December 15, 2012

Why Was John the Baptist In the Wilderness? (Advent 3, Year C)

(Homily notes for Advent 3, Year C, 2012 by Rev. John Gishler)

John was the son of a priest and would normally have become a priest in the Temple himself.
  •        We don’t know what happened – but we can speculate 
  •          John did not fit in, probably saw the corruption and hypocrisy
  •          John wanted something more – a real experience of God
  •          Decided to get away from the un-holiness of the Temple
  •          Cleansed himself through self-examination and repentance
  •          Removed his spiritual garbage, Holy Spirit could live in him
  •          Holy Spirit used him to prophecy the Messiah’s coming
  •          Warn people to prepare through the baptism of repentance

 1    1.   John’s message is ‘turn or burn’
·         Coming Messiah will baptize with fire and Holy Spirit
·         God is holy and cannot be around un-holiness
·         God has been described as a consuming fire
·         Those who are not prepared will be burnt up like chaff
·         Gets our attention, motivates us to change our lives
·         We do not want to ‘scare people into the Kingdom’
·         Objective is to start a process of self-examination that leads to repentance, confession and forgiveness

December 4, 2012

Christianity and Mormonism

Mormonism has historically claimed to be an advanced form of Christianity based on new (“latter day”) revelations to modern prophets. The ‘latter day’ revelations of the Book of Mormon have been rejected as false teachings by Christian churches which regard Mormonism as a non-Christian cult. While there is a great variety of teaching between Christian Churches, the bottom line has always been the original Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible as interpreted ‘in all times and in all places by all people. Mormonism is based on a distinctly different revelation and spiritual authority with a different understanding of God, Jesus, forgiveness and eternal spiritual life.

1.     Religious and Spiritual Authority
Christianity recognizes the 66 books of the Bible as the primary source of authority for religious and spiritual teaching. These books were agreed to after vigorous debate in the First and Second Centuries as being reliable and divinely inspired. In the Bible, Jesus (Matthew 7.15; 24.11; 24.24 and Mark 13.22) warns believers of the danger of false prophets to come. Christians are clearly told to wait only for the personal return of Jesus in the End Time (Mt. 2.64; Mk. 14.62; 1 Thess. 5.23; 2 Thess. 2.8; 1 Peter 1.13 and Revelation 22.20.

Mormonism recognizes both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as authoritative teachings, with the later considered more reliable (History of the Church, vol. 4, p.461). The Mormon Articles of Faith also limit Biblical authority to what is “properly translated” – meaning they can (and have) developed incompatible theologies of God, Jesus, Forgiveness and Salvation. It is unlikely that those who claim this ‘mistranslation’ have either seen or would have been able to translate the earliest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible in the Bodleian and Vatican Libraries in Oxford and Rome.