27
Aug
08

The Miracle of Conversion

 

     In the discussion of agency, the argument is often made that the commands, “Believe” and the like automatically imply the ability to do what is commanded.  If a person doesn’t naturally have the ability to do what is commanded, why give the command?  The logic is that a command presupposes the ability of the person to obey it.

     But that logic doesn’t always apply when God is added to the equation.  Take Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead.  In John 11:44 we hear Jesus crying out, “Lazarus, come forth.”  It would be ridiculous to say that this command implies that Lazarus had the ability to obey it – that Lazarus was lying in the tomb and had a choice:  do I come forth or don’t I come forth?  No, Jesus’ command was a creative command – through that very command Jesus created life in Lazarus’ dead body.

     This is common in miracles.  When Jesus told the lame to walk or the blind to see, his command created within them the power to do what he commanded.  Again it would be ridiculous to say that the lame or the blind had a choice to make:  should I walk or shouldn’t I?  Should I see or shouldn’t I see?

      The Bible describes coming to faith also as a miracle worked by God.  It is a spiritual resurrection:  “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”  Ephesians 2:5.  It is also equated to God’s creation of light.  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 4:6)  Just like in the examples cited above, God’s commands of “Believe”, “Follow me” etc. are creative commands.  That is why Paul wrote:  “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’” (Romans 1:16)  Even when it comes to coming to faith, the Bible gives God all the credit.

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62 Responses to “The Miracle of Conversion”


  1. August 27, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    “Take Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. In John 11:44 we hear Jesus crying out, “Lazarus, come forth.” It would be ridiculous to say that this command implies that Lazarus had the ability to obey it – that Lazarus was lying in the tomb and had a choice: do I come forth or don’t I come forth?”

    But he did have the choice! You don’t see too much beyond the physical do you?
    Lazarus followed Christ and thus he obeied the Command issued by Jesus and came forth. He did have the ability to follow that command, or he could not have risen, Jesus would not have issued the command if he know Lazerus would not follow it. So there is still agency. You think that is silly, but I tell you that in accuality it is just an extention of the logical path to see why Lazerus would choose to follow Christ’s Command. He followed in life why would he choose different in death?
    -D

  2. August 28, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Well, I guess since we’re all just waiting for God to grant salvation based on nothing we can do, you can shut this site down and leave the mormons alone.

    Honestly, I know your intention is to teach the truth to us mormons, but with every post I’m more convinced at just how confused you are and my gratitude for the plainess of the restored gospel increases.

    Didn’t you start off by saying how stressed the mormons must feel because of our insistence on following the commandments? The way I see it knowing what God wants us to do with our lives is much better than believing there’s nothing we can do about our own salvation.

  3. August 28, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Mark,
    VERY insightful!

    Ditchu,
    Dead men can do nothing to save themselves.

    Reggie,
    You’ve just incriminated yourself. If you can obey all of the commandments of God all the time, then why aren’t you?

  4. August 28, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Keith,
    We are not speaking about self-salvation for i would agree that the only one who could achive such a thing has not only secured it for himself but for all mankind. What we are discussing is the choice we have to accept that salvation or not.

    Look at it from the opposite perspective: What happens to the man who would choose to not be saved? If he has no choice in the matter then he is either not saved because God did not want him saved anyway, or he is forced into salvation.

    Now what about the man who would choose to be saved? If he has no choice then he would either be saved only because God wanted it that way, or he would have no salvation no matter what he did, or beleived?

    A situation without choice has no involvement and thus it is all predeturmined, in that case it mathers not what we do ,beleive, think, learn, worship, ect. we will have no part in our salvation and all this bickering is for naught… The entire aim of Mark here is a waste because we are either saved or we are not saved and there is nothing that can be done to change it.
    On the other hand, If we do have a choice, then it all matters and there is a point to the waste of time discussing this. By the mere choice we are to make causes a dependant involvement in our salvation.

    Cut to the chase: What do you beleive on the matter of having a choice in your salvation?
    If any still think they have no choice (thus no involvement) then what are you doing here?

    I agree with what Reggie has said,

    Also i did not see where Reggie said anything about obeying the Commandmants all the time… It is the mistakes we all do out of our own inperfection that causes the nees of Christ’s Atonement. Someone said it best that we only learn by making mistakes. (that just about summs up the gardin of edin stories)

    -D

  5. August 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Keith,

    The LDS position and my thoughts on this, are well documented here. Also, all I said was, knowing what God wants us to do with our lives is a great blessing, as a counter point to the many times Mark has written about how stressed out mormons must feel all the time.

    We simply believe we’re saved by grace through our faith. How do we show our faith? By living as God asked, following His teachings, and recognizing our own weakness and asking for forgiveness and mercy through Christ’s Atonement. There’s nothing mystical or complicated or abstract about it; it is truth, plain and pure. Any person can choose to follow this pattern in their lives and if they do they will be greatly blessed with peace and understanding.

  6. August 28, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Keith,

    I notice your site (the one linked to by your user name) contains many misconstrued LDS doctrines. Are you willfully trying to mislead people? Or are you willing to let a member of the church clarify your understanding?

  7. 7 markcares
    August 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Ditchu:
    If I am following your thinking, there will be people at the last resurrection who can use their agency and choose not to be resurrected. Is that what you believe?

  8. 8 Stephanie
    August 28, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Do you really think that Lazarus had the power to raise himself from the dead? Do you think he had a choice to bring himself back to life? Do you think that a blind person has the power to make himself see again? Or a lame person to walk? No human being has the power to do these things. When Christ commanded Lazarus to ‘Come out,’ Lazarus was completely unable to obey that command. He was dead. But at the power of Christ’s words, life was regenerated in Lazarus, and joyfully he came out of the tomb. Are you saying that after Christ had made him alive, then Lazarus had a choice about coming out of the tomb or not? I’m sorry, but that is silly. Why would anyone choose to sit in a tomb, which is meant for the dead? Mark is trying to illustrate that many times God has given commands that we are incapable of keeping perfectly. In fact, we are incapable of keeping ALL of the commands PERFECTLY ALL OF THE TIME. That is just the bottom line.

    If you admit that you cannot keep the commands perfectly all the time, then you are guilty of breaking all of God’s law, and thus you are destined for outer darkness. Bottom line. That is why you, and everyone, needs Christ’s sacrifice.

    Finally, this entire discussion about free will is beyond the point of this blog. We Christians know that hearing the Word of God (the Bible) has the power to create a saving faith in those who hear it. Do we know HOW that happens? No. But the fact is that sharing the TRUE gospel of Christ will cause people lost in darkness to have the light. So we continue repeating the true gospel as many times as necessary, in hopes that someone somewhere will finally understand.

    Once again, I will repeat myself at the risk of sounding like a broken record. We do NOT advocate licentious living. Once again, as Christians, we desire with all our hearts to please God by following His commandments to the best of our ability. Please do not frustrate me further by concluding erroneously that Christians advocate sinful living and abuse the grace of God.

    It seems that no matter how many times I say this, it just never sinks in. Christians understand that it is impossible to please God ENOUGH TO EARN ANY LEVEL OF HEAVEN (there is only one level, by the way). We understand that salvation is a gift from God. We understand that we are already declared perfect in God’s eyes. Yes, there is nothing we can do to earn our own salvation. That doesn’t mean we are helpless and just sit around and hope we are saved! On the contrary, we know ALREADY that we are saved (there is no waiting around and hoping that we win the salvation lottery). And because we are loved by God, we reflect that love to others through our words, thoughts, and actions. We reflect all the commandments through the single command, Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself, which sums up all the law. If we love our neighbor, we won’t steal from him, lie to him, cheat with his wife… etc.

