20
May
09

Frustration Over Sources of Authority

      In the comments following my last post a LDS member replied to a question I had about an older edition of Gospel Principles by stating:  “I also wouldn’t put it passed the writers (whoever the nameless curriculum writers are) of Gospel Principles or any other manual to not only include a typo, but also to make an assertion that the scriptures themselves do not make.”  I appreciated the candid answer but it left me frustrated.  Here’s why.

     Years ago, when I was starting to research Mormonism, I asked some local LDS leaders what sources I should read to understand Mormonism.  They pointed me to the standard works but also to the words of the living prophet.  In that connection more than one told me that any church manual that, at that time, was copyrighted by the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a true and trustworthy source.  They especially pointed me to Gospel Principles as a great introduction to official Mormonism.

    Over the years, I have heard similar things expressed at General Conference, in the Ensign by the First Presidency, and yes, also in manuals.  In fact, I can’t think of a time when somebody in an official capacity downplayed the official manuals.  To this day, the manuals are represented by official Mormonism as reliable sources of authority.

     That is all well and good until you are talking with individual Mormons who do downplay the manuals.. They point back to the standard works as the only sources of authority.  The trouble with that is that individual Mormons interpret them quite differently from each other as is very evident in the contradictory comments often left on this blog by LDS members. 

    Here’s my point and please try to understand the frustration this gives to a non-Mormons who are sincerely trying to learn what Mormonism teaches and not so much what individual Mormons believe.  The official church consistently points to the living prophet besides the standard works as a source of authority.  Included in this, according to church explanations, are things that are printed under his authority – like official manuals.  And if you read the manual, Teachings of the Living Prophets, especially Ezra Taft Benson’s speech, the authority of the living prophet is very broad and is not restricted to just “official” pronouncements.  Therefore it seems only legitimate and proper for a non-Mormon researcher to give much more weight to the explanations given in church manuals than to differing ones given by individual Mormons – when the topic is what does Mormonism believe and teach.

     Therefore it is extremely frustrating when individual Mormons don’t give much weight to what the official church manuals teach.  As far as I can tell, unless somebody can point me to an official declaration, the official leaders of the LDS Church, the General Authorities, have not disavowed Benson’s view of the wide-spread authority of the Living Prophet.  In fact, by citing it extensively in an official manual, isn’t the logical conclusion that they support it?

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112 Responses to “Frustration Over Sources of Authority”


  1. May 20, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Seth did a post on this very subject over at LDS & Evangelical Conversations a few weeks ago.

  2. 2 geoff456
    May 20, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Mark,

    May I politely and sincerely ask why you care so much? I just can’t for the life of me figure it out!

    As for your question and subject of this last post: Just because one Mormon on this blog made a comment like that does not mean it is true. Members of the Church do not usually downplay the words of the Prophets. Not the average, faithful ones anyways. I am not saying that whoever said that is not faithful, I am saying that it is not a usual happening….it is not “talked” about after church, or during class. It would simply qualify as someone’s opinion. period.
    Here is my take on it:
    The Prophet speaks for the Lord and is the only one that has the authority to do so. The General Authorities of the Church speak for the Lord as directed by the Prophet.
    The 12 Apostles and the other members of the First Presidency (also Apostles) are prophets, seers and revelators but do not hold the express keys of speaking for the entire Church.

    Are there ever typos? yes. Are there ever changes in procedure and or policy? yes.

    So, can you trust the words of the Prophet? YES! Can you trust the church literature? YES!

    BTW, there are some things you do not understand. Even though you seem very well versed in Mormonism, there are some things that YOU think are contradictory but if you were to have the deeper knowledge of the Gospel, not just a slice of it, you would find entirely acceptable.

    ~Geoff

  3. May 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Geoff, it was me that made that quote (read the end of the last post). Just so that you don’t also misunderstand, I was not downplaying the words of the prophets. I was downplaying the words of nameless curriculum writers in manuals. When they quote scripture and they quote prophets–I have no problem. I was simply saying that sometimes we (and I’ve seen this in a manual before) are tempted to make assertions/assumptions that the scriptures (and the prophets) themselves never explicitly make. That’s going out on an unwise limb.

    By any means, there is nothing binding about a manual being published by the Church. Why do you think the manuals invite comments, suggestions, corrections, and feedback? Because a manual is not a statement of doctrine. Manuals do not contain new doctrine. Manuals strive to teach what is in the scriptures.

  4. May 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    The official church site addresed what Seth does also. See here

    You may want to try a new life’s ambition or major hobby. I can see why trying to criticize someone else’s religion all the time can get frustration and seem unfulfilling. It is not that noble of a thing to do.

