One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Why Don't Latter-day Saints Avoid "Endless Genealogy"?

Question: If genealogies are as important as Latter-day Saints say, why does the New Testament tell Christians to avoid endless genealogies (I Timothy 1:4, Titus 3:9)? 
The warning by Paul against genealogy does seem strangeónot so much in light of our teachings, but because of the Bible's emphasis on the importance of genealogies and because of the many genealogies of the prophets and of Christ himself recorded in the Old and New Testaments (Matt 1:2-17, Luke 3:23-38).

See what the prophet Nehemiah wrote about genealogy and who put it in his heart to record genealogy. Did God change his mind on the subject?:

And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein (Neh. 7:5).
This prophet then takes the next 55 verses to list the people's genealogy.

The genealogy Paul was warning against was not genealogy per se, but the practice of making long lists of ancestors to justify a claim to greatness or righteousness by way of lineage. Many genealogies in his day were heavily embellished with heroic actions, capitalizing on the doctrinal falsehood that the righteousness of one's ancestors was a type of justification before God.

For example, in Luke 3:8 John the Baptist chastised those who appealed to their genealogical connection with Abraham as justification for their lack of repentance: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you. That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

Another example is John 8:31-33 where the Lord was trying to teach a group of Jews that his word would make them free. Those Jews, themselves followers of Jesus, answered, "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man." They exhibited the prevailing attitude about their being righteous because of their important ancestors that prevented other Jews from turning to Jesus Christ. This is exactly what Paul was warning against in 1 Timothy 1:4 and Titus 3:9. This attitude is nothing like that exhibited by Latter- day Saints in their genealogical efforts today.

Yet as it was in Christ's time with the children of Abraham, so it is today with some ex-Mormons who often appeal to their Mormon ancestry or genealogy ("I'm a fifth-generation Mormon!") to give supposed credibility to their fallacious statements.

The recording of genealogy is not evil or to be avoided, for if it were, why would genealogical records be included numerous times in the Bible? God surely would never inspire Nehemiah (Neh. 7:5), Matthew (Matthew 1:1-16) or Luke (Luke 3:23-38) to do something evil!