    All any one of you has to do is THINK and you will be saved. There is no action you have to take. You just have to realize that Christ did everything for you. You have to realize that you can offer nothing to God. God doesn’t need anything from any one of you. And in fact, this is a liberating thought, a thought that frees you from all the bondage of the law.

    Christ did not, as the Mormon parable says, pay your debt to God and then turn around and demand that you now pay him back. Christ did not refinance your debt to God, perhaps give you a better interest rate, and spread out your payments throughout all time. He took care of everything at once. He FORGAVE your debt. When someone forgives you a debt, do you still have to pay it? Of course you do not.

    I don’t know how many times I will have to repeat this until someone finally gets it. You say that you already understand this, but in fact you do not yet understand it. You continue to revert back to having to follow all the commands to earn your way into heaven, to pay back a debt that was already forgiven you. You continue to say that Christians trample the grace of God by not caring about the commandments or living as rightly as possible.

    Yes, good works are evidence of faith. But good works do NOT save us. And we have no obligation to perform good works to earn favor with God. God views our righteousness as filthy rags. That doesn’t mean we abuse God’s grace by sinning.

    Let me share an analogy with you. Let’s imagine that we are lost in the woods. Suppose we are desperate with just enough time to get out IF we choose the right trail immediately. Otherwise we will starve to death or freeze to death. Then let’s suppose that we bump into an LDS person, and he declares that he has the absolutely infallible map of this woods, and that he is a licensed guide for these woods and he insists that we all follow him. All other trails are wrong, he says. Suppose I ask him, “Do you know for sure that you are not lost? So you know exactly where you are?” Then imagine that he admits that he does not know for certain that he is not lost, and is not even sure where he is going!

    That is how LDS people live every day, uncertain of their own salvation. Uncertain of how much good they have done, and how much favor they have earned, and what level of heaven they will go to. Why would someone want to plunge into uncertainty when our forgiveness and salvation are totally assured to us through Christ?

    Once again, Christians understand that eternal life is a free gift. It is not earned by anything we have done. It is not deserved by any one of us through any action. We are all equally sinful, and equally in need of a savior. And God loves each one of us equally. Once we realize that Christ has done everything completely, and that HE DEMANDS NOTHING FROM US IN RETURN (there is indeed NOTHING we could ever do to repay such a wonderful gift, or to even make a dent in the original debt of sin that we owed), ONLY THEN (now) do we rejoice with hearts full of thanksgiving and praise, and show our love and gratitude to God by living out the two most powerful commands, “Love God with all your heart, and Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” We do not scorn the commands of God or frustrate His grace with conscious sin.

  9. August 28, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Stephanie,

    I certainly don’t mean to offend you in any way. I keep harping on it because I believe I understand your belief, but I really don’t think you understand ours. For example the scripture about being saved by grace after all that we can do doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    I can agree with everything you just said about saving grace, except for the part about becoming perfect as soon we accept Him. We believe we’re changed when converted, but we retain our agency and so we have to continue to keep the faith throughout all our days here. What does it mean to keep the faith? Well simply do your best to love God and your neighbor. It’s really not about earning our way into heaven. This is what Paul meant when he said ““I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” We’re merely saying we have the power to choose each day to keep our faith or abandon it. Satan will continue to tempt us and so we have to continue to look to Christ, each and every day. Would you agree there is a difference between the way Paul lived out his life as compared to Judas?

  10. August 28, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Mark,
    I am glad you asked such a direct question:
    “If I am following your thinking, there will be people at the last resurrection who can use their agency and choose not to be resurrected. Is that what you believe?”

    The answer is abslutely we will have this choice in a way… There may be people who choose not to stay resurected: this choice will be to part from their bodies and enter a state of spirit without Physical form.

    As to the inferance that anyone will use their agency to this end, I cannot say for I know little about the choices that will be made. But I attest that we will have the choice.

    Stephine,
    Lazerus may not have had the power on his own to raise from the dead, a blind man may not have the ability to restore his own sight, criple to restore his own linb, but they each have the ability to not allow it to happen to them. Jesus did these mericles, and I will not tarnish them by suggesting that it all rested with the healed people themselves. By Christ granting the blessings of healing to these people they were given the choice to accept it or they could have remained in their impaired or mortified state if they so choose to and denied Christ. The healed indivisual is indeed involved with his healing in the same way we are involved in our Salvation. This is remarked about in the New Testament when Jesus says in Luke 8:48 “And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”

    Even Paul healed by the faith of the recipiant (Acts 14)

    Search you Bible for the many references of blessings that come “by faith.” you should start to see that we can choose not to beleive and thus not have faith. No blessing, even of healing or resurection can come without faith or without knowledge (to clairify, some beleive faith is no more when you have knowledge of something). We have the choice to have faith in Jesus Christ or to not accept Jesus as the Christ. It remains that simple, it should be that clear.

    Too often we choose to be blind and refuse to open our eyes to the truth. I hope those of us here can accept the truth, and have faith enough to see…
    -D

  11. August 28, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I agree with Reggie in his last statment…
    The only thing I’d like to add is a question about your perfection:
    If you are made perfect at this moment, then you should have a perfect knowledge should you not?
    Can you say without any doubt that your knowledge is perfect? If so then you are unable to learn and grow in knowledge, for there is nothing more to know.

  12. 12 markcares
    August 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Ditchu:
    Choosing to be resurrected and choosing to stay resurrected are two different things. You talked about staying resurrected. I asked about becoming resurrected. The LDS church teaches: “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected – saved from physical death.” (True to the Faith) Do you agree with that? Remember how this discussion started. You stated in the case of Lazarus that he had the choice of not being resurrected – that he had that agency. The question was not about staying resurrected. I am asking the same question concerning the Last Day. Do you believe that people on the Last Day will have the agency, the choice, to not be resurected as you said Lazarus had?

  13. 13 Stephanie
    August 28, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Reggie-,
    Actually, in God’s eyes, there is no difference between Paul and Judas. If everyone tried to jump the grand canyon, would anyone succeed? Some might jump out 10 feet before falling, some might jump only 2 feet. But everyone will fall. That is how God sees humanity. Some are “better” than others in the eyes of this world, according to the standards of this world, as was Paul. And others aren’t so great, like Judas. But none of us can jump across the grand canyon. We all fall in God’s eyes. That is why, when we believe, we are immediately made perfect in God’s eyes, and he no longer sees any difference among us. We are all equally perfected like Christ. In God’s eyes, we are all sinners. And once we have faith in Christ, we are all clothed with His righteousness. Yes, according to our human eyes, Paul lived a much “better life than Judas. But isn’t it more important what God thinks? Isn’t it more important what matters to God?

  14. 14 Stephanie
    August 28, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Ditchu –

    About your last question regarding perfection at this moment…

    No, of course I don’t have perfect knowledge. It comes down to perspective: God’s perspective. In reality, on this earth, I still exist in a state of sin. But in God’s eyes, I am perfect because when God sees me, He sees the perfect life of Christ instead of my sinful life. And what do you think matters? My perspective or God’s perspective? Certainly God’s!

    Just as I said in my last post about Paul and Judas, God has a different perspective than we do. God is not like us. We are not like God. Here on earth I might be an awful sinner, but if I have faith in Christ, God sees me as perfect. All who have faith in Christ are seen as equally perfect by God. He does not show favor to anyone.

    No, of course I don’t have perfect knowledge. In fact, I am no different than anyone else except I have the blessed assurance of my eternal life with Christ. Remember, it’s God’s perspective that matters.

  15. 15 Stephanie
    August 28, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Reggie / Ditchu –

    What do you each think about my analogy of being lost in the woods? I am curious about your thoughts.

