27
Sep
08

Heretical Christians

 

     Meridian Magazine is an online LDS magazine.  This week it contained which to me was a surprising article.  It was reporting on an article in a journal called “First Things” that consisted of a discussion between Elder Bruce D. Porter, a LDS General Authority (member of the First Quorum of Seventy) and Gerald McDermott, a Christian professor.  The discussion was whether Mormonism was Christian or not.

     The thing that I found surprising was the following quote from Elder Porter.  After saying that Mormons were Christians, he added.  “To the title Christian a critic of Mormonism may add any modifiers he deems appropriate – unorthodox, heretical, non-Nicene, different – but blanket assertions that we are Christians are a poor substitute for informed argument and dialogue.”  I read it about three times to make sure I read it correctly.  A LDS General Authority prefers that critics of Mormonism describe it as heretical Christianity rather than non-Christian?  It would seem logical that he would then say that critics of Mormonism may call Joseph Smith a heretic.

      Not only did I find that quote surprising but also the fact that Meridian Magazine reported it with approval.  By this am I to conclude that it won’t bother most Mormons to use those terms?  I personally have difficulty seeing Mormons not object if Christians regularly began to describe Mormonism as heretical and Joseph Smith as a heretic.  But that sure seems to be what Elder Porter is saying.  He would prefer that to being called non-Christian.

      To see the article, go to www.ldsmag.com/ideas/080923porterprint.html

 

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42 Responses to “Heretical Christians”


  1. September 27, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    I don’t mind being called a heretic.

    From your perspective, it’s probably accurate, so why not?

    But seeing as how Luther, Paul, and even Jesus himself were all deemed “heretics,” I think it’s a badge we can wear proudly.

  2. September 28, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    When people claim we’re not Christians it’s very uninformative and completely false. The entire LDS doctrine is centered on Christ.

    Now if you tell someone we are “heretical Christians”, that is at least informative. It means that you don’t agree with our understanding of Christ; instead of indicating we worship some being other than Christ.

  3. 3 Stephanie
    September 28, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Respectfully, you do worship “some being other than Christ.” As was already explained extensively in earlier threads, the Christ of Mormonism is not the Christ of Christianity. Your Christ is so radically different that he cannot be considered Christ anymore. Any religion that has a different “understanding” of Christ follows a false Christ, and worships a “being other than Christ,” as you put it.

    We have been discussing works versus grace for a long time. But even when we get past that argument, your Christ is a completely different Christ anyway. So no matter how you believe salvation is achieved, on the last day you will end up with empty hands. It’s like spending your life climbing a gigantic tree, only to reach the top and realize that you’ve been climbing the wrong tree your entire life.

    As far as heretics, I would submit that Luther, Paul, and Jesus himself were indeed heretics from the perspective of the pharisees and the Catholic church. In this case, and every case, it really does matter who is doing the name-calling! :)

  4. September 28, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    “It’s like spending your life climbing a gigantic tree, only to reach the top and realize that you’ve been climbing the wrong tree your entire life.”

    I think Stephen R. Covey made that analogy.

  5. 5 TXNate
    September 29, 2008 at 1:59 am

    “When people claim we’re not Christians it’s very uninformative and completely false. The entire LDS doctrine is centered on Christ.”

    Forigve me, but this is “begging the question”; your debatable assertion (“When people claim we’re not Christians it’s very uninformative and completely false”) is supported by another debatable assertion (“The entire LDS doctrine is centered on Christ”). I would think that the emphasis on temples, prophets, and “being worthy” obscures Christ. I’m not trying to prove your assertion false, I’m just trying to point out that it does no good to support your assertion with another assertion. About the topic at hand:

    What I wonder about is why Mormons want to be called Christian at all. The early Mormon presidents did the absolute best they could to distance themselves from orthodox Christianity. For example, Joseph Smith claimed that God told him to join no denomination, “for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19). Here are some more quotes from other Mormon prophets about orthodox Christianity:

    “The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God” -Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 8:171)

    “We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense …the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century” -John Taylor (Journal of Discourses 6:167)

    “I said then, and I say now, may the Lord give me such periods of darkness as were enjoyed by the Apostles and Saints of old, in preference to the Gospel blaze of modern Christianity. The ancient doctrine and power will unlock the mysteries of heaven, and pour forth that Gospel light, knowledge, and truth, of which the heavens are full, and which has been poured out in every generation when Prophets appeared among the children of men. But the Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called” -Wilford Woodruff (Journal of Discourses 2:196).

