Reformation in general, did not reflect the original trajectory of the New Testament.  I came to believe that the Church is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the People of God.  In the Old Testament, the People of Israel were not free to create a “new Israel” or to form a new denomination of “Protestant Israelites.”  No matter how corrupt the priests, the high priests, and the kings of Judah became, the covenant of God remained in effect.

My wife and I entered into full communion with the Catholic Church on May 23, 2006, along with our four children.  I became a Catholic Christian because I realized that the Catholic Church alone could trace her doctrine, liturgy, customs, and morality back to those Jewish beginnings when a rabbi named Jesus roamed the Holy Land with a band of Jewish disciples.  As a Catholic Christian, I am linked not only to the early Church, but also to the ancient tradition of the Old Testament.  I can now say with the Apostle Paul (who was once Rabbi Saul): I share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all.-Romans 4:16.”

Talk about a powerful testimony!  Looking at his other books, I see that they similarly aim to demonstrate the authenticity of the Catholic faith as the fulness of true Christianity, consistent with not only the Biblical records, but with history (and therefore his books are great for those looking to see how an Apostasy is simply untenable, not supported by the Bible nor history, and that the Catholic Church is in continuity not only with the New Testament Church, since it is that Church, but also with ancient Judaism).  I encourage anyone interested in this topic to take a look at his books!  Here they are:

The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity

Praise for The Crucified Rabbi:

 

“Taylor Marshall helps us to be more Catholic by taking our faith to its most profound depths – its ancient roots in the religion of Israel, the Judaism beloved by the Apostles, the religion of the Temple and Synagogue, the Torah and the sacrifice. Jesus said he came not to abolish that faith but to fulfill it. In this book, we see that fullness down to the smallest details. I treasure this book.” -Mike Aquilina, author of The Fathers of the Church 
 
“Such sparkling insights appear on almost every page, as Taylor Marshall deftly compares various features of Judaism to their Catholic counterparts: the priesthood, vestments, holy days, marriage, and saints, to name but a few. Saint Augustine’s dictum, “The New Covenant is in the Old, concealed; the Old Covenant is in the New, revealed” is on full display inThe Crucified Rabbi.” -Cale Clarke, Catholic Insight Magazine 
“This is a fascinating book full of interesting details. The Crucified Rabbi should be required reading for every student of the Catholic faith.” -Father Dwight Longenecker, author of Mary: A Catholic/Evangelical Debate 
  • How does Jesus fulfill over three hundred Old Testament Prophecies? {over 300 Hebrew prophecies of Christ and the Church listed inside this book}
  • Is Catholicism inherently Anti-Semitic? Do the Hebrew Scriptures accurately predict Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah?
  • How does Jewish thinking presuppose devotion to Mary?
  • Is the Catholic Church a fulfillment of historic Israel?
  • How do Jewish water rituals relate to Catholic baptism?
  • Is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a Passover meal?
  • Should the Catholic priesthood conform to the priesthood established by Moses?
  • How has the Jewish Temple influenced traditional Christian architecture?
  • Does the Pope wear a yarmulke?

Chapters and Sub-Chapters I find interesting:

  • Does the Pope Wear a Yarmulke?
  • Jewish Messiah, Catholic Christ (The Old Covenant “Proto-Gospel”)
  • Jewish Kingdom, Catholic Church (Mary as the Queen Mother of Jerusalem, The Pope as the King’s Royal Steward)
  • Jewish Tevilah, Catholic Baptism (all Sub-Chapters, especially Is Baptism a Ceremonial Washing, and Catholic Baptism as the Tevilah for Original Sin
  • Jewish Passover, Catholic Mass (all Sub-Chapters, especially What is Manna? and The Bread of Life, the Eucharist)
  • Jewish Kohenim, Catholic Priests (all Sub-Chapters, especially Christ the High Priest, The Order of Melchizedek (obviously interesting for those following this blog!), The Catholic Priesthood of the New Covenant, Is the Pope a High Priest?)
  • Jewish Vestments, Catholic Vestments
  • Jewish Temple, Catholic Cathedral (all Sub-Chapters, demonstrating how Catholic cathedrals are in continuity with the OT Temples)
  • Jewish Synagogue, Catholic Parish (Structure of the Synagogue, Structure of the Catholic Parish)
  • Jewish Nazirites, Catholic Monastics (The Nazirite Vow, Christian Monasticism, Liturgy of the Hours and Jewish Prayer, Was Jesus a Nazirite?)
  • Jewish Marriage, Catholic Marriage
  • Jewish Holy Days, Catholic Holy Days
  • Jewish Tzaddikim, Catholic Saints (Heavenly Intercession of the Saints)
  • Jewish Afterlife, Catholic Afterlife

