Galatians

If you’re a Latter-day Saint, please read this and consider posting a comment. There are a few questions for you and I’d like to get as many responses as possible. Thanks.

I’m starting a personal in-depth study of the book of Galatians and I have a few observations to make and questions to ask.

I’ve noticed that many Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals employ Galatians 1:6-9 when preaching against or defending themselves from each other. Even if you don’t recognize the zip code, you’re probably familiar with the passage:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

It’s clear to me from our mutual use of this passage against each other that Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals preach different and incompatible gospels—either one of us or the other is correct, or we are both wrong, but we cannot both be right. When considering a passage like this, whether we are LDS or Evangelical, it’s natural for us to assume we’re the ones with the true gospel and they’re the ones with the false gospel. But how many of us simply jump to that conclusion without reading through the rest of the epistle to see if Paul further expounds upon the gospel he advocates? This is the aim of my present study. I want to get to the bottom of this, not to prove my own beliefs, but to better understand the gospel Paul is really trying to preach here.

I’ve read the book of Galatians a couple of times in the last week or two and I’m starting to hit the limits of what I can draw from the text myself, so I’ve decided to consult reputable commentaries and study resources from Evangelical and Latter-day Saint sources.

Evangelical resources

These are the Evangelical commentaries and study resources that have been recommended to me or are within easy reach:

I already own Matthew Henry’s complete commentary and recently purchased the Tyndale commentary and the NavPress study guide. I’ve put in a special order at Christian Gift and Bible for the reformed expository commentary and Luther’s commentary, so I should have those by the end of the week. The ancient Christian commentary looks really good, so I may end up ordering it later.

Latter-day Saint resources

Here are the LDS commentaries and study resources that I’ve found:

I stumbled across a copy of the McConkie commentary at my parents’ house, which was lucky because apparently they don’t own volumes 1 or 3. I may end up ordering my own copy of all three volumes from Amazon, but for now the second volume is all I need. I haven’t purchased any of the others on this list yet, for reasons I will explain below.

The Seminary Student Study Guides and Institute Student Manuals have also been recommended to me, but I was warned to look for the older editions. Apparently, the older editions are more like a verse by verse commentary than the current editions, but are harder to find since they’re out of print.

Observations and questions

My first observation is simply to point out the sheer volume of commentaries and study resources published by Christian sources and the contrasting lack of LDS resources. A quick search for “galatians commentary” on Amazon turns up hundred of publications from various Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant publishers, but the list of LDS resources I’ve given above seems to be the whole of what is available. Another interesting note is that the LDS resources are all study aids for the entire New Testament or large sections of it. An LDS study guide or commentary on the book of Galatians by itself doesn’t seem to exist.1

Surely Latter-day Saints study the Bible, so what am I missing here? Do Latter-day Saints not rely on commentaries and other Bible study resources to the same degree that Evangelicals do? Is this simply a result of the population difference between Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints? Is there some other explanation?2

I mentioned above that I hadn’t yet purchased any of the LDS resources on my list. My chief reason for this is simply not knowing which are reputable and which aren’t, and feeling ill-equipped to make that judgment myself. So, the most important question I have for any Latter-day Saints who have read this (thanks for sticking around this long, by the way) is simply: which of the above resources have you used in your own scripture study? Can you approve or disapprove of any of the above publications? Can you recommend additional resources that aren’t on my list? Okay, that was three questions, but you get the idea. I am grateful in advance for any observations and answers you’re willing to share. End mark


  1. The only books of scripture I can find specific LDS study resources for are Isaiah and Revelation. See for example: Isaiah Made Easier in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, Understanding Isaiah, and Understanding the Book of Revelation
  2. I’m nearly certain this has nothing to do with Latter-day Saints’ preference for their own scriptures over and above the Bible (if there even is such a preference, which is certainly debatable), for there also appears to be a shortage of resources for studying the Book of Mormon and other LDS volumes of scripture. For instance, you cannot find a commentary of the book of 3 Nephi by itself, though this is arguably the most important book in the Book of Mormon. 
  • Plain and simple, it’s the Catholics or Mormons.

    Catholics claim to have a direct lineage from Peter…an unbroken succession of popes.