    So my question is, with all this unflattering description of orthodox Christianity, why on earth do Mormons want to be called Christian? Would they not prefer some other label?

    But that, in the end, is just it. “Christian” is just a label, albeit one held and battled over dearly. What really matters is if we gain eternal life. That is where the true difference lies.

  6. September 29, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I’m pretty ambiguous on whether Mormons should be called “Christians” or not.

    For the sake of my fellow Mormons, for whom the issue seems to matter a great deal, I am willing to argue the point with Evangelicals. Neither do I particularly like Evangelical rationales for denying the title.

    But on the other hand, I’m really not exactly thrilled at begging for admission into the country club of American W.A.S.P. privilege. Nor am I excited to take on all the unattractive baggage that traditional Christianity has been accumulating over the centuries. In some senses, not being associated with traditional Christianity is a very, very positive thing.

    Personally, I prefer Richard Mouw’s description of Mormonism as the “Fourth Abrahamic Faith.” Seems descriptive, respectful, and essentially captures what the Mormon religion is up to while preserving our unique contribution to history.

    But honestly, I can see both sides of the argument as to whether Mormons as really “Christian” or not.

  7. 7 john
    September 29, 2008 at 4:51 am

    I believe the definition of a heretic or heresy is the unauthorized alterations of teachings or methods we Christians receive our teachings from the ONE TRUE BIBLE, THE ONE TRUE WORD OF GOD
    and every alteration to its message, teachings and methods are surly unauthorized so the lds in that regard cannot be received as anything other than heretics and it offend Christians to have you call yourself Christians. Our god our creator cannot be explained he has no beginning and he has no end HE WAS NOT A MAN WHO LIVED A PERFECT LIFE AND WAS GIVEN A PLANET.
    If I took a rock and packaged that rocked in a beautiful wrapper and told the world that rock was a diamond told my children it was a diamond sent people into the world to sell the idea that this rock was a diamond and created a very elaborate story as to how that diamond came to be and to every one looking at the elaborate packaging it looked like a diamond would that rock then be a diamond or still just a rock
    one step further If you had peeked into the elaborate packaging and knew that this was a rock of no value and not a diamond and you had friends and family members counting on the value of what they believed to be a diamond to pay for there future wouldn’t you demand that someone call that rock a rock and not a diamond I believe the name of Jesus Christ was stolen by the lds to make there “religion ” less offensive and use the name of Jesus Christ still to this day to decieve new members. what they practice is not Christianity and in no way are they CHRISTIANS

  8. September 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    No John, we use the name because Jesus Christ appeared in person and instructed that his name be used.

    It has nothing to do with scoring brownie points with you.

    If we were interested in making our religion more attractive, and less offensive to people, we’d be Unitarians. And we wouldn’t be teaching about the Great Apostasy in our first missionary lessons. And we might consider dropping that whole Golden Plates thing too…

  9. 9 john
    September 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    LDS use the term Christianity for acceptance. there are several denominations of actual Christians Nazarene baptist catholic Lutheran etc and the difference in the denominations are small compared to the lds teachings. the lds are fine with the heretic labeling as is is not well defined and will allow them to teach under the guise of Christianity, it allows them to knock on doors and teach lessons as another form of Christianity and run for public office it has EVERYTHING to do with brownie points and acceptance by the main stream America. The less defined the religion is and the less its differences are brought into public scope the more a secular portion of the world will accept it as they have accepted Christianity. Call yourselves any other name except Christians and see how many converts you have see how your businesses do and what public offices you hold it has everything to do with brownie points and acceptance

  10. September 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    “Call yourselves any other name except Christians and see how many converts you have…”

    Seeing as how traditional Christianity has been taking a nosedive in popularity, and attendance at Christian worship services has been in steady decline (if you don’t count those ridiculous mega-churches), I wouldn’t crow too loudly John.

  11. 11 john
    September 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Am I to understand that mega-churches dont count? your right attendance is down that doesn’t really matter as long as we have a billion members right because attendance at LDS churches is not that great but they can claim to be the fastest growing church as long as they keep attracting new members who go for thirty days then NEVER come back lds attendance is way down but membership is way up

  12. September 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    According to a lot of the Christian ministers I’ve been listening to, quite a few of them don’t. Certainly a lot of ministers don’t think Joel Osteen counts.