The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity

“If you’re looking for a complete and simple Catholic resource to equip you to answer your Protestant friends about salvation, faith and works, baptism, the Eucharist, the sacraments, the priesthood, celibacy, and redemptive suffering, then this new book is for you.

This book intends to show once and for all that Saint Paul was thoroughly Catholic, and that Protestant and liberal prejudices against the Catholic perspective on Paul are unwarranted. If we read Paul in his own words, we find none other than the great Catholic Apostle of Rome. “
  • How did Paul’s background as a Jewish rabbi inform his message?
  • Did Paul hold that we are justified by faith alone?
  • Did Paul teach baptismal regeneration?
  • Did Paul hold that one might “fall from grace”?
  • Did Paul consider himself to be a “priest”?
  • Did Paul believe that the Church was one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?

Chapters and Sub-chapters I find interesting:

  • Rabbi Saul and the Apostle Paul (Paul’s Doctrine of Participation in Christ, How Are We Saved by Grace?)
  • Paul on the Catholic Church (The Church is One, The Church is Holy, The Church is Catholic, The Church is Apostolic)
  • Paul on Justification, Faith, and Works (all sub-chapters)
  • Paul on Baptism and Regeneration (Infant Baptism)
  • Paul on Falling from Grace and Reconciliation (Confession as the Ministry of Reconciliation)
  • Paul on Purgatory And Prayer for the Dead (Post-mortem Purgation, Eternal Punishment and Temporal Punishment, Praying for the Dead)
  • Paul on the Eucharistic Sacrifice (What Does Eucharist Mean?, Eucharistic Sacrifice, The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Christ Our Passover)
  • Paul on the Priesthood (The One Priesthood of Christ: Two Participations, The Sacrament of Holy Orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, Calling Priests “Father”, Spiritual Fatherhood, Paul and Celibacy)
  • Paul on Holy Matrimony as Sacrament (Marriage as an Icon of Christ with the Church)
  • Paul on Human Sexuality
  • Paul on the Communion of Saints (Mystic Sweet Communion, One Body, Many Members, Veneration of the Saints and Relics, What About the Virgin Mary?)
  • The Martyrdom and Death of Paul (The Problem of Pain, Knowing Christ Crucified, Saint Paul’s Martyrdom in Rome)

The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity

“Read this book if you have ever wondered why the Catholic Church specifically claims to be Roman? It would seem that the Church of Jesus Christ would be centered in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jews, since Christ died and rose again in Jerusalem. Catholic theologian Taylor Marshall, Ph.D. provides a layman’s account of how Christ chose the Rome as an instrument of redemption for the nations. Beginning with the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Marshall explains how the Messiah would come and assume reign over the nations through the Roman Empire. This book provides an exciting and popular account establishing Rome as ‘the Eternal City’ of Christ the King.”

  • If Christ was crucified and rose again in Jerusalem, why is the Kingdom of God manifested as the Roman Catholic Church?
  • How does the Bible foretell the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Was Christ truly born on December 25?
  • What is the significance of Christ being crucified on a Roman cross?
  • Was Saint Peter the first Pope of Rome?
  • Has Saint Peter’s body been found underneath the Vatican?
  • How does the Book of Revelation relate to Rome and the Antichrist?

What are the Biblical and theological reasons for the Church being Roman?  Dr. Taylor Marshall explains why the Jewish prophets and apostles expected Christ to vanquish Rome and recast Rome as the Eternal City-the earthly seat for the Vicar of Christ.