    The LDS church’s claim is that the teachings and organization found in it are the same as as what Christ set up, because of revelation and personal visitation from Christ to Joseph Smith. All of this happened when the remaining priesthood holders (Peter, Paul, etc.) authorized to receive revelation to call new leaders were killed and there ended revelation and all priesthood authority authorizing man to act in God’s name. No more valid baptism, sacrament, etc.

    I will be so bold to say this, because it’s true: all other Christian sects that came after the Catholics are some kind or form of a reformation. Which means someone made the conscious decision (without the calling from God himself to take such action and any of these groups will never claim that any thing of the sort happened) to say that the group they came from is not correct, but they are going to practice their faith how they perceive it should be practiced. That is of course a generalization, but you get the picture.

    In short, to recap, it’s either the Catholics or the Mormons because all others after the Catholics are reformers; the LDS are a restoration. Man cannot completely reform what came from God, so we know for definite that reformers do not have the entire truth, however this does not mean people that follow a reformed faith are bad, or insincere in their practice in the faith; it simply means there is more in store for them.

  • Steve

    So, Joey, you are requesting additional LDS resources and commentaries. Does that mean you have read all of the books recommended to you last time?

    Let me start by answering your three questions directed to LDS readers:

    1. I have not read any of the commentaries you listed.
    2. N/A.
    3. See below.

    First-hand Sources

    Whenever you study the gospel of Jesus Christ, I will always recommend that you focus on scriptures, official Church publications, and the words of modern prophets, in that order. As you study those source documents (as opposed to second-hand commentaries), ask God to teach you in exactly the same way He taught the original authors. Prophets and apostles are ordinary men, except they are obedient, humble, teachable, and filled with the Spirit. They know God lives, and they would sacrifice everything to follow Him and His Son. God can teach you just like He has taught and teaches them—through the Spirit, without commentaries. (For example: according to his mother, Joseph Smith was not given to much reading—except to reading the Bible. He was more apt to meditate and ponder.)

    Perhaps there are relatively few LDS commentaries on the Bible because Mormons are taught to read, pray about, and ponder the source material. We are taught that we, too, can receive personal revelation. In fact, we are told that the only way to understand the scriptures is via inspiration and revelation, the same way the scriptures were first written.

    Commentaries

    Please don’t misunderstand me. Commentaries, like classroom discussions, can be important, helpful, and interesting. They can enhance our study of the prophets’ words. They provide us with the precious thoughts, insights, and testimonies of others. But if we fail to study the words of the prophets directly, commentaries and classroom discussions alone will not convince us of their validity.

    Maybe you are thinking, “Like I said, I am studying Galatians directly, I’ve read it multiple times, and I would like additional commentary to enhance my study.” If that is your purpose, I commend you, and I recommend reading, pondering, praying about, and critically evaluating any commentary you find on Galatians, whether LDS or mainstream Christian.

    In other words, those on your list look great. I especially like the Seminary and Institute manuals for the New Testament. I also just located gospeldoctrine.com, an interesting site with LDS quotes and commentaries. I’m sure these second-hand resources will enhance your prayerful, thoughtful study.

    Proving the True Gospel

    However, if your purpose in asking for LDS commentaries on Galatians is to see whether they can “prove” Mormonism, I respectfully suggest you do not attempt to prove or disprove the restored gospel via commentaries of Galatians. Instead, focus your study on scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon, for this purpose), official Church publications, and the words of modern prophets. These direct sources, when studied with sincere, thoughtful prayer, prove the gospel restored through Joseph Smith is, in fact, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by Jesus Christ through modern prophets and apostles, is the same Church led by Him through prophets and apostles in the meridian of time. The gospel preached directly to Joseph Smith by Jesus Christ, by Peter, James, and John, by Paul himself, by Moroni, and by numerous other angels from Heaven is the same gospel Paul preached to the Galatians.

    On the other hand, the gospel taught by the Nicene Creed “distort[s] the gospel of Christ.” A gospel that says baptism is not necessary is “a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you.” A gospel that says angels no longer appear to men or that says apostles—once required “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13)—are no longer necessary is “a gospel contrary to the one you received.”

  • Steve

    To study and search the scriptures, official Church publications, and the words of modern prophets, as I have suggested, take a look at “prepare a talk” on lds.org and at scriptures.byu.edu.

  • Joey

    Cody said:

    Plain and simple, it’s the Catholics or Mormons.