  16. August 29, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Lazerus had the choice then but I am unclear what will transpire on “The last day.” Maybe we all will have a choice but prefer to be resurected, I cannot say as I have not experienced the last day yet.
    -D

  17. 17 TK
    August 29, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Ditchu,

    If we have a choice about everything, including whether or not we want to be healed from blindness or being lame, or being resurrected, are you also saying we have a choice of when we die on this earth and what we die from? Do we have a choice to what illnesses we have and don’t have? Do we choose if we have a boy or girl baby? Where does one draw the line? If we can choose whether or not to receive healing then you are saying that those who get well chose to get well and those who don’t get well choose to die. Doesn’t make much sense to me when you look at it that way.

  18. 18 Berean
    August 29, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Reggie,

    While I think it would be great of you to enlighten us on what a LDS Church member believes I’m afraid that would only be your opinion and not authoritative. You can’t speak for the Church. Mormons are quick to pull the “that’s just his opinion” card when it comes to picking and choosing what doctrines they do and don’t like. I mean no disrespect, but who are you? When I can read offical church publications and conference talks given and written by the LDS General Authorities I think that speaks clearly what the Church states.

    Mormons can’t agree on even the “first principle” of the gospel (god is an exalted man) as stated by Joseph Smith. I’m still waiting for the answer from you or Ditchu from the last thread where I gave you the authoritative quotes. When I’ve asked Mormons about this some say that this isn’t a church teaching. Some say it is. Others that I have asked seem embarrased about it and start snickering, laughing, giggling or turning red. When Gordon Hinckely was asked about this in a Time magazine article in August 1997 he said, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphazize it.” Are you kidding me? The prophet of the church doesn’t even know the “first principle” of the gospel? I believe he did, but just didn’t want to state that on TV because of the fallout that would take place in the Mormons attempt to label itself as Christians.

    I noticed on the LDS website that they stated in 2008-2009 that adults will be studying “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith”. I guess when church members get to page 40 they won’t be able to plead ignorannce about this subject anymore because it’s written in black ink that the Mormon god is an exalted man. This is not Christian. This is not in the Bible. Matter of fact, this is not in the Book of Mormon either. The God of the Bible is not an exalted man who lives near a star called Kolob. All this talk about agency matters nothing if you have a false god.

  19. 19 Berean
    August 29, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Once again, we have to define our terms. Mormons sound a lot like Christians when they say they are saved by grace. What does “saved” mean in Mormonism? Christ’s death on the cross saved man by giving all of mankind the free gift of immortality. Eternal life is a whole other issue because that is not a gift, but that one has to be earned. I’m looking at numerous authoritative quotes from those that are qualified to give them that back this up despite the great attempts of our LDS friends on here that spin it another way.

    I ask the LDS readers:

    1. If you died right now do you have the assurance that you would be with heavenly father in the celestial kingdom?
    2. If you died right now do you have the assurance that all of your sins are forgiven?
    3. Have you met all the requirements that your church has laid out for you that if you were to die right now you’d have the best that your religion/church has to offer you?
    4. Do you have eternal life right now and confidently know it?

    2 Nephi 25:23 stating that “we are saved by grace after all we can do” doesn’t mean what we think it means? What does it mean then? Compare that with Ephesians 2:8-9. There is a big difference. The Christian take on 2 Nephi 25:23 is this: WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE BEFORE WE COULD DO ANYTHING.

    When does the Mormon get grace? He gets it AFTER he has denied himself of all ungodliness (Moroni 10:32); AFTER he has made himself perfect (3 Nephi 12:48); AFTER he has done all he can do (2 Nephi 25:23); AFTER he has obeyed all the commandments (1 Nephi 3:7; D&C 25:15; D&C 1:32); AFTER they have removed sin from their lives because Christ can’t save them in their sins (Alma 11:37); AFTER they have repented (abandoned their sin) and forsaken their sins (D&C 58:42-43); AFTER their former sins have not returned (D&C 82:7).

    Let’s look at what the LDS definition is of 2 Nephi 25:23 is so we can be clear. LDS bloggers on here aren’t at liberty to make it what they want.

    “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with him.” (True to the Faith, page 77).

    I ask you:

    1. When does Christ’s saving grace apply?
    2. What is all you can do? (Moroni 10:32?)
    3. How do you know when you have done all you can do?
    4. Are you really doing your best?

    If you’re honest you will say “no”. The problems Mormons have is that they have to do their part before Christ can do anything. “When he (Jesus Christ) became our Savior, he did HIS PART

  20. 20 Berean
    August 29, 2008 at 4:16 am

    (cont’d)

    “…HIS PART to help us return to our heavenly home. It is now up to each of us to do our part and become worthy of exaltation.” (Gospel Principles, page 19)

    Mormons have a lot of work to do on their own before Christ can do anything for them. That is why Mark said what he did about having concern and understanding for the Mormons and their spiritual predicament. I share that as well. The Mormon law/plan of salvation is impossible to keep. That is why 2/3 of the Church is inactive.

    In Christianity, Christ has done it all. There is nothing you can do to contribute one thing for your salvation. You believe on Christ and that is faith. He redeems you completely on that and that alone. Eternal life is a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it on your own. You can’t earn a gift. By the way, Christians are all about obedience. We obey from the heart out of gratitude (Romans 6:17).

  21. 21 Berean
    August 29, 2008 at 4:16 am

    “…HIS PART to help us return to our heavenly home. It is now up to each of us to do our part and become worthy of exaltation.” (Gospel Principles, page 19)

    Mormons have a lot of work to do on their own before Christ can do anything for them. That is why Mark said what he did about having concern and understanding for the Mormons and their spiritual predicament. I share that as well. The Mormon law/plan of salvation is impossible to keep. That is why 2/3 of the Church is inactive.

    In Christianity, Christ has done it all. There is nothing you can do to contribute one thing for your salvation. You believe on Christ and that is faith. He redeems you completely on that and that alone. Eternal life is a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn it on your own. You can’t earn a gift. By the way, Christians are all about obedience. We obey from the heart out of gratitude (Romans 6:17).

  22. August 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    TK,
    It makes perfect sence when you look at more than one side of the coin.
    Let us be practical about this.
    If you get sick, did you choose it? I’m not saying that you have full control over everything that happens, nor should we have that controol. If I get sick, it usually is not due to choice, but If I choose to not have faith that I will get well, I am in fact keeping myself sick and will not get better. But if I have faith that I will get better and I don’t, that does not take away my agency. You are still looking only at one side of the coin. When receiving a Blessing for Healing, you will not be healed without the faith that it will work. But faith alone may not be enough, sometimes there needs to be intervention for something to occure.

    Again, I am not taking anything away from the mericals Jesus Preformed, in fact I just hold to the fact that these people had faith in him as well, so they held fast to their agency and choose to allow themselves to be healed.

    This is observed in the medical studies and they call it the plasibo effect. Some people accually have gained the healing qualities from a drug they thought they were taking but were not, the flip side is that some did not bennifit due to their faith in the drug they were accually taking would not work or that it was not the real drug.

    -D

  23. 23 Stephanie
    August 29, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Ditchu,

    It is a very painful lie you are spreading, regarding faith and healing. I have been very sick in the past. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an “inoperable” tumor in the left, frontal lobe of my brain. And many years ago, when I was a child, my father died from malignant melanoma that had spread to his brain. Sickness happens in our world because of Adam’s sin. Sickness happens because we live in a fallen world.

    Luckily for me, I realized that our sickness is not the result of our personal sin. God didn’t strike my father ill because he committed a certain sin. Likewise, God didn’t curse me with a brain tumor because of anything I had done. If God still needs to punish us, then Christ’s death is not enough. But Christ’s death was enough for all sins! There is no need to further punish anyone with sickness. This is one side of the so-called coin that you mention.

