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Against the False Claims of Christ Presbyterian Church – Thesis #2 King Solomon’s Temple

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An article published at Beggars Bread appears to be 95 Theses Against the Claims of the Mormon Church and published by the The Elders of Christ Presbyterian Church A Congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Magna, UT. These 95 claims appear to provide a response against the teachings and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Here is their introductory statement:

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses or propositions against the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences – – the claim that for the right amount of money you could buy forgiveness of sins. Indulgences were hostile to the very heart of the Christian faith. Martin Luther challenged this practice from the Scriptures and called men back to the Bible and back to Jesus. In the spirit of that challenge, we present 95 theses against the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We implore you to search the Scriptures to know what is true (Acts 17:11) and seek the real Jesus while He may be found.

Taking their own request to search the Scriptures to know what is true and to seek the real Jesus while HE may be found is exactly what will occur. Each week, Mormon Apologia will focus on one theses and present a proper scriptural response to these claims.

Let us examine the second theses:

On dedicating the temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon stated that the “heavens of heavens cannot contain thee, how much less this house that I have builded.” (1 Kings 8:27) Yet, your god could have easily fit inside that temple.

Again we examine the actual context of 1 Kings 8 where Solomon:

… assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.  And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

1 Kings 8:1-2, KJV

As we continue reading the Elders of Israel brought up the vessels and the ark of the covenant and placed them within the Temple (see verses 3-8). King Solomon and all who were present provided numerous sacrifices (see verse 5). When the Priests came out of the temple a cloud filled the place to where they were not able to minister (see verses 10-11):

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,  So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

It is when we get to verses 12-61 that we read the prayer and supplication King Solomon offered unto the Lord (YHWH) regarding the Temple. It is in this context of 1 Kings 8:27 that we find interesting. In the Jewish Study Bible published by the Jewish Publication Society we read 1 Kings 8:27 as follows:

“But will God really dwell on earth? Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot contain You, how much less this House that I have built.”

The commentary follows:

27-61: This section begins with a rhetorical question challenging the notion expressed in vv. 12-13 that God now has an actual presence on earth in the Temple (v. 27). Meditative prayers (vv. 28-53) assert that God, truly present in heaven, resides only symbolically on earth in the Temple; nevertheless, prayer should be directed toward the Temple (vv. 29, 31, 35, 38, 42). These ideas, couched in phrases and images from Deuteronomy (see Deut. 6:13; 12:4, 11), attempt to harmonize the Deuteronomic notion of divine immanence in the Temple with the contrasting notion of the universal transcendence of God. The whole section may have been inserted into a text that originally continued seamlessly from v. 26 to v. 62. V. 54 has Solomon praying on his knees, while v. 22 has him standing. V. 55 has him standing to bless the people, something described already in v. 14. In its present context, the section dilutes the aura of God’s immanence cast by the materialistic physicality of Solomon’s speech (vv. 12-26). V. 34, calling for the restoration of Israel to the land, is most likely an exilic addition to the text.

What we discover is that the Elders at Christ Presbyterian Church in Utah have failed to properly understand the context of 1 Kings 8:27, the usage of rhetoric questioning, and the context of King Solomon’s prayer. Based on this brief examination, the prayers and sacrifices were directed toward King Solomon’s Temple – where the Most High dwells and appears. Much like when he dwelt and appeared while the Israelite people wondered the desert for 40 years – carrying with them the Tabernacle.

According to the article What was the Purpose of the Tabernacle (at contributing writer Hope Bolinger writes:

During those 40 years, they needed a place to worship God, but they couldn’t build a permanent temple structure because they wouldn’t live in the wilderness forever. Hence, God instructed them to build a temporary place of worship so that they could worship wherever they wandered.

Why did they need a specific place for God to dwell? Tabernacle means “to dwell.” Because God did not dwell in the hearts of humans until after Christ’s death and resurrection, he would dwell in a certain place during the time of the Old Testament. After Solomon built the Temple, he would dwell in the Holy of Holies, the most inner room of the temple where only the High Priest could enter his presence once a year (Hebrew 9:7). But, for the time being, he dwelt in the Tabernacle. 

One interesting aspect is that there is no prominent teaching within the New Testament that declares a need to no longer build temples. Some may attempt to point to 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 as a means to say that once a person is redeemed, they are the temple of God. What Paul was teaching is that we are the temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and not God.

Regarding Temples, Donald W. Perry wrote Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism:

The temple was so important to the ancient Israelites and the other people of the ancient Near East that it played a prominent role not only in their religion, but also in their government, economy, art, and social structure. The Tab-ernacle of Moses was important to the Israelites, to the point that it served as a mobile sanctuary, carried about in their wanderings. The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem became a political and religious focal point for the kingdom of Israel under the reigns of the early Israelite kings. The temple of Herod held significance for Jesus during his mortal min-istry-it was a place where he both learned and taught. Herod’s temple was also a place known to the early apos-tles and Christians (see Acts 2:46). The Nephites built a temple patterned after the Temple of Solomon soon after their arrival in the New World, and it was at the temple in Bountiful that the resurrected Lord visited and taught the Nephite faithful.

Even the Apostle Paul went to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship according to Jewish traditions. In fact, this is where Paul was arrested and take captive to the Emperor in Rome.

Unfortunately, what we see here is a poor attempt to justify one cherry-picked scripture in order to assert a false statement. This goes back to the premise of the idea that modern Christians have accepted the lie and deception that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not believe in the same God as that of the Bible. The reality is, the Temple is the temporary dwelling place of God here on earth for us to engage in sacred rituals and covenants. Of course our Heavenly Father is bigger than any temple on Earth. However, as He did in Ancient times with the chosen people of Israel, He does also today with Latter-day Saints who make sacred covenants with their Heavenly Father.