    Cody, I very much appreciate your comments here, but I hope you don’t mind if I take a moment to pick on you a bit. I think you’ve made a faulty assumption in saying that Mormonism and Roman Catholicism are the only two organized churches that have any legitimate claim to being the original church of Christ or a restoration of the same.

    First, the Eastern Orthodox church has just as much claim to legitimacy as the Roman Catholic church. Study the Great Schism at any length and you’ll see it’s not exactly clear who broke off from whom, and which of the two has the more legitimate claim to being the original church.

    Second, Islam has just as legitimate a claim to truth as Mormonism. Muslims claim that Muhammad was a prophet and that he even revealed new scripture, namely the Qur’an. They don’t claim to be a restoration of Christianity, but instead a new religion that builds upon and supercedes it, similarly to the way Christianity built upon and superceded Judaism (the Jews, by the way, have a pretty legitimate claim to truth, too).

    Third, there were many other churches in addition to the LDS church that sprang up in the early to mid 1800’s that can all properly be termed restorationist churches, including the Campbellites, Millerites, Adventists, Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Worldwide Church of God. Each of these lays varying degrees of claim to apostolic authority, but they all claim to have restored, in one way or another, the same primitive Christianity the first century apostles preached. Ask adherents to any one of these faiths and they will tell you unabashedly that their church did not break off from any other denomination, but instead started from scratch in the same way Mormonism did.

    Lastly, if you must insist that Joseph Smith is the only one with a legitimate claim to authority, consider that the LDS claim that Brigham Young rightfully succeeded Smith is not without challengers. There are others with convincing succession claims (e.g. Joseph Smith III, James J. Strang, Alpheus Cutler, William Bickerton, and Granville Hedrick). Just because the LDS church headquartered in Salt Lake is the biggest of all the splinters doesn’t mean it’s the most correct (argumentum ad populum).

    All of this hinges on the assumption that visible apostolic succession is necessary for a legitimate claim on gospel truth. Protestants understand apostolic succession more in terms of doctrine and teachings than in a literal passing on of authority, but that is a whole other discussion I’ll save for later. My point is that the situation isn’t as cut and dry as you’ve proposed it is.

    Of course, this is all a bit of a red herring, because the aim of my original post was not to get into a debate over which of all the churches is true. I honestly want to get to the bottom of Paul’s gospel, irrespective of any church(es) that may or may not teach the same.

    Steve said:

    So, Joey, you are requesting additional LDS resources and commentaries. Does that mean you have read all of the books recommended to you last time?

    Ah, no. I honestly didn’t get around to obtaining many of the books recommended. They are all on my Amazon wishlist, though. Who knows if this current study will ever get off the ground either, given that I really ought to be focusing on schoolwork for the next few weeks, anyway (my current semester is coming to a close).

    I also just located gospeldoctrine.com, an interesting site with LDS quotes and commentaries.

    This site looks useful, but without an about page it’s hard to tell anything about the guy who compiled it. I suppose it doesn’t matter who compiled it—the information seems legitimate enough since it’s all direct quotes from LDS General Authorities.

    However, if your purpose in asking for LDS commentaries on Galatians is to see whether they can “prove” Mormonism, I respectfully suggest you do not attempt to prove or disprove the restored gospel via commentaries of Galatians.

    As I mentioned in my original post and again to Cody above, my ultimate goal is to simply understand Paul’s gospel better, not to prove or disprove anything about Evangelicalism or Mormonism. However, I think knowing something about Paul’s gospel will help me discern whether Evangelicals or Latter-day Saints (or neither) are teaching the same gospel as Paul, and whether either of them has a more legitimate claim that the other is preaching “another gospel”.

    …take a look at “prepare a talk” on lds.org and at scriptures.byu.edu.

    No offense, but the “prepare a talk” page seems quite useless to me. They’ve simply provided links to things I already know how to find on my own, and there seems to be nothing there concerning my present study (the New Testament link given simply takes you straight to the LDS scriptures website), but perhaps I’m not looking in the right place. I’d appreciate pointers as to how to effectively use that page in my Galatians study.

