The Way of Messiah (Episode 1)

EPISODE 1: Finding The Way

This week (Feb 24) on Shabbat Night Live, Luke and Kayte Abaffy had an awakening to the truth of the Torah, like many Christians. The difference was they made a documentary about their journey.

Today, they are taking the next step that they hope will spark a reformation in the hearts of believers worldwide.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Aside from being a charming anecdote, how does the meeting between Luke and Katie demonstrate the providential nature of marriage for believers who view their futures as living apostolates? How is the will of YeHoVaH affected through the utilization of diverse talents and eccentric career paths in individuals who choose to devote their time and energy to evangelization?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the controversy over the centrality of the Torah in Christian worship underscore the failure of many evangelical movements to recognize the integrity of the continuity between the Old and New Testaments? How does the casual distribution of the later, smaller collection of texts, both in public and private, damage the message of YeHoVaH through a glib campaign of an accessible “manual” for salvation?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how can some evangelical practices undermine the inherent challenges of following YeHoVaH through their over-promotion of divine forgiveness? How can the insidious influence of Satan be given an inroad into spiritual lives through a marginalization of sin as an ever-present danger for believers, one that hearkens back to his disingenuous words to Eve in the book of Genesis?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How do personal testimonies like those recounted here – particularly those involving dreams which suggest private revelations – dramatize the importance and challenge of discernment for believers? How does the often-frustrating delay of answered prayers provide a corrective for short-sighted and self-serving interpretations that could lead to choices that conflict with the will of YeHoVaH?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 321:00) How is the contemporary opportunity of evangelizing through media both spiritually remunerative and fraught with dangers?  As feature films, documentaries, and online programs proliferate, how can these efforts of the faithful avoid becoming overwhelmed by competition, dismissed as propaganda, or increasingly vulnerable to the aggression of hostile individuals or corporate bodies who would destroy their works outright?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How have endeavors like Kickstarter and GoFundMe served to redefine the advocacy of faith-based media and public awareness? How does the notion of corporate benefit and crowdfunding provide not only an outlet for evangelization, but also subvert those efforts on the radical Left to politicize such efforts through accusations of fascism or through such organizations as the Freedom From Religion Foundation?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How do the myriad obstacles and frustrations involved in realizing a project like this one, such as funding difficulties, technical malfunctions, and administrative delays, all demonstrate the need for perseverance by believers who seek to spread the word of YeHoVaH? How does the frisson between intention and completion serve to deepen the faith of those involved, both before and behind the camera?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does a production like The Way underscore the dilemma currently experienced by many throughout the Christian world over major denominations, religious leaders, and self-styled “faithful” public figures who seek to rationalize disobedience or normalize transgressive conduct? How has the suggestion of following the example of Yeshua as well as accepting his identity as the Messiah become such a radical notion in our present day?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Similarly, how does the concept of private revelation serve to undermine popular efforts to denigrate religious practice among individuals in an epoch of socioeconomic materialism? How does the divine impetus toward conversion, seemingly conveyed at random throughout a diverse population of those willing to consider such a gesture, consistently subvert those organized human efforts to eradicate religious belief from society?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) How does the notion of syncretism pose a challenge for today’s faithful who seek a bonafide practice of genuine spiritual doctrine? How should believers attempt to discern between contemporary examples of cultural assimilation of pagan belief or practice that suggest possible gateways for demonic influence, and more benign examples of intellectual history in relation to the growth of Western Judeo-Christian culture?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 6)

FINAL EPISODE: A Foundation of Lies

This week (Feb 17) on Shabbat Night Live, when just a little falsehood is mixed with truth, it’s hard to recognize — and that’s the issue with Mormonism.

