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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

Color Key:
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.


  1. It is really sad that you have to attack a practical teaching that inspires and uplifts many people and make it something that is not by establishing your false straw man argument. If you truly had read President Monson's message, you would find that it is very relevant and practical, especially in today's society where people need such inspiring words. The true failure is your grasp of the practical and reality. The real failure is the hardness of your own heart against the simplistic truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    While I do not prescribe to the notion of the prosperity gospel, there is abundant evidence in the Bible that we are to live lives that are meaningful, blessed, and exemplify the Savior.

    The callousness of your message here in an attempt to destroy the message is because of your own personal angst against the Church and for what it stands for. That is your choice, and that is your belief. However, the greatest travesty is how much further from the truth you really are.

    Ever seen an addict fully recover and strive to live a more blessed and abundant life? I have. Have you ever seen someone who has prayed and struggled and kept their faith and received blessings upon blessings as they feasted upon the words of Christ and walked in obedience? There are countless of stories, both within and without the LDS Church. Therefore, not only do you chastise and condemn the Church for believing this, but you have also thrown all other sincere Christians under the bus by telling them - "Stop looking for blessings in this life because you are not meant to be happy and successful just hold on and you will be blessed in the hereafter". I am thankful for the Gospel in my life and truly can say that I live an abundant and successful life, because I live unto my Savior and follow the teachings of my Heavenly Father.

  2. Here is my response to your article.

  3. Arthur Adam HaglundJanuary 19, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Funny how the term 'straw man' is thrown out so often, yet nothing of substance or doctrine is dealt with by the LDS, self-apointed apologists.
    It is funny that they are unable, not undesireous, but actually not capable, of defending their false faith!

    LDS standard works contradict each other, Jo Smith Jr openly lied, openly committed adultery, all contrary to the BoM, yet is still called blessed and apologists lie and twist their way into ANY explanation (except the truth, of course), that can allow themselves to continue on their way to destruction.
    False prophecies that do not have a clause in them? No problem, just claim they are not prophecies, because the words, "I prophesy" are not included.
    Lies? No problem. You just don't understand, or it was not correctly quoted, or it is a fabrication.
    Joe Smith originally said the Angel was not Moroni, butNephi. No problem, we will just correct it all and never admit to having done so.
    Plural marriages? BoM calls it abomination, D&C calls it a blessing from God
    Eternal Progression? BoM says God always was God, King Follett discourse (and current official LDS doctrine) state God was NOT always God, but BECAME a god.
    Apologists just twist in the wind until some other, self-appointed apologist makes up a new lie to explain away, always with explanations that are NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances, sanctioned AS correct!
    A Temple without priests, Levitical priests. A hebrew people called away from the Promised land?
    And ALL of the BoM is contained in several published and non-published works all available to Joe Smith Jr and company.
    In a court of law, the LDS religion would be convicted as a fraud, as it is provably one!

    1. At which none of what you stated has any bearing or relevance to the discussion. Funny how Anti-Mormons and Apostates throw in a Red Herring Fallacy to steer the conversation away from its original intents and purposes.

    2. You antis are funny. You give a laundry list of complaints about the LDS Church and I doubt you have read anything other than short comments by others. You have not even taken God at His word and tried to find out wgat is true.

  4. I think you are being too critical.

    Monson's article is not a doctrinal discourse on John 10:10 it simply uses a biblical phrase to express a message for the new year when many people make resolutions.

    First Presidency Messages are often brief and are not comprehensive in doctrine or scope. Once small article in the Ensign does not begin to cover all that has been said on this topic.

    Even if you do not agree with Mormon doctrine it seems your are missing some common sense advice few would disagree with.

    Some of your stories such as the mother who missed mother's day, even if true, may not be widely representative. Besides every religion can claim a negative example or two.

    You indicated that blue were Ensign quotes. Only three offending ideas and one with significant editing on your part.

    If this is the most you have to complain about I don't know why you took the time?

  5. All I can say is "Thank God I am a born-again Christian - in every sense of the word." Mormonism is toxic - I've been there, I know.

    1. So is Anti-Mormon cynicism and criticism. I too been there and it is not a Christlike Spirit, but a Spiritual deception and bondage that one becomes addicted too because of pride admitting that one may actually be wrong.

  6. I too recently perused the LDS website and read Monson's message about living the abundant life. He sounds more like a self-help guru (Covey type) than a supposed prophet of God. Not once does he talk about Christ in his "ABC's".

    If anything, his ABC's should stand for "Always Believe in Christ"... but, no, that would be too simple a message for his audience. Is it any wonder why I recently left the LDS church. They just don't get it.

    I believe Monson is, in a very subtle way, setting a tone for 2012 that plays into the public image of Romney. A message like this can only help Romney in the eyes of most of middle-of-the-political-road America. In other words, it's not unlike a message you might hear from the philosophy of Oprah.

  7. The president of a huge church with "Jesus Christ" in the name should literally gush with gratitude to the King who died for his sin -- and do so every chance he got. That kind of mind-set leads to encouragement in humility and holiness before God. Any church leader focused on teaching self-effort for "success" is not reading his/her Bible, and is leading the church astray.