23
Sep
08

Eternal Life

 

     In John 5:24 Jesus says: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” It is important to note the tenses.  They are not futures.  “Hath” is a present tense.  “Is passed” is in the past tense.  When Jesus  speaks about eternal life, he is not talking about something that lies in the future.  The person who hears Jesus’ words and believes already has eternal life.  This is possible only because of Jesus – because with his perfect life he fulfilled God’s commandments for us and with his death he paid for all our sins. 

     Mormonism, however, defines eternal life differently.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of celestial kingdom, where we live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4).  Like immortality, this gift is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3).”  (LDS Church Manual, True to the Faith, p. 52)  A little bit later it says, “be assured that eternal life is within your reach.”

      Jesus says believers have eternal life.  Mormonism says it is in our reach.  Mormonism teaches that because it says that eternal life requires something from us:  obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  But Jesus never mentions that.  In fact, if anything was required of us, Jesus couldn’t have said that believers already have it.  He too would have to talk about it being in our reach – not being in our possession. 

     But he didn’t say that because eternal life isn’t conditioned on our obedience.  It is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.  To him be all praise and glory!

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67 Responses to “Eternal Life”


  1. 1 Berean
    September 24, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Great topic! This leads into the million dollar question that needs to be asked of Mormons: If you were to die right now do you know with full assurance that you have eternal life? I have never met a Mormon who could answer “yes”. I think the reason why Mormons say this is because of this teaching:

    “If we use the word SALVATION to mean eternal life, none of us can say that we have been saved in mortality.” (True to the Faith, p.153)

    Eternal life to the Mormon is like the proverbial “carrot” in front of the mule as it plows along row after row in the field thinking he is getting closer to the “carrot”, but never does despite constantly laboring. All the conditions that the LDS Church places on its members (baptized, confirmed, priesthood for males, temple ordinances, etc.) are those “carrots”. Even after doing those things Mormons are still unsure if they have eternal life.

    How discouraging and depressing that is! How can one have joy with that uncertainty in one’s mind? When Christians (non-Mormons) are asked the same question above the answer is quickly given of “Yes!”. What is the reason for that? God’s Word, the Bible, gives us that teaching right from the mouth of the Lord Jesus in many places. One of my favorites is John 6:47:

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

    For our Mormon friends with the LDS KJV Bible, I invite you to look at the footnotes at the bottom for 47B: Eternal life; Exaltation. This flows harmoniously with John 3:16,18&36 which puts the emphasis on belief. Another favorite is Romans 6:23:

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    That’s right, eternal life is a gift – not a reward. There is nothing that any person can do to ever warrant having eternal life with Heavenly Father. Nobody will ever keep all the commandments perfectly as Christ did. Nobody will be justified by keeping the law (Gal 2:16). To make matters worse, those that attempt to gain acceptance by the Father by keeping the law are under a curse (Gal 3:10).

    Christians are given further assurance of eternal life in 1 John 5:9-13 especially verse 13. Mormons can come from the Mormon law which does not save and does not offer eternal life by placing their trust in the Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. Eternal life can be obtained today by believing in Christ and accepting His perfection as your own. It’s very simple. The Mormon Church has misled its members with a false gospel and false Christ that will not lead to eternal life but rather eternal separtation from the Father – outer darkness. Come to Christ today and accept the gift of eternal life that is freely given to those that believe on Him.

  2. September 24, 2008 at 6:04 am

    “The person who hears Jesus’ words and believes already has eternal life.”

    Would you say Mark, that it is impossible for that person to fall out of “saved” status?

  3. 3 Brad
    September 24, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    If a person is “truly” saved, then that person will not “lose” that salvation.

  4. 4 Stephanie
    September 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Seth / Brad –

    The parable of the seed falling on the four types of soil illustrates the possibility of losing faith. (See this entire parable in Luke 8:4-15.) In this parable, the sower tosses seed onto the earth. The first seed never sprouts at all, but is eaten by birds and trodden under foot. The second seed falls onto rock and springs up initially, but withers quickly because it receives no water. The third seed grows up strong, but the weeds also grow up strong and choke it out. The very last seed, the fourth seed, falls onto good earth and bears fruit 100-fold. This parable is directly from the mouth of Jesus.

    The unreformed churches today interpret this parable to mean that it is possible to lose faith. I belong to such a church. The reformed churches believe that “once saved, always saved.” They base this belief on 2 Corinthians 1:22 and also Ephesians 1:13. I am not sure how reformed churches interpret this parable, maybe Brad could tell me.

    However, based on the entirety of Scripture (the Bible), it seems clearer to me that the words of Christ Himself carry more authority and are more easily understood than the “seal” of the Holy Spirit. Those verses don’t speak at all about losing faith, only that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, or stamped with the Seal of the Holy Spirit, meaning that we indeed belong to Christ. I do know personally several former-Christians who did lose their faith through the disappointments of life. Sadly, one of them is my own brother who is now a self-proclaimed atheist.

    Paul also speaks about a boat losing its mooring and drifting away during the night, as a reference to believers losing their faith. I don’t know exactly where this is found.

    However, I also think that if a person truly understands who God is, and what God has done in order to save mankind, no one in his right mind would consciously turn away from a true saving faith. I think that those who do lose faith have always carried around several “toxic or poisonous” beliefs within their faith-system that ultimately undermine the faith of that person. For example, some people have a saving faith, but they also believe lies mixed in with the truth that end up destroying their faith. Misunderstandings, false-concepts, these can twist a person’s faith and cause him to fall away. As Christ’s parable says, there can exist a true faith, but it can be quickly choked out by the thorns of the world, or simply starved out through lack of regular fellowship. A brand new believer, who basically knows nothing except that Christ paid for his sins, is very susceptible to falling away if not supported by other believers and taught all of the Bible.

    I don’t believe this doctrine of losing faith poses any problems for the Christian. Salvation still rests on Christ alone. I still don’t have to worry about “losing my salvation” because I haven’t “done” this or that. Salvation is entirely on believing in Christ, which requires nothing of my own effort. My salvation is still completely assured, and I can confidently tell you that I will be in heaven this very moment should I die. My own works don’t play a part in my salvation. So I don’t really understand why this question is relevant here. The topic of losing faith really is a side-bar, and the differences in doctrine do not determine a person’s “saved status.” Perhaps this doctrine will bring us back to the topic of agency again, and free will. These are side-bars.

    I also know that as Christians, we can never judge the condition of a person’s heart or know the “status” of a person’s salvation. We are only called to judge morality and the outward actions of others. Only God sees the heart. So this question really isn’t that important to me. I think the reformed churches find comfort in “once saved, always saved,” but there is really no discomfort in accepting the possibility of losing faith either. The way to salvation never changes. And it is a huge relief to realize that none of our own actions affect our “status” of salvation in God’s eyes.

    The bottom line is this: There is nothing I can “do” to make God love me any LESS than He already does. There is nothing I can “do” to make God love me any MORE than He already does. I am already perfect in His eyes, because when He looks at me, He sees Christ in my place. I am free to live and love and be happy and return God’s love to Him. There is tremendous freedom and joy in Christ. He is there to support me and carry me through the hard times, and rejoice with me in the happy times.

  5. 5 Brad
    September 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Stephanie,

    Thanks for your explanation. While I disagree with you, and believe that there is much more to the argument than you elaborated on (as well as MANY more Scriptures which deal with this, either directly or indirectly), I do agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly.

  6. September 25, 2008 at 12:44 am

    What is “truly saved” Brad?

  7. 7 markcares
    September 25, 2008 at 1:27 am

    I agree with Stephanie’s comments. But the fact that people can lose their faith doesn’t negate the present tense that Jesus uses – those who believe have eternal life. Let me try the following analogy. I was sleeping when my house caught on fire and the smoke made me unconscious. A fireman comes in and rescues me without any help on my part. AfterI’m rescued, I’m sitting on the sidewalk watching my house burn thanking the fireman for saving me. But then I remember that a prized possession is in the house – so I get up and rush back into the burning house to try and get it. In the process I die. I realize that all analogies limp and we would say who would do such a ridiculous thing but for me, for someone to rush back into the burning house of unbelief is truly a ridiculous thing to do. But the Bible says it happens. Does that mean, however, that the fireman hadn’t resuced me? Would I be wrong to say that I was saved before I ram back into the house? Was it a work for me to stay out of the burning house? In the same way, Jesus has saved me and thus I can say I have eternal life now. For me to stay in the faith is no work. My salvation is totally a gift.

  8. September 25, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Then how can Berean “have joy” with the “uncertainty” in his mind that he might fall away?

    I fail to see a distinction between the anxieties he has and the anxieties my fellow LDS have. Or the joys.

    Sorry for using Berean as an example. I’m not trying to be snarky. His statement just seemed to cut to the heart of the matter. Really, what less cause for anxiety does he have than I have?

  9. September 25, 2008 at 4:19 am

    My salvation is a gift too Mark. Nowhere in Mormon scripture does it say that we earn our salvation. The obedience of which your quotes speak is primarily about repentance – which is purely about an appeal to Christ’s mercy and never has been about anything else.

    Are you guys seriously saying that repentance is not required for salvation?

  10. 10 Brad
    September 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Seth, we’ll disagree, and you and I both know it, so it is pointless to address your question.

    Markcares, as I mentioned to Stephanie, I disagree with her (and evidently with you as well), and I think there is ample Scripture to support the fact that true salvation is not lost. In as much as you would say it is “fact” that people can lose their faith, I would say it is “fact” that they can’t. However, I think both you, Stephanie and I would ALL agree on what it takes to be saved, and would all agree that each of us are, in fact, saved, so the argument is really a moot point.

    By the way, love your blogs and your topics!

  11. 11 markcares
    September 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Seth:
    I know that we have gone round and round on it but “by grace we are saved after all we dan do” places some responsibility at people’s feet by talking about “doing”.

  12. 12 Berean
    September 25, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Seth,

    I have purposely not gotten involved in this course of direction that this post has headed. This is an issue in Christianity in which there are two camps: those that believe that true conversion/salvation in the life of a sinner cannot be lost; the other camp are those in Christianity that believe that salvation can be lost. This is a peripheral issue and not one of the main points that affects ones salvation to begin with. Even in Christianity there is some room for varying positions that have nothing to do with salvation. I grew up in the Assemblies of God denomination which was primarily Armenian. They believed that one could have salvation today and lose it tomorrow. I found very little scriptural support for this position and I could talk at length about this, but it really doesn’t matter when one is looking at the overall picture.