Jake Hilton explains why the lies of Mormonism are so difficult to decipher, what to ask when examining the foundations of Mormonism, and how to help those questioning their Mormon faith come into the truth of Yeshua.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 167:00) How do the questionable doctrines of Mormonism dramatize the essential vulnerability of all seekers of salvation regarding the study and interpretation of historical scripture? How do Joseph Smith’s additions to the actual books of the Bible demonstrate the “slippery slope” phenomenon for those who fail to perceive the consistency of YeHoVaH’s commandments?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How has much of our Western imagery for Satan – from artistic depictions of the Garden of Eden to those of scenarios in Hell, along with cartoonish caricatures – served to obscure the essentially disingenuous nature of his temptation, as in his false flattery of Eve in Genesis 3? Why does the simple act of interweaving lies with truth so frequently result in our human failure of conscience and wisdom?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How is Satan’s insidious plan for the ruin of souls affected by the disillusionment of those faithful who decide to reject Mormonism, and ultimately all religious practice, as a mere cult phenomenon? How can this common reflex toward atheism or agnosticism be viewed as a vindication of the warnings against corrupt leaders from the prophetic scriptures to the writings of Paul?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How do the categorical words of M. Russell Ballard in 2015, in their presumption of disseminating incontrovertible truth from the LDS Church, not only marginalize the truth of the Bible but also absolve followers from developing their devotion by exercising their free will to question, compare and contrast, or reconcile divergent viewpoints in their faith journey?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 31:00) Similarly, how does the resistance of the temptation to embrace agnosticism by some disillusioned followers of Mormonism demonstrate the need for constant prayer and discernment by those believers who recognize individual responsibility for spiritual growth? How could this, in turn, become a growing trend that could possibly compel the LDS leadership to amend their various claims?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) How does the vulnerable identity of today’s followers of Mormonism illustrate the complexity and unspoken challenge in Yeshua’s exhortation to evangelize? In light of the international scope of the LDS Church, how is the danger of distortion by human beings of the gospels’ truth implicit in the command to teach all nations?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Aside from its inherent drama, epic scale, and spiritual significance, the Exodus continues to haunt the imagination of believers of various denominations. How can this event be interpreted as a paradigm of reform, conversion, or divine providence on an intimate, individual level for those who struggle with doctrinal issues on their path to salvation?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How can the repurposing of the Bible through the apocryphal texts of Joseph Smith by the LDS Church be viewed as analogous to attempts by numerous media documentary sources or revisionist scholars to minimize or even dismiss the inherent divinity of Christian history, often by reducing the Bible’s important individuals to political figures or crucial events to mere symbols of ideas?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How has the notion of “fulfillment” often been poorly understood or distorted throughout evangelical Christianity? How is Yeshua’s statement regarding this in Matthew 5:17 undermined by exclusive use of the New Testament as an independent text, or his controversial command “Be perfect” misunderstood as incongruous, all as a result of a failure to recognize the importance of completion in spiritual growth?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) How can the imagery of Yeshua’s comprehensive statement in Matthew 10:34-36 be interpreted as both a fulfillment of the prophetic texts and a foreshadowing of the warnings of Paul, Peter, and Jude against the false teachings of men? How might disillusionment with Mormonism result in a disturbing scenario like the concluding passage here, wherein one’s enemies become “those of his own household”?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 5)

The Ultimate Blasphemy

This week (Feb 10) on Shabbat Night Live, Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism, lied about an Egyptian papyrus that he said was the writings of Abraham, but that’s not the worst of it.

Jake Hilton shares what Joseph Smith claimed about artwork depicting YeHoVaH in Egyptian mythology that is anything but holy.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

1.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 17:00) How does Facsimile 2 in the “Book of Abraham” underscore the credulity of Joseph Smith’s followers through its considerable detail and cryptic imagery?  How does its actual meaning and function retroactively serve to discredit both its role in Mormon doctrine and the presumption of those who would engage in pseudo-science?

2.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does Smith’s failure to recognize the meaning of the reversed segment of this emblem call into question both his knowledge of Egyptology and also the importance of deliberate stylization within ancient cultures?  How do his annotations of Figure 7 constitute an anachronistic, Western gloss on an eastern cultural expression?

3.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how does the recognition of the fertility god Min in this image represent a withering rebuttal to Smith’s questionable description of the invisible deity?  How does this distinction further dramatize the enduring dynamic between the multiple gods of various pagan societies and the advocates of monotheism throughout so-called Judeo-Christian culture to the present day?  

4.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the uncompromising description of the god Min by Prof. Nibley beg the question of this figure’s place within LDS doctrine and teaching?  How does this god’s inclusion within Mormonism reveal a level of exaggeration and excess that transcends fantasy or carnivalism to the point of outright blasphemy, thanks to its alignment with the deity of Abraham?

5.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does Joseph Smith’s categorical, presumptive claim of divine revelation for his presentation and interpretation of Egyptian artifacts serve to characterize him as a questionable prophet?  How is this ironically underscored by its presence alongside the numerous warnings within the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John against disobedience and the influence of false, self-serving teachers?