    Keep in mind John, that I’m not the one who brought up growth as evidence of being correct. You are the one who implied that. For myself, I don’t think growth has much of anything to do with whether you are correct or not. Otherwise, what are we supposed to think of Noah – who preached for how many years and got how many converts?

    Growth has nothing to do with whether you are right. You were the one who implied that having the Christian name would cause increased success. I was simply pointing out that this is a shaky assumption.

    It’s also ironic that the accusations you make about LDS creating shallow conversions and then rapid dwindling into inactivity are the EXACT same accusations I’ve heard online Christians make about the mega-church movement. One big dog-and-pony show, utterly lacking in substance, and failing to teach its followers anything significant about the Gospel. All frosting and no cake, as it were.

  13. 13 john
    September 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    You are unique in your desire to separate your church from the christian name obviously your calling is not a “prophet” or “apostle”. I never indicate that growth was any way associated with being correct only that the use of the Christianity name was an attempt to cloak Mormon differences from the world and gain main stream acceptance you where the first to mention attendance not I

  14. September 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    And I responded that “cloaking” ourselves in the mantle of “Christianity” was not a great way to gain such acceptance. Then you tried to bring up the growth statistics of the LDS Church for some odd reason. Still not sure why you did.

  15. September 29, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    We are Christians in the sense that we are followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of mankind. That point is not debatable, that is our religion. Now clearly we do have separate beliefs about Christ and His teachings so like Seth I have no interest in being associated with or accepted by mainstream, traditional, “Christianity”. I simply don’t like others proclaiming falsehoods about LDS beliefs.

  16. 16 john
    September 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I have no interest in being associated with or accepted by mainstream, traditional, “Christianity”. you can say this all you want but your leaders apperantly have an interest. They would rather be called heretical Christianity rather than non-Christian. That to me demonstrates a strong desire to remain in the christian fold or retain the apperance of being in the fold

  17. September 29, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    They don’t really want association. Just acknowledgment of our genuine belief in Christ. Maybe it is a different Jesus, but it is a Biblical Jesus.

  18. 18 john
    September 29, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. Not the book of Mormon or doctrine and covenant Christianity is based solely upon Jesus and his teachings and the new testament any perversion or alteration to this makes it clearly un-christian

    Christ followers, known as Christians, know that Jesus is the begotten Son of God and the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (the part of scripture common to Christianity and Judaism). To Christians, Jesus Christ is a teacher, the model of a virtuous life, the revealer of God, and the only being capable of living a perfect life and most importantly the saviour of humanity who suffered, died, and was resurrected to bring about salvation from all sin. Christians know that Jesus ascended into heaven, and teach that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead, granting everlasting life to his followers. Christians call the message of Jesus Christ the Gospel (“good news”) and hence label the written accounts of his ministry as gospels
    Christians know that no-one can explain the creator, that souls are created at conception not before,That no man can be a god,That no-one can live a perfect life and Jesus died for ALL of our sins. That our most righteous deeds are but stinking rags when presented to the lord
    If the mormons truly believe that there teachings are correct and that traditional Christianity is wrong why do they still insist on being called Christians especially if acceptance is not important

  19. September 29, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    “Christ followers, known as Christians, know that Jesus is the begotten Son of God and the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (the part of scripture common to Christianity and Judaism). To Christians, Jesus Christ is a teacher, the model of a virtuous life, the revealer of God, and the only being capable of living a perfect life and most importantly the saviour of humanity who suffered, died, and was resurrected to bring about salvation from all sin. Christians know that Jesus ascended into heaven, and teach that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead, granting everlasting life to his followers. Christians call the message of Jesus Christ the Gospel (”good news”) and hence label the written accounts of his ministry as gospels”

    We Mormons believe all of this John.

    “Christians know that no-one can explain the creator”

    We believe this as well

    “that souls are created at conception not before”

    We reject this. So do many Christians besides Mormons.

    “That no man can be a god”

    We disagree with this too.

    “That no-one can live a perfect life and Jesus died for ALL of our sins.”

    I’d agree with that as well provided that a person truly accepts Christ.

    “That our most righteous deeds are but stinking rags when presented to the lord”

    Which I also agree with.

  20. 20 john
    September 29, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    If Sikhism called what they believe to be the creator Jesus would this make them Christians or if Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji name was Jesus would this make them Christians of course not just as Mormons are not Christians simply because they use the name Jesus. Christianity is a set of beliefs and teachings and ANY alteration to that makes it not christian

  21. September 30, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Obviously Mormons are a lot closer to traditional Christianity that Sikhs or Muslims John.

