Keeping with the theme for 2015, the Visiting Teaching Message for December is on one of the divine attributes of Jesus. This time around they focused on ‘Compassionate and Kind’. As we all know, Mormons will discredit the Bible stating it hasn’t been translated correctly, and use bits and pieces of it anyway. This month’s VT message is a classic example of that method in action.
They highlighted several bible verses, but misapplied the deeper meaning of each. The main thing they missed, intentionally or otherwise; Jesus is God!
Let’s take a look at what they said –
“In the scriptures, compassion means literally ‘to suffer with.’ It also means to show sympathy, pity, and mercy for another.”1”
Technically, they’re only partially correct. Their definition for compassion (‘literally, to suffer with’, is from their own interpretation). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible does not say anything about this word literally meaning ‘to suffer with’, but it does interpret it with the latter part of their definition.
The Greek word for compassion is ‘splanchnizomai’ and is used 12 times in the NT. It means to be moved with sympathy, literally, in our inner being we are moved to act, to have pity, inward affection towards. It’s used 5 times referring to ‘be moved with compassion, sympathy’, and 7 times ‘to have compassion’.
They also went on to say the following –
““Jesus provided us many examples of compassionate concern,” said President Thomas S. Monson. “The crippled man at the pool of Bethesda; the woman taken in adultery; the woman at Jacob’s well; the daughter of Jairus; Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha—each represented a casualty on the Jericho road. Each needed help.
“To the cripple at Bethesda, Jesus said, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ To the sinful woman came the counsel, ‘Go, and sin no more.’… … Let us open the door of our hearts, that He—the living example of true compassion—may enter.”2”
Indeed, one passage in the Bible that teaches us about the compassion Jesus had for people is found in the story of the adulteress. Although they don’t provide any biblical reference for this passage, we know it’s from John 8:2-11.
We’ve listed the whole passage below.
John 8:2-11; “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
There are a few problems with the way they used this as an example of compassion. We’re not saying Jesus didn’t have compassion for her, but again, the focus is on how they’ve ignored the main application of this passage.
Problem #1 – If you’re not LDS, you might be unaware the Mormon Church emphatically declares that Jesus is not God.
Notice what the passage in John said – ‘And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone…’
The Jewish people knew that the only one perfect was God. When Jesus was the only one left in the crowd, He was stating that He was the only one present who was without sin. He also didn’t convict her even though she was guilty, and this too, ruffled the Pharisees’ feathers. The text even says they said these things to find a reason to accuse Him. Accuse Him of what? Blasphemy for false teachings, alas, they came up empty!
How are Mormons supposed to fully appreciate, or understand, this divine attribute of Christ when they reject who He is? They have the same problem the scribes and Pharisees did…They’ve accused Him of something He hasn’t done.
Problem #2 – Mormons believe the woman caught in adultery was not forgiven. They’ve been taught to believe Jesus merely told her to go and sin no more. They believe some of vs. 11, ‘…neither do I condemn thee’, is a mistranslation.
Miracle of Forgiveness, pg. 164; “In my years since then I have repeatedly heard people praise the Lord for his mercy in having forgiven the adulteress. This example has been used numerous times to show how easily one can be forgiven for gross sin. But did the Lord forgive the woman? Could he forgive her? There seems to be no evidence of forgiveness. His command to her was, “Go, and sin no more.” He was directing the sinful woman to go her way, abandon her evil life, commit no more sin, transform her life.”
You’ll notice in their reference to this in the VT Message, there was no mention of Jesus’ mercy, or compassion for the adulteress, just as there wasn’t any in Mr. Kimball’s teaching either.
Problem #3 – At the end of this VT Message, an admonition was given to serve others. What they said ‘sounds’ great, but we have one more question. Here’s what they said –
“That is our charge. We must feel and see for ourselves and then help all of Heavenly Father’s children to feel and see and know that our Savior has taken upon Himself not only all our sins but also our pains and our suffering and afflictions so that He can know what we feel and how to comfort us.”
How can a Mormon know for sure that Jesus feels all their pain, and sufferings when they’ve been told He didn’t die for all sins? Saying that He feels their pain is nothing but words on a page. Furthermore, not everyone is a child of Heavenly Father. They obviously believe otherwise, but that’s another subject for another day…
Oh, how this lesson hurts my heart! I remember the unattached reaction I had to passages like this one. They held no meaning for me personally because I had been taught, (and wrongly believed), Jesus was nothing more than my elder brother whom I needed to look up to because He was without sin. Again, there’s no foundational basis for what this means, and when taught without the foundation, no intellectual attachment can be made. This of course, is done on purpose to confuse and mislead those who are unaware.