6.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) How is Joseph Smith’s reputation as a cult figure underscored by the predication of the entire Mormon infrastructure upon his texts and precepts?  In light of its longevity, how likely is this vast congregation to continue undeterred, or to collapse from increasing exposure and for its remnants to be absorbed into another Christian denomination?

7.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How does Smith’s appropriation of the serpentine image of Nehebkau to the dove symbolizing the Holy Ghost suggest a deliberate attempt to rewrite ancient history for his own purposes?  How might this further demonstrate the dangers of allegorization in its apparent failure to recognize the resonance between this pagan figure and the appearance of Satan in the Book of Genesis?

8.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How do the cynical and patronizing comments attributed to Joseph Smith about his own congregation in 1877 not only cast doubt upon his integrity as a religious figurehead, but also beg the question of the legitimacy of his canonical texts?  How does this underscore the frequently overlooked characterization of Satan, whatever his physical depiction, as the Father of Lies?

9.    (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How likely is the LDS Church to face decisive scrutiny in the near future over the matters of Smith’s erroneous assertions, thanks to the rapidity of communication and information exchange?  How has growing public awareness of imposture – valor thieves, 9/11 hoaxers, media disinformation – allowed for a more discerning and critical treatment of provocative claims and the reputations built upon them?

10.  (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) Similarly, how does a latter-day statement from LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer arouse suspicion of self-interest in its cautionary phraseology?  How do his admonitions to his fellow advocates regarding “faith promoting,” “responsibility to build faith,” and the distinction between what is “true” instead of “useful” illustrate a subtle but unmistakable attempt to justify the continued promotion of Smith’s doctrine?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 4)

The Book of Abraham

This week (Feb 3) on Shabbat Night Live, it’s not in your Bible, it’s not even in the Apocrypha, but it is part of scripture according to the Mormon Church.

Jake Hilton exposes the fraud behind The Book of Abraham, a supposed “lost book” written in hieroglyphs by Abraham himself while he and Sarah were living in Egypt.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the apocryphal Mormon text The Book of Abraham demonstrate the astonishing presumption of revising and repurposing scripture for an ostensibly sacred yet essentially manmade endeavor? How does this further dramatize the pervasive ignorance of scriptural integrity by professed Christians who predicate their evangelization upon discreet biblical quotations that are frequently devoid of proper context?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the early 19th-century infatuation with Egyptian antiquities underscore the central conceit behind Mormonism? What is the essential ethos behind both the crass commercial publicity of important ancient artifacts and Joseph Smith’s opportunistic claim of understanding the written papyri and his appropriation of them for his own contrived religious doctrine?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how does the brief sojourn in Egypt of Abram and Sarai in Genesis 12 offer a questionable prospect for exploiting public gullibility during a period of pervasive fascination and ignorance of ancient languages and cultures? How is this syndrome still evident today in both New Age occultism and attempts to recontextualize scripture to render Yeshua as an accessible, contemporary figure?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How do the equivocal words of W. W. Phelps regarding the apparent legitimacy of Joseph Smith’s ensuing translations of the papyri, along with Smith’s own ambiguous diary entries on this subject, inadvertently reveal the validity of Mormonism as a foregone conclusion by both men? How does this further suggest their exploitation of their congregation’s credulity regarding ancient texts?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how does the rhetoric of Smith’s November 14th diary entry suggest a self-serving fait accompli regarding the providential involvement of Warren Parrish? How does the ersatz biblical phraseology of this passage, along with its supposed source in divine revelation, indirectly reveal a categorical attempt to seize control of his congregation through manipulation of doctrine, as further suggested by his entry of December 12th?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How does Smith’s lengthy denunciation of a young would-be follower regarding the antiquity of the Egyptian papyri anticipate the familiar hysterical reactions of those who defend politically correct or “woke” perspectives in our own time? Why do such attempts at verification of received opinion often elicit such vicious ad hominem attacks instead of rational argumentation from those in power?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 41:00) How does the sycophantic behavior of Joseph Smith’s “scribes” regarding the legitimacy of his translations of the Egyptian sources serve to support the view of him as a cult leader? How does the cynicism of Martin Harris regarding financial gain from these efforts reveal the corrosive effect of false prophesy and its potential for spreading corruption on a massive, popular scale?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How does the extent of Smith’s translation of one specific depiction in the scroll – involving purely imaginary insertions of imagery, faux Egyptian names of “idolatrous gods,” and even a misapplied Hebrew construction – dramatize the dangers of amateurism in matters of historical folklore? How does Facsimile 1 ironically foreshadow such public embarrassments as the Piltdown Man or the “1692 A.D.” date of the prose poem “Desiderata”?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) How does the eventual discovery of the intact Hor Book of Breathing demonstrate the opportunism of those who underestimate future breakthroughs in archeology and paleography? How has the rise of Egyptology studies in various disciplines completely undermined Smith’s “translation” as a cornerstone of his contrived religion?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) How do Smith’s presumptive identifications of the various figures in Facsimile 3 reveal aspects of chauvinism regarding race and gender that have been invalidated by historical research and growing enlightenment since the early nineteenth century? How likely is Mormonism to survive accusations of “institutional racism” in a period of increasingly global and multiethnic commerce?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 3)

