Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Answers to Gospel Questions Volume 1

I inherited the Answers to Gospel Questions series by Joseph Fielding Smith from my Grandpa Wanlass. The book is exactly what the title says it is. This book is a compilation of questions people had written to The Improvement Era, along with the author's answers to those questions. Smith answers the questions based almost entirely on the scriptures, with a few clarifying statements from general authorities and scriptural scholars.

I want to highlight a few of my favorite questions and answers from this book.

One person asks about the term, "Son of man" that the Savior often uses in referring to Himself. Smith explains that the Father calls Himself Man of Holiness. When the Savior calls Himself Son of Man (the "Man" should be capitalized in the New Testament), he is referring to Himself as the Son of God.

In another chapter, the author talks about Jesus being our Mediator with the Father. He points out that the truthfulness of Joseph Smith's First Vision can be found entirely in the statement that the Father introduced the Son and then Jesus is the one who spoke with and instructed Joseph. Had Joseph claimed that God the Father answered all his questions, he would have been proven a liar, for since the Fall of Adam it has been Christ who has had interaction with men. This doctrine Joseph could not have known at that time. What a neat insight!

Other interesting questions that are answered have to do with Sabbath Day observance, the Word of Wisdom, and meanings of certain words used in the scriptures. The author also gives historical insights into the land of Egypt and the interactions between the descendants of Cain and Shem.

I am eager to continue reading the series!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Philosophical Basis of Mormonism

The Philosophical Basis of Mormonism is the text of an address by Elder James E. Talmage delivered before the Congress of Religious Philosophies held during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Elder Talmage was selected by the presiding authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to represent them at this event. The Church was honored to have been invited, as they were one of three Christian churches who were invited.

Elder Talmage gives a brief history of the Church's name and nickname (the "Mormon" church) and then spends most of the discourse on the existence of God and our relationship to Him, the Fall of Adam, the need for a Redeemer, the establishment of His church in the meridian of time, the apostasy and falling away from said church, and the restoration thereof in our era. He concludes his discourse by discussing the mission of Christ's church in our day to prepare for the Second Coming.

All thoughts and explanations are straightforward and mostly quoted from the Bible, although latter-day scripture is used sporadically throughout Talmage's discourse. This is a great text for somebody who wants to get a snapshot of the Church and its beliefs.