    The other side of that coin is healing. What causes healing? Can we choose to heal ourselves if we have enough faith? The short answer is “No, we cannot.” In fact, sometimes God uses suffering for His own mysterious and good purposes.

    There actually is a purpose for suffering. God has taken this very bad thing (illness) and has brought good fruits from the pain. For example, suffering keeps us humble. “Psalm 119:67, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word… It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Suffering purifies and strengthens faith (see Hebrews 12:5-7). Suffering forces us to look outside ourselves and it re-establishes our priorities.

    What is a Biblical response to suffering? First, acceptance. See 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering…” Second, trust in God. Trust that God will provide your daily bread, as He did to the Israelites wandering in the desert with manna. See Job 13:15 “though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Thirdly, our response should be prayer.

    What are the fruits of suffering? Perseverance, character, and hope. See Romans 5:3-4. Also, a harvest of peace and righteousness (Hebrews 12:5-7). Also, a strong and purified faith. Suffering makes us more Christ-like. Suffering also can free us from our fear of death.

    I know Christ says several times, “Your faith has healed you.” Christ came to “heal us” from our biggest problem, namely our sin. He often had compassion on the masses of sick people also. When He healed them, he wanted to stress that the more important part was their faith, which healed them from their eternal wound. Out of his deep compassion, he healed them from their earthly suffering, but he pointed out that they were healed also from their eternal sickness because of their faith. Christ gave the credit for his miraculous healings to the faith of the person because he wanted to show how important faith is. He wanted to say, “Hey, your faith has removed your sin in my eyes. And so you will never forget, I will also heal your physical problem.” But healing the sick was not Christ’s main mission. His main mission was to heal us from an eternity in outer darkness. Even though Christ says, “Your faith has healed you,” this does not imply that the person chose to be healed. No where can that connection be made.

    It is insulting tell someone that they don’t have enough faith, or else God would heal them. I heard it when I was ill. And it is a lie. God gives, and God takes away. See Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” or Job 1:21 “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.”

    Our sufferings are irrelevant when it comes to eternity.

    For me, this is quite a personal testimony, as I have been through a little bit of suffering. I waited for two years, from my diagnosis in 2003, until the surgery in 2005, without knowing what type of tumor was in my head. I had a biopsy of the tumor immediately, but no one could figure out if it was cancerous or benign (non-cancerous). And no one would operate to remove the tumor because it was located in the center of my brain, even crossing over from one hemisphere into the other. All the doctors labeled the tumor inoperable and no one would attempt to remove it. So every day for two years I prayed and waited and trusted in God. Finally, a little woman doctor (neurosurgeon, of course) volunteered to take my case and remove the tumor. The tumor had grown larger and was giving me enough problems to warrant a risky surgery. And, all to God’s glory, the entire tumor was successfully removed and I have absolutely zero side-effects today. No one would ever guess that for a short time I had lost the ability to speak or even write. No one would ever guess that I had my skull removed and 34 staples in my head and that I have a metal plate under my scalp.

    But here is the point… Nothing I did brought this healing and mercy to me. It is entirely undeserved! Sometimes I wonder, “God, what did I do that you decided to heal me?” Wrong question!! Sinful question!! The answer is nothing. I did nothing. God had compassion on me and healed me because He chose to. No other reason. And I rejoice daily that He did!

    We cannot choose to be healed. We cannot refuse to be healed. And we cannot choose to be sick, or remain sick. That places so much burden on our shoulders, so much frustration. The only thing we can do is pray for God’s mercy and God’s will to be done.

    God Bless!

  24. 24 markcares
    August 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Ditchu:
    You talk about people always having faith when it came to being a recepient of Jesus’ miracles. Where is the faith in the man whose ear Jesus healed – luke 22:51 Or read the acount of the man born blind that Jesus healed in John 9. It’s not until the end of the chapter that the man realizes who Jesus is. Jesus did not just heal people who believed in him.

  25. August 29, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Stephanie,
    I do sorrow for you and it is sad that you cannot be physically with your father right now. What you must understand is that you must have mis-read me. I agree with the comment that you cannot heal yourself if you just have enough faith. I did not mean to suggest that faith alone can heal. What you are speaking of is not “…one side of the so-called coin that…” I “…mention.” It is not a part of my discussion on healing needing faith. The side most people look at is the choice to be well. We often assume that we all want to be healthy or well, but that is not the case judged by our decisions in general. I had just talked with a neighbor the other day as he put it (smoking a cigarette) He waters his lawn as he gets cancer. His words not mine…
    He makes a choice to smoke even when he knows the high potential of getting cancer. This choice is an obvious example of not wanting to be healthy. (There is always a sacrifice for the things we want.)
    I like how you backed up your statement: “God uses suffering for His own mysterious and good purposes.” This is true, but we also have the ability to heap suffering upon ourselves. I am in no way saying that all suffering comes from ourselves but we do have some choice in many cases. I also am trying to avoid absolutes, but it is difficult to ignore that for one man to have choice in these things and another to be stripped of his agency entirely, God cannot see the two as equal, he must then have favoritism and be a cruel, un fair, and unloving God. I cannot accept the God that I know to be this way, so I must acknowledge the absolute that if one man has agency then we all do. It is then up to us to determine what to do with our agency.
    I agree that, “It is insulting tell someone that they don’t have enough faith, or else God would heal them.” And I attest that that is not what I am saying. I am saying that if God tried to heal you and you chose not to believe that it could be done then you would remain in your afflicted state. If you choose to not have faith in the healing, you can prevent it. If you do have faith and God truly sends healing to you, you will indeed receive it. I know of many Charlatans playing at faith healing, I do not like the practice and they often say that it is the person’s lack of faith that prevented them from being healed. I cannot determine another’s faith, can you? If you do have faith to be healed, in all cases you will receive the healing God sends, if and when he sends it. Then again if you have full faith in a healing, and you do not receive it then perchance it was not truly sent from God.
    Stephanie, your personal testimony is a great one. I assume that you did understand that nothing is impossible to God. Did you lack all faith that if God wanted to heal you he would? I doubt that that is the case. I think that you had sufficient faith in the ability of God and when he choose to heal you, you accepted it by faith. You chose not to doubt his ability, else I guess you would not attribute any health to God at all.
    In summation: We can choose to accept the healing or reject it.

    Thank you for helping me to better explain my position on this topic.
    God bless,
    -D

  26. 26 Stephanie
    August 30, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Mark 10:27, “And Jesus, looking upon them, said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.'”

    An honest discussion here seems futile, because the discussion is continually sidetracked. (I am guilty of this too, I apologize.) To get the discussion back on track, would someone kindly respond to the questions that have been asked (see comment 15 or 19)?

  27. 27 Berean
    August 30, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Stephanie,

    Your posts are terrific! You’re right…the discussion if futile and our Mormon friends are doing the old “dodge and deflect” when the sensitive issues that disturb them are brought again to their attention (your post and mine – #15 & #19). Why answer those questions when we can talk about peripheral issues that are nice and cozy, right? As I said, talking about agency and these other issues are pointless if one has the wrong deity. The Mormon scriptures indict the Church members all on their own.

    I got booted off of a Mormon blog for asking those same questions and for typing out the quotes from LDS leaders. I quote McConkie and Joseph Smith and they get angry. I’m an anti-Mormon for asking real questions that didn’t make them feel comfortable. The tone nowadays that I keep hearing from the Mormons sounds so much like Universalism. Mormons say everyone and all religions of the world have various forms of the truth. That is a lie from the pit of hell when one looks at John 14:6. Mormons don’t want to offend, but waste no time in stating that their church is the only true churcn on earth (D&C 1:30) and everyone else is an abomination (1 Nephi 14:10) and we are fools if we only rely on the Bible (2 Nephi 29:3,4,6&10). But yet, that is not anti-Christian?