Deliberate and Malicious

This week (Jan 27) on Shabbat Night Live, could it be that the leaders of the Mormon Church simply don’t know that their doctrine does not line up with the Bible? Do they simply not understand that Joseph Smith is not who he says he was?

Jake Hilton exposes the truth of what’s going on and, in his words, their actions are “deliberate and malicious.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does Joseph Smith’s questionable interpretation of Yeshua as the “stump” of the family tree of Jesse demonstrate the vagaries of free interpretation of scripture by those who selectively emphasize English idioms? How might his argument here be effectually reversed in meaning by utilizing the same method for different ends?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does Smith’s claim that his apocryphal additions to scripture represent lost Mosaic sources illustrate the “creative bookkeeping” syndrome that often accompanies attempts to create supposedly definitive versions of ancient texts? How might the Mormon bible be viewed as a faux traditional work that, like many anonymous folk sources, is actually an imitative volume created by a specific individual with a hidden agenda?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how is this notion of appropriation and alteration of scripture supported by the rhetorical manner of Smith’s identification with Joseph of Egypt? How do the redundancies in phraseology and nomenclature in the lengthy passage quoted here combine with modern sentence structures to create an anachronistic, pseudo-Hebrew that seeks to convince the unwary reader?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) Furthermore, how does Smith’s reimagining of the complete biblical text demonstrate S. Eliot’s principle of altering our perceptions of the past through new additions, wherein “[t]he existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them”?  What are the spiritual ramifications of this tendency for seekers of salvation who can be misled by false scholarship?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does the questionable pedagogy of the Mormon Seminary Teaching Manual, with its emphasis on rote attribution of Joseph Smith as fulfillment of the “rod and root of Jesse,” suggest the practice of cult-like indoctrination rather than evangelization of Mosaic scripture? How does this prospect serve to align Mormonism with other systems of belief that are based on scriptural misreadings?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) Aside from its unqualified tone and unambiguous intention, how is Bruce R. McConkie’s statement regarding exclusive salvation through the LDS Church problematic for the scripturally literate believer? How can such a categorical proclamation be seen to rest upon questionable premises that are essentially interpretive and poorly researched in terms of language and history?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) How does Joseph Smith’s presumption of “restoring” the lost truth of Yeshua’s messiahship anticipate the personality cultism of the twentieth century, such as that dramatized by Conrad’s figure of the idolatrous Kurtz in Heart of Darkness? How might this further suggest the unintended consequence of atheistic systems of governance led by deluded seekers of power who view their mission in “divine” terms?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How does the derivative ethos of the so-called Saving Ordinances in Mormonism further suggest the notion of presumptive, manmade regulation and oversight that can supposedly lead to salvation? How does this inevitably provoke the question of diabolic influence that can corrupt worship practice and individual conduct through arbitrary rituals that can constitute popular occultism?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) How does the defense of Mormonism against charges of cultism serve to demonstrate the relative ease with which human beings can be persuaded to hold opposing or contradictory points of view in the pursuit of a supposedly higher principle? How might our current climate of secular cult worship ultimately undermine the reputation of the LDS Church?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how might a plausible decline of Mormonism’s influence be viewed as an example of the resonance of Isaiah 29:13 for all believers of ensuing centuries? How could this global system of belief be diminished in strength and numbers by an increasingly literate international populace who might question its precepts and the vaunted claims of its figurehead?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 2)

The Counterfeit Netzer

This week (Jan 20) on Shabbat Night Live, there are certain verses in the Bible that, as believers, we clearly identify as referring to Yeshua — others, however, who call themselves believers, don’t see it that way.