    However, BYU’s LDS General Conference Scriptural Index (scriptures.byu.edu) is a gold mine. You say you’ve pointed it out to me before, and I vaguely remember knowing that something like this existed, but I have a horrible memory so I’m very glad you’ve pointed me to it again. Being able to quickly find every mention in General Conference of Galatians 1:6-9, for instance, is phenomenal. This is perhaps the best kind of LDS scripture commentary one could ask for. One thing worth pointing out is how many verses and passages have never been mentioned from the Conference pulpit. Most of Galatians 4, for instance, has never been mentioned, even though I think there’s some pretty good stuff in there. Also, I’m enlightened (though in some ways not surprised) to find that Galatians 6:7 is the most frequently cited verse in Galatians, making up roughly 20% of all citations from Galatians (but I counted quickly and did the math in my head, so don’t trust every statistic you read).

    Okay, as I’m rereading this I’m sorry to realize that I’ve used the words “legitimate” and “claim” way too many times. Pointing it out and saying I’m sorry is easier that going back through it with a thesaurus, though, so this is what you get.

  • Joey

    I had meant to reply to something else Steve said, but forgot to do so before finishing my last comment:

    On the other hand, the gospel taught by the Nicene Creed “distort[s] the gospel of Christ.”

    To be sure we’re talking about the same thing, here’s the complete text of the Nicene Creed as it was revised at the First Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381:

    I believe in one God, the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of Gods, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.

    And in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    Which part or parts of this creed specifically distort the gospel, as you claim?

  • Keith

    I find it interesting that you are focused on Galatians 1:6-9. I find those verses rather mundane and straight forward. It just sounds like some in the churches of Galatia were getting a little off the mark and he wanted them to again partake of the grace of Jesus Christ. I find the next three verses to be much more enlightening for they tell us how Paul received the gospel. I think we could all learn from it:

    (New Testament | Galatians 1:10 – 12)
    10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
    11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
    12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    I have recently been re-reading Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and he quoted a Far Eastern philosophy: “Seek not to imitate the masters, rather seek what they sought.” Paul didn’t seek the gospel via commentaries; he received it by revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Almost two years ago my ninety year old Mother was put on home hospice care by her doctor who could tell she needed special care. My main concern at the time was that she would not suffer needlessly (physically or mentally). She knew she was dying and I could sense her pain and discomfort and I yearned for her comfort and/or release from her pain. I took a long walk up into the hills west of Fairview (her hometown) and sought the advice of my Heavenly Father as to what I might do to help her in her time of need. As I knelt in a large forest of cedar trees and plead with the Lord He gave me the assurance that her time would be short and that she would not suffer much longer. I was also given words to share with her for her comfort. We had some precious and sacred conversations during her last two weeks of life. I also prayed that she might find peace with a son (my half brother, Charles) who had not spoken to her for over ten years. Within a few days Charles came and they had a wonderful visit. She passed away peacefully a few days later.

    I suppose I could have sought for my answers from a book or by asking the Bishop or the hospice nurse, and there would be nothing wrong with that, but, oh, how grateful I am that I can approach God in prayer and receive direct insights. This has more value to me than all the books or human knowledge in the world.

    So, if I am in any position to give any advice here, I wouldn’t recommend trying to understand Paul’s gospel via commentaries or even other knowledgeable people. Those things can only present cases for your brain to ponder and consider (not a bad thing, they just can’t give one a true understanding in one’s heart). I would recommend that you seek what Paul sought, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation of Jesus Christ. Only then can one certify, as Paul did so powerfully, that your understanding is not after man (commentaries), but wrought deep in your heart by the Holy Spirit (revelation).

  • Mormons don’t write as many commentaries because we have so much to read that’s written from a more enlightened point of view. My point is that other groups, in their quest for truth, can only rely on glorified philosophy debates mingled with scripture. While Mormons can do that, they more see those debates as icing on the cake, as working backwards from the punchline, which punchline is given to them by revelation. (cf. current reports that close to 50% of non-LDS clergy—presumably the same who write those commentaries—don’t believe in God. Divinity and Theology programs in any college or religion have become ReligioPhilosophy, and that’s it.) So Mormons have fun studying this stuff, but they have too many infallible revelations to worry themselves with the secondary and tertiary commentaries by academicians who are no more spiritual than the reader. For those Mormons who want to play that direction, there are tons of books by FARMS and FAIR and all the other groups. I took tons of those classes when I was at BYU, studying the same commentaries every other Christian group uses. Mormons just don’t see those books as a path to happiness—rather as a fun hobby.

