Top Seven Most Surprising Biblical Scriptures
(November 6th, 2013)
First, let me say that members of my faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, a.k.a. the 'Mormons') DO believe in and revere the Bible, but we also hold in special honor the books of scripture given in our dispensation (The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price), most especially the Book of Mormon. Because we have more scripture, it is easy for us to assume that the particular things that set our religious practice apart from the "Protestant" and "Catholic" Christian religions is found solely in these extra-Biblical scriptures. What I have found in my study of the Bible over the years, however, is that many of them are found in the Bible with a surprising level of clarity for something the other Christian faiths ignore or refuse. So, here they are, my personal top seven most surprising Biblical scriptures, and why I find them surprising.
#7: (Speaking of the Priesthood) "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Hebrews 5:4)
And how was Aaron called to the Priesthood? Did he wake up one morning having a "conviction in his heart"? Did he attend a religious college and get a degree? Did he take upon himself the name of some "Saint" who died a long time ago? No, Exodus chapter 28 tells us that he was chosen through revelation by God himself (v1), special garments/clothes were made for him (v2), he was anointed (v41), and consecrated/sanctified by Moses (v41), a prophet of God (see Deuteronomy 34:10). Hm, there's a quite a difference there between most who claim to have the priesthood and the Biblical explanation of how one acquires said priesthood.
#6: (Speaking of the Messiah) "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalms 110:4)
So often, I hear members of other faiths express confusion that there are two priesthood divisions in my Church. They frequently reply that there is only one priesthood in their church. This passage shows that there is some kind of distinction between being of the Priesthood of Aaron (which Jesus couldn't have by birth because he wasn't of the tribe of Levi - he was of the tribe of Judah, the same tribe as David) and the Priesthood "after the order of Melchizedek". If not, why make this statement at all?
#5: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
I often hear those of other faiths say that God and/or Jesus are "unknowable", insinuating that we should not even try to understand them because they cannot be understood. In fact, the Athenasian Creed (embraced by most of Christendom) specifically declares that God is "incomprehensible", and, if such were actually true, then those who embrace such a teaching would have to be saying either that they can never have eternal life or that the words of the Bible are not truthful.
#4: (Just after the story of the "Seven Days" of Creation) "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" (Genesis 2:4)
With all the convoluted ridiculousness that's found in all that "the Earth was made in 7 days of 24-hours each" nonsense (because people apparently never read past the first chapter of Genesis), with its accompanying anti-evolution idiocy, I had always assumed that the Biblical creation story was pretty clear on that point. Eventually, I decided to read over the story and nearby passages more carefully and found this. "Generations of the heavens and the earth", huh? Hmm, I wonder what talks about "generations"... let me think... *cough* Darwin *cough*. And the Earth was created in seven days, was it? Well, this passage, found in the same Bible as the "seven days" account, says it one took one day. If 'day' is NOT a figurative Hebrew expression for an indefinite amount of time with a unified purpose, then how could one reconcile these two accounts of Creation? The way I see it, either the word 'day' is figurative for a longer length of time or the supposedly infallible Bible contradicts itself. Take your pick.
#3: (Speaking of the prophet Jeremiah) "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
I can't count the number of times people of other faiths have expressed confusion or rejection when I mention the concept of a pre-mortal life, that we lived with God before coming to this Earth. So, how do they think that God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the belly? How can you know something that doesn't yet exist? How could he ordain someone who didn't yet exist? This seems like one of those, "Oh, yeah, duh!" moments... but it's also, so far as I know, still unique to the 'Mormons'.
#2: "I knew a man in Christ ... such an one caught up to the third heaven." (2 Corinthians 12:2)
I actually had a friend when I was young whose mother tried to forbid him talking to be about religion because of this concept. I had explained to him that there were three Degrees of Glory, or "Heavens", but his mother was livid. She told me, almost in the same breath, that she believed in the Bible and that there was only one Heaven. I'm not sure what Bible she was reading (though I suspect it's the "cherry-picked pieces of the Bible our preacher has taught us" version), because this verse should make it abundantly clear that, in the original Christian Church (you know, the one actually set up by Jesus the Christ), they believed in more than one Heaven. If not, why would the apostle Paul talk about a 'Third Heaven'?
#1: (Speaking to those who were arguing about whether or not there would be a resurrection of the dead) "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Corinthians 15:29)
This makes it obvious that the early Christian Church practiced Baptism for the Dead. The practice makes perfect sense. If you believe baptism is essential for salvation (John 3:5), and that God is just and does not respect one person over another (Romans 2:11), then, since not all people have had the chance to be baptized, justice dictates that there must be a way to save them by baptism, too, even if they're dead. "If not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons" (Moroni 8:12). Nevertheless, I'm pretty we 'Mormons' are currently alone in the practice of Baptism for the Dead.
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