Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Thomas Monson's "Abundant Life"
Thomas Monson’s Message "Living the Abundant Life"
Compared to the Bible by Connie Raddon
“I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life…” President Thomas S. Monson, January 2012 Ensign, pg 4
Quotes from the Ensign in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.
All my own words are black.
One of the monthly sections of the Ensign is the “First Presidency Message”. In the January 2012 issue, this article is written by the president of the LDS Church, Thomas Monson. It is found on page 4-5.
Since it’s the beginning of a new year, Monson challenges the members of his church to take a personal, diligent, and significant quest for the abundant life.
Monson goes on to explain that an abundant life is “a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings.”
The first thing I notice is how vague this is. What exactly does he mean by success? How much goodness counts for an ‘abundance’? What blessings is he talking about?
Well, in Mormon culture, the measure of success, goodness, and blessings is really not that vague. All you have to do is look around and see which members consistently get the more respected assignments (ie, presidents of organizations, bishops, etc). They are the people who are baptized, are Eagle Scouts, are married in the temple, have served missions, appear to be financially stable, have nice, clean homes, and who openly bear their testimony that the LDS Church is true.
There is very rarely any mention of Christ, or their relationship with Him.
It is a horribly sad cycle of failure when your abundance of blessings and success is measured by these external, very visible accomplishments. I personally know many parents who feel like failures as parents because their children haven’t completed these things.
One LDS woman I know couldn’t even bring herself to show up for her own Mother’s Day dinner one year. She left a note for her family explaining that she felt like a failure as a mother. And yet here were all her children and her husband gathered together to spend time with her, and each other. How sad. Imagine the pain she was in – and the message that she sent to her children that day – you aren’t good enough, therefore, I am not good enough.
Now before anyone gets too upset with me, I do recognize that the Bible mentions abundance:
Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
“Verses such as these, IF they were ALL that the Bible said on the subject, one would surely think that God’s plan for believers is to give them all kinds of worldly things. As it is, it is NOT all that the Bible says on the subject. Context is the key to all understanding from any writing, and is especially important when dealing with things of such utter importance as our spiritual lives.” Art Haglund (research partner)
Let us look at these verses, which are almost always and conveniently ‘forgotten’ when this heresy is spoken of:
Luk 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Mat 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Mat 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
Mat 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
We see from these verses that God does not consider the abundant life to be equal to many possessions, or success in a career.
Monson never mentions that the abundant life he refers to is in heaven. From reading his entire article, it is clear that he means success, goodness, and blessings will come in this life.
In the book of Luke, there is a story of a rich man, and a beggar named Lazarus. After they both die, the rich man is in torment and the beggar is in Abraham’s bosom. The rich man asked Abraham why… Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”
The rich man had success, goodness, and blessings while on earth. But that did nothing for his eternal life. Lazarus did not have success and blessings on earth, but he gets comfort in heaven. Now the Bible isn’t necessarily saying that if you have blessings on earth, you won’t go to heaven – I am not saying that. God, of course, can bless anyone with abundance and success. The Bible teaches that our heart should not be placed on the things (success and goodness) of this world, but completely on God.
Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
But Monson is encouraging Mormons to seek after success and goodness – NOT GOD. Not only that, he is telling them to seek after this abundant life with a “personal, diligent, and significant quest”. It sounds a lot like giving your heart, soul, strength and mind to living the abundant life – not loving God.
This is exactly opposite of what the Bible teaches – as we can see in Matthew.
Matt 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Monson continues, “Just as we learned the ABCs in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life… A in my ABCs refers to attitude… B is for believe – in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles…C is for courage.”
Once again, God is not mentioned – in fact Monson himself takes credit for his own ABCs to help gain the abundant life. He is teaching us to rely on our attitude, belief in ourselves, and our own courage. With this approach, any blessing, success, or good thing that comes our way will be credited to us, not God (at least in most people’s minds).
To support his message, Monson includes quotes from William James (an American psychologist and philosopher), Charles Swindoll (an author educator, and Christian pastor), William Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Eighth”, Thomas Fuller (an English churchman and historian who lived in the 17th century), and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He does not ever quote Jesus, or even the scriptures – not even the LDS scriptures!
At one point, he refers to David fighting Goliath, but credits the win to David not to God.
Monson’s final words are, “May we remember these ABCs as we begin our journey into the new year, cultivating a positive attitude, a belief that we can achieve our goals and resolutions, and the courage to face whatever challenges may come our way. Then the abundant life will be ours.”
The teachings in this article are NOT Biblical, and therefore,
NOT consistent with Christian beliefs.
On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge: “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”
I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.
In the January 2012 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.