Jake Hilton explains why the same prophecies in your Bible that you attribute to Yeshua are seen, by the Mormons, as referring to Joseph Smith.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How is Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 11:14 – “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” – particularly relevant in our contemporary world, where power-seeking and opportunism are so widespread? What is the most formidable weapon for today’s faithful against those who would corrupt their souls to usurp the place of YeHoVaH in their lives?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how does the bitter statement in Revelation 3:16 against those souls who are “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot” dramatize the need for all believers to become conversant with doctrine and scripture, and to avoid the pitfalls of laziness, presumption of salvation, or careless syncretism among conflicting belief systems?  What are examples of proactive conduct that could protect the faithful against this ever-present danger?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How do the images of Isaiah 11: 1 and 10 illustrate both the integrity of genuine prophecy in their allusion to Yeshua and the hidden dangers of interpretation by unscrupulous individuals who would seek to ingratiate themselves into salvation history? How does a view of these references as an extended metaphor suggest their ultimate power to expose and denigrate the false prophets and self-styled figureheads who seek to co-opt reverence for their own ends?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the episode recounted in Luke 4:16-21 continue to constitute a paradigm of prophetic fulfillment and the challenge of belief that remains every bit as provocative as for its first-century participants? How has a pervasive ignorance of the Davidic lineage and its various scriptural references on the part of many evangelical Christians arguably led to a superficial view of Yeshua that has resulted in his rejection by many potential believers?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 33:00) Similarly, how has the cryptic reference in Matthew 2:23 –“He shall be called a Nazarene” – been poorly apprehended by otherwise diligent scholars of scripture who have undervalued Yeshua’s affinity with the House of David? How do Nathaniel’s critical words in John 1:46 unwittingly give voice to those skeptics who would dismiss Yeshua’s identity and ministry owing to an ostensible scribal error?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How does the historical reflex of David’s lineage, which was exemplified initially by Saul’s disobedience and his replacement by David, whose kingship was in turn disgraced by his own sinfulness, ultimately contribute indirectly to the divine integrity of Yeshua as a ruler? How has his spiritual kingdom endured despite the vagaries of those earthly rulers who continue to try yet fail to depose him?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Similarly, how has a popular narrative episode like David’s defeat of Goliath been allowed to obscure the complex and diverse life of this shepherd-minstrel, who rose from obscurity, exile, and outlawry to the consolidation of the tribes of Israel and the establishment of the city of Jerusalem before his downfall? Why is it necessary for today’s followers of Yeshua to recall these seemingly unrelated deeds as they cultivate their spiritual life with the Messiah?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 47:00) How does the recurrence of the root-and-branch imagery that denotes Yeshua as the Messiah, extending as it does from the prophetic texts through the Book of the Revelation, indirectly implicate a mortal figure like Joseph Smith for the presumption of ingratiating himself into this prophecy or appropriating it to his own created theology? How do his ensuing texts demonstrate the dangers of an exegesis that can distort its primary source?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) Similarly, how do Joseph Smith’s presumptive readings of these images illustrate the perennial hazard of sophistry – a disingenuous manipulation of language for self-serving ends – which is itself an accessible rhetorical resource for Satan, who specializes in mixing lies with truth to foster confusion, doubt, and arbitrary distinctions of meaning?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) How might Smith’s reliance on an English text of scripture have been exploited toward this same goal of establishing a man-made religion? How can a parsing of the King James Version without the attendant recourse to Greek or Hebrew texts or related sources lead to such potential errors as his apparent conflation of the lineages of Jesse and of Ephraim, to say nothing of the questionable identification of Yeshua with the “stump” of Jesse?

Why I Left Mormonism (Episode 1)

What Is Mormonism?

This week (Jan 13) on Shabbat Night Live, imagine having to break away from family, friends, and a faith your family had known for seven generations. That’s the personal story of Jake Hilton.

