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A Skeptic’s Analysis of “Lesson 6: Jesus Christ’s Church Has Been Restored”

February 4, 2011

This lesson begins by stating that Jesus established a church. But the church had changed, so he took away the priesthood, ending his church.

Catholics believe that Jesus established the Catholic Church which has continued to the present day. But let’s say Jesus somehow put a stop to his church after he died. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and if he wanted the church to exist, why would he have Jesus go through the trouble of organizing a church if it was going to end soon anyway?

The lesson reads, “Explain that a prophet is a person to whom Jesus gives instructions for his Church.”

Actually, a prophet is someone who says he receives revelation from God, but really, he’s just making up stories. But if enough people believe him, they’ll make him their leader.

Prophets aren’t here only to give instructions on how to run the church. Some of the Old Testament prophets were here to kill for God. Elijah was a mass murdering prophet who insulted then killed 450 people who did not share his opinion about the nature of God (1st Kings 18:17-40.)

At Jericho, the prophet Joshua “utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21). Then, just to be sure that everyone was dead, including infants and animals, he “burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein” (verse 24).

The lesson reads, “Help an older child read aloud Amos 3:7 or read it yourself. Explain that ‘revealeth his secret’ means to give his prophet instructions through visions, dreams, or other revelation.

But knowledge comes from observation, testing, and replication, not from visions, dreams, and revelations.

Now the lessons dips into crazy:

“Tell the following story of how Joseph Smith received the priesthood:

“Joseph Smith and his friend Oliver Cowdery learned about baptism while translating the Book of Mormon. They wanted to be baptized into the true Church. They knelt down and prayed to Heavenly Father. Soon a messenger from heaven appeared to them.

“Explain that the messenger was John the Baptist, the same person who baptized Jesus. When he appeared to Joseph and Oliver, he taught them about baptism. He gave them the power to baptize. This power is called the Aaronic Priesthood. Next, John the Baptist told them to baptize each other in the same way he had baptized Jesus. First, Joseph baptized Oliver in a nearby river, and then Oliver baptized Joseph.

“Explain that a few weeks later, three other heavenly messengers appeared to Joseph and Oliver. These men were three of Jesus’ Apostles when he lived on the earth and were named Peter, James, and John. They placed their hands on Joseph’s head and Oliver’s head and gave them the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

First, dead people don’t come back as angels. This is the stuff of story, myth, and legend. Joseph and Oliver just made this up.

Second, priesthood is really not a power. A priest or an elder is just a man whom the stake president has approved to say certain prayers – for baptism, for marriage, or for sick people.

At the end of the lesson, the teacher is to remind the children why they need to get baptized.

“1. To obey Heavenly Father.”

You can’t obey someone that doesn’t exist, and claiming to obey a god means that people cannot be held responsible for their own actions.

“2. To have Jesus’ teachings to guide us.”

There are better guides for behavior, like what is best for people. After all, Jesus tells Christians to commit some heinous acts. Oh, you want examples? Okay, but let’s finish the list first.

“3. To be forgiven for our sins.” Forgiveness is a made-up solution for the made-up problem of sin.

“4. To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Ghosts, including the Holy Ghost, aren’t real.

“5. To return and live with Heavenly Father and Jesus.” When we die, we no longer exist just like before we were born, so in this sense, I guess we do return to live with God and Jesus.

“6. To be a member of God’s kingdom on earth.” This is what baptism is really all about – belonging to a group.

So what are some of the immoral teachings of Jesus?

On family:
Probably the most troubling teaching of Jesus for me personally is in Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Sorry, but there’s no way I’m going to love a 2,000-year-old Palestinian messiah figure more than my own family. In John 2:4, Jesus is rude to his mother. He tells her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” See also Luke 12:52Matt. 10:35 for Jesus’ “family values.”

On slavery:
Jesus acknowledges slavery but does not denounce it in Matt. 10:24 and Matt. 20:26-28.

On honesty:
In John 7:2-14, Jesus is intentionally deceitful.

On self-mutulation:
Jesus encourages self-mutilation: Matt. 18:8Matt. 5:29-30Mark 9:45;

On saying “you fool”
Jesus contradicts himself, saying that anyone who says “Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:22), but then in Matt. 7:26 he says that “every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man.” So is Jesus in hell?

On world peace
Regarding peace, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) and in Luke 12:49, he says, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”

The lesson concludes with the teacher’s “testimony:”

“Express your testimony to the children about why you feel it is a privilege to be a member of Jesus’ true Church. Describe for the children the happiness the Church has brought into your life and your gratitude that you belong to the Church.”

Happiness is a stable personality trait, and research finds people are about equally happy after joining a church as they were before joining the church, and about as happy after leaving a church as they were while in the church. It’s a myth among Mormons that people can only be truly happy as a member of the church.

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