I was in Manti last night to see the doings. A few things were immediately noticeable:
1. The LDS crowd was pretty small. It may have been a normal size crowd for a Thursday, but there were 5,000 or less folks there, based on the large number of empty chairs.
2. The anti's are about as they always are: Not all that informed.
2.A. I saw Aaron S., the fanatically reformed faith "missionary" who advocates God as the ultimate narcissist, and his attack on people in the LDS Church who speculate God may have been a man who actually sinned when he was a man is laughable. As anyone knows who actually, carefully reads the King Follett Discourse, which is the only document we have by a president of the Church supposedly under inspiration (I say supposedly not because I doubt it is inspired, but because it is not accepted as scripture, so the degree of inspiration is what is in question.), Joseph says the Father lived on a planet and lived a sinless life which Jesus Christ modeled his own life after.
"The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power-to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious-in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. " Joseph Smith, TotPJS
Seems pretty clear to me.
My favorite Aaron S. line was the following: "God is so great, even he cannot praise himself more than he is deserving to be praised." Well, at least we have established there are things even the Reformed God cannot do. I love this line of reasoning. It completely ignores that god cannot force our obedience.
2b. I was trying to get Aaron S. to respond to Rev. 1:6's statement in the King James Version which reads: Jesus has "made us kings and priests unto god and his father." So does god have a Father? According to this verse he does. So while I am trying to get Aaron S. to respond, a woman walks up to me and says "I can answer that question for you." I said great. As we discussed it she informed me she knew grammar, and that the God was actually Jesus, and the Father was the Father. She then tried to prove the Book of Mormon teaches a trinitarian god, and a young LDS girl, probably about 14, walked up and listened, and started to ask a question, and the woman told her not to interrupt. So after she cited Alma 11, and 3 Nephi 20:35, I said, "if your point is the Book of Mormon is promoting a trinitarian doctrine, then it could not possibly contain the doctrine of exaltation of men to become like God, right?" She said "Yes". I said, "let's read 3 Nephi 28:10: And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;"
She said that had nothing to do with exaltation or being like God, and so we read the next verse:
"11 And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me." "Clearly the conversation is about the godhead, since all three persons of the Godhead are discussed right there, even if you don't want to comprehend the English words of verse 10." The lady got a twisted look on her face, then snapped at the young LDS girl, "I don't like your attitude." The girl said, "I didn't even say anything." The woman replied "It's rude for you to smile just because you think he's proved his point." At that point the LDS laughed, and I had the honor of Bill McKeever walking up to me.
3. Not all anti's are created equally. McKeever walked up and said I was a deceitful, deceiving person, and was there just to confuse people. Of course, his mean spiritedness was such that I grabbed my camcorder and told him to please repeat himself so I could get it on film. Pretty funny. The best discussion which anti's try to use all the time is citing Moroni 10:32.
Here is how their reasoning goes:
If Jesus' grace is only sufficient if we are obedient and cast off sin, you don't really need grace, nor do you really have a chance to be saved. They say we, in effect, create our own grace.
Unfortunately, they conspicuously ignore verse 33:
"33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."
Perfection in Christ is done through Grace, and the atonement of Christ. Which is precisely the message of 2 Nep 25:23
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
The last point is when they attack the phrase "after all we can do". Anti's like to speak of this phrase as if it is a command that we must do everything, then grace saves us. It is the opposite. No matter how much we do, it will never be enough, so we must be reconciled to God and have faith in Christ to be saved, which is by grace. We did not earn it.
More after tonight's pageant.