Once YeHoVaH got Jake’s attention, everything changed. Today, he helps others understand what Mormonism is and brings the truth to those who are questioning it.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the longevity of a Christian Restorationist movement like Mormonism within the United States demonstrate a challenge for present-day believers who seek to know the original apostolic ethos of Christianity? How does our constitutional freedom of worship unwittingly make definition and distinction between doctrines difficult for those who need simple answers to honest questions about faith and worship?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how does the cultural context of multigenerational family membership within an established system of belief create a wide range of potential alienation for individuals who seek to be true to their own convictions? How do the shared moral and ethical  values of otherwise divergent religions serve to intensify this conflict for the believer who would prioritize new discoveries over old principles?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does deference to a controversial figure like Joseph Smith reflect the dilemma of discernment for the seeker of salvation, who must weigh the relative value between tradition and valid documentation as a foundation of belief?  What are some possible reasons for Smith’s endurance as the figurehead of a prominent Christian group instead of his dismissal as a marginal cult leader or power-seeker?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How do works like the Book of Mormon and its attendant texts purport to be definitive authorities on doctrine by assimilating the divine word of The Bible? How does this pretense serve to relegate sacred scripture itself to a secondary position as a mere gloss on manmade statements rather than as the revealed word of YeHoVaH?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 33:00) How is Satan’s evil strategy of mixing lies with truth manifest in the conceit of a manmade religion like Mormonism, whose authority lies less within scripture than in the pronouncements of men? How is his design for the destruction of souls completed by the actions of apostate members who see no recourse but agnosticism or even atheism rather than a turn toward evangelicalism?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) What are some elements within Mormonism that make its adherents reluctant to recognize their doubts or shift into another form of Christian worship? How do some of its expressions of conservative family values, such as its internal welfare program designed to support its members during the Great Depression, suggest the potential of widespread betrayal for those who would reject this belief?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How do the words of Yeshua in Luke 11:52 continue to resonate throughout history as an indictment against the hypocrisy of presumed knowledge rather than true authority? How has the human vice of imposture in both civil and ecclesiastical life remained a definitive example from ancient times to the present of our temptation toward being “like God, knowing good and evil”?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Despite its monolithic reputation and the international evangelism of its adherents, the Mormon or LDS Church has had a relatively brief history of only two centuries. What is the likely future of this movement in light of competition from other Christian evangelical or denominational organizations, to say nothing of increasing questioning of the historical underpinnings of its key texts?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) How does Paul’s uncompromising exhortation in Ephesians 5:11 against false prophets (“expose them”) underscore both our human reluctance to speak truth to power and our vulnerability to those who would manipulate the truth for our ostensible benefit? How does the scriptural context of these words transcend the limits of the first century and remain a perennial standard for all those who seek salvation?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 53:00) Similarly, how are today’s faithful susceptible to false teachings based upon moral relativism and the sophistry of “woke” discourse? How does our fear of the absolute denotation behind the scriptural command to “hate evil” serve to expose our inner fear of recognizing a single inerrant truth, supporting it with our prayer and worship lives, and exemplifying it with our moral choices?


Chinese Believers Update with Paul Hsieh

This week (January 6) on Shabbat Night Live, Paul Hsieh brings an exciting report of how YeHoVaH is empowering saints across Asia with the truth of his Word — and it’s spreading like wildfire!

It’s a bright light of hope in a part of the world that is being oppressed like none other… hope that that is raising up an end-time army of righteousness!

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) What is the likelihood of a Torah-based evangelization as a source of diplomacy or improved international relations for a powerful, secular state-capitalist nation like China? How might the orientation toward Jerusalem as a center of belief and practice provoke the imaginations and spiritual yearnings of a populace more successfully than conventional political ambassadorships and negotiations?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how can the pandemic, with its attendant lockdowns and limited human interactions, be viewed as a providential example of the end-times reflex for the people of China and Taiwan? How does the prospect of a state-mandated confinement ironically serve to inspire an introspection and spiritual growth that can surpass any man-made limitation of human potential for the seeking of transcendent truth?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the possible interpretation of “the land of Sinim” in Isaiah 49:12, as a reference to the Far East, serve to remind the Western faithful of the comprehensive nature of Yeshua’s command to evangelize all nations? Despite its indeterminate meaning, how does it further suggest the presence of ancient trade routes, like the Roman roads of a later epoch, as conduits for spreading the truth of YeHoVaH by his faithful followers?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How might the controversial and vulnerable identity of Taiwan in its engagement with China also be viewed as providential for international believers in light of its fortuitous relations with Western nations? How could this small but resilient Indo-Pacific country become an effectual liaison between the first-world faithful and a hostile global superpower – a future contest of wills between human spirituality and atheistic materialism?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does this view of Taiwan as an apostolate nation gain strength and definition from the passion of the spiritual awakening among a younger generation who have applied their intellectual ethos to the study of scripture? How might the near future of those Taiwanese who will lead their country’s institutions come to resemble the examples of the heroes and heroines of Tiananmen Square during the collapse of Communism at the dawn of the 1990s?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how might Taiwan’s distinction as a territory without religious persecution serve to enlighten its potential believers about the dynamic between the provincial followers of Yeshua in the first century and the punitive power of the Roman Empire? How might this perspective help to encourage the belief in the power of prayer to undermine the “paganism” of atheistic materialism, however monolithic its influence?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) Despite official censorship, many sources of “subversive” information continue to be circulated in samizdat form by courageous individuals in autocratic nations. How might the various publications of Michael Rood ultimately take their place alongside accounts by political dissidents and other “enemies of the state” as sources of inspiration and examples of divinely-given free will?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) As Hsieh emphasizes, The Book of Acts continues to resonate as a historical and doctrinal guide to evangelization. What new insights about this crucial text might be contributed to believers in Western nations thanks to the interpretations of Chinese speakers in their frequently dangerous negotiations with political authority?  As their faith communities take form, who might come to represent a vulnerable figurehead like Paul?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how does the growth of these communities in remote villages demonstrate the inherent difficulty of a repressive government – controlling thought and belief via traditional methods of censorship and surveillance? However, gradually, how does the utilization of hard copy text and word-of-mouth communication tend to erode the strictures of autocracy, whether in first-century Palestine or present-day China?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Aside from evangelization among the Chinese, how does a grass-roots effort like Kingdom for Jesus face an arguably new dimension of difficulty that is present for virtually every faith community within today’s major geopolitical environments? What sort of dilemmas must be faced as religious freedom deteriorates under the increasing influence of what has recently been called the rise of the New Caesars – a disturbing throwback to the same arbitrary political personality cults that brought down past empires?