Chapters and Sub-Chapters I find interesting:

  • Daniel Foretells the Roman Church (The Four Kingdoms in Detail, The Fourth Beast and the Son of Man)
  • Hanukkah and the Jewish-Roman Alliance
  • The Birth of Christ under Caesar
  • Crucified Under Pontius Pilate
  • Did Peter Establish the Church of Rome? (The Church Infiltrates Rome, The Church Fathers on Peter in Rome)
  • The Tomb of Saint Peter in Rome (The City of the Dead, Did They Find Saint Peter Beneath the High Altar?)
  • The First Five Popes of Rome
  • Rome Destroys Jerusalem
  • Constantine as Caesar Rendered Unto God (Constantine the Great or Not-So-Great?, The Catacombs)
  • City of Man or City of God? (The Fall of Rome, St. Augustine’s The City of God, Jerusalem vs Hierosolym, Is Rome Now Irrelevant?)

 

Is The Prophet a Prophet?-Two Interesting Articles

Recently, I participated in a discussion on a message board about whether The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really led by “living prophets” that function in the same way that the Biblical prophets, that Latter-day Saints tend to compare them to, did.  This topic is always interesting to me, especially because the concept of having “living prophets”, prophets just like Moses, Abraham, Noah, Isaiah, Paul, etc, sounds attractive, and implies a continuity  with the prophetic calling of the various Biblical prophets.  I particularly loved reading the phrase “living oracles”, as the word “oracle” particularly implies that these men are more than just everyday men that receive inspiration from God just like everyone else is able to.

When I would embrace my duties as a “member missionary“, I would almost always bring up the subject of having prophets and apostles, and how these were found in the Bible, and then disappeared, but now, through the Restoration, we have living prophets and apostles that guide God’s people, receiving Divine revelation, just like they did anciently.   I remember one conversation when the person I was talking to asked what the latest revelation was.  I wasn’t sure if I should bring up the issue of the priesthood restriction and how in 1978, the Prophet receive revelation from God to allow all worthy males to be ordained to the priesthood, when previously, blacks were restricted from ordination.  Somehow, being an African American, talking to another African American, it seemed as if bringing that up wouldn’t be conducive to my member missionary work (and indeed, another friend at a later time did his own research, found out about the priesthood restriction, read the various negative and racist statements various leaders made during that time, and was turned off).  So, I thought, and thought, and thought, and wasn’t sure what I should bring up as the latest revelation the Prophet received, that demonstrated his prophetic calling as distinct from the [non-prophet] leaders of other Christian Churches.  I could bring up building more, smaller temples, or the lowering of the missionary ages, or the Family: A Proclamation to the World, yet none of those had a recorded revelation in the same way that we have in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the latter day revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (and even with the priesthood restriction, there is no recorded revelation of the Lord speaking to His prophet, in the same way that we read in the rest of the D&C; there’s only an Official Declaration that says that a revelation was received), and didn’t really seem on par with the Biblical revelations and guidance received by the prophets, nor even on par with the experiences of Joseph Smith, recorded in the D&C.

It was this conversation that really got me thinking about the 15 men we sustained as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, and whether they really functioned as prophets, seers, and revelators, and were on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah, Malachi, Paul, etc, or whether they were no different than the leaders of other Christian Churches.

Rewinding back to the discussion I was having recently online, I happened upon two articles written at Zomarah’s blog, and found them very well written and expressed the viewpoint I came to hold, and a viewpoint that probably many Latter-day Saints have on their living prophets.  Here are links to them:

Thomas S. Monson: A Seer, A Revelator, a Translator, and a Prophet

Silent Revelations

So, I’m sure that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are well meaning men, who believe they are inspired in their duties, just like how most Christians believe they can receive inspiration from God to guide them.  I don’t ascribe any ill-will to them, however I really wonder how the “living prophets” claim is really something that provides something different than what can be found in other Churches, something different that resulted from the Restoration.  I believe I have my answer, hence why I reverted back to the Catholic Church, which believes that, although the Pope and the College/Council of Bishops are certainly guided by the Holy Spirit in guiding the Church, preventing doctrinal error and innovation, teaching God’s children by the Spirit, etc, that the Holy Spirit guides the unfolding understanding of the Deposit of Faith given anciently, and that when they gather in Council, the proceedings and conclusions are Spirit-inspired, we don’t necessarily believe that they are prophets, though God has called various men and women throughout Catholic history to be prophets, and prophetesses, who have received visions and visitations from Heaven, some including warnings and prophecies about the future, including the various popular visitations of Mary, and that many of these prophetic events have resulted in miracles, such as Lourdes Water from a spring in France.  These people had and have demonstrable prophetic encounters and abilities, and really are fascinating to me, especially in comparison to the leaders sustained by Latter-day Saints as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, 15 of them.