  28. 28 Stephanie
    August 31, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Berean,

    Thanks! I look forward to hearing more of your insights in the future on this blog. Have a great Sunday!

  29. 29 TK
    September 2, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Ditchu,
    I disagree. Even if we choose not to have faith for God to heal us, if it’s the will of God, he will heal us. Look at all of the people in the world who don’t believe in God. They have no faith and yet they are healed. Also, regarding the guy who chooses to die of cancer as he is watering his lawn because he chooses to smoke. What about the many people who choose to smoke but who don’t die of an illness caused by cigarettes? Your argument doesn’t fly. Matt.5:45 states “… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” The Lord gives good things to those who love him and those who don’t. The Heavenly Father is God and he is the one who chooses whether or not we have sickness or whether or not we are healed. All that we can have “faith” in is that Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us and it is up to Him if we are sick or well. It is not up to us at all. If it were up to me, I would never be sick and I would never suffer. Guess what, that’s only going to happen in Heaven. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, we live in a sinful world and there is going to always be problems and suffering. Heavenly Father uses those to strengthen our faith and to trust in him. Stephanie is correct in telling us this. Unfortunately, the LDS cannot have the comfort or knowing this in their heart, so yes they are burdened thinking that if they only have enough faith they will be healed or not face suffering. If they are good enough, they will be blessed with prosperity and good health. This is so not true. I know some of the most blessed people and happiest people who are dirt poor and have faced sickness and death in their families. Tragedies that are totally unexplained. They love Heavenly Father and trust he knows best. They trust his mercy and his faithfulness. They are good people who live a righteous life because of the gift of forgiveness they are given. Their gratefulness shines through because they know they can do absolutely nothing to win God’s favor. It has already been won for them on the cross. As the scripture above states, the Lord gives good and bad things to good and bad people. One cannot by any means say they have a choice. It’s all up to Heavenly Father.

  30. September 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    TK,
    I know that you take no roll in your own life. That way you can blame all things on God, good and bad.

    I’d not agree with this philosophy because too much has happened in my own life where I can see the direct influance of my personal choices. I just think it is a great cop-out to blame God for your own choices and hand them over to someone else, be it God, or some religious or Political group, or another person, or even Satin. It is a shame to just go along with things and use the reasoning that you didn’t have any choice in the matter. Again There may be some situations in which your choice is limmited or overridden, but in most you do have decissions to make and you are capible of playing your roll in God’s plan, or choosing to turn away from it. Your choice is a gift to you, I know not why you want to give it away to someone or something else.
    -D

  31. September 2, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Can one put their belief in something other than God? Is not trusting the medication to work not putting faith in them?
    What about believing that a person will be a good choice for the president of the nation? Are we not putting some bit of faith in them?

    I just am not sure on these points and would like some other viewpoints to relate to.
    -D

  32. 32 TK
    September 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Ditchu,

    I am not saying that I don’t make decisions and that I just sit back for the ride. I am saying that it doesn’t matter what choices I make, the Lord’s will, will always prevail. If I make a poor choice, I will naturally suffer consequences. I do know that the Lord will work out whatever choice I make to my benefit. Whether I get well or stay ill or even die, it is for my good.

    In answer to your other questions, yes, one can put their belief in something other than God. This happens all of the time. It’s called idolatry. As far as medication, God gave man the ability to learn about medicine to help people with illnesses. Many people trust their medication to heal them. God uses medication as a means to heal people. Sometimes, medication doesn’t work. Does that mean that God is wrong. Of course not. It means, God didn’t mean for that person to be healed by it. Does it mean that because the person put his faith in the medicine and it didn’t work, it’s because he didn’t believe in God. Once again, God didn’t mean for that person to be healed by it. Just as those who don’t believe in God but put their faith in medicine and do get well. God wants for them to be healed and so they are, even though they don’t believe in God.

    I don’t put my faith in the choice of president. I put my faith in God for whoever he wants in the presidency will be there. God establishes all authority on the earth. Does that mean we shouldn’t vote? Of course not. However, the person God wants for the job will be elected. I am glad that God is in control because he never makes mistakes and is always reliable. His ways are always consistent. He doesn’t make decisions based on the mood he is in. He bases his decisions on the love he has for us. What an awesome God we have!

  33. 33 TK
    September 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    The scripture that back’s up God establishing authority is Romans 13:1.

  34. 34 TK
    September 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    The scripture that back’s up is Romans 13:1.

  35. September 2, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Again blame God for all things?

    How can our vote be of value if God ultimatly decides all things? “whoever he wants in the presidency will be there.” Take this to the extream and all the choices you make in your own life are according to the will of God, even when you decide to go agaiinst his commandments. In this theory of the order of things, it is God that makes us sin.
    I cannot rationalize this way of thinking.

    Also I see that Romans 13 is speaking more of “Powers” not necessarly of worldly endevors and but of The rule of Heaven and the authority of the Preisthood, which only God can grant to those whom serve him.

    I am in no way saying that God does not have a part in our wellness as you are suggesting is my point, but I assert that we have a part in it as well, as we have a part in every aspect of our lives. Why else would we be given choices unless to make them and suffer the results wether good or ill. As a parent I often keep my child out of harm’s way, but when I discern it safe I let him make dicesions, some of his choices will lead him to uncomfortable and sometimes painful results. But if I keep him from making poor decisions, When will he learn good from bad and how will he learn to make good choices? He cannot learn to make good choices unless I allow him his agency. I know that the ability to choose good over bad is a lesson from our Heavenly Father. A lesson we must learn here in this life, a lesson that we will need for the next life.
    -D

  36. September 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Mark referance Post 24.

    Did not the man who lost his ear come to arrest Jesus? Am I mistaken, and was it a common practise of the time to join a mob and go arrest some stranger without any hint as to the purpose of the arrest or the person to be apprehrended? Did not Jesus’ Fame spread through the land as to rumor passing in the streets when he arrived? Did Jesus not have received a grand welcome to the City in the weeks prior to his arrest?

    I will assert here that the Man knew of Jesus as much that there was much news of his healing abilities that the man could have had faith in the abilities of Jesus to be healed, and that he knew Which man was called Jesus before he lost his ear. Is it too far of a streach to realize that the man had faith in Jesus’ healing abilities before he himself was healed, but after he was healed had a testemony of “Who Jesus was?” I think it is reasonable to be presume this is how it occured.

    -D

  37. September 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    “Mormons can’t agree on even the “first principle” of the gospel (god is an exalted man) as stated by Joseph Smith.”

    Berean, that is NOT the “first principle of the Gospel” for Mormons.

    Maybe it’s your own pet #1 concern. But I see no reason why we should have to follow your lead.

    And, by the way, it only seems like “dodge-and-deflect” to you because we refuse to play by your ground rules.

    Tough beans. Who made you guys referee anyway? We don’t have the same concerns with religion that you do, and I see no reason why we should change that.

  38. 38 Berean
    September 4, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Seth,

    You’re problem isn’t with me, it’s with Joseph Smith. He is the one that said that. If you have a problem with what he taught then you need to take it to your bishop. Joseph Smith said:

    “It is the FIRST PRINCIPLE of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US;” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-346: King Follet Discourse)

    See what I mean? Individual Mormons want their own brand of Mormonism – “Vegas buffet” Mormonism: pick and choose what doctrines/teachings you like and discard the rest. Mormons need to get educated on what the real teachings of the church are instead of drinking “ward milk”.

  39. September 4, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Berean,
    What about that is so difficult to accept?

  40. 40 Berean
    September 5, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Ditchu,

    The God of the Bible is not an exalted man. He did not come into existence by his own heavenly parents somewhere else, lived on some type of an earth, was a sinner, eternally progressed and became a god and obtained plural wives and lives on a planet near the star Kolob. This is the Mormon god.