  22. 22 Darrell
    September 30, 2008 at 1:01 am

    “They don’t really want association. Just acknowledgment of our genuine belief in Christ. Maybe it is a different Jesus, but it is a Biblical Jesus.”

    The above statement is illogical.

    You state that maybe it is a “different Jesus”… yet you say that Mormons want ackowledgement of genuine belief in “Christ”. The problem with this statement is that due to the fact that the LDS position on Christ is false IT CANNOT BE CHRISTIAN BECAUSE IT IS NOT FOLLOWING CHRIST. It is following something OTHER THAN Christ (a figment of JS’s imagination to be exact).

    Logically, the Christ of Historic Christianity and the Christ of the LDS Church cannot BOTH be the REAL Christ. Only one of three positions on Christ can be correct…

    1) The historic Christ is correct
    2) The LDS Christ is correct OR
    3) Both are false

    Logically, they CANNOT both be teaching the correct Christ. At least ONE OF THEM is teaching a false Christ and is not Christian.

    If position 1 is correct than historic Christianity teaches the right Christ and they are Christian.

    If position 2 is correct than the LDS church teaches the right Christ and they are Christian.

    If position 3 is correct than BOTH the LDS church and historic Christianity are false and NEITHER are Christian.

    Given the fact that the Christ of Historic Christianity has been taught for nearly 2000 years, the burden of proof lies on the LDS Church to show why it’s teachings are false.

    Answer this for me, Seth. Why the change in the church’s position on being Christian? Prior to about 1985 the church had NO PROBLEM speaking less than kindly about Christianity in general. In fact, many apostles spoke about how the LDS church was NOT christian and that all the christian church’s taught falsehoods about christ that originated from satan (hence the mocking of christian preachers in the LDS temple ceremony until the early 90’s). Why did the church CHANGE it’s position? Why, all of a sudden, does it want so badly to be accepted as a christian denomination (which is interesting given the very definition of denomination speaks to the falsehood of the church’s position)?

    Darrell

  23. September 30, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Darrell, everyone keeps talking about this supposed “change” in LDS Church stance.

    I have yet to see anyone provide some evidence of it. Do you have some?

    And my statement can very well be logical, because your position is based on neoplatonist ADDITIONS that you have made to the Bible. You assume that your way is the only way to read it, and anything else must be false. But just being around 2000 years doesn’t make you infallible. Nor does it give you any sort of special privileges.

    Each individual seeker of God has the personal prerogative of deciding whether your faith system is credible or not. Simple stating that “well, we’ve been around a couple millenia, and have Augustine in our corner” doesn’t mean we all have to bow down in worship. Your religion stands or falls on its theological merits. Not based on centuries of wrong-headed theological inertia.

  24. 24 Darrell
    September 30, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Seth,

    My position is that either ONE of us (LDS and Historic Christianity) is wrong about Christ OR BOTH of us are wrong about Christ. We CANNOT BOTH BE RIGHT. Logically, it is NOT POSSIBLE. Therefore, either ONE OF US IS CHRISTIAN OR NEITHER OF US ARE CHRISTIAN. We cannot BOTH BE FOLLOWING CHRIST (Christian).

    In addition, your church did not desire to be christian until about 20 years ago. There are talks substantiate this. I will find them in my stack of stuff and point you to them when I have some time.

    “And my statement can very well be logical, because your position is based on neoplatonist ADDITIONS that you have made to the Bible.”

    Yeah, because WE are the ones that have added to the bible! Who is the one that has all this “latter day revelation”?

    We read directly from the bible and take it at it’s word… you on the other hand…

    “saved by grace, not of works, lest any man should boast” – Historic Christianity FROM THE BIBLE
    “saved by grace AFTER ALL THAT YOU CAN DO” – Mormonism from addition scripture

    “there is no God but me” – Historic Christianity FROM THE BIBLE
    “everyone can become gods” – Mormonism from “latter day revelation”

    Yeah, we are the ones adding to the bible!