Changing the Ordinance?-The Fallacy of the LDS Argument Against the Mode of Baptism

The Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints purports to be the Restoration of the original Church established by Jesus Christ anciently, as we read in the New Testament.  It claims to have the same priesthood authority and organization, as well as the same ordinances (what Catholics refer to as “sacraments” or “mysteries”) necessary for eternal life, including baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination for men, the temple Endowment, and the temple Sealing.  The priesthood of God is necessary to perform these ordinances, and they must be performed in a correct way, with the correct words, matter, etc.  A similar principle is also found in the Catholic Church.

But what happens when we change the words or change how the ordinance is performed?  Latter-day Saints frequently refer to such a thing as an evidence of apostasy.  A popular example of this thinking is on the mode of baptism.  Mormons believe that baptism was originally performed by immersion.  Because the Catholic Church performs baptism by pouring water on the head three times, this is a change in the ordinance, and is a sign of apostasy, an example of man changing the things of God.  LDS further believe that God provided latter day revelation as to immersion being necessary for baptism.  Various LDS prophets and apostles have also taught the importance of not changing the ordinances, as they were instituted in Heaven.  Here are a few relevant quotes:

“Following the deaths of the Savior’s Apostles, the principles of the gospel were corrupted and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread wickedness, the Lord withdrew the authority and keys of the priesthood from the earth.”-http://seminary.lds.org/mastery/basic-doctrines/dispensation-apostasy-and-restoration?lang=eng

“Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.”-Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 308.

Through time and apostasy following Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, however, the divine authority of the priesthood and the sacred ordinances were changed or lost, and the associated covenants were broken. The Lord revealed His displeasure over this situation in these words:

“For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;

“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god.” 8

This situation required a restoration of knowledge pertaining to the importance, significance, and appointed administration of sacred gospel ordinances, both live and vicarious, as well as the divine authority of the priesthood and priesthood keys to administer them.”-Ordinances and Covenants

“The corruption of the necessity of immersion in the form of baptism came fairly early as the 2nd century “Didache” (the so-called “teaching of the twelve apostles”) shows”-http://www.boap.org/LDS/Apostasy.pt2.html

“During the Apostasy, many ordinances were altered or added without proper authority. The church allowed infant baptism and baptism by sprinkling or pouring, instead of by immersion.”-What Happened to Christ’s Church?

“During the Great Apostasy, the pure doctrines and ordinances of Christ’s Church became corrupted.”-Doctrine and Covenants Manual

“The Apostasy (falling away from Jesus’ true church) happened after Jesus Christ was crucified and Peter and the other Apostles were killed. Without living prophets or apostles the Church no longer received revelation. Teachings that were not true were added to the Church and some of the truths Jesus Christ had taught were taken away. The priesthood (the authority to act in God’s name) was lost from the earth. People were baptized by methods such as sprinkling instead of being immersed as Jesus was.”-Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants and Church History

As we see, Latter-day Saints believe that after the Great Apostasy, Christians did not have the pure doctrines of the Gospel, the priesthood authority to perform ordinances, nor were the ordinances, such as baptism, performed the way they originally were.  The Catholic Church performs baptism by pouring, therefore they introduced a change in the ordinance that was not sanctioned by God.

The problem with this argument is that it is not only circular, because it depends on the LDS understanding and latter day revelation from God on the necessity of immersion, but it only condemns the practices of the LDS Church itself.

