Is Joseph Smith the mediator of yet another, even better covenant?
After reading Hebrews, I was struck with the impression that Joseph Smith might be the mediator of yet another, even better covenant. (The concept of another mediator fits well with the
meridian of time
description for Christ). Moses was the mediator of the old
covenant which was broken by the people. Jesus is the mediator of the new
covenant (Hebrews 12:24) which the LDS believe was again broken through
apostasy. Joseph Smith in these latter days, has therefore brought us the new
covenant (D&C 84:57) which is another new covenant within the new and everlasting covenant, which was from the beginning (D&C 22:1), one with "better promises" (Hebrews 8:6) than either of the previous covenants brought by Moses and Jesus. Joseph Smith therefore shares in the
mediator role that both Moses and Jesus have in their own dispensations.
Joseph Smith is compared with Moses in D&C 28:2:
"But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses."
Something else that leads one to believe that Joseph Smith is the mediator of newer covenant is the cover of the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It's new 1982 subtitle tells the world that it is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" a modern phrase made popular by Ezra Taft Benson and Bruce R. McConkie.
The word testament comes from the Latin translation [testamentum] for
the Greek word used for covenant [diatheke], e.g., the New Testament and the Old
Testament are collections of books telling about the New Covenant and the Old
Covenant. The original meaning of testament (and still #1 in Webster's New World
Dictionary) is "a covenant especially a covenant between God and man".
The Book of
Mormon is therefore the book of Another Covenant of Jesus Christ, one that is
different from the New Covenant found in the New Testament. I think the subtitle
should have been Another Witness for Jesus Christ, not Another Testament of Jesus
Christ. It seems the LDS were trying too hard in 1982 to tie the book in with the
Bible; they should have consulted a dictionary first.
The D&C comes right out and tells us that the Book of Mormon is the new covenant!
"And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant,
even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written-" (D&C 84:57)
Ed Decker totally missed the point of the new subtitle in 1982 focusing his
attention on the word "Another" when he should have been looking into the word
"Testament". D&C 84:57 is decisive in showing that Decker was barking up the wrong
tree. FARMS finds fault with Decker, but it doesn't matter since he picked the
FARMS, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7, Number 2, p. 72:
[Recent printings of the Book of Mormon have carried on their covers the
explanatory subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Ed Decker claims to
think that, in this, he has finally caught the fiendishly clever Mormons with
their masks off. "The word another on the Book of Mormon cover implies an
additional testament," he says. "The dictionary defines another as 'different'
or 'changed'" (p. 248). Well, yes, it does. But is that the word's only meaning?
If I finish one glass of water and ask for another, am I really asking for
something "different" or something "changed"? For root beer, perhaps, or for
motor oil? Clearly not. The first entry under "another" in my Oxford American
Dictionary is simply "additional, one more." Decker wants readers to swallow his
allegations that the Book of Mormon is foreign to the Bible, and that the Jesus
of the Nephites is alien to the Jesus of Palestine, but he clearly cannot rely
on ordinary English usage to make his case.]
FARMS tries to show here that the Book of Mormon is not really something new,
just another glass of the same. He should have used 'Testament/Covenant" and
then quoted D&C 84:57 to show that the Book of Mormon IS something
new, it is the new covenant.
This brings me to my multi-layered keystone analogy. The keystone of the LDS
faith is the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith which is supported by the Catholic
(some would rather read Christian) keystone of the New Testament and Jesus
Christ which in turn is supported by the Jewish keystone of the Old Testament
and Moses which is then supported by the Abrahamic keystone of the God of
Abraham. (This last keystone also supports the keystone of Islam which is the
Qur'an and Mohammed). If any keystone is found to be defective then all the
churches and faiths relying on that keystone and up will fall. For example, if
we found out the Jesus Christ was not our Lord and Savior and was just a great
teacher then all of Christianity would fall and with its fall would also go
Mormonism but Judaism and Islam would remain supported. If the Book of Mormon
is not what it claims to be then all the denominations depending on this
keystone will fall, including the LDS which is Mormonism's largest denomination.
It is perhaps in thinking of Joseph Smith as the mediator of a new and better
covenant that the question of "Christianity" arises, just as Christians are no
longer Jews (who are the followers of the old covenant), perhaps it is seen
that Mormons are no longer Christians due to following another new covenant,
better than the new covenant brought by Christ. My multi-layered keystone
analogy could also provide support for calling Mormons something other than
Christian since they exist at a keystone level above traditional Christianity in
a similar manner that Christianity exists at a keystone level above Judaism.
Do we really need a new covenant (which the D&C describes as the Book of Mormon in D&C 84:57) when we already have Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant who is Himself the everlasting covenant? (Hebrews
8:8,13; 12:24; 13:20)