Why Not Jesus? (Episode 4)

Let Yeshua Speak

This week (Dec 30) on Shabbat Night Live, Yeshua never spoke in his own name; he spoke only in the name of his Father.

In this final episode, Keith Johnson shows us, using Yeshua’s own words, what the Messiah’s name really means, why it has so much power, and how his name was written in three different languages.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) In our fallible attempts to recognize and understand the messiahship of Yeshua, many evangelical Christians have often failed to explore his own words to his followers regarding his identity. How have many believers focused too heavily upon historical testimony of those in power or archeological experts, perhaps to assuage personal doubt, rather than apprehending the subtleties of his own self-identification throughout his ministry?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How is insight into this matter arguably presented by the dramatic scenario of Matthew 28:1-8? Despite the familiarity of this juncture, why has the aside from the angel who tells the women of Yeshua’s resurrection, “as he said,” been overlooked as a verification and example of YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation?  How is this aspect enhanced by the evident terror experienced by the Roman guards?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how have Yeshua’s words to the women upon beholding him soon afterward been poorly served by the failure of many translations to provide his first word to them as an expression of affirmation? Why has his repetition of the angel’s conventional greeting “be not afraid” not been taken literally by readers of scripture who seek to understand Yeshua’s inherently divine nature?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does this passage, as translated in the 1560 Geneva Bible, demonstrate the vital factor of intention through the phrase “God save you”? More importantly, how has this insight been allowed to dissipate over the centuries through the endless repetition of “contemporary” translations that seem destined to fail, owing to the dynamics of the  English language, whose desire for economy and relevance continues to demand change?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how can the fact that Yeshua’s very first word here references YeHoVaH be viewed as a subtext of the full phrase as an expressed desire for the salvation of his immediate listeners and eventual readers? How might Matthew 28:9 potentially become more than a mere plot point for the faithful with regard to the profundity of Yeshua’s rising from the dead?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How can such factors as political hierarchy and class structure be viewed as inadvertent influences on the historical English translations discussed here? How might the evolution of the three medieval estates (nobles, clergy, peasantry) into the society of the Renaissance be seen in retrospect as a mixed blessing, one that brought scripture to an accessible and popular level but also presented new challenges for evangelization?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:30) Why is it important to recognize the significance of the personal address by Yeshua to Saul in the Book of Acts? Moreover, how does the varying reference to the Hebrew or Aramaic language in particular translations serve to enhance the directness of this encounter, along with Saul’s ensuing loss of sight, ultimately demarcating him as Yeshua’s chief evangelist?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) Similarly, how has the expression “Road to Damascus Moment” become trivialized as a cliché denoting a non-spiritual realization rather than the profound experience described in Acts 9 and 26? How can this traumatic development instead be viewed as a paradigm of conversion for the unbeliever who becomes moved by YeHoVaH on an intimate level, recognizing his own spiritual blindness and capacity for zeal in worship?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How do Yeshua’s words in John 5:43 and 12:27 dramatize the importance of our use of the divine names as acknowledgment of belief and obedience to doctrine rather than arbitrary historical remnants? How does the practice by many believers of neither speaking the word “God” nor fully spelling it out in writing demonstrate less an adherence to the commandments than a deeply felt expression of hope for salvation?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 51:00) How does the recurrence of the familiar proclamation “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John reveal the responsibilities involved in our commitment to evangelization as believers? How does an identification with “name” in this context require us to be genuine representatives or ambassadors of YeHoVaH, with all of the knowledge and obedience that this entails and however modest our worldly circumstances, rather than “cultural Christians”?