When a Mormon goes to the temple for their own Endowment, they  first participate in what is known as the Initiatory, or the Washing and Anointing.  In this ordinance, they are symbolically washed and anointed, and are then authorized to wear the garments, or “Mormon underwear”.  Although the covenants of keeping things “sacred” or not divulging something only are related to very specific components of the Endowment ceremony, many LDS refrain from talking about the ordinances at all, outside of very vague references.  Therefore, I will try not to go into too specific in detail.  What I am talking about is readily available if one searches the Internet with a simple Google search.

When I went to the temple for my Endowment and was ready for the Initiatory Washing and Anointing, not too long ago, I sat in a chair, and the temple ordinance worker put some water on my forehead, pronounced blessings on specific body parts (such as my eyes, ears, back, loins, legs/feet, etc).  This blessing was sealed by another worker, then we went into another area, oil was put on my head, and the same blessings were pronounced, then sealed on various body parts.  The Initiatory really was my favorite part of the Endowment, mostly because of a specific reference to ancient Old Testament practices at the beginning of the ordinance, and that we perform those ordinances.  I felt a connection to the tabernacle and OT temple, and felt that because the ordinances are unchangeable, we were doing the same things they did.  This is quite a common understanding, as I’ve gathered from LDS I’ve talked to in real life, and online.

The problem is, if you talk to LDS and ex-LDS that went through the temple ordinances prior to certain dates, you’ll find out that the mode of these ordinances have changed!  There are books written on the topic of the changes of the temple ordinances, such as “The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship” and “The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History”.

Talking specifically about the Initiatory Washing and Anointing, this ordinance has changed in mode more than once in LDS history, most recently in 2005.  In the earlier days of LDS temple worship, patrons would wash their whole bodies, naked, and each body part would be anointed as it was mentioned in the blessing.  In more recent times, prior to 2005, each body part was touched with water and oil as it was mentioned in the blessing.  After 2005, in the Initiatory as I experienced it, only the head is touched with water and oil, and the body parts are only “symbolically” washed and anointed, as mentioned in the ordinance itself.  This change is documented quite well, and a Google search on “LDS Initiatory 2005” will turn up multiple resources.

So as we see, the LDS Washing and Anointing has gone through quite a significant change in mode.  Previously, it involved a full bath and anointing of each body part.  Now, only the top of the head is touched with water and oil, and the rest are washed and anointed symbolically.  This sounds like a change in the mode of the ordinance in the same way that Mormons accuse Catholics of changing the ordinance of baptism.  If the Catholic Church changed the ordinance of baptism, it’s clear that the LDS Church changed the ordinance of the Initiatory.

But how would faithful LDS look at this issue?  In researching the matter of changing the mode of baptism, it seems as if the issue is that it was an “unauthorized” change (that word is even specifically used in some instances), and the changes in the temple ordinances would be assumed to have been authorized.  LDS do not believe that God authorized the change in the mode of baptism.  However, it’s clear that Catholics, who believe that Church leadership has the authority and keys of the Kingdom to bind and loose, certainly could have been, and was, guided and authorized by God to introduce pouring as a valid means of baptism, along with immersion (which is still practiced in Catholicism).  If the LDS Church itself has the power to actually change how an ordinance is being performed, quite dramatically, then I fail to see how the Catholic example would be an example of apostasy, while the LDS changing of the mode of the Initiatory isn’t.  I wonder if there is a revelation somewhere authorizing the LDS leaders to change the Initiatory.

So, whenever I read of a Latter-day Saint referring to pouring baptism as an evidence of apostasy, I immediately think of the symbolic temple washing and anointing as another evidence of apostasy, if we accept their reasoning.  Or, we can simply accept that the ancient Church, like the LDS Church claims for itself, had the authority to allow for pouring as an acceptable form of baptism, and that they had the authority to make such a “change” (or addition, more accurately).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washing_and_anointing

http://www.ldsendowment.org/timeline.html

http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temple_ordinance.htm

http://packham.n4m.org/endow05.htm

http://www.mormonthink.com/temple.htm#initiatories

http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2007/05/love-revised-initiatory-system-in.html (a faithful view on the Initiatory changes, viewing them as “inspired adjustments”, which again, could be an equally valid way to look at the adjustments made to the mode of baptism anciently to also accommodate pouring).