    I have read numerous church manuals, the LDS scriptures, the writings of Mormon prophets and apostles which have said the above mentioned. The Mormons have a different god than that of the Bible. They also have a different Jesus, spirit and gospel as well and the Bible warns of this (2 Cor 11:4).

    Joseph Smith said that knowing who God was is the first principle of the gospel. In the LDS case, it’s knowing that he is an exalted man. This should be the starting point. If one has the wrong god, then one is lost for all eternity and these other peripheral issues are meaningless.

  41. September 5, 2008 at 2:10 am

    “This is the Mormon god.”

    If so, I fail to see much of a problem.

    “The Mormons have a different god than that of the Bible.”

    Say it all you want Berean. Saying don’t make it so.

    “If one has the wrong god, then one is lost for all eternity and these other peripheral issues are meaningless.”

    Says you. Lots and lots of Evangelical assumptions here. They color your read and emphasis of the Bible.

  42. 42 Berean
    September 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Seth,

    You’re showing your lack of understanding and education on Mormon teachings. Everything I have said is all documented in LDS official publications, scriptures or the writings of your prophets. I have given exact quotes from LDS references on some of those issues already. For me to document each point as I outlined above would be a waste of time in your case because you wouldn’t look at them anyway. If you choose to ignore them or discount them, then that is your choice. Burying your head in the sand or closing your eyes and ears to what Joseph Smith said won’t make it go away. Ask your bishop or stake president if what I said above is true and see what they say? If the LDS Church doesn’t want the world to know what it teaches, then it shouldn’t freely give out it’s reference books. LDS Distribution in Salt Lake City gives me whatever I ask them for with no questions asked and it all has the church stamp on the back.

  43. September 5, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Berean,

    You can cite official Church publications all you want. You can even cite them in context and cross-reference them to other official statements.

    That still does not remove the fact that you are wresting them to fit your orthodoxy-obsessed agenda. That is not what the materials were meant for. If you read them with that agenda, you will miss the point every time.

    Take your Joseph Smith quote:

    “It is the FIRST PRINCIPLE of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that HE WAS ONCE A MAN LIKE US;” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-346: King Follet Discourse)

    Now, I agree with this quote (my earlier objection was due to me simply thinking about the 4th Article of Faith). The difference between you and me is what we do with it. You immediately try to use the doctrine as a tool of division and exclusion. According to you, we need to be more like your church and use this doctrine as a tool to divide and exclude. We need to be out there rigorously enforcing a technically and theologically correct formulation of this statement and anyone who doesn’t “tow the line” can’t be a good Mormon. Right?

    We need to use doctrine, not as a tool to encourage people to devote their lives to God, but as a tool of division, a tool to drive out the heretics, a tool to draw lines in the sand.

    Something needs to be clear here. When God appeared to Joseph Smith and called your creeds “an abomination” He wasn’t just referring to the doctrines contained therein. Some of the doctrines truly are abominable. But many of them are completely unobjectionable from a Mormon doctrinal standpoint. So it wasn’t really necessarily the doctrines.

    Rather, it was the fact that you have creeds in the first place. This is the great and terrible abomination of traditional Christianity – that it has wrested the word of the Lord to exclude and divide based on whether you have the correct philosophical outlook on the world. It would kill people just for getting the crummy formulas wrong! That it would try to stuff the Living God into a box made by men – even the brightest and best of men – and forbid Him to come out, is the true and great heresy of orthodox Christianity.

    That you would elevate a Baptist who has the correct theological catch phrases, yet lives a life of oppressing his fellow men, above the Muslim who humbly seeks the living God – however limited, and even incorrect his notion of that God… This is the true heresy and abomination of orthodox Christianity. All too often, its priorities have been completely screwed up.

    Salvation is not to be found solely, or even primarily, in having the correct theology, any more than it was to be found in the phylacteries of the Pharisees during Christ’s mortal ministry. Correct belief, and correct theology proceeds from a life lived according to God’s will. If you live your life according to God’s commands, you will understand and know God far better than all the PhDs of philosophy and theology combined. And all the creeds and philosophies of men cannot prevent a humble widow from coming to know God in her life. Not through some small-minded creed, but through her own life and experience spent in communion with the one True God – no matter what her knowledge of your silly creeds.

    So wrest the scriptures, and quote LDS sources as much as you want.

    What you are really doing is uprooting what were meant to be sign posts and fashioning them into a cage. All the accurate quoting in the world will not change the fact that you were wrong before you even started.

  44. 44 Berean
    September 5, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Yes, there are creeds in the Christian faith, but they are not authoritative. My Christian church affiliation is the largest in the United States and we don’t go by the creeds. They are good for guidance, but they are not the standard bearer. We believe in the inerrancy and the infallibility of the Bible and our faith falls on that and that alone.

    In the Mormon view, is that Muslim that you mentioned as being “oppressed” by the Baptist, have full rights to the celestial kingdom as a temple worthy Mormon who has completed the endowment and eternal marriage ordinances? Where is that Muslim going to end up if he rejects Joseph Smith’s message and new gospel? The terrestrial with the Christians, right? I thought the Mormon Church would not be excluding?

    Salvation is not based on correct theology? So one can believe whatever they want and have salvation? It never ceases to amaze me what I hear from LDS Church members. They all have their own individual belief system. For males to supposedly have the Melchizedek Priesthood, but have such wide conflicting views in regards to salvation requirements is beyond me.

    Seth, if you can show me from the Bible or the Book of Mormon that God (Heavenly Father) is an exatled man, since Joseph Smith said this was the “first principle of the gospel”, I’ll get on board with your program. The Book of Mormon says that it’s “the most correct book on earth” and that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book”. If God is an exalted man it should be in there. It should be in the Bible. I don’t care what D&C says because it’s not “the most correct book on earth”. I’ve been waiting for this answer for a very long time from Mormons and I have never heard it yet. Show me the first principle of the gospel in the Bible, the Book of Mormon or both or just one.

    Thank you.

  45. September 5, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    “So one can believe whatever they want and have salvation?”

    Ultimately, no they can’t. Truth is not relative, and I’m not much of a postmodernist. Every knee shall bow and tongue confess in the end. But in the meanwhile, it is important not to allow a rigid obsession with orthodoxy to blind you to additional revelation from God, or cause you to exclude fellow searchers – no matter where they may be in their spiritual journey.

    Now, you wrote:

    “Yes, there are creeds in the Christian faith, but they are not authoritative. My Christian church affiliation is the largest in the United States and we don’t go by the creeds. They are good for guidance, but they are not the standard bearer. We believe in the inerrancy and the infallibility of the Bible and our faith falls on that and that alone.”

    Yeah, right. The creeds ARE the light by which you read and define the Bible. This may not be obvious to you, but it is abundantly obvious to anyone who doesn’t share the assumptions of the creeds that you are deliberately shutting off any possibilities that are not contained in the creeds. So this protestation falls flat for me.

  46. September 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Berean,
    you said that: “The God of the Bible is not an exalted man.” Where is this defined in the Bible?
    Can you please supply your Biblical referances that state that God is not an exalted man?
    -D

  47. September 5, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I imagine that Numbers 23:19 would be one of the standard starting points.

  48. September 5, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    seth,
    That is a good one. But we should see clearly that it says that God “is” not a man. This has nothing to say about what God ever was. It still leaves the possibility open.

    Thank you for this verse, I can see how the so called truth of the matter can be manipluated by simple inturpratation.
    -D

  49. 49 Berean
    September 6, 2008 at 3:11 am

    There are others that say that God is not a man: 1 Sam 15:29 & Hosea 11:9.

