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Miscellaneous Myths about Church 'Doctrine' Vol 2

from memoirsofaliontamer.com

'Christ was the only Perfect Person who ever lived/He didn't have any weakness'

Reading this at face value might sound really blasphemous to some, but it is a belief that largely stems out of our culture and misreading the scriptures with our western eyes. The scriptures are remarkably consistent in their use of the word perfect in reference to Christ. The first time it occurs is when Christ refers to himself as perfect in 3 Nephi 12:48. The average student of the scriptures ought to readily notice the verbiage change in that scripture compared to its earlier counterpart in Matthew 5:48 where Christ does not refer to himself as perfect. 

Other strong evidence occurs in D&C 93:11-20. It is my opinion that these verses strongly suggest that Christ was incomplete during his mortal ministry. Why or How else would he be able to receive 'grace for grace' unless that was the case? This is also consistent with the greek for the word perfect ('τέλειος') which anciently meant one had been run through all the mystic rites of a religion. 

Other verses get pretty explicit, like 2 Corinthians 13:4 wherein we are told Christ had weakness and overcame it so we could overcome ours.

I have written much more on this topic here. The point is that our modern vernacular causes us to severely miss some of the more plain and precious parts of scripture. It is true that Christ was an infinite sacrifice who was even sinless, but this does not negate the fact that he had imperfections and suffered from weakness, the same way we do.

'God's Love is unconditional'

This also might sound blasphemous to some, but it is another product of us casting our western minds over what the ancients understood. Again, the scriptures paint a very different picture. A growing popular Ensign article from February of 2003 by Elder Nelson says the following:
"While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us—and certain divine blessings stemming from that love—are conditional." (1)
 A host of scriptures confirm this point. A list is provided here for brevity's sake: John 15:10, D&C 95:12, John 14:21-23, Proverbs 8:17, and 1 Nephi 17:40. It is axiomatic to understand that God the Father and the Savior have a strong and infinite love for all mankind (see John 3:16), but more mature gospel students will see that the Love that is discussed in about 95% of scripture is that love which is conditional. It is that love that is the gift of Charity. Read more about that here.

'I am a Child of God'

This is absolutely a true doctrine, but the myth comes in with the way we emphasize that truth compared to what the scriptures are trying to say. Elder McConkie puts it very succinctly:
"We are well aware that all men are the children of God, the offspring of the Father, his sons and his daughters. We know that we were all born in his courts as spirit beings, long before the foundations of this earth were laid, and that the Lord Jehovah was in fact the Firstborn Son. What is not so well known is that nearly all the passages of scripture, both ancient and modern, which speak of God as our Father and of men on earth being the sons of God, have no reference to our birth in preexistence as the children of Elohim, but teach rather that Jehovah is our Father and we are his children." ("The Promised Messiah", pgs. 351-352)
Understanding this can help us navigate so many confusing scriptures (i.e. Mosiah chapter 15) and can get us on a path to more fully understand what the scriptures mean by "the mystery of Godliness" and how the "the power of Godliness" is made manifest in the ordinances. It can also transform our worship of the Savior from just being our 'Elder Brother' to him being our literal Father and God. As we partake of His Atonement we are born again through Him.

'We can have Christ in our Heart'

Joseph Smith condemns this idea himself in D&C 130:3.
"John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false."
 Alma does teach us in the Book of Mormon that we are to come to have Christ's image in our countenances, but this is a far cry from adopting language created to make sense of various Christian Creeds. Many might have very good intentions when they think this way, but some humility can go a long way to refine our language so it more accurately reflects eternal realities. This can give us more confidence and power as we seek to approach the Lord and declare the Gospel message.

'We can develop Christ-like attributes'

The myth here might be splitting hairs, but I am a huge proponent of scriptural consistency in our language and understanding. A quick concordance search of the scriptures for the word 'develop' yields the following result:

I much prefer the word 'cultivate' in reference to Christ-like attributes/spiritual gifts because it puts everything in its proper context. We do what we can to act more Christlike (like getting the field ready to plant seeds) and then Christ-like attributes come in as a gift and an endowment, ALWAYS. The use of the word develop, I feel, causes many to miss the plainness of the scriptures when they speak about how gifts come. It waters down gospel living to being about habit instead of a mighty change of heart or an endowment of the divine nature.


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