  • Joey

    Keith said:

    I wouldn’t recommend trying to understand Paul’s gospel via commentaries or even other knowledgeable people. Those things can only present cases for your brain to ponder and consider (not a bad thing, they just can’t give one a true understanding in one’s heart). I would recommend that you seek what Paul sought, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Dad, I appreciate the story you told about Grandma and your thoughts on my present study in general. I agree that seeking guidance and, indeed, personal revelation from the Holy Spirit is vital to understanding any subject, especially the gospel of Jesus Christ. In so saying, I affirm what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. I also appreciate what Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:9-14, especially verse 12:

    My son, beware of anything beyond these [the collected sayings, or scriptures]. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

    Because of passages like these, I believe our highest and best source of information is the scriptures as interpreted by the Holy Spirit. I don’t place the Holy Spirit above or below scripture in priority, because I don’t think you can divorce one from the other. They always go together.

    However, I don’t think God intends us to lock ourselves in our closets when we study the scriptures. I have at least as high a view of collective revelation by the entire body of Christ as I do of individual personal revelation. One reason for this is that individual revelation is such a subjective thing. Ten people who lock themselves in their closet to study the same verse can come out with twelve different interpretations, and they may each be convinced in their minds they were led to that interpretation by the Spirit. If they instead discuss the passage together out in the open, they’ll be able to rule out several of those interpretations and come to a much more reasonable view of the passage. This doesn’t mean they are relying on worldly wisdom to reach those conclusions—it simply means they recognize that some have spiritual gifts others don’t have, and they need to rely on one another as they are each led by the Spirit.

    For this reason, I don’t hesitate to consult commentaries and the teachings of the great Christian teachers who have gone before. This doesn’t mean I take everything they say at face value. I pray and rely on the Holy Spirit to help me discern truth from error and I carefully compare what they’ve said back to the original passage and the rest of scripture to be sure they haven’t wrested the meaning of it.

    The bottom line is, as I mentioned in the original post, I have read the book of Galatians a couple times and feel I’ve reached the limits of what I can gain from it by myself. I’ve been praying for guidance as I’ve read it and I do feel I’ve learned a lot and have come to some conclusions with the aid of the Spirit. Now I’m seeking other opinions to see if they match mine or not. As you have pointed out, Paul indeed “received [the gospel] through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12) and “did not immediately consult with anyone” (Gal. 1:16), but in due time even he felt the need to consult with other men “to make sure [he] was not running or had not run in vain” (Gal. 2:2). That’s my chief aim here—nothing more, nothing less.

    Colin Jensen said:

    Mormons don’t write as many commentaries because we have so much to read that’s written from a more enlightened point of view.

    Colin, I appreciate the comments you’ve left. Along with other commenters, you’ve confirmed my hunch that Latter-day Saints simply don’t place a high value on verse-by-verse commentary because they claim to have the words of living prophets to aid them in their study.

    Cf. current reports that close to 50% of non-LDS clergy—presumably the same who write those commentaries—don’t believe in God. Divinity and Theology programs in any college or religion have become ReligioPhilosophy, and that’s it.

    I don’t doubt that many Bible commentaries have indeed been written by uninspired, non-Christian authors. However, I think I’ve been careful in compiling a list of commentaries that come from upstanding Spirit-filled Christians. I’d love to know where you got your statistic that 50% of non-Mormon clergy don’t believe in God. Can you provide a citation, please?

    For those Mormons who want to play that direction, there are tons of books by FARMS and FAIR and all the other groups. I took tons of those classes when I was at BYU, studying the same commentaries every other Christian group uses.

    Can you name a commentary from FARMS and FAIR on the book of Galatians (or even the whole NT), or were you just speaking of ReligioPhilosophy books in general? Can you remember the specific commentaries that were used in your religion classes at BYU?

    Again, thanks for your comments, Colin. I hope my questions here are not in any way taken as criticism or disrespect. I’m just looking for some clarification and substantiation of your claims.

  • I’d love to know where you got your statistic that 50% of non-Mormon clergy don’t believe in God. Can you provide a citation, please?

    I’ll try to find it, but I hear it cited occasionally. My mother has a Master’s thesis someone wrote where they surveyed clergy in her county asking their views on God. Same thing. The results there—and I’ll get it next time I’m in California—show that more than 50% don’t believe “in God as their church teaches it.” And close to 50% don’t believe in God at all. In fact, I have somewhere near my feet a copy of Career-something for Dummies (the one by Marty Nemko); and he says the same thing. He says basically “Surprisingly, as I look into different careers, what I considered the main requirement of becoming a minister is in fact not a requirement at all. The clergy I have interviewed have told me that many don’t believe in God at all, but that they’re interested in using religion as a metaphor for helping people with their problems.” Anyway, I’ll try to find the source.