    The Bible says that God is spirit: John 4:24. He is invisible: Col 1:15. He is omnipresent: Psalms 139. He has always been God and did not progress into being “a god” : Psalm 90:2. There is only one God: Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29: Isaiah 43:10-12. You won’t become a god either: Isaiah 43:10-12.

    Those are good starting points. You guys need to so some Bible study. This is basis stuff.

  50. 50 Berean
    September 6, 2008 at 3:36 am

    That’s right, the creeds are not authoritative for the Christian church. If you want to learn about Christianity, you need to learn it from Christians and not what you are told at the wards or from the FAIR, FARMS or BYU websites. The creeds aided in defining the faith. My Chrisitan Church affiliation greatly outnumbers the Mormon Church membership and we don’t use them nor memorize them.

    I’m still patiently waiting for you “Melchizedek Priesthood” holders to guide me through the Bible or the Book of Mormon or both and show me from scripture that god (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man. Restating my question in reverse and then reasking it to me is pretty wimpy. Show some good scholarship and LDS training and show an investigator the first principle of the Mormon religion as defined by Joseph Smith. If you can, I’ll personally drive to your hometown and let you baptize me and my whole family into the Mormon Church. Deal?

  51. September 6, 2008 at 4:20 am

    “The Bible says that God is spirit: John 4:24”

    It also says God is love (1 John 4:8). But you would have to be pretty silly to say that “love” is all that God is.

    “He is invisible: Col 1:15”

    So is Harry Potter when he wears the invisibility cloak. What’s your point?

    “There is only one God: Deut 6:4”

    Unless you are a Christian, in which case there are three.

    “You won’t become a god either: Isaiah 43:10-12”

    Not according to John 10:34 and Psalms 82:6.

    “My Chrisitan Church affiliation greatly outnumbers the Mormon Church membership and we don’t use them [creeds] nor memorize them.”

    Yet you allow them to restrict your read on the Bible apparently.

    “I’m still patiently waiting for you “Melchizedek Priesthood” holders to guide me through the Bible or the Book of Mormon or both and show me from scripture that god (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man.”

    Someone of your wide experience has obviously already read all the relevant articles over at FAIR on this subject (and come up with your own reasons for why they are wrong – no doubt). I’m not going to waste my time walking you through them personally. Find some one else to practice your spiritual kung fu on.

    For the record, Blake Ostler has written extensively on the subject of the nature of God and cited scripture (both Bible and otherwise) rather extensively. You might try checking out the books he’s written. They are available on Amazon right now if you’re interested.

  52. September 6, 2008 at 5:01 am

    B-
    I didn’t know that wew were in a numbers game here. So what is your (massive) Church affiliation? So we can understand eachother better, lets get past the mystery of the naming game too. We all know how easy it is to accuse others of ills, espically when we can remain ambigous behind hooded faces. Let’s pull the hood off and have it, What do you call this “affiliation?”

    -D

  53. September 6, 2008 at 5:05 am

    B-
    No Deal, I’d like each of us to come to our own conclusion as baptism and other spiritual matters. Also I think for your deal to work you must first clearly define Scripture, for as some believe that each word that issues out of the mouth of a Prophet is Scripture.
    This may create some indistinct gray areas in your reasoning.

    -D

  54. 54 Berean
    September 6, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Ditchu:

    I’m a Southern Baptist. The Southern Baptist Convention is 16 million members strong. My point was not to get into a numbers game. My point was to reinforce what I was saying about the creeds. There are many creeds that are out there. They are not authoritative as a “sink or swim” rule. They are guides and varying statements of faith from various church fathers, but not pointed to as the “end-all” in Christianity. Our salvation is not based on the creeds, but on the teachings of the Bible and that alone which centers on faith in Christ by grace.

    I’m disappointed that you have turned my offer to baptize my family and I on the condition of your reasoning with me from the scriptures the first principle of the Mormon gospel as outlined by Joseph Smith in that Heavenly Father (God) is an exalted man. I assumed this would be an easy task.

  55. 55 Berean
    September 6, 2008 at 7:02 am

    Seth,

    I see that your answers are the standard LDS answers that shows a real lack of serious Bible study and examination of the scriptures. I’ll be happy to address your points with each verse.

    John 4:24 – Here Jesus defines what is the form that God takes. Jesus says that God is a spirit. Jesus defines for us what a spirit is NOT in Luke 24:39 (a spirit does does not have flesh and bones).

    1 John 4:8 – God is love. That’s right…that’s one of His attributes. He has many. His attributes are different than His form or his appearance. Jesus is love, but when he appears he has a body of flesh and bones (back to Luke 24:36-43). The Father does not have flesh and bones (John 4:24 & Matthew 16:17).

    Col 1:15 – Again, this is God’s form/appearance. By comparing Harry Potter with the Almighty seems blasphemous, don’t you think? It’s also silly.

    Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29 – The Bible is clear in many texts that there is only one God. This is the heart of Christianity. Christianity is monotheism. Christianity does believe in the Trinity. What is the Trinity? Simply, it is this: Within the nature of the one God, there are three person – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are co-equal and co-eternal in every aspect. While the Bible clearly states that there is one God, He reveals Himself in three persons. They are one God – not three different gods as defined by Joseph Smith. The concept of the Trinity is hard for the human mind to grasp. Christians don’t try to rationalize God and make Him like one of us so we can understand him. This is what Mormons do. Mormons believing in three different gods, Joseph Smith’s teachings of a plurality of Gods/”council of the gods” that makes Mormonism a polytheistic religion which is directly opposite of Christianity.

    John 10:34/Psalms 82:6 – Look at the text in John. Notice who is talking (Jesus) and who He is talking to (the Jews). Jesus is quoting scripture (Psalms 82:6) to the Jews and they know it. Look at the small “g” of “gods”. Why isn’t that capitalized? Because it’s not deity for starters. Let me ask you some questions before we look closer.

    1. Does Mormonism teach that men are gods now? No.
    2. Were the Jewish religious leaders (judges) who were the murderers of Jesus actually gods? No.
    3. Jesus is speaking in the present tense – “Ye ARE gods”. Were there men who became gods before Jesus? No.

    I say “no” because that is the answers I have been given in the past from Mormons and that affirms what is taught in Mormon doctrine.

    Psalms 82:6 – Mormons make the mistake of not looking at the verses before and after a verse that they like and also not looking at the context of the verse. What is the context here? Start at verse 1 and read to verse 8. God is talking about the judges of Israel. God is speaking of their office – not their essence. There is only one God by nature/essence. The judges became as “gods” in the eyes of the people – mighty ones (representatives). See Exodus 7:1; 21:6; Deut 1:15-17. Look at the “g” in verse one – small “g”. Same in verse 6 – small “g”. Now look at the “G” in verse 8. This is deity and it’s in the singular! Finally, if you think this means that you can become gods then what are you going to do with verse 7 that says “ye shall die like men”. Do gods die? No, not in the Mormon view. Mormons aren’t going to become gods. God has the title on being God and nobody else can (Isaiah 43:10-12). The belief that man can become a god was thought up by Satan and got mankind kicked out of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3. Look at verse 5)

    I don’t get my Mormon education from the FAIR or FARMS website. I get it from official church sources. You should do the same. I find it amazing that you are recommending to me Blake Olster, a Mormon lawyer who has no Church authority, is not a General Authority, does not speak for the Church, etc. to educate me on the nature of God from the Mormon viewpoint when I can clearly read from authoritative works of the Church what the Church says about the nature of God! Amazing! If I referenced a work to you or any other Mormon on the nature of God as defined in Christianity by some Christian attorney, would you read it? Not in a million years, but yet you expect non-members to recognize any source you bring forward as authoritative. Let’s get serious! You’re joking, right?