    Darrell

  25. 25 Berean
    September 30, 2008 at 1:47 am

    It’s hard to reason from the scriptures with someone who thinks they are going to be a god. That is a level of pride and arrogance above my understanding. Seth and Reggie have a Savior who is the big brother to Lucifer. They are the offpsring of the Mormon god and his wife/wives on Kolob. Oh yeah, the Holy Ghost was the third child born to these heavenly parents according to McConkie so Lucifer came in the middle. Wow, what a group! The Holy Ghost is a god in Mormonism – a spirit man – but somehow became a god without obtaining a body which Mormonism says one must have. But hey, with further revelation and a new Church prophet every few years, the Mormon Church can press the “reset button” as often as they like. Seth and other Mormons have “Vegas Buffet” Mormonism. They pick and choose what parts of Mormonism they want. If something they want isn’t out there yet, they get revelation on their own and create their own personal brand of Mormonism.

    The Mormon god is an exalted man as Joseph Smith taught and Seth has agreed with this. We’ve been through this before. Seth has acknowledged that the teaching of god being an exalted man is not in the Bible or the LDS standard works. It’s further revelation that somehow didn’t get written down in Joseph Smith’s revelations in D&C. The God of Christianity is “incoherent” according to Seth, but their god, who became an exalted man, isn’t found in scripture. Almighty God, as described in great detail in the Bible, is plainly revealed. Which one is incoherent? The answer seems obvious to me.

    It is my hope and prayer that the large group of Mormons that have doubts and issues with the teachings of Mormonism will look into all these things and search out the scriptures of the Bible. That group makes up 2/3 of the LDS Church that is inactive right now. Mormonism greatly overstates it’s membership. There are only about 4.5 million out of 13 million that are active. Do a Google search on Paul Dehlin. He is one of the LDS brethren who lives in Logan, Utah. He has put together an hour long presentation that he gives at wards around the area educating the uninformed Mormons all the things that were never told to them before. One of those shocking statistics and information “bombs” is the uninvolved membership problem. I believe this is why the Mormon Church desperately wants the Christian label even if it means being called “heretical Christians”. They’ve got a checks and balances problem – too many people dropping out compared to baptisms of converts by young missionaries who actually stick around for the whole program instead of bailing out.

  26. September 30, 2008 at 5:39 am

    I notice you guys are still dodging the fact that you have an utterly incoherent view of God. Instead, Berean has decided to pull out all the stops and throw out all his old material in the hopes of diverting the conversation.

    Vegas buffet!
    Kolob!
    polygamy!
    Brother Lucifer!
    Church membership numbers!
    John Dehlin!

    Why not throw in magic underwear, seerstones, and while you’re at it?

    Throw enough stuff at the wall, maybe some of it will stick, and maybe then no one will notice that you guys claim three gods who are “the same” but “different.”

    Let me spell it out. Augustine formulated the following summary of the doctrine of Trinity that is the most widely accepted by traditional Christians:

    1. There is only one God
    2. The Father is God
    3. The Son is God
    4. The Father is not the Son

    Take any three of these premises and you at least have a logically coherent statement.

    Put all four together, and you have an incoherent statement that should be rejected as utter nonsense. So either defend it or admit you can’t. I’ve never met a Christian who could yet.

    By the way Darrell, did you even read my earlier explanation of 2 Nephi 25:23?

    Or are you just throwing out the same repetitive mouthings in the hope that if you say it enough, it will magically come true?

    That said, I do agree with your limited point that at least some of our religions’ assertions are mutually exclusive. There certainly are points of doctrine where we cannot both be right. Grace vs. works probably isn’t one of them. But the ontology of God and man probably is.

  27. 27 john
    September 30, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Or are you just throwing out the same repetitive mouthing in the hope that if you say it enough, it will magically come true?
    This is our point exactly do you think that if you say your christian enough it will magically come true, if you want to be Christians so bad make one more change to the book of Mormon one more revelation “call it fiction” and you will be well on your way other than that you are not christian .
    I believe the point of this thread was the fact that your leaders wanted to be called christian, we know your not you know your not so who do they want to confuse? Maybe there members maybe Americans and the world? In the end the point is we love you and we worry about your eternal salvation, we do not want you to be confused about what you are practicing. Nothing you can do on this earth can make you worthy of gods love luckily Jesus did that for you and me and all of man Kind.Our view of god is very coherent and unexplainable , our knowledge of Jesus is amazing our places in heaven are SECURE. We know what awaits us in the afterlife and we hope to share that with you
    Its important that your members know you are not christian that the public know you are not christian that your family know you are not christian that your converts know you are not christian and any one taking your lessons know you are not christian. Your leaders very much understand the ramifications of loosing your Christianity cloak and are doing everything they can to maintain the camouflage

  28. September 30, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Having thought about it, response #26 is probably unduly snarky. I should have just repeated the call for an explanation of the Trinity, and left out the commentary on Berean’s methods of argument.

