In a church meeting last evening, the speaker told about a conversation he had with a minister of another church. They were traveling by plane to the East coast, and had several hours to talk before their plane landed. This speaker told about some of the gospel doctrine they discussed during their flight.
I was struck by one particular part of their conversation. This speaker said that the minister asked him if he believed in the "Trinity". He said, "Well, I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I believe they are three distinct personages. Does that qualify me to believe in the "Trinity"?" The Minister explained that he believed that those three were one being. As they talked, our church member said something like, "Well now, you must admit that the doctrine of three in one is not supported by the New Testament." The Minister said, "That is true, but it is a teaching set forth in the Nicene creed, and it is accepted doctrine in the Christian world today. It is the accepted interpretation of the scriptures."
I have thought a lot about this statement in the hours that followed the meeting. My mind was taken back to the account of Joseph Smith's first vision. Joseph Smith, a mere 14 year old boy, went to a grove of trees to pray and ask God which church he should join. In response to his prayer, God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Joseph was told that he should join none of the churches. In his account of this experience Joseph related, "My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:18,19)
This passage has come to me many times over the past hours, and it has struck me that so many churches base their beliefs upon those creeds set forth in years past. Those creeds were made by mortal men, who discussed the Bible, and then came up with their interpretations of it. In ancient Bible times, men would have turned to the prophet for these kinds of interpretations. The Prophet would have, in turn, prayed to God for understanding and revelation. But we don't usually see prophets in the world today. Instead, much of the Christian world relies upon the opinion of those men, as well as that of the ancient philosophers. Most clergy who study theology in college today must study the writings of philosophers in order to be accepted in to the ministry. But as Joseph Smith learned, these are the "precepts of men", having a "form of godliness", but they deny the power thereof.
How could these creeds deny the power of God? I think one of the basic ways they deny the power of God is that these creeds do not allow for modern revelation. They do not allow for living prophets. Surely, these are ways that the power of God is manifest in modern times. To deny the existence of revelation, and the validity of it, is to deny God's power.
They say that revelation no longer exists. They say that there is no more need for prophets. They believe that there is no more need for apostles. But this is not the doctrine taught in the New Testament. In Ephesians chapter two we read, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:19,20) The New Testament clearly speaks about the need for a foundation in the church built upon apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, but when we in our church teach that we have those apostles and prophets, and that Jesus Christ leads this church, they tell us that these things no longer exist in the world.
Joseph Smith died as a martyr for his testimony. He testified to the world that he indeed had spoken with God. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. He sealed that testimony with his blood. He never became rich from his preaching. He suffered persecution continually. He was tarred and feathered, and he and his family were driven from their homes. Many times he was unlawfully arrested and imprisoned. Through him the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth in fulfillment of the prophecies of old. In Acts we read about that restoration of the gospel:
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts: 3:20,21) This scripture is telling us that Jesus Christ was received back in to heaven until the time of the restitution of all things. What would need to be restored? Joseph Smith testified that the fulness of the gospel needed to be restored, and it was through him, a prophet of God, that this was accomplished. The time when the gospel would be restored in it's fulness was referred to in the Bible as the "dispensation of the fulness of times". "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" (Eph. 1:10)
We are blessed to live in that fullness of times. The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. Truths that were omitted from the Bible during it's translation, and doctrine which was misunderstood when forming creeds, have been restored today. There is a living prophet, with twelve apostles to assist him guiding the church in these latter days. Jesus Christ is leading this church, and is that chief cornerstone. The church continues to grow, and will do so until it fills the earth. We need not rely on the philosphies of men, but can learn truth from a living prophet of God.