    You don’t want to engage in “spiritual kung fu”, but you want your brethren Mr. Olster to do your bidding in proving to me the simplest of Mormons doctrines as defined by Joseph Smith on the nature of God (Heavenly Father) that he is an exalted man. Are you not troubled that this teaching is not in the Bible or even the Book of Mormon? The Bible does not support your beliefs. There are some major contradictions here. God is not in the contradicting business. If He was He wouldn’t be God. God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and He is not author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33).

  56. September 6, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Yes Berean.

    I’ve heard all those counterarguments. And if I wanted, I could go and find some responses for you, and we could go back and forth all week over this. If you’re from Mormon Research Ministries, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I seriously doubt you’re ignorant of the LDS response to your counterarguments. Your offer to get baptized was nothing more than a petty taunt so you would have an excuse to put on a little Bible-bashing show for other Christians who may read this blog and be “falsely misled” by the “dangerous Mormon.”

    Truth is, you never had any intention of seriously considering anything I had to say to begin with. So I won’t waste everyone’s time by going over ground that you and I have already covered numerous times.

    I will say one thing. I don’t make offers to change faiths when I know full well that I have no intention of doing so. When I know full well how the conversation is going to play out before it even starts, and know that, at the closing curtain, I will not have changed my position even one bit.

    So why don’t you run on back to CARM and tell the adoring public how the Mormon “chickened-out” in the face of your superior exegesis?

  57. 57 Berean
    September 6, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I see you are using Timothy Berman’s words in reference to CARM and the Mormon Research Ministry. I have nothing to do with CARM. If someone is using the same screen name as I then that is a coincidence. After all, “Berean” is a common term and it comes from Acts 17:10-11. I’m not from the Mormon Research Ministry either. I do blog over there as do many Christians and Mormons, but that’s where it starts and ends. If I told you what I did for a living you’d probably be very surprised and feel embarrassed that you cannot reason from the scriptures with such a simple man.

    I didn’t make an offer for you to have to change faiths. All you or any Mormon had to do was reason with me from the scriptures (Acts 17:2) from the Bible or the Book of Mormon or both that god is an exalted man. If you could clearly demonstrate this, then I would let you baptize my family and I into the Mormon Church. If you can’t, then you can’t. Just say that you can’t and then that is it on your part. The real burden is on me. Seems like a rather good deal for you. You have nothing to lose. I’m not here to put on any show to any other Christians. It appears that there aren’t a whole lot of Christians on this blog to begin with. If I wanted attention I would use my real name and state where I live. I would be advertising on the other blog for all to come over here and gaze at the “Bible-bashing show”. I will not be using your name or this blog as a point of reference when I discuss this with other Christians or Mormons.

    My whole point is to demonstrate to you and the other Mormons here that what the Mormon Church teaches, as outlined by Joseph Smith as the “first principle of the gospel”, is not found in the Bible or the Book of Mormon. If this “first principle” cannot be established, then where does one proceed from this point? This should be the starting point.

    For months now I have been trying to find any Mormon who can answer this question and meet this challenge. Instead, when I ask Mormons about this “first principle” most of them deny that the Church teaches it, others say that the Church does teach it but don’t want to talk about it anymore or the other group of Mormons starts giggling and turning red in the face with embarrassment and say, “Well…uhh…ahh.”

    I will continue to search for Mormons who can help me with this basic teaching of Joseph Smith. According to the LDS.org website, the Church book “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith” is the focus for study for the Church in 2008-2009. I will attend the stake down the street from and see if they can help explain and reason from the scriptures with me what it says on page 40:

    “My FIRST object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of being He is…God Himself was once as we are now, and is an EXALTED MAN and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” [Emphasis mine]

  58. September 6, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Occupation has nothing to do with scriptural knowledge Berean. The word of God is available to all. I don’t think my occupation or yours should change the merits of our arguments.

    Thank you for the clarification that you are not really “from” MRM, but simply a reader over there. My mistake then. I’ve had run-ins with the MRM crowd before and was not favorably impressed (which is where the hostility and suspicion comes from).

    “It appears that there aren’t a whole lot of Christians on this blog to begin with.”

    You may very well be right there. It only stands to reason that Mormons would be more interested in talking about Mormonism than other people. But who knows?

    “My whole point is to demonstrate to you and the other Mormons here that what the Mormon Church teaches, as outlined by Joseph Smith as the “first principle of the gospel”, is not found in the Bible or the Book of Mormon.”

    If that was all you were arguing, I would have agreed with you outright Berean.

    Look, my position has never been that Joseph’s teaching is deliberately contained in the Bible. It isn’t. Sure, you have plenty of verses on the Eastern Orthodox idea of theosis – and they are moving and beautiful. But they do not DEMAND the Mormon idea of deification. They can also be read as preserving the ontological divide between God and man (which is how the E. Orthodox read it).

    Neither is the idea of deification in the Book of Mormon. In fact, it’s even less present in the Book of Mormon than it is in the Bible. I’ve heard Christian scholars actually remark on how doctrinally unobjectionable the Book of Mormon is.

    It has never been my argument that Joseph’s teaching of deification or the nature of God is DEMANDED by the Bible or the Book of Mormon. So if you are looking for me to prove the doctrine to you from the Bible alone, you are out of luck. It cannot be done.

    BUT…

    Neither is the Mormon doctrine of deification contrary to the Bible or the Book of Mormon. The verses you have cited do not rule out such an interpretation. On THIS subject, there is plenty of Mormon scholarship (some of which I referred to and could point you to if you are interested).

    So I’m not going to argue that the Bible demands the Mormon read. But I will dispute the argument that the Bible REFUTES the Mormon read.

    The only way to argue the Mormon doctrine of deification is from an assumption of continuing revelation from God. So your ground rules for study already rule-out any possibility of searching the doctrine’s truthfulness. You demand that we limit ourselves to the Bible. This is not a condition that any Mormon should accept. If you deny the reality of continuing revelation, then what Mormonism has to offer will never be more than an oddity to you.

    If you really want to take Joseph’s King Follett sermon seriously, you have to approach the sermon from the assumption that continuing revelation is a possibility, and that Joseph may have been the real deal.

    Now, I cannot guarantee the result you will get. You might be convinced, you might not. But you cannot read Joseph Smith from an assumption that the canon is closed and sufficient. Otherwise, you’ve ruled against his claims before you’ve even started.

    “I will not be using your name or this blog as a point of reference when I discuss this with other Christians or Mormons.”

    That is good of you.

    A confession on my part….

    Having had a chance to sleep on the matter, and reading your response, it is entirely possible (in fact, likely) that I pegged you wrong and attributed to you motives you do not have. If I have done so, my apologies.

    It’s hard to talk calmly about things you care about deeply.

  59. 59 Berean
    September 7, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I understand what you are saying in respect to your position in Mormonism and thank you for your honesty. Have a good weekend.

  60. September 8, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    B-
    Make note of this statment as it is a penticle of personal reasoning and every one proclaiming the Gospel of Christ should relize it on a personal level.

    “I cannot Convert you, nor can I convert anyone other than myself.”
    No one but yourself can cause you to become converted to any Faith.

    Keeping that in mind, I am sure it will not be difficult to explain, just difficult for you to accept.
    -D

  61. 62 Berean
    September 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Ditchu,

    It’s not difficult for me to accept at all. I know that I can’t talk anyone out of Mormonism nor can I talk anyone into Christianity. I don’t convert anyone. The Holy Ghost does that all on His own. It is the power of God. My responsibility was to “reason from the scriptures” as Paul did in Acts 17 with those of other faiths/beliefs. I give the information that I know from the Bible and Mormonism from my years of study and then it’s in God’s control. I don’t want your “blood on my hands” (Ezekial 3:18-19). It won’t be now. Take care.


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