  29. 29 TXNate
    September 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    For formatting purposes, I hope HTML tags work here… forgive the clutter if they don’t.

    “Put all four together, and you have an incoherent statement that should be rejected as utter nonsense. So either defend it or admit you can’t. I’ve never met a Christian who could yet.”

    The Trinitarian doctrine is actually quite defensible, and this:
    “you guys claim three gods who are “the same” but “different.””
    is not it. So, like Seth R. requested, I’ll try to explain and defeind defend Trinitarian doctrine with the following lengthy post, and then close it with why Christians consider the Trinitarian doctrine to be so essential as to be almost a litmus test of Christianity.

    It does not follow that because Trinitarian doctrine cannot be reconciled by reason, it therefore must be false. When it comes to the nature of God, I trust the Scriptures more than my reason. I realize this asserion is usually used as a cop-out argument, to cancel any discussion by claiming that one’s doctrine is beyond reason. In today’s world the idea that anything is above reason seems abhorrent. I plan to support this with Scriptural evidence, which can in fact be discussed, so I am not using the “It cannot be understood” assertion as an impregnable fortress of non-reason designed to end all discussion.

    There is no philosophical, Scriptural, or logical reason to assume that God should be within our realm of understanding. In fact, we can expect quite the opposite. A painting does not understand its painter, and a pot does not understand its potter. Humans may have the faculty of reason and the gift of Scriptures, but even these Scriptures make it clear that we cannot understand God. For example, in Isaiah 40:18, we read, “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” God speaks further: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9). With this in mind, who says we can understand God? Who says that His nature shall appeal to our reason?

    The reason Christians believe Trinitarian doctrine is not because it lends itself to logic, but because it is clearly taught by the Scriptures. The Bible makes it quite clear the the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is not the Father. They are distinct persons. I can truly say that the Father never died for my sins, nor did Jesus pray to Himself in Gethsemane. I believe Mormons and Christians both hold that the three persons are different from each other; therefore I’ll accept the fact that the three Persons are not the same as each other to be a given. The Scriptures also make it clear that these Persons are divine. The fact that the Father is divine is a given; I hope all here can agree with at least that without me presenting Scriptural evidence. Jesus’s divinity is also clearly presented by the Scriptures: Thomas calls the resurrected Jesus “My LORD and my God” (John 20:28), and Jesus did not correct him. In the case of the Holy Ghost, Peter stated that the Holy Ghost is divine when he confronted Ananias: “why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost… thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4) I have plenty more Scriptural evidence defending the equal divinity of the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, but for brevity’s sake I’ll move on. I’ll present more evidence if it is needed.

    So we have established that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct Persons, and all are divine. The Scriptures also clearly state that there is only one God. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4) God speaks further: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:5-6) James famously says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19).

    So what we have here is that the Father is divine, the Son is divine, the Holy Spirit is divine, they are not the same as each other, but the Scriptures clearly state that there is only one God. Such is Trinitarian doctrine.

    Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians all over the world worship God, believing Him to be triune in nature. When someone says God is not triune, these Christians believe this person is in effect denying essential aspects of God’s nature, and therefore might as well be worshiping another god, whatever that god’s name might be. This anti-triune god can be called Heavenly Father, Jesus, Elohim, Y’shua, whatever, but it doesn’t change the fact that this god is fundamentally different. If I say I know President Bush and then claim he is a Congressman, I prove that I don’t know him because I am wrong about an essential part of his identity. In the same way, when Mormons claim to worship the true God, but then fact deny what Christians believe to be essential revealed facts of God’s nature, Christians must conclude that Mormons do not worship the true God at all, but a fictional distortion. Mormons may believe differently, but Christians are not called to stand by what Mormons believe, nor are we to change our position towards Mormonism just because the Mormon doctrine invokes the names of Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. The argument that Mormons are Christian just because they use the name of Jesus Christ in their Church name is irrelevant. I believe it was Sandra Tanner who aptly said, “Even if I live in my garage and call myself an automobile, it doesn’t mean I am one.”

  30. 30 Berean
    September 30, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Seth,

    It has been explained to you. It doesn’t make sense inside your little head. Guess what? It doesn’t make sense and compute inside my LITTLE HEAD either! Can you fully understand a deity that is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent? I can’t. If you can, you’re the first. Do you have that much of an ego to say that? We can’t rationalize a deity who is one God in three persons, but that is what the Bible shows. Every point I have made is valid because those are all points you are in denial of or try to twist.

    I could list out verse after verse and go through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and explain it to you the next two weeks. What good will it do? You have gone on the record here in stating that you have nothing but disdain for Christianity and would not now or ever want to be associated with it. So what is the point? For those Mormons that are reading this interlude that are having issues and problems with Mormonism they will be look into these things. The information is out there.

    As I said in my earlier post, it’s hard to reason from the scriptures with someone that has the pride, arrogance and ignorance to think that they are going to become a god someday as you stated one day you will be (or think you will be). I’ve demonstrated from the scriptures with you before on why that will never happen. It didn’t matter to you. What difference is it going to now make with the Trinity?

    You want to be called a “heretical Christian”. Well, based on your statements I say that you are a heretic, but not a Christian. Any Mormon or anyone that says what you do and believes as you do is a heretic in my opinion. But hey, there is hope for you still. You can still repent and reject Mormonism even on your death bed and God will save you. I hope it doesn’t come down to that, but I can always hope and pray that your eyes will be opened someday.

  31. September 30, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    TXNate, that only gets us part of the way there.

    You state that there are three distinct individuals (my premise #4) and I agree. You state that all are divine, and I agree.

    The only point of disagreement between traditional Christians and Mormons is on premise #1 and what it means.

    So any discussion has to focus on that difference. You have done a fine job of establishing the places we agree. And I concur that we don’t need to go into scriptural proofs. But you haven’t really touched on the central point of premise #1.

    Let me put it this way – if premise #1 is read as a numerical unity, then it is impossible.

    The number “one” is not the number “three.” And just because you are God, it doesn’t mean you can simply declare that “it is because I say it is.” Do we believe in a God or order or a God of chaos?

    Now, you can retreat to the mystery argument, as you noted. But that leaves us with little basis for discussion, and it also leaves you with little basis for criticizing the Mormon position (aside from an appeal to scriptures Mormons would promptly claim you are misreading). It also tends to frustrate we Mormons, because logical proofs are so pervasive in every other part of conventional Christian theology, but once we get to the Trinity, suddenly logic holds no jurisdiction anymore, and “it’s a mystery.” It seems awfully convenient to me.

    Joseph Smith pointed out a better way of making sense of the scriptural requirements for “One God.” Quite simple – the unity of God is NOT numerical unity. It is unity of purpose, unity of perfection, and unity of divine attributes. Every time the Old Testament is talking about One God, it is, in reality talking about one perfectly unified endeavor by one or more beings. When you add the New Testament framework, what emerges is three independent and self-existent beings who have voluntarily united in will, purpose, and power.

    This solves the problem. The Old Testament verses on monotheism are perfectly compatible with a “Godhead” rather than a strict ontological numerical unity. The numerical unity is clearly impossible, in light of the clear evidence of the New Testament.

  32. 32 john
    September 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    we can obviously argue all day and Seth can derail the conversation at every point he is actually very good at it. In the end Mormons are still not christian and will never be christian
    and are no closer to Christians than Sikhs or Muslims, Hindus or buddist there only similarity is they hijack the name of our lord. The question is why would an obvious non christian group want to do everything possible to maintain the christian name and I believe we have established that “deciet”

  33. 33 john
    September 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    The number “one” is not the number “three.” And just because you are God, it does’t mean you can simply declare that “it is because I say it is.”
    This is the difference in knowing that god is god with no beginning and no end all powerful and knowing and we cannot understand him or define him and thinking your uncle ted with the pot belly and balding head is a god or could be a god
    let me post this one more time read it carefully
    The number “one” is not the number “three.” And just because you are God, it does’t mean you can simply declare that “it is because I say it is.”
    again maybe uncle TED could not but Yes god can

  34. September 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    No, god can’t.

    Can God be evil, just because He is God?

  35. September 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Can God be imperfect, just because He is God and “can do anything?”

  36. 36 TXNate
    September 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Can God be evil, just because He is God?
    Can God be imperfect, just because He is God and “can do anything?”

    These characteristics that you mention, “evil”, “imperfect”, are defined by what God is not. God cannot be evil or imperfect, not because He is limited in what He can do, but because evil and imperfect are (or at least Christians believe they are) defined as “Anything that is not pleasing to God,” and “fallen short of the glory of God”. God cannot be evil or imperfect, not because God is limited only to that which is good, but because God limits the definition of evil and imperfect to that which is altogether not Him or His will. Am I making sense? I haven’t had much sleep. To say “God cannot be evil, therefore God cannot just do anything He wants,” assumes that there is a higher law to which God is held accountable. That assumption is false. God does not answer to a higher standard. He IS the standard. Unless Mormons believe differently? In any case the analogy you make here is ineffective.