    I personally hold to the “eternal security” position that is held by the majority of Christians I believe. As I said, for those sinners that have truly repented and had a conversion to Christ I don’t believe they can be lost again. Some of the scriptures that I would use in support of this are Ephesians 4:30 which says that believers “are sealed unto the day of redemption”. Another would be John 10:28-29 which says that once we are in the Father’s “hands” nobody (man) can pluck us out. I also don’t believe that Satan has the power to take away from the Father what He said belongs to Him. If Satan could do this that would make him more powerful than God and we know that isn’t true. If Satan could take one person away from the Father he wouldn’t stop at just with one person. Satan would take them all. If Satan had this power to remove a person from the Father’s “hands” and didn’t do it, then that would mean that those people that he didn’t draw out would remain saved by Satan’s grace and SATAN HAS NO GRACE. Much could be said about this.

    Many of those that believe that salvation can be lost use Hebrews 6:4-6 as support. The only problem with this view is that one needs to look at the the fourth word in verse 4: “impossible”. Just about every Christian I know has at one point or another in his/her life slipped away and gotten involved in sin again or lost their desire to serve God fully. Baptists call this “backsliding”. If one is going to take the position that it is impossible to return back to Christ after a period of lost spiritual fervor and sinful habits, then most of Christians are in a world of hurt because this same word “impossible” is used again in this same chapter in verse 18 where it says that it is “impossible for God to lie”. Much could be said about this as well.

    I respect the opinions of others in the faith that have a different view, but again, these varying ideas don’t affect the original standing on somebody’s salvation. Christians are in agreement on the central parts of the faith (deity of Christ, virgin birth, nature of God, Trinity, salvation by grace through faith alone, etc.) while sometimes having varying ideas on the peripheral issues (how many times a month to have communion, what songs we will sing, what instruments in church should be played, when Christ is going to return [pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib] varying views on hell, Armenian/Calvinism debates, can salvation be lost, etc.).

    I hold to the position of eternal security. I do have joy, comfort and peace that I am sealed until the day of redemption. There is no uncertainty in my mind. I stand firm on God’s Word on that matter. I don’t worry about it because to worry is a sin.

  13. 13 Brad
    September 25, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Berean,

    Well said, and my sentimens exactly. I don’t think, and wouldn’t want other Christians to think, that differences on this point exclude others from fellowship, b/c it doesn’t. The key is on salvation. If you truly have it, you need not worry about whether you’ll lose it.

  14. 14 Stephanie
    September 25, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I love Ephesians 1:4-5. “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”

    What a great verse!! The idea that God has chosen us before the foundation of the world is amazing to me. It also implies that a truly converted person cannot or would not consciously “run back into the burning building” as Mark put it. However, because of the parable of the sower, I think the possibility exists for a person to reject his own salvation even after having a saving faith. I think the parable of the sower also shows just how much of a free gift our salvation is. For someone to obtain salvation by believing in Christ’s atonement, even fleetingly (like the seed that sprung up and then withered), is amazing. It emphasizes that Christ did everything for us – wow.

    I agree with you Brad / Berean that the way to salvation is clear among all Christians. And there are many differences as you stated above, regarding worship music, infant baptism, etc… But the main important truths are preserved among all Christians, and the way to salvation is clear among all. And all Christians can enjoy fellowship, love in Christ, and peace just being with one another, sharing the common bond of Christ. I know my heart rejoices every time someone new comes to a saving faith in Christ.

    Also, the fact that Mark and I (and unreformed churches) believe that faith can be lost, does not affect our security in our salvation because we know that our salvation does not rest on us, but solely on Christ. I wish I could somehow make this crystal clear. Even though I believe that faith can be lost, there is no fear for me that I might lose my faith. I’m not sure how I can adequately explain this. I know Seth still has questions about it. A person’s decision on this doctrine does not ultimately affect their salvation, but I know it can be a stumbling block for Mormons because they are very focused on the “path” to salvation and “works” and the possibility of “losing” their salvation. So I wish I could reassure Seth that no matter what view a Christian takes about losing faith or not losing faith, their assurance in their own salvation is not affected.

    As John 10:28-30 says, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my father’s hand. I and my father are one.”

    I am not afraid of losing my faith because I know that no one has the power to steal my faith from me except myself. Nothing and no one could ever destroy my faith except myself, by my own sinful rejection. And again, it would not be based on works. I believe that a person can “backslide” and still not lose their faith. Everyone struggles with the old man / new man. A believer can fall into sin and not lose salvation, as we all know.

    I am still curious about how reformed churches, such as the Baptists, interpret the parable of the sower. Could someone please explain this for me?

  15. September 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    That’s a fair answer Berean. I was worried that, based on our past history, my comment would be taken as a taunt of some sort.

    Mark, it’s probably worthwhile to look at 2 Nephi 25:23 and what it is really saying. Here’s the relevant and most quoted portion:

    “for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.”

    This is used by some to stand for the proposition that Nephi is telling us that ONLY after we do all that we can possibly do, is grace effective. I think this read is incorrect and causes much misunderstanding both within the LDS Church and without. Few arguments here:

    1. The grammatical argument.

    From a strictly grammatical perspective, the sentence is not correctly structured. “after all we can do” is just tacked on the end there with no real subject. This is understandable given that the book was translated from a foreign language by someone who did not have an expert grasp of grammar. I think the correct grammatical read on the sentence would restructure it to read like this:

    “for we know that after all we can do, it is by grace we are saved.”

    This wording leaves us equally open to the interpretation that “when all is said and done, and after our own efforts, it grace that does the trick.” I think that this interpretation is also available to the original verse in its original wording. But the rewording I’ve done here makes it a little easier to see this interpretation I think.

    2. The impossibility argument.

    Nobody ever does “all he/she is capable of.” We all know this if we think about it for a bit. Not you nor I has ever been at 100%. We all slack off, we all fall short of our best efforts.

    Was Nephi suggesting otherwise. I don’t think so. Which brings me to…

    3. Argument from scripture.

    A contextual read of the entirety of the Book of Mormon reveals that the Book cannot stand for the proposition that grace only kicks in after you give 100%. I will use only Book of Mormon verses to demonstrate this:

    Mosiah 3:17

    “I say unto you, that there is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.”

    This is King Benjamin speaking. His speech is one of the central and most quoted speeches of the Book of Mormon. He also gives some pretty strong words against the value of righteous works in Mosiah 2:21-24:

    21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
    22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
    23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
    24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

    That is strong medicine there, and probably one of the most explicit statements in favor of grace over works I have ever heard in scripture (including the Bible). Lay Mormons often misread a later part of King Benjamin’s address in Mosiah chapter 4:13-27 as a laundry list of good works we are supposed to be doing. But if they would read 4:12 carefully, they would realize that King Benjamin is only putting out this list of good works as the FRUIT of a true belief in Christ through repentance.

    2 Nephi 2:3-9

    This is Lehi’s final sermon to his family before his death and rich with language about Christ’s Atonement. Verse 3 assures Jacob that he is saved. Verse 4 claims “salvation is free.” Verse 5 – by the law, all are cut off. Verse 6 – redemption through the Messiah, who is full of grace. Verse 79:

    7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
    8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
    9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

    This clearly explains that we are hopeless without Christ and it is only through his sacrifice that we have hope of salvation.

    2 Nephi 10:24

    So was Nephi just wrong in giving us 2 Nephi 25:23? This verse makes me think not. Here are his own words on the subject:

    “24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.”

    We must be swallowed up in God and only through grace can we do it.

    Finally,

    Alma 24:11

    “And now behold, my brethren, since it has been ALL THAT WE COULD DO, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain— ” (emphasis mine)

    These are the words of a recently converted Lamanite king calling upon his people to throw down their weapons for good and never shed blood again. This verse seems almost like a perfect key for reading 2 Nephi 25:23. What is “all we can do?”

    Answer – repent and pray for God to take away your stain and give you a new heart.

    In light of all this, I personally must conclude that Nephi never meant that you can only get grace after giving 100%. Even if people within and without the LDS faith misread the passage, I can only read it as I find it – in context with other passages of the Book of Mormon (not to mention the Bible).

  16. 16 Darrell
    September 25, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    “In light of all this, I personally must conclude that Nephi never meant that you can only get grace after giving 100%. Even if people within and without the LDS faith misread the passage, I can only read it as I find it – in context with other passages of the Book of Mormon (not to mention the Bible).”

    Did Spencer W Kimball misread it as a prophet?

    From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),34–45:

    “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” (D&C 1:31–32. Italics added.)

    This scripture is most precise. First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness. …

    Since all of us sin in greater or lesser degree, we are all in need of constant repentance, of continually raising our sights and our performance. One can hardly do the commandments of the Lord in a day, a week, a month or a year. This is an effort which must be extended through the remainder of one’s years. …

    … Repentance must involve an all-out, total surrender to the program of the Lord. That transgressor is not fully repentant who neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, fails in his family prayers, does not sustain the authorities of the Church, breaks the Word of Wisdom, does not love the Lord nor his fellowmen. … God cannot forgive unless the transgressor shows a true repentance which spreads to all areas of his life. …

    “Doing the commandments” includes the many activities required of the faithful. … General good works and devotion accompanied by constructive attitudes are what is needed.”

    Sounds to me like Spencer W Kimball does not share you opinion. Under your church’s theology, you are only forgiven “after all that you can do”. Since you are obliged to follow the prophet, this is what you are supposed to believe.

    Darrell

  17. September 25, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Having not extensively read Pres. Kimball’s words on the subject the Atonement, I’ll stick to the Book of Mormon Darrell. Perhaps when I am as well read as you, I will have more to say about it.

    I would need to read a wide selection of what Spencer W. Kimball wrote and taught to have any opinion on what he felt the Atonement to be. Since my experience with him is limited to “The Miracle of Forgiveness” (which he wrote as an apostle) – and that several years ago, I’ll wait until I’ve read more before reaching any conclusions. If I had only read 2 Nephi 25:23, might my opinion of the Atonement in the Book of Mormon be different than if I had read the other verses I listed? I’m sure it would have been.

    Who knows Darrell? I might indeed find he was mistaken. Or maybe he has a compelling case to make as to why I might be wrong.

    We’ll see.

  18. September 25, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Having admitted my own ignorance of the matter however, a few thoughts on the limited quotes you provided Darrell.

    Kimball seems to be making two points here:

    1. Repentance is not a one-shot deal, but something we need to do constantly. We need to constantly be asking God to forgive our missteps – which assumes we will constantly be misstep-ing.

    2. A lot of willful disobedience can indicate a repentance or conversion that was not sincere – which means you need to repent.

    Which of these two propositions do you, as a Christian, find objectionable?

  19. 19 Berean
    September 26, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Stephanie,

    I’ve been thinking about this today and as much as I don’t want to get into this I have to ask you: why did you take this topic in the direction of an “in-house” Christian discussion about reformed/unreformed church salvation issue? In all honesty, it isn’t serving any puropse here with our Mormon friends who don’t understand it and is completely irrelevant as to the purpose of this blog. These “in-house” issues are great and fine for another time and another place among those that have accepted the true gospel and the true Christ of the Bible. For those that have the wrong gospel and the wrong Christ it is going nowhere. All it does is cause confusion. We need to be unified in the central issues of the gospel and state what all Christians have that have put their trust in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible – eternal life.

    I don’t want to upset you or offend you. One can see how Seth would be even more confused with the direction this thread went. If I was Seth and I was reading these statements about reformed/unreformed it would be a “downer” to me and make me more confused.

    …just trying to be fair about it.

    In Christ,
    Berean

  20. September 26, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Don’t worry Berean,

    I’ve been lurking over at the Pen and Parchment blog from Reclaiming the Mind Ministries for over a year now and over at the Mere Comments blog from Touchstone Magazine for even longer.

    I’ve heard plenty of in-house arguments – from the emerging church, to Calvinist vs. Arminian traditions, to mega-churches, to the need for an ecclesiarchy, and so forth. While I don’t pretend to have a very nuanced view of it all (being an outsider) Stephanie’s post was hardly the first time I’d heard of these issues, and I’ve witnessed Christians fighting about them much more intensely than here.

  21. 21 Darrell
    September 26, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Seth,

    To answer your question… I do not think the two things you mentioned are what Spencer W Kimball is saying. I read Miracle of Forgiveness after I had been a member of the LDS Church for about 2 years. It scared the life out of me. In fact, I have heard it joked about as actually needing to be titled “It is a miracle if you can acheive forgiveness”. The book was actually given to me as a new member by my bishop. He gave copies of the book out to everyone he could. It is considered a standard resource in the church to be used when “helping the lost/sinning sheep come back into the fold”. THe book is actually considered very authoritative by the church and is quoted all the time in conference talks, the Ensign, etc.

    What concerns me about the LDS view (spoken about VERY clearly by Spencer W Kimball) is that forgiveness is CONDITIONAL UPON HOW WELL YOU LIVE THE COMMANDMENTS. This view falls perfectly in line with you “are saved by grace AFTER ALL THAT YOU CAN DO”. I remember hearing it spoken of this way in church… “in order to qualify for the blessings of grace, we must first live the commandments to the best of our ability”.

    I am at work right now, but I would like to go back through my Miracle of Forgiveness book this weekend to review other things that Spencer W Kimball said on this subject. I just remember so vividly reading it and thinking… “wow, how can I possibly do this?”.

    I have asked several mormons the question, “If you die today, will you go to the celestial kingdom (heaven)?” NOT ONE OF THEM has ever answered “Yes”. Everyone of them said “I hope so”. As a mormon you NEVER CAN KNOW if you are living “GOOD ENOUGH” to qualify for full grace to enter the celestial kingdom.

    The true gospel of Jesus Christ teaches “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, NOT OF WORKS lest any man should boast”.

    The false gospel of Mormonism teaches you qualify for grace by having faith AND living good enough.

    I will get some more quotes this weekend to back up what I am saying.

    Darrell

  22. 22 Stephanie
    September 27, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Hi Berean,

    Seth asked a question (comment # 2) at the very beginning of this thread which sparked my response. I guess perhaps he was just trying to side-track us because according to his own words, he has “heard plenty of in-house arguments – from the emerging church, to Calvinist vs. Arminian traditions, to mega-churches, to the need for an ecclesiarchy, and so forth… Stephanie’s post was hardly the first time I’d heard of these issues, and I’ve witnessed Christians fighting about them much more intensely than here.” So I don’t really know why he asked this question, since he apparently has already heard everything on the topic.

    I would really appreciate a response to my question though. How do the Baptists and reformed churches interpret the Parable of the sower? We’ve have side-tracked enough, but a brief, short reply would be greatly appreciated and would benefit me.

  23. September 27, 2008 at 5:16 am

    I didn’t have that specifically in mind Stephanie. It sprang more from the common Mormon impression that you guys believe in a one-shot “hail Jesus” and ceremonial head-nod to some creed and BINGO! You’re guaranteed salvation! And you’d better boo and hiss at anyone who suggests your shallow antics weren’t enough.

    “Cheap grace,” I believe is the contemptuous term I’ve heard some Mormons use.

    Personally, I think this is a caricature of Evangelical belief, since Evangelicals typically do believe that righteousness is worth at least something. And most Evangelicals would not agree that merely mouthing “Jesus saves” gives you a free hall pass.

    But where is the dividing line between Mark and me? Honestly, I don’t know. Because often the differences appear to be pure semantic nitpicking. Chicken-before-the-egg discussions. And distinctions without real differences. I am not entirely convinced that Mormons and Evangelicals – as whole populations – are really coming from the grace vs. works debate from genuinely different places. So that’s what my comment was aimed at – merely trying to nail someone down on the specifics.

    And, by the way, I seriously doubt following a Christian blog for a year makes me any sort of expert on Arminian vs. Calvinist concerns.

    But if it comes to that, the division of opinion in your own ranks probably should make you a little more wary about automatically rejecting the Mormon position (which, by all accounts, tends to lean fairly Arminian in theology). But invoking this was purely unintentional. Believe me or not, as you like.

  24. 24 Berean
    September 27, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Stephanie,

    Just wanted to let you know that I am not ignoring you. As I said in my earlier post, I believe this subject of reformed/unreformed should be on another blog. I also did see the question that our friend Seth asked. There are some questions that I believe don’t need to be expounded upon in light of the venue here at this blog. However, since this “can” has already been opened and since you have asked me directly about this I will be happy to talk to you about it. I’m up against the clock right now for work but will be happy to answer your question very soon upon my return. Thanks for your patience. Again, I hope I didn’t come across too harsh with you in my earlier post. If I did I am sorry if I hurt your feelings or embarrassed you.

    Berean

  25. 25 Berean
    September 28, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Part 1

    Stephanie,

    As I said earlier, this discussion is really a peripheral issue and not a central issue of the faith. The central beliefs are what matters – not the peripheral ones. These peripheral beliefs are okay to talk about in conversation, but nothing to divide over. I have different views on some things that are peripheral issues that contradict with what the pastor of my church holds. You know what? We don’t even talk about them. He doesn’t care. I’m a teacher at my church and I don’t talk about those peripheral issues either. If I was asked, I would give my opinion in private. It’s just not a big deal. Anyway, I’m going to answer your question in two parts because the first part needs to be established first as a basis for the rest.

    First, I can’t speak for all Baptists because there are several denominations within the Baptist camp in Christianity. The denomination that I am affiliated with is the largest Baptist denomination in North America. I am not an ordained minister or a representative of that denomination so I don’t speak for them. Matter of fact, nobody does. That is one of the neat things about it. What I do know is this: WE ARE NEITHER REFORMED OR UNREFORMED. Most people in Christianity that are knowledgeable of Christian doctrine have heard of the acronym TULIP. Calvinists are called “5 pointers” because they hold firm to all five points in the TULIP. Armenian postition holders reject this. There is a large number of believers in Christianity that fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. They hold to maybe one, two or even three of those points, but reject the others.

    I grew up in the Pentecostal Church (Assemblies of God) and they were definitely Armenian when it came to point 5 (perseverance of the saints). They believed that salvation can be lost almost on a daily basis for a true believer. Baptists and their “once saved/always saved” or “eternal security” position was made fun of almost on a weekly basis. Growing up I didn’t care and basically repeated what I heard even though I wasn’t a Christian and never studied my Bible. I could talk a lot about this on why I believe that salvation among true believers cannot be lost, but as I said earlier, this isn’t the place to do it and it really doesn’t matter in the big picture compared to our Mormon friends who have no true gospel to begin with.

    At my church we have five-point Calvinists and there isn’t an issue. We have fellowship. Our denomination believes in point 5 which is the perseverance of the saints. We don’t agree on some of the other points. People vary and some hold to maybe one or two others. One pastor I know told me he was a three-pointer. However, it would be very difficult for a person to want to fellowship with the Baptists if they reject the doctrine of eternal security (“once saved/always saved”) because this is one of the bedrock teachings within the denomination. It doesn’t mean that the person is not a brother/sister in the Lord. It just means that they have a different view on this particular teaching. It’s not a central teaching. It’s a peripheral teaching that has nothing to do with one’s salvation in the Lord if they really are a true believer to begin with. I know there are some churches that are outspoken on being five-point Calvinists (Presbyterians). The church I grew up in was Armenian (Assemblies of God). They never said that, but once I learned about TULIP from studying systematic theology I was then made aware about the AG Church. It doesn’t matter in the long run. There are many questions that I have that cannot be answered especially on the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. For hundreds of years Christians have been asking the same questions and will until the return of the Lord. I figure when I am in the presence of the Almighty it won’t matter what those questions are. There are some things that the Lord keeps for Himself (Deut 29:29). I cannot comprehend or understand all things about God. We have human minds and we are not going to be able to grasp or understand certain attributes of God. That’s what makes God who He is – God! Mormonism who has to bring God down to their level and make him like someone they are so they can understand him.

  26. September 28, 2008 at 3:50 am

    We don’t bring God down to our level. We bring humanity up to God’s level Berean.

    There’s a very big difference.

  27. 27 Stephanie
    September 28, 2008 at 3:51 am

    Thanks for your answer, Berean, although it wasn’t specific to the parable. That’s fine. It is a peripheral point anyway. I can’t imagine growing up in a church (Assemblies of God) where they thought salvation could be lost on a daily basis.

    In my church, we believe in the possibility of losing faith, but no one is even remotely worried about it. And this doctrine is rarely even discussed. It’s not really something we focus on. Losing salvation is not an easy thing; it doesn’t just happen by itself or by accident.

    But enough of this topic I suppose. I agree that someday we will know fully. I am not familiar with TULIP so I will look into that. Thanks for responding.

  28. 28 Berean
    September 28, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Part 2

    The Parable of the Sower – Luke 8:4-15; (also Matthew 13:1-23)

    I believe this parable is talking about hearers (listeners) of the word of God. There are four different kinds described in this text. Jesus said that the “seed” is the word of God. I believe that the four types of hearers are the four types of soil described in the parable.

    Soil #1 (v.12) – These are unbelievers who hear the word of God (the gospel) and reject if forthright. They are closed-minded. They never change their mind and reject the gospel all the way to their deaths. They make up the majority of the world that is on the “broad road” headed in the “broad gate” which leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

    Soil #2 (v.13) – I believe these are “surface” Christians. They have remorse for their sins, but they never truly repent. They bail out under tribulation. As soon as the first glimpse of hardship, trial or temptation comes down the road they are quickly rung out. Since they have not truly repented and been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and have become a new creature, they are still living in the flesh completely in their sin nature and have no spiritual power or recourse to stand up under trials and temptations. They have no spiritual fervor and zeal to serve Christ and when push-comes-to-shove they can’t act out. They can’t fake the life of a true believer and just fade away (leave the church).

    Soil #3 (v.14) – This group probably makes up a good portion of some churches. These are the “Christians” that probably grew up in Christian homes with parents that are the same. Church is a lifestyle. It’s a social environment and part of their culture. They are good actors/actresses and fake it, but deep down they are frauds. They have never truly repented and been converted. Outwardly, they give lip service to Christ and could be very involved in church activities. They know the Bible stories, teachings and foundations of the faith. They could be nursery workers, sing in the choir, play in the praise band, teach Sunday School, etc., but they are frauds on the inside. Other church members look at their works/fruits and think they have salvation. They are justified by their works because mankind can only see the outward (James 2:21). We are outwardly “fruit inspectors” while God is the inward “fruit inspector” of the person’s heart. God knows whether His Son is present in their life. Many of these people live the outward lives of a believer, but probably have secret lives away from church members. Some of these people are at church everytime the doors are open so they can get recognition from others. They have their permanent seats that they sit in every Sunday. In the end, their “fruit” turns out to be rotten once it is peeled open by God at the Judgement. They have never truly had a personal relationship with Christ, never truly repented, never been truly spiritually regenerated/born again. They have had a religion instead of a relationship with Christ. These are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that Jesus mentions. I also believe that this is the group called the “tares” in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30. Once their labors are put to the fire of Christ they are burned away because they are shown to be fraudulent labors. This is the group that Christ mentions in Matthew 7:22. They will tell Christ all that they did in His name, but in the end, Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” (verse 23).

    Soil #4 (v.15) – This is the group of believers that have genuinely repented of their sins. They have been radically regenerated by Christ. They are born again believers (John 3:3). They are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). They serve Christ just like the group in Soil #3 in their functions at church, but it’s not something that is strenuous for them to pull off out of deceit in recognition of others. They aren’t trying to get accepted and justified by others because of their labors. They serve out of joy and gratitude for what the Savior has done for them. It’s not a front and they aren’t acting. They serve Christ because they want to – not because somebody told them that they had to. When the trials and tribulations come they may shift, bend and stumble. They may even “backslide” for a season and get tangled up in sin. They may get side-tracked and down. But they will “shake it off”, listen to the conviction calling from the Holy Spirit and run back to Christ with tears in their eyes repenting of their sin. They will gather strength from Christ and seek help from other believers in prayer in overcoming their time of trial and tribulation. They will stand the tests. They will keep their eyes focused on Christ. THEY WILL PERSEVERE NO MATTER WHAT. This is the group on the narrow road going into the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).

    The first three types of hearers (soil groups) were never truly repentant. They weren’t born again. They varied in degrees on their outward actions, but in the end, the result was the same – they were lost. THEY NEVER HAD SALVATION TO BEGIN WITH. Only the fourth group had this.

    In my former post I stated some of the scriptural texts used to support the doctrine of eternal security. I won’t repeat them here. Baptists hold to the view that the truly saved, those that have salvation/eternal life, will persevere to the end. They are sealed until the day of redemption (Eph 4:30) and nobody (man or Satan) can snatch them out of the Father’s “hands” (John 10:28-29).

    Again, this is just my opinion on the opposite view from those that believe that salvation can be lost from a true believer and use the above stated text to support it. Stephanie (& others?), I hope this answers the question. Believe me, much more could be said about this with numerous personal examples, theories and thoughts, scriptures, etc., but it’s really not important to the goal here: sharing the gospel with our Mormon friends who can’t be classified into any of the types of soil groups yet because they haven’t had the truth shared with them yet.

    Berean

  29. 29 Berean
    September 28, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Stephanie,

    I see that you posted before I could get part 2 out. The TULIP means:

    T – total depravity
    U – unconditional election
    L – limited atonement
    I – irresistible grace
    P – perseverance of the saints

  30. 30 Berean
    September 28, 2008 at 4:34 am

    Seth,

    Mormons create a god that is understandable to them. Everything about the Mormon god has to make sense. What doesn’t make sense is thrown out. For example, the Trinity, God being omnipresent, always being from eternity to eternity, not needing parents before him to create him and so forth on backwards with no end. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Mormons tell me, “Berean, your god is not understandable to me/us!”. You see, that is what makes God who He is. The Mormons had to make god an exalted man. He was just like one of the guys today except a long time ago. He was brought into existence by parents who were gods on some other planet, he lived on an earth somewhere, sinned?, died, etc. The Mormon god can’t be a spirit like the Bible says He is in John 4:24. Oh no, he has to look like a man because that is what he is – an exalted man. He has to have the same physical attributes that man does today. That is why he can’t be omnipresent. He is living on Kolob. He can’t be everywhere at the same time. Neither can the Holy Ghost in Mormonism. He’s also a spirit man – One of the spirit brothers of Jesus and Lucifer. On and on the list goes.

    Yes, Mormonism is bringing man in their churches “up” to the Mormon god because he is now exalted and has become a god, but he wasn’t always a god, was he? Mormons make their god understandable to the human mind and that is a fatal error. Almighty God is not going to be completely rationalized in our feeble minds. Do I understand the Trinity completely? No, and anybody that does is not telling the truth. Does that mean that I reject it when the Bible clearly states that there are three persons that make up the Godhead while at the same time making it even more clear that there is only one God? No way. For the Mormons, this is rejected since it doesn’t make sense. For the Mormons, forget the Trinitiy and just make it three gods like Joseph Smith taught. For those Bible verses that are too difficult to understand (Psalms 82:6 for example) for the Mormons they turn monotheism into polytheism.

    Seth, please don’t tell me that the LDS Church doesn’t believe any of this in case you are thinking about it. I’ve already had one Mormon tell me today that the LDS Church doesn’t believe or teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers! This Mormon was a BYU graduate, a former missionary and bragged that he had earned 9 extra credits in religion courses at BYU. Give me a break! Everything I say above and on this blog can be supported by LDS scriptures and authoritative references.

    I don’t want to sound cranky about this, but it’s just getting a little old hearing this same “drumbeat” from Mormons who are trying to do “damage control” for the Church. I don’t want to lump you in with this other Mormon, but I have in the past had you tell me the same things and your post sounded like we were going down that road again.

  31. September 28, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Who says a physical being can’t be everywhere?

    Our God has a body, but His body doesn’t have Him. I see no reason why a physical body would limit my God in any sense.

    There are actually a few Mormon scholars who are making the case that God was always “God” – no matter what form He happened to be in. They claim to make the case from Mormon scripture and prophetic utterance. I’m about to dive into some of it. Should be interesting.

    I admit to being a bit puzzled as to why Evangelicals think the Jesus-and-Satan-are-brothers line is so radioactive. To me it’s pretty-much a big “yeah? so what?”

    But more to the point. The problem with your God Berean is not that He is incomprehensible. I’d be fine with that. I believe my God is too.

    The problem with your God is that He is incoherent.

    There’s a big difference.

    It’s one thing to say this is a mystery. It’s quite another to violate the law of non-contradiction. Yet this is exactly what Augustine’s formulation of the Trinity (which is widely adopted by traditional Christianity) does. Is basically says – they’re the same, but they aren’t the same at the same time!

    I challenge you to give me an explanation of the Trinity that makes sense without resorting to either modalism or tri-theism. I’ve never met a Christian yet who could explain it without falling off one end of the balance beam or the other.

    Or you could do what Mormon scholars do, and adopt social trinitarianism. But I think you would consider yourself conceding too much to do so.

    The orthodox Trinity is not a mystery. It’s just incoherent. It’s God forming a rock so big He can’t lift it. “Mystery” I can live with. But incoherence simply won’t do.

  32. September 28, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    John 4:24

    “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    You’ll note the text says “God is spirit” – not “God is A spirit.”

    Mormons also believe that “God is spirit.” But we believe He is other things as well.

    And by the way, the original Greek text of this supports my read on this. Not yours.

    This was not more meant to be an exclusive declaration than the declaration that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) was meant to be exclusive.

    Or maybe you could try those verses about God being “invisible” again and see how that works…

    Fact is, you cannot prove God has no body from the Bible. It’s only when you slap on a bunch of neo-platonist assumptions about the cosmos, that it becomes necessary to read the Bible this way.

  33. 33 Berean
    September 29, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Seth,

    You said, “Who says a physical being can’t be everywhere?” Mormon scripture does in D&C 130:22 and Abraham 3:3-5. He has a body of flesh and bones and resides near Kolob. That’s just one refeence. Let’s not be slick here and confuse our readers with the “light of Christ” definition. We are talking about the literal place where the Moromon god lives with heavenly mother creating more spirit children to wait in line to come here to supposedly come here and become gods one day.

    Satan and Jesus being brothers isn’t a problem for you? Unbelievable. The problem is that view is completely heretical, but wait, you said in the other post that you don’t mind being called a heretic so it’s no biggie. For other Mormons reading this, equating Jesus, the Son of God as defined in the Bible who is the Creator and created Satan and the angels (Col 1:16) somehow being the older brother of Lucifer, the prince of darkness, is blasphemous.

    You proved my point in what you said in your earlier post. You can’t understand the Trinity so you reject it. Joseph Smith couldn’t get his mind around it so he said that there are three separate gods. Challenge? Show me from the Bible where the Godhead is one in purpose but three separate gods listed as such. The Bible is clear that there is only one God and He is revealed in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are co-equal and co-eternal. “The big rock” analogy? You need to come up with new material. Guess what? There are some things that God cannot do? He can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18). That means He will tell the truth from the beginning and He will not contradict Himself – ever. The Book of Mormon doesn’t teach about three separate gods. Quite the opposite, it teaches the concept of the Trinity from the opening line of the three witnesses until the end of the Book of Mormon. This is another area where Joseph Smith changed his view on the Godhead supposedly under revelation from Heavenly Father. Who couldn’t make up their mind? Joseph Smith or Heavenly Father? If you’re a Mormon, Joseph Smith was the prophet receiveing revelation from God so if you want to stick with Joseph then that means that the Mormon god couldn’t make up his mind in whether there was a trinity (3 in 1) or the Mormon view now (3 = 3). Talk about incoherent.

    Seth, I don’t know what Bible you are reading from, but my LDS KJV Bible in John 4:24 says:

    “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

    You conveniently left out the “a” before spirit. Pay attention to detail. God is a spirit and that is in harmony with the rest of scripture from the Bible. Are you trained in the Greek language? I doubt it. I’m not, so let’s stick with the text as lined out in John 4:24 as it is and it’s the one that the LDS has their stamp on the outside of my Bible. The First Presidency and Thomas Monson, who are supposedly all seers, could retranslate this the way that you want, but that would mean that they would have to come out with their own Bible. That would mean they would be in the same “pickle” the Jehovah’s Witnesses are now when they came out with the New World Translation. JW’s aren’t trying to be called Christians and be mainstream like the Mormon Church desperately is now. The Mormon Church gives away the KJV Bible on the Church website and puts its stamp on the outside. They won’t change John 4:24 or any of the other verses in the KJV Bible because that would be the “kiss of death” for ever going mainstream if they did. Personally, I find it deceitful and evil.

    “Love” is one of God’s attributes. He has many and to list them all would take a good part of the night. You misunderstoond attributes or his characteristics with his form or essence.

    Yes, I can prove that God does not have a body from the Bible. You mentioned “incoherent”. What is incoherent to me is that you stated to me in past threads that the teaching of Joseph Smith and Mormon doctrine in the Mormon god being an exalted man is not found in scripture anywhere – not even in the LDS standard works. You’re god isn’t even in scripture. I call that incoherent. In Mormonism, we have a god that can’t make up his mind what he is. In Alma 18:16 Ammon is “filled with the Spirit of God.” He answers the king in verses 24-28 and says that “there is a Great Spirit” and that “this is God”. He doesn’t tell the king that he is an exalted man who eternally progressed and became a god and has a body of flesh and bones. Ammon was supposedly filled with the Spirit and giving revelation. Why would he reveal to the king the form/essence of Heaven Father that was not correct? I know, let me guess: he wanted to reveal it in a way that the Indians would understand? That doesn’t fly for the same reason I just stated. A prophet of God is not going to deliberately state the nature of God that is not correct. It would have been very easy for him to tell the unbelieving indians, “That Great Spirit that you believe in is not true. He actually looks like one of us except that he is a god now.” This story repeats itself in Alma 22:9-11. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is the Mormon god described the way he is in D&C 130:22.

    Joseph Smith’s view on the nature of God changed radically from one end to the other when you compare the Book of Mormon to the King Follet Discourse. In “Lectures on Faith”, which was part of the 1835 Doctrines and Covenants until 1921, lecture #5 says:

    “The Father being a PERSONAGE OF SPIRIT, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness”. (p.57)

    In D&C 130:22 Joseph Smith says that only the Holy Ghost “is a personage of spirit”. I call this incoherent, contradicting and confusing and not of God because the true God isn’t changing His mind on what his form is and He isn’t going to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

  34. 34 Berean
    September 29, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Stephanie,

    Did my take on the “Parable of the Sower” make sense in relation to the issue of the eternal security position?

  35. September 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Berean, for John 4:24, I used the NIV version, not the KJV version. I’m aware that Evangelicals tend to prefer that version, so I typically use it when speaking to them. It also has the advantage of being closer to the original Greek texts than the KJV. Here’s the exact NIV wording (taken off BibleGateway.com):

    “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    So yeah, I think I read that passage correctly.

    Your use of Colossians 1:16 simply shows that your real beef is with the Mormon idea of Creation ex Materia, and our rejection of your un-biblical Creation ex Nihilo idea, not with whether Jesus and Satan are brothers. You can call this ontological lack of distinction blasphemous, but that tune will only work if you are preaching to your own choir. There’s nothing inherently blasphemous about it.

    It’s only blasphemous if you’re stuck in the artificial assumptions of contemporary Protestantism.

    You wrote:

    ““Love” is one of God’s attributes. He has many and to list them all would take a good part of the night. You misunderstoond attributes or his characteristics with his form or essence.”

    No Berean, YOU mistook one of God’s attributes for His essence. Thus you have limited your God.

    Now, God’s influence is everywhere, no matter where His body is situated (either near Kolob or somewhere else). Our God is omnipresent. Just like the sun can be positioned millions of miles away, and yet still power solar generators, and grow trees here on earth, so can God be in one spot physically, yet also be fully everywhere in power and influence at the same time. If you get into quantum physics, the possibilities are even greater. Physicists have recently discovered that one quantum particle can resonate with another quantum particle simultaneously, even if they are separated by the entire expanse of the universe. Instantaneous!

    Your view here is simply too narrow-minded, and you appear to be stuck in an outdated Newtonian view of the cosmos. Physical matter CAN be everywhere. Especially if that matter belongs personally to God.

    I notice you still have no defense for the fundamental incoherency of your Trinity.

    I’m fine with God being incomprehensible. But I can’t accept one that violates something so basic as the law of non-contradiction. The Trinity is either ontologically three individuals, or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways and expect to be taken seriously by rational people.

  36. September 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Berean, you quoted this passage from the Lectures on Faith (which scholars are unsure if Joseph even wrote, but anyway…):

    “the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness, the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after his likeness and in his image; he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fullness of the Father, or the same fullness with the Father…” (Lectures on Faith, Lecture 5:2)

    Bruce R. McConkie gave an explanation for this statement in “Mormon Doctrine” under the heading of “Godhead.” He quotes the passage about the Father being a “personage of spirit” and adds in parentheses:

    “meaning that he has a spiritual body which by revealed definition is a resurrected body of flesh and bones (1 Cor. 15:44-45 and D&C 88:27)”

    So let’s have a look at McConkie’s explanation. First, 1 Cor. 15:44-45

    44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
    45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

    Lest any think I’m ripping this out of context, and for your own convenience, let’s include the entire passage from 1 Corinthians here, which falls under the heading “The Resurrection Body”:

    The Resurrection Body

    35 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
    37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
    38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
    39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
    40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
    41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

    42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
    43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
    44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
    45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
    46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
    47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
    48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
    49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

    50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
    51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
    52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
    53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
    54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
    55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
    57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Clearly, Paul is talking about the resurrected body and its nature in this passage. And he deliberately describes the resurrected body as being “raised a spiritual body.” This is talking about us after being resurrected – “spiritual bodies.”

    Now, read this in context of Luke 24:37-43:

    37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
    38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?
    39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

    40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
    41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
    42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
    43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

    I don’t know how you could get a clearer display of how a resurrected body is not an insubstantial spirit. Paul in 1 Corinthians is simply describing the resurrected body from what Christ showed about his own resurrected body. Christ not only had them touch him, but also ate food to prove the point. He was no “spirit,” but a physical embodied being. And that is the form in which he rose into heaven.

    So clearly, the resurrected body is a physical and tangible body. But Paul’s writings make clear that this body is still in some sense, not physical, but spiritual.

    The explanation is simple, and is derived from 1 Cor 15 –

    The matter of the body is no longer corrupt, but is spiritual – meaning that the spirit has full union with and control over the body. This is further explained by the Book of Mormon passage – Mosiah 3:19:

    “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…”

    Long story short, references to God as a body of spirit simply mean it in the same sense Paul meant it. A ressurrected and glorified body.

  37. September 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Oops, forgot one thing.

    D&C 88:25-29 makes this point even clearer, in language rather reminiscent of Paul’s:

    25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
    26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.
    27 For notwithstanding they die, they also shall arise again, a spiritual body.
    28 They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
    29 Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fullness.

    Pay especially close attention to the wording of verse 27 – “a spiritual body.”

    “Spiritual,” in the true contextual sense of the scriptures, simply does not mean “incorporeal.”

    You’ve been reading your Bible wrong Berean.

  38. 38 Stephanie
    September 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Berean –

    I’m crunched for time today but I’ll get back to you soon.

  39. 39 Berean
    September 30, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Seth,

    Thank you for taking the time to write out 1 Cor 15 and Luke 24 in addition to the others here and there. Since you used McConkie as a reference today for this discussion, then I assume McConkie is reliable and authoritative to your position since you are going on the record here for the whole world to read it. I will now take that to mean that I also can use McConkie’s work as a reference in discussing it with you. “Lectures on Faith” was part of the D&C until 1921 so it must have carried some weight for a while. McConkie references this work continually in his doctrinal work.

    Seth, I think you have missed the point that we are talking about. We were talking about the physical nature of God the Father. Who He is. What He is. We are not talking about the physical nature of God the Son or the physical nature of resurrected beings. The passages in 1 Cor 15 and Luke 24 are correct when it describes what a resurrected being is and what a spirit being that doesn’t have a body is or is not. Whether you realize it or not you have inadvertently injecting the “god is an exalted man” teaching into this scenario. You want to apply the terms and definitions in 1 Cor 15 and Luke 24 to the Father and talk as if He is a resurrected being. For God the Father to be a resurrected being with a body of flesh, bones and an internal spirit would mean that THE FATHER AT SOME POINT IN TIME DIED, was resurrected, eternally progressed and became what He is today. GOD THE FATHER DID NOT DIE AND WAS RESURRECTED. HE IS NOT AN EXALTED MAN. You’ve already stated that this teaching is not in scripture. You can’t use 1 Cor 15 or Luke 24 to describe the physical form of the Father when it doesn’t state first that He is an exalted man to begin with. For God to be resurrected means that he was not from everlasting to everlasting (Psa 90:2) and that He did change even though in the Bible God says that He does not change (Malachi 3:6).

    Jesus Christ is the God-man. He was fully God and also fully human. He took on the physical form of man to live among us and to die on the cross our Savior. “He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9). Just because the Son has a physical, resurrected body that doesn’t mean that the Father does as well. To assume on this matter is spiritually dangerous to one’s eternal soul/destination. Jesus said that “God is a spirit” (John 4:24). Jesus told us what a spirit is not in Luke 24:39 “a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have”. Jesus will forever have the physical form of man because he suffered a physical death and was resurrected. This doesn’t apply to the Father. There is only one resurrection of one member of the Godhead: Jesus Christ. Believers in Christ will receive a resurrected body just like Christ did. It will be a body of flesh, bones and obviously a spirit. That is where it ends because Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and we are not and cannot become a god as believed in Mormonism.

    Let’s talk about McConkie’s work “Mormon Doctrine”.

    1. “GOD – There are three Gods – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – who, though separate in personality, are united as one in purpose, in plan, and in all the attributes of perfection.” (page 317)

    Three gods? Where in the Bible, or even the Book of Mormon does it say that? Can you show me one reference in the Bible or the Book of Mormon where it says that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate gods that are perfectly united only in purpose? John 17 shows that the Father and the Son are perfectly united in purpose, but never does it say they are separate gods.

    2. “GOD AS A SPIRIT – …God the Father is a glorified and perfected Man, a Personage of flesh and bones (D&C 130:22), in which tangible body an eternal spirit is housed.” (page 319)

    2A. “GODHOOD – …It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a 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; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on ann earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible…” (p.321) [Bruce McConkie never did show it from the Bible. He referenced Joseph Smith in “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, pp.345-347,374]. Where are those references, McConkie?

    God is a perfectd man? God is an exalted man? God the Father dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ did? Who died for his sins? Who was his savior? When did he die and when was he resurrected? The questions never stop with this kind of heretical teaching. Where in the Bible or even the Book of Mormon does it say any of this? God is a spirit (John 4:24) and He is not a man (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9).

    3. “GOD OF GODS – “…the Father, who shall continue to all eternity as the God of exalted beings, is a God of Gods. Further, as the Prophet also taught, there is ‘a gGod above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that he has a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father?…Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that he had a Father also?’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.370-373). In this way both the Father and the Son, as also all exalted beings, are now or in due course will become Gods of Gods. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.342-376).” (page 322-323)

    Here is a classic example of Mormonism making up doctrine to try to explain things about God that they cannot comprehend with their mind: We have parents, so God the Father must have parents or a father too. Get out of here! This is blasphemous. I’ve asked Mormons before: “Who was the first god?” They reply, “Well, we don’t know. It hasn’t been revealed yet.” My reply back, “Yes, it has been revealed. God is from everlasting to everlasting (Psa 90:2); He does not change (Malachi 3:6); He is the first and the last and there are no other gods before Him or after Him (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:6,8,24; 45:5-6,21-23).

    4. “GOD OF SPIRITS – [Our Father} he is the literal parent of the Spirit Christ and of all other spirits. Inasmuch, however, as Christ attained Godhood while yet in the pre-existence, he too stood as a God to the other spirits, but this relationshiop was not the same one of personal parenthood that prevailed the Father and his offspring.” (page 323)

    The Father is the literal daddy of the spirit of Christ? That makes Jesus a created being. Jesus became a god? None of this flies with Holy Scipture (the Bible) in John 1:1-3. Jesus is God – not A god. This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses say. The Mormons now have something in common with the JW’s (whom they despise when I have asked Mormons what they think of JW’s). Jesus is not a created being. He is the creator of all things (John 1:1-3; Col 1:16).

    Some other references that will add to this discussion would also be the following defintions (I’m not going to write them out. You’ll have to do your own leg work on the next two):

    5. MOTHER IN HEAVEN (p.516-517). This is a personal favorite of mine. There is no doubt in this defintion about Jesus and the rest of us having parents. Mormons don’t talk about heavenly mother very much. To do so would have people calling them pagans. I would go along with it, but on the other thread the Mormons on this blog don’t mind being called heretics so I will say that: they are heretics for once again trying to rationalize and dumb-down God to make him like one of us: we have parents…SOOOOO Almight God must have parents. Where in the Bible or any LDS scripture is there any mention of a heavenly mother?

    6. KOLOB (page 428) – once again, there is no doubt given on this definition being the residence of the Mormon god. Any mention of this place in the Bible? The Book of Mormon? Surely, it would be in the Book of Mormon because it’s the most correct book on earth, right?

    No, Seth, I’ve been reading my Bible correctly. I don’t assume things. I don’t try to rationalize and dumb-down God so that he can make sense inside my head. I don’t make things up docrtrinally to fit my agenda and try to pawn it off as Christianity when it’s nothing but paganism with just a new “wrapper” on the outside. I don’t in one breath say that God is an eternal being and has been from all eternity and then turn around and say the things stated above as Mormonism does. I don’t make God the Father, first person of the Trinity, living on an earth somewhere, dying a physical death, being resurrected and now an exalted man.

  40. September 30, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I’m using McConkie as a persuasive source. As I do with all general authority writings. And yes, you can use it as a reference if you like.

    I notice that you are avoiding using the NIV read on John 4:24. Why?

    Interesting point about 1 Cor 15 implying that God is a resurrected man. I’ll have to look into that.

    I should note that you cannot ignore passages like D&C 43:32 in discussions such as this one:

    “And he that liveth in righteousness shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and the earth shall pass away so as by fire”

    This passage, along with 3 Nephi 28:8; 1 Cor. 15:52; D&C 63:51; and D&C 101:31 combine to create the Mormon view that death is not always necessary to experience the purification of resurrection. So technically, you don’t have to die. But that’s neither here nor there.

    You write:

    “Three gods? Where in the Bible, or even the Book of Mormon does it say that?”

    Doesn’t say it explicitly, but it doesn’t rule it out either. I find the conceptual framework of perfect unification in purpose, love and thought to be compatible with both Bible and Book of Mormon. Neither the Bible nor Book of Mormon require the Father and Son to be “one substance.”

    #2 is a similar instance of the Bible and Book of Mormon neither confirming nor denying the teaching in question.

    “God is from everlasting to everlasting (Psa 90:2); He does not change (Malachi 3:6); He is the first and the last and there are no other gods before Him or after Him (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:6,8,24; 45:5-6,21-23).”

    I’ll have to get back to you on this one since it requires quite a bit of research to adequately respond to (Darrell is still waiting from one of our previous conversations).

    “The Father is the literal daddy of the spirit of Christ? That makes Jesus a created being. Jesus became a god?”

    It does not make Jesus a “created being” (which I explain repeatedly, but it never seems to sink in). I should also note that Christ was selected as Savior in pre-mortality from among the other intelligences because of his resemblance of the Father. In fact, the Mormon scriptures strongly seems to imply that the resemblance was perfect. Which means the pre-mortal Jesus already possessed all the attributes of perfection – at least in terms of attributes other Christians would read as “perfection.”

    So, the jury is still out for me as to whether the “Mormon Jesus” was ever anything less than divine and perfect.

    The idea that God can change form and still be an unchangeable God should not upset traditional Christians, since this is exactly what they claim their God did – in the spiritual, then mortal, the resurrected forms of Jesus. God can change form and still be unchangeable. So why not the Mormon God?

    “Mormons don’t talk about heavenly mother very much. To do so would have people calling them pagans.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’ve often wondered if Mormons aren’t wasting their time bothering with you lot, and we wouldn’t be better served to reach out to people whose hearts aren’t quite so hard, and whose necks aren’t quite so stiff. Still wondering about it…

    Mother in Heaven is implied from additional revelation we have. The resurrection described in the Bible already implies that gender is something we will carry with us to the hereafter. Modern revelation reveals that neither man nor woman can be exalted without each other. It takes the command to Adam and Eve to become “one flesh” to the next level.

    It’s neither confirmed nor denied by the Bible or the Book of Mormon. Which is good enough for me.

    “Surely, it would be in the Book of Mormon because it’s the most correct book on earth, right?”

    This is why it’s really hard for me to talk to fundamentalists. They have such a cartoonish view of the world. Being the most correct book on earth does not mean that it will contain everything God has to say. Joseph didn’t mean it that way. Your demand stems from an assumption of not just Biblical inerrancy, but Biblical sufficiency. When you read this statement from Joseph, you assume he must be operating from the same assumptions of that you are. We aren’t. And neither was Joseph.

    You automatically assume that any book that is to “supplant” the Bible darn-well must be “better” than the Bible – meaning more teachings in it, more stuff, inerrancy where the Bible is allegedly not inerrant… that sort of thing.

    This is all wrong.

    Mormons do not present the Book of Mormon as something that is going to supplant the Bible. But rather something that will enhance, supplement, and compliment the Bible. And since we believe in continuing revelation, we reject the notion that ANY book, no matter how inspired, will ever include every teaching that God has to give us.

    Besides, when Joseph made this statement about the Book of Mormon, he was full aware that over a hundred pages of it were missing (lost to Martin Harris). So it’s blatantly obvious he didn’t mean the statement the way you are taking it.

  41. 41 Berean
    September 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Seth,

    After reading your comments…I don’t know what to say to you. Sometimes it just isn’t worth commenting. I’ll make this short (can you believe that?).

    You asked, “I notice that you are avoiding my read on John 4:24 from the NIV. Why?”

    I wasn’t avoiding it because you didn’t reference the NIV in your post. The NIV is NOT the Bible version of the LDS standard works – the KJV Bible is. I talk to Mormons by using the standard works that has the Church stamp on the binder. Silly me for assuming that you would be using the APPROVED version of the Bible by the LDS Church. Now, if you want to go “Vegas buffet” on me with Bible translations just let me know. The New American Standard Bible is a modern-day, word-for-word translation and is my personal favorite for studying.

  42. September 30, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I use the NIV, because I assume that is the version most commonly used by Protestants I debate with.

    John 4:24 NASB:

    “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    We use the King James Version mostly out of tradition, and because the language of the Book of Mormon in English is tied to King James language. However, I should point out that the KJV is not the official LDS Bible in all cases. In Spanish, we use a much more modern translation. Same for Japanese Mormons. There is no divine mandate to use King James language. It’s just traditional.

  43. September 30, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Now, are you going to address the correct language behind the statement or not?

  44. 44 Stephanie
    October 1, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Berean,

    I really don’t want to belabor this blog with this doctrine, so I’ll just say that I appreciate your response. I understand your view, but I respectfully disagree with the interpretation you presented. Anyway, lets let this subject rest! There are much more important things to be done on this blog, like sharing the ‘real’ Christ in truth and love to the Mormons! I really enjoy your posts. Thanks for contributing here. I’ll see you again on further threads. Stephanie

  45. 45 Berean
    October 1, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Seth,

    Nice try, but no “cigar”. You also assumed wrong. You see, in Christianity we have liberty, joy and freedom in Christ – not to sin or be deliberately disobedient, but in an issue like this one: choosing a reliable Bible translation that is easy for the reader to understand. I personally like the New American Standard Bible because it is a word-for-word translation from the ancient manuscripts going all the way back to the 1st century. That is something that Mormonism can’t do. They don’t have ancient manuscripts to check the translation of the Book of Mormon or anything else because supposedly Moroni took them back or they were swallowed up in the ground or cave like they were when Joseph Smith tried to retrieve them the first few times.

    The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation. I could explain that to you but it doesn’t matter. Again, nice try with trying to pass off the KJV Bible in only being traditional. The KJV Bible is the standard works here in the United States and for all English speaking countries. You aren’t Japanese or Spanish so what applies to them doesn’t apply to you. I’m amazed at some of the stuff you come up with for points of argument to justify about anything. I know you hate when I accuse you of “Vegas buffet” Mormonism, but this is new ground for you. Now it’s the Bible! Wow, we are really getting somewhere!

    You know, that is one thing that always perplexed me about the Book of Mormon. It is supposedly a written record of the peoples of ancient America from 600 B.C. to A.D. 421 written in supposedly in “reformed Egyptian” (even though they were supposedly Jews!). When Joseph Smith translated or wrote the Book of Mormon by looking in his magic rock in his hat and not looking at the plates between 1827-1830, the language of the Book of Mormon came out in a language from the year 1611. Now, does that make any sense to you?

    A.D. 421 – The last recorded entry in the Book of Mormon
    A.D. 1830 – The Book of Mormon is published
    A.D. 1611 – The language of the Book of Mormon

    With all the numerous chapters of the Bible lifted out and dropped in the Book of Mormon I can see where Joseph got a lot of help in his ideas. I call that plagiarism. I started reading the Book of Mormon again about 10 days ago. I’m now half-way through Alma. I’m amazed at the numerous Bible verses that are cut up and inadvertently inserted throughout it. Joseph Smith was no genius. Satan is though and that is the one who was talking to him in that magic rock.

    Okay, you want to talk about John 4:24. What language would you like this in? Greek? Aramaic? Latin? English? Seth, it doesn’t matter. God is not an exalted man and you have already said that that teaching of Mormonism is not in scripture – anywhere. The problem is on your end. You have to prove your doctrinal teaching from scripture. Christians do not believe that God is an exalted man. The Bible says that God is not a man. Anyway you say it doesn’t matter:

    He is spirit.
    He is a spirit.

    The letter “a” between this doesn’t change the meaning of his form/essence. It also doesn’t change His deity. The letter “a” inserted by Mormons in cases referring to deity is however a big problem.

    Christianity: Jesus is God.
    Mormonism: Jesus is a god.

    There is a big difference. Seth, please don’t tell me that is not what the Church teaches. I wouldn’t put that out there if I didn’t have a truck load of Mormon references saying that. John 1:1 says that Jesus is God – not a god. When Mormons say this they are line with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    God is spirit/a spirit. Jesus Christ is a resurrected being who has a physical body because He came to earth and took on the form of man to live among us and be our atonement. He is fully God and fully man. God is/a spirit and so is the Holy Ghost/Spirit in Christianity. I know that Mormons have a different defintion of that. Seth, that is the #1 biggest problem that we have here and everywhere else. WE HAVE TO DEFINE OUR TERMS. If we don’t, then we are talking past one another.

    Bible Translations:

    KJV – “God is a Spirit”
    NKJV – “God is Spirit”
    NLT – “For God is Spirit”
    ESV – “God is spirit”
    NIV – “God is spirit”
    RVR – “Dios es Espiritu” (God is Spirit)
    NASB – “God is spirit”
    RSV – “God is spirit”
    ASV – “God is a Spirit”
    Young – “God is a Spirit”
    Darby – “God is a spirit”
    Webster – “God is a Spirit”
    HNV – “God is spirit”
    Vulgate – “spiritus est Deus” (God is spirit)
    Greek – “theos pneuma kai proskuneo autos dei proskuneo…” (God is a Spirit)
    Tagalog – “Ang Diyos ay Espiritu” (God is a Spirit)

    I don’t see anywhere in these translations anything that says:

    God is a man
    God is man

    Seth, don’t make the elementary mistake of misunderstanding characteristics of God with His attributes/form/essence. What are characteristics:

    God is love
    God is merciful
    God is just
    God is powerful
    God is kind
    God is truthful

    What are attributes/form:

    God is omniscient
    God is omnipresent
    God is omnipotent
    God is one God
    God is a Spirit/God is Spirit
    God is invisible (Col 1:15; Heb 11:27)

    Mormons have tried to apply human reasoning and logic in explaining and defining the Almighty. They don’t have any training in hermeneutics and thus, they fall trap in trying to define God as a man. The Bible has said that He is not a man, but a Spirit. God the Father did not die and was not resurrected. God the Son was. They are co-equal and co-eternal but not two different gods as Mormonism believes.

  46. October 1, 2008 at 4:22 am

    “I don’t see anywhere in these translations anything that says:

    God is a man
    God is man”

    Um… how about Jesus – “the man” himself?

    You believe Jesus and the Father are one essence, or something like that. So obviously, your God is a man. Right?

    Fully divine, and fully man, and all that jazz…

    And you’re dodging the fact that John 4 doesn’t establish an non-corporeal God. Your stuff about the language of the Book of Mormon is just a lot of smoke and mirrors. I wasn’t talking about the Book of Mormon. I was talking about the Bible. Your Bible, Berean.

    And it doesn’t say what you think it does.

  47. 47 Berean
    October 1, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Seth,

    It’s your Bible too! In post #42 you made mention of the language of the Book of Mormon. “Smoke and mirrors”, huh? Well, I’ve brought that up to some Mormons in the past and they got pretty silent about it with a troubled look on their face. The usual response followed: “That’s a good point. I’ve never thought about that before.” You see, Seth, many Mormons don’t think some of their positions through to the end. Many Mormons don’t like to think. They just want to FEEL or be told what to think, sadly enough.

    You’re not paying attention to “all that jazz” I patiently wrote down. God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ) are two different persons – but both God. In John 4:24 Jesus is talking and He answers the question on what form the Father is: “God is a Spirit.” JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT THE FATHER. I should have made my post more clear and said that I don’t see any of those Bible translations saying this:

    God (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man
    God (Heavenly Father) is exalted man

    I’m still waiting for you to demonstrate to me from the Bible the concept of the Mormon god being an exalted man who lived on an earth, died, was resurrected, eternally progressed, became a god, got his own planet somewhere near Kolob, lives there with heavenly mother and other goddessess (according to early Mormon leaders), has a physical body as well as heavenly mother but somehow when they copulate they bring forth spirit children who don’t have bodies. Joseph Smith said that the “first principle of the gospel” was to know that god is an exalted man. John 4:24 doesn’t say that God is an exalted man. It says that God is a Spirit. The deal I made is still good: you prove to me from the Bible the above stated and you can get “bragging rights” at the ward for baptizing me and my family into the Mormon Church.

    Jesus is fully God and fully human. He has a body of flesh and bones because He is resurrected from the dead. The Father is not a resurreced being. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. The Trinity has been explained to you and I see that you have rejected that as expected. You are free to do that. You have agency, but now you are accountable and are without excuse when you stand before the Father. You won’t be able to blame it on Joseph Smith.

  48. October 1, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Yeah? And I’m still waiting for your explanation of why John 4 requires God to be a spirit-only being.

    I’ll try again here, since you don’t seem to be getting it.

    In the KJV of John 4:24, the word “is” is italicized. This is because the King James translators inserted it on their own. It is not present in the original Greek text. This is because the indefinite article “a” doesn’t exist in Greek. Therefore, whenever the word “a” occurs in the the Bible text, it is at the discretion of whoever was translating it.

    This leaves two Greek words: theos pneuma [θεος πνεμα]— “God spirit.”

    Interestingly, the Greek word pneuma can also be translated “life” or “breath.” This is how the word pneuma gets translated in KJV Rev. 13:15 (“And he had power to give life(pneuma)”). So you could quite validly render John 4:24 as “God is life.”

    We can move on to what Mormons are or are not required to believe about John 4:24 in a moment. But right now, I think an acknowledgment by you that you have been misusing John 4:24 is in order. It does not say that God is a spirit-only being. It doesn’t even remotely say this. And your use of it as a proof against Mormon belief is completely groundless.

  49. 49 Berean
    October 1, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Seth,

    This is starting to get funny – ludicrous actually. It isn’t going to happen: “an acknowledgement” that I have been misusing John 4:24. It’s the other way around. Mormons have made God an exalted man who once lived on an earth somewhere, died and was resurrected. You aren’t a Greek scholar so don’t go down that road. You aren’t qualified and I’m not either. The Bible translators don’t agree with you. The only people that agree with the Mormons on their terminology, Bible perverting and beliefs are Mormons – nobody else. You are in a very small camp. There are 2 billion Christians (non-Mormons) and 4.5 million active Mormons. You don’t have much pull on Biblical validity. I could start from Genesis and go all the way to the book of Revelation and demonstrate to you that God is not a man. Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God. God is a spirit = God is spirit. God is invisible. God is omnipresent, etc. Why do I have to keep repeating? Everytime you post it’s a new twist. Now it’s “God spirit”.

    I tell you what, why don’t you contact the seers in Salt Lake City and make LDS history and have them come out with an approved LDS Bible that says John 4:24 the way that you see it. Since you have no authority, then it’s only your opinion and your “pet project”. As for now, the Bible that the LDS Church has put their stamp on is the KJV Bible and it says that “God is a spirit”. This is what Christianity believes and that is one of the fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity. Our God is not an exalted man who was once a sinner and became a god who lives on Kolob. That is the Mormon god – not ours. A belief in that doctrine will send a person straight to outer darkness.

    I have demonstrated from scripture what a spirit is and what a spirit is not (Luke 24). God is a person…a living person. Yes, the word “spirit” means “breath”. Breath is the evidence of life. God is called the living God in Psalms 84:2; 1 Thes 1:9. He has a name (Exodus 3:14 – “I AM”). He speaks throughout the Old Testament. He talked to Moses throught a burning bush (Exodus 3:4). He was in a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). God the Father is invisible (Col 1:15; Heb 11:27; 1 Tim 1:17). He spoke out of the midst of the fire (Deut 4:12,33; 5:4). No man has seen God at any time (John 1:18). God is described in human terms so that we can try to understand and relate to what is being told to us about the majesty of God (2 Chronicles 16:9; Isaiah 40:12 and many more). God is then described in other ways: He is a consuming fire (Deut 4:24). God is described as having feathers and wings (Psalms 91:4). Is God a chicken? No! Does Jesus have a sword for a tongue (Rev 1:16)? No! These are descriptions to help us understand the meaning of what is being said. In Psalms 91:4 it is showing how God will comfort us like a hen does with her chicks. In Rev 1:16 it is showing Jesus being a righteous judge/warrior who is coming to earth in vengeance. To understand the nature of God you have to have an understanding of the Trinity which has been explained to you the best way possible. The Father and the Son are separate persons. The form of the Father (a spirit only) is different than the Son (a resurrected body of flesh, bones and spirit). Both the Father and the Son make up the Godhead in addition to the Holy Ghost as well who is also God (Acts 5:3-4; Matthew 1:20,23). There is only one God and He is in three persons. The Son is the only one who has a physical body. That is evident in scripture. The Father and the Holy Ghost do not have resurrected bodies of flesh and bones. That is evident and clear in the Bible as well. Well, there I go again…repeating the same thing over and over.

    Seth, this conversation and constant repeating is getting boring. I’ve made the case to you from scripture and in dialogue. You are free to reject the Biblical teaching of God being a spirit. You’re the only Mormon writing on this blog it appears. While I am addressing your name specifically in these posts, I am really talking to those silent listeners out there in Mormonism that are having issues with the teachings of Mormonism and cannot reconcile them with the Bible. It is my hope and prayer that those people will look into these things and search them out and come to the realization that the god of Mormonism is the god of Joseph Smith’s imagination – not the God of the Bible.

  50. October 1, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I haven’t been misusing the Bible to prove that God has a physical form Berean, for the simple fact that I think the Bible is silent on the subject. It doesn’t say anything one way or the other.

    Aside from the obvious fact of the embodied Jesus, of course.

    But you continue to use John 4:24 to say something that I have already demonstrated it does not say.

    Note to Mark,

    Could you email me sometime? I have a question I’d like to ask.

  51. October 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Berean, if you’re going to keep harping on how the KJV being the “official Bible” of the LDS Church obligates me to accept God’s spirit status, let me correct you…

    You’ll note that in the officially issued KJV that you can buy from LDS distributors, there happens to be a footnote on John 4:24. Yup, it’s a Joseph Smith Translation passage. Here’s how Joseph rendered it:

    “For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    So your attempt to bind me to a reading that God is “a Spirit” based on my possession of a KJV, falls flat on its face on all levels. Mormons have never read John 4:24 the way you are arguing. Nor are they obligated to in the slightest.

    You’re the only one with your fly open on this passage.

  52. 52 Berean
    October 2, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Seth said:

    “You’re the only one with your fly open on this passage.”

    Colorful, insightful, spriritual and meaningful language, Seth. I would think that you could have come up with something better than that.

  53. 53 Berean
    October 2, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Mark Cares,

    I’m going to be gone for about three months on an assignment. Hopefully, I will be back again soon. I wish you God’s blessings on your blog. Take care and keep up the good work, my brother.

    Berean

  54. October 2, 2008 at 3:53 am

    I did. You didn’t read all that stuff before it?

  55. October 2, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Especially considering how “spiritual,” “meaningful,” and “insightful” your repeated “Vegas buffet” crack is. You don’t have much room to talk here.

  56. 56 Darrell
    October 2, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Seth,

    Berean has asked a great question of you and you have given no answer. Biblically, how do you back up the LDS assertion that God the Father was once a man and progressed to become a God (Exalted Man)? Please show me how this is a biblically supported position.

    Darrell

  57. 57 Berean
    October 2, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Seth,

    “Vegas buffet” (picking food) as an analogy in picking and choosing doctrines is far different than a statement about someone’s “fly being open” (exposing underwear/private parts) as related to Bible verses which has a vulgar connotation to it. I thought by now you would have grown up and wised up. I hope one day you will pick and choose your words better. By the way, if you don’t like “Vegas buffet” you can always substitute it with “salad bar” (food – not underwear or the exposing of one’s genitals).

    Darrell, Stephanie, TXNate, Brad and other Christians (non-Mormons):

    I am leaving this morning so this is my last post. Keep up the good work and the witness for Christ. God bless you.

  58. October 2, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Darrell, are you just not reading my posts?

    My position, from the start has only been to show that the Mormon position is not CONTRADICTED by the Bible. I have already acknowledged that Mormonism adds to the Bible and goes beyond the scope of the Bible. God’s status before He created the earth is one of those things.

    God having a physical body is IMPLIED by the physical incarnation of God the Son. But you and I both know that this does not logically require that God the Father have a body.

    And that’s fine.

    My only point in posting here has been to show that Mormon doctrine is not anti-Biblical. Not to show that it is all found in and contained by the Bible.

  59. October 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    And my point about John 4:24 still stands, regardless of whether you like my terminology.

  60. 60 Darrell
    October 4, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Seth,

    So, what you are saying is that you have no SUPPORT from the bible for your position. That I can agree with. However, you say that the bible does not CONTRADICT your position that God was once a man who progressed to become a God after following the plan of salvation of his god. I fundamentally disagree with that statement. As I have already pointed out to you time and time again, the bible says…

    1) There is One and ONLY ONE God
    2) There have been no Gods before Him
    3) There will be no Gods besides Him EVER

    Isaiah says this about 40 times. The position that God the Father was once a Man who followed the commandments of His God well enough to become a God Himself violates this position. In addition, taking the stance that we can do the same violates this position as well.

    The bible DOES contradict the LDS church’s teachings on the nature of God. That is one of the main reasons they are not Christians.

    Darrell

  61. October 4, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Oh no Darrell.

    There is actually stuff that SUPPORTS my read on things in the Bible.

    But there is no SOLID PROOF.

    And the same is true of your position.

    Thus the need for modern revelation to clarify the existing scriptures.

  62. 62 Darrell
    October 4, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Seth,

    “But there is no solid proof.”

    That is the difference..

    There IS proof for Christianity. There is NO PROOF for Mormonism. Or maybe the angel brought back the golden plates… or maybe they recently found the city of Zarahemla… have I missed something in the news?

    “Thus the need for modern revelation to clarify the existing scriptures.”

    Yeah, because your modern day revelation is SO CLEAR. That is why there is so much AGREEMENT among mormons, right?

    Adam is God… oh no, he isn’t. Hot drinks are bad… oh no, it isn’t hot drinks it is coffee and tea. Black people can’t have the priesthood… oh, God changed his mind. You can become a God… GBH: “We don’t know a lot about that.”

    Yeah right!!

    Darrell

  63. October 4, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    To keep it on topic. There is no solid proof in the Bible that God is a spirit.

    None.

    Just a lot of prejudiced readings from you guys.

    Stay focused Darrell.

  64. 64 Darrell
    October 4, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Seth,

    Sorry for confusing you… I am addressing my question to you in post #56. Asking you about how you back up biblically the mormon teaching that God was once a man who progressed to become and Exalted Man/God. That is specifically what I am talking about. You said that there is nothing in the bible to contradict that and I referenced the Isaiah Chapters that specifically DO REFUTE that position. Sorry to confuse you as I know you were talking with Berean about God the Father being a spirit.

    My point still stands that the mormon teaching on the nature of God and the fact that God can become a man DO contradict the bible.

    Darrell

  65. 65 Darrell
    October 5, 2008 at 12:02 am

    To correct my post above..

    My point still stands that the mormon teaching on the nature of God and the fact that MAN can become a GOD DO contradict the bible. Sorry for the typo.

    Darrell

  66. 66 Brad
    October 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Seth, you said There is actually stuff that SUPPORTS my read on things in the Bible.

    But there is no SOLID PROOF.

    And the same is true of your position.

    Thus the need for modern revelation to clarify the existing scriptures.

    While I don’t believe this, for the sake of argument, let’s just suppose that you’re right about there being no solid proof, for either your position or mine. If that’s the case, then each of us THINKS our position is supportable, but we can’t definitively PROVE it (again, assuming for the sake of argument that you’re right).

    Let me ask you, then, about your next statement of thus the need for modern revelation to clarify the existing scriptures.

    I thought we were operating under the assumption that there is no PROOF for our positions, only what we each view as SUPPORT? However, what you’re trying to drive at with “modern-day revelation” is to say that it DOES provide what we need in order to “make sense”, if you will, of everything.

    But I would then ask – what is your proof?

  67. October 6, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Darrell and I were discussing proof internal to the Bible only Brad. One of those for-the-sake-of-discussion things.

    Darrell’s point on Old Testament monotheism will take a more detailed response, but gotta run at the moment.


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