    Also there are a wide variety of Mormons. We are not all alike. Also, with the ninth article of faith, Mormonism is soewhat open ended. This is not a bad thing. God has not revealed everything. But there is an optimism within Mormonism that we can learn all truth. This leads to speculation, even at the higher levels of church leadership. Also, not necessarily a bad thing.

  5. May 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    “I can see why trying to criticize someone else’s religion all the time can get frustration and seem unfulfilling.”

    I can understand how you feel as I felt this way myself while I LDS. However, in an effort to provide you a different perspective let me just say this. There is a difference between what you call criticizing someone else’s religion and a sincere effort to lead someone away from a lie to the truth. What you perceive as criticism I as well as other Christians perceive as trying to help. Bear in mind if Mormonism is a lie and Christianity is true there are consequences for Mormons. We perceive those consequences as very real. Thus in our minds it would be nothing short of unloving of us not share the truth with Mormons.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  6. May 20, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Mark,
    I call it the “maze” of mormonism, what you are describing. Trying to navigate all the different doctrines that have been taught since Joseph Smith started the religion is challenging, even for the scholarly LDS. When I was “coming out” of the LDS church and heavily involved in research and studying LDS doctrines, I was amazed at the lack of congruence and agreement between LDS prophets and leaders. For example, while early LDS leaders like Orson Pratt, and B. Young may have believed plural marriage to be essential for exaltation, many other LDS leaders did not. Go figure. It’s a maze to try to figure it all onut.
    I would encourage you to focus on the expounding the good news, and sharing that with the LDS. I believe that focusing on sharing the truths we know and hold dear will do more to lead the LDS to a personal and saving relationship with Christ than any other method.
    Just some thoughts to mull over.
    I also wanted to let you know I do pray daily for you, and jessica, and darrell and others out there who are trying to present the truth in love.
    May God bless you as you reach out,
    gloria

  7. 8 faithoffathers
    May 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Mark,

    LDS critics often paint a picture of conflict and confusion within the church and its leadership. When President Bensen was ill toward the end of his life, they promoted the perception that the church was being led astray by President Hinckley. I have heard countless evangelical critics claim that the church is falling apart and people are leaving in droves. The “evidences” against the church are supposedly splitting it in half. Guess what- it ain’t true. Similar claims have been made throughout the history of the church.

    I think that what this article may reflect is the amount of knowledge that has been restored through modern revelation. Admit it, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to LDS doctrine. Stepping back from the question of whether it is true or false, I think it is all very interesting, stimulating, and engaging doctrine. But with all the knowledge and doctrine comes curiosities and questions to which many want immediate answers.

    This is fertile ground for a person who wants to prove the church is false. The protocol is simple- go to the periphery of doctrine and glean as many different, seemingly contradictory statements from LDS and suggest this somehow threatens the church and authority.

    In reality, the doctrines are not all that complex- at least the ones that we base our lives on and that are really worth spending time on. If a person really wants to know what the church believes, it is quite easy to find out. Apparent confusion comes, I believe when a person instead wants to prove the church wrong or to find fault.
    One finds themself in the “maze” Gloria speaks of.

    I can ask parallel questions of the evangelical belief system and produce at least as much confusion and contradiction as is found in the LDS church.

    Graci- keep the faith.

    fof

  8. 9 geoff456
    May 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Darrell,

    Bear in mind that if Mormonism is true and the Gospel of Jesus Christ has truly been restored to the earth and YOU have dissed it…..YOU are the one who will face eternal consequences.

    Works both ways….and hey, how the heck are you? It’s been a while!

    ~Geoff

  9. 10 geoff456
    May 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Good Job FOF!! You are right on the money!

    ~Geoff

  10. May 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Geoff,

    I am doing great… thanks for asking. Hope you are as well!

    “Bear in mind that if Mormonism is true and the Gospel of Jesus Christ has truly been restored to the earth and YOU have dissed it…..YOU are the one who will face eternal consequences.”

    I completely agree with you and realize this works both ways. That is why you will never see me take offense to what Mormons say about Christianity when they are prostylitizing to us. I could easily become offended if I wanted to by Mormons trying to convert me for the whole basis of Mormonism is that Christians have zero authority from the Lord and the First Vision account can certainly be taken as offensive to Christianity as a whole. You should have seen what Blake Ostler said about Christianity a couple of weeks ago over on Jessica’s blog… he called it philosophical crap and gibberish and said our version of Jesus was a “false god”. Nice! But I don’t take any offense… I disagree with Mormons but I know LDS are simply sharing what they believe to be right. We are doing the same thing and I just find it rather humorous everytime a blogger throws out how we are spending our time “bashing” Mormonism as if that is our intent and we are doing it simply for the fun of it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Darrell

  11. May 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    “The “evidences” against the church are supposedly splitting it in half. Guess what- it ain’t true”

    Do you know how many people are leaving the church a