    The thing to remember here is that God makes the rules; He is not defined by them. This applies both to Trinitarian doctrine and this concept of “God cannot be evil”.

    I realize it’s odd to say, “Reason applies to this theological concept, but does not specifically apply to Trinitarian doctrine.” The reason for this is that Christians hold (or should hold) the Scriptures over plain reason. Where the Scriptures allow, one can use reason to explain. Reason can be made to serve the Scriptures, but the Scriptures must never be made to serve reason. For example, I could use reason in this circumstance: “The Gospel of Matthew records an event not found in the other Gospels. Scripture does not lie, therefore, it must have happened and was simply not included in the other Gospels.” I used reason to explain the Scriptures.

    Here’s an example of how the Word could be distorted to serve reason. Let’s look at this verse about the thief on the cross next to Jesus: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the thief went with Jesus to Paradise that day. So what did they do? In their own version of the Bible, they change it to, “I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in Paradise”. They came to the Scriptures with preconceived notions, and decided to change the meaning of the verse by shifting a comma, even though there was no evidence in any manuscript to suggest this reading.

    Am I making sense? This is why I balk at an explanation like, “The Old Testament verses on monotheism are perfectly compatible with a “Godhead” rather than a strict ontological numerical unity.” It sounds to me like your line of reasoning is, “God cannot be three in one, (or the Prophet said God cannot be three in one), therefore the Scriptures really mean this.” It is a line of thought that comes to the Scriptures with a preconceived notion, and without any evidence, contextual or otherwise, shifts the meaning slightly. It is making the Scriptures serve our reason, rather than reason serving the Scriptures.

  37. September 30, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Well, I consider numeric unity to be a preconceived notion that Christians brought to the text, but that’s a bit off topic I guess.

  38. 38 john
    September 30, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Well, I consider numeric unity to be a preconceived notion that Christians brought to the text, but that’s a bit off topic I guess.
    you yourself clearly admitted you are not christian in this post and your beliefs are not Christan

  39. September 30, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I said I was ambiguous about it.

    I also never said I didn’t think the LDS Church had a legitimate claim to the title. I’m just not sure it’s convincing. But that’s a far cry from the “dishonesty” you keep insinuating.

    Really John, if you are going to make me “an offender for a word” and micro-analyze ever last one of my posts for weaknesses, it’s going to be rather hard to talk to you.

  40. 40 TXNate
    October 1, 2008 at 1:36 am

    “Well, I consider numeric unity to be a preconceived notion that Christians brought to the text, but that’s a bit off topic I guess.”

    I don’t know about you, but in Deuteronomy 6:4 I read, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD”, not “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our Godhead is a LORD, with other LORDs in other worlds besides”. But you interpret it as you see fit.

    But you’re right, we’re both off topic here. :) My original intent was to:
    1. Explain and provide Scriptural support for Trinitarian doctrine
    2. Explain why Christians consider the doctrine essential enough to refuse to call non-Trinitarians Christians.

    We kinda got sidetracked onto the Trinitarian doctrine thing, I guess.

    “we can obviously argue all day and Seth can derail the conversation at every point he is actually very good at it. In the end Mormons are still not christian and will never be christian”

    John, I admire your relentless zeal, and I’m sure your faith in Jesus Christ is quite strong, but for future reference, repeating an assertion ad nauseum is not the same as validating it with Scriptural or rational evidence; it convinces no one. And while it’s obvious you care greatly about the Lord and want to “contend eagerly for the faith” as we are instructed to do in Jude 3, speaking the truth in love and ad hominem attacks are two different things. Grace and peace to you, brother.

  41. 41 Berean
    October 1, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Note of correction:

    In post #25 I referenced Paul Dehlin. That is incorrect. His first name is JOHN. He is the Mormon who has prepared an hour long video presentation that he gives at the wards entitled:

    “Why Mormons Leave the Church”

    His website is:

    http://www.mormonstories.org

  42. 42 Berean
    October 1, 2008 at 5:26 am

    I see on John Dehlin’s website he is now calling the presentation:

    “Why People Leave the LDS Church”

    On his website it’s on the right hand side of the page in blue letters.


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