Why Not Jesus? (Episode 3)

The Bethlehem Birth Certificate

This week (Dec 23) on Shabbat Night Live, translators of many English Bibles put poison tricks into their translations in order to disconnect the English name “Jesus” from the Hebrew Yeshua.

Keith Johnson reveals “the Bethlehem birth certificate” that forever solidifies Yeshua’s name with his mission as Messiah.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why does a key passage like Matthew 1:21 continue to cause greater confusion than clarity with regard to the importance of the Messiah’s divinely given name? How have multiple English translations reduced this “birth certificate” of Yeshua to an almost marginal detail instead of emphasizing the inherent connection between his name, YeHoVaH, and our salvation?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how have frequently petty academic disputes among major bible translators and publishers ultimately created greater obstacles for the faithful in their efforts to learn spiritual truth? How has a centuries-long attempt to discern the most truthful yet accessible text revealed the limitations of a vital, evolving language like our own in its apprehension and communication of transcendent spirituality?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) As referenced earlier in this forum, the city of Bethlehem is widely known to believers and unbelievers alike as the birthplace of Yeshua, yet it is consistently overlooked in terms of its multileveled meaning. Just as with the names Joshua and Jesus and their connection with salvation, how does the translation “house of bread,” the anointing of David, and the prophet Micah’s description of “least among the clans of Judah” provide further resonance with divine providence surrounding the Messiah’s birth?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has the subject at hand been poorly served by the democratic nature of present-day English, wherein glosses, diacritical markings, and standards of precision in orthography and grammar are brushed aside in favor of tweets and acronyms and resistance to textual or bibliographical factors? How does this prevent believers from exploring scripture in a genuine depth that could enhance the growth of their faith life and worship?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 33:00) Similarly, how does popular ignorance of such factors as the distinction between translation and transliteration, and the importance of masculine and feminine endings of particular names all serve to obstruct a genuine understanding of scripture? How has a superficial view of root factors in common words led to needless politicization in recent decades of language as “patriarchal,” or “racist,” and “sexist”?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) In light of the examples presented thus far in this series, how does the tenor of this discussion recall the notion of Yeshua as an affirmative masculine figure, particularly through his name’s affinity with the Old Testament Joshua? Why is it significant that believers are beginning to view a more vigorous or even aggressive Messiah as more convincing than the pacific figure who has dominated popular culture for many years?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) How does Johnson’s parsing of the names of Jesus and the HeGetsUs campaign here demonstrate the disingenuous nature of this public relations effort? How can the arbitrary similarity between them be viewed as a false etymology that contributes to the depiction of the Messiah as a secular, politicized figure who is more accessible to suffering individuals rather than one whose life and ministry are a source of salvation?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) Similarly, how has the concept of salvation – a profound gesture between the divine and the human – arguably been oversimplified by the word “saved” in much evangelical Christianity over the past century? How does a casual use of this term, predicated solely on the New Testament as a reference, suggest a likely ignorance of the complexity of salvation as represented by such biblical figures as Isaac or Moses?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) Because loss of connotation in Bible translations tends to limit the full extent of meaning in a crucial concept like salvation, why are most of our secondary apparatus, such as historical Bibles and concordances, inadequate to the purpose of strengthening our relationship with YeHoVaH? How is the enormity of such terms as “deliver” or “savior” unavoidably deficient without recourse to the Hebrew language?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) How does Moses’ gesture in Exodus 2:17 of defending the daughters of Midian and watering their flock suggest more than mere generosity or even chivalry? How does his aggressive behavior here, as with the earlier defense of his Hebrew kinsman to the extent of manslaughter and concealment, demonstrate the profoundly uncompromising nature of YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation?