Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joseph Smith: A Mostly New Bottle

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. (Mark 2:22)

It seems to me that Jesus is explaining in this passage why he didn't use the existing Jewish establishment to spread his message when he came to earth in the meridian of time. Instead, he started with those whom others considered ignorant and unlearned.

Speaking of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Spencer W. Kimball said, "This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn."

President Kimball is obviously seeking to draw our minds back to the Savior and his work by his description of the boy prophet. It is ironic, however, that it was during the tenure of Spencer Kimball as a leader in the church that we learned that his description of Joseph is hyperbolic. It appears that Joseph was very much a product of his environment, soaking up the legends and superstitions of his time. Mark Hofmann with his forgeries, shocked the Mormon world with stories of salamanders and spirits. But his forgeries about Joseph and magic and treasure digging were believable precisely because they fit in with the things that were being unearthed at the time he forged them.

Joseph wasn't, it turns out, an entirely new bottle. Are we wrong then, to draw such images as President Kimball did? We're in company with the Savior when we do so. Jesus himself seemed to describe his followers as new bottles even though they too had soaked up false beliefs about religion and about the coming Messiah. Those sincere ancient apostle, like Joseph in modern times, had things to unlearn. But Kimball is right on the larger point. Joseph was the instrument that the Lord needed to move the work forward, and we're all grateful he was available and fit for the job.


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  • I think newness of bottles is relative. It would be impossible to find some responsibly adult, or near adult, who was a completely new bottle.

    I still believe Joseph was relatively new bottle-wise. But nobody will ever match some impossible standard.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 10/20/2008 8:41 AM  

  • Perhaps "recycled bottle" is better: making new bottles out of old material.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/20/2008 8:46 AM  

  • Here’s a million dollar question – If you were to die right now, would you qualify for the celestial kingdom? If you’re like most Mormons, you’re not sure. You try hard to be as good as possible, but you still don’t know if you’ve done enough. If the Book of Mormon is really scripture, this hope will always elude you. Alma 11:37 says God cannot save you in your sins. Are all of your sins forgiven? Moroni 10:32 says you must be perfected in Christ, which can only be done by denying yourself of “all ungodliness”. Have you done that? Do you repent on a regular basis? If so, then it is clear that you sin on a regular basis, since only those who break the commandments need to repent. 1 Nephi 3:7 states that you are able to keep His commandments. In fact according to D&C 25:15, you are required to keep them continually! Since you haven’t done this so far, why assume you will in the future? Of course, we should all try to be holy; but if you think that sinning less will qualify you to live in God’s presence, you are mistaken (Gal 3:1-11). The assumption that good works are required for forgiveness only cheapens Christ’s atonement, making it nothing more than a partial payment. God chooses to justify us by faith. Jesus alone does the “perfecting” (Heb 10:14). God gives peace to those who trust in Him alone. If you don’t have this peace, it’s probably because at least a part of you trusts in yourself. Questions? Visit us at www.gotforgiveness.com

    By Blogger Theist Think Tank, at 1/02/2009 10:40 PM  

  • Theist Think Tank raises the same tired objection of faith versus works. Mormons think they can work their way to heaven, he tells us. The problem is, the scriptures tell us we will be judged by our works. But that doesn't mean we work ousr way to heaven, does it?

    If someone murders someone, will they inherit heaven? They may gain some sort of salvation, but they won't be sitting on the Lord's right hand throughout the eternities. Nor partake of God's greatest blessings no matter how much they repent.

    The scriptures say we will be judged according to our works, or deeds. Paul therefor writes, "righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life. But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile." (Romans 2)

    Thus, as Robert Millet explains, faith and works are like two blades of a pair of scissors. Which one does the cutting? ✋🏻😎


    By Blogger John Roberts 👀, at 5/14/2020 3:57 PM  

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