    Ditto with what I used in class. No verse by verse commentary, but many standard books of early Christian history and such. Rodney Stark has been quoted in Conference as much as most any non-LDS author.

  • Steve

    Joey asked:

    Which part or parts of this creed specifically distort the gospel, as you claim?

    I meant The Athanasian Creed. My mistake. The Athanasian Creed reads more like Greek philosophy than revelation from God. It confuses any reader (and, of course, God loves his children to be confused about his nature; Jesus was constantly confusing us when he would pray to himself and then call himself “My Father”). If an angel from heaven should preach to you this gospel (of the Athanasian Creed), I say, let him be accursed!

    The angels and visions given to the prophet Joseph Smith make clear that God is, as he claims to be, our Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ is, as he claims to be, God’s Son! Like Stephen, who saw “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56), Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son in bodily form and understood that we truly have been created “in the image of God.”

    In my reading of the Doctrine and Covenants today, I read a segment that sounded remarkably similar to a “creed,” dictated to Joseph Smith by Jesus Christ, himself. Check out D&C 20:17–28. I then realized that much of the D&C contains such “creeds”; the “Doctrine” found in the D&C represents God’s attempt to confound with direct revelation the “abominable” creeds delivered to us by philosophers and so-called scholars during the apostasy.

    Finally, I listened yesterday to Joseph Smith in a Personal World, a speech Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave in Washington DC at a national event commemorating the 200th birthday of Joseph Smith. In the speech, Elder Oaks directly addresses this issue of Mormons and gospel commentary for a few minutes. Using his law background, he also examines several legal charges against Joseph Smith. The mp3 file is long, but interesting. I recommend skipping forward 14 minutes to the beginning of Elder Oaks’ comments.

  • Joey

    Steve said:

    I meant The Athanasian Creed. My mistake. The Athanasian Creed reads more like Greek philosophy than revelation from God. It confuses any reader.

    Well, at least you’re in good company getting your creeds mixed up. I don’t have an exact quote, but Gordon B. Hinckley said this weekend (in the Sunday morning session of Conference) that he has trouble understanding the Nicene Creed. I’m 90% certain he meant to say the Athanasian Creed. I’ve noticed Latter-day Saints confuse the two creeds quite often (I know I used to—the first time I actually read the Nicene Creed I was surprised to find how clear and simple it is), but it surprises me that Hinckley would do so. If he really meant to say the Nicene Creed, I’d love to pick his brain on exactly what he finds so confusing about it.

    As for the Athanasian Creed, I’ll agree without reservation that it’s quite confusing. However, I’ve never heard it referred to by anyone at my church or the Christian bookstore I work for. In fact, according to Wikipedia’s Athanasian Creed article, “Today the Athanasian Creed is rarely used even in the Western Church.”

    To write off Evangelicalism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy out of hand because you are confused by a creed that goes largely unused and ignored in our common worship practices, teaching, writing, and conversation is akin to Evangelicals writing off Mormonism because of some obscure teaching of Brigham Young that contemporary Latter-day Saints for the most part ignore—which many Evangelicals do! I’m not condoning this behavior, but simply making the comparison so you’ll agree with me that it’s unkind and skirts around the real issues. If I took the time, I’m sure I could write up a solid defense of the Athanasian Creed, just like you could probably defend all the obscure things Brigham Young said, but in the end where would it get us? Is it really conducive to positive discussion?

  • Mormonhippie

    I found this site as I was studying for a relief society lesson.

    I just wanted to state that typically I’m not fond of “gospel commentaries”. Whenever I read or listen I have a hard time differentiating the commentators opinion from the scriptural interpretation (which is often subjective anyway).

    I’ve always taken Galatians 1:6-9 to refer to people who present their own opinions as gospel. (Which has contributed to my general skepticism of gospel commentaries)

    That said, after reading Galatians I do have several questions about what happened to Paul while he was in Galatia; the culture of the people of that time, and how it contributed to their ‘falling away’, but I rarely get those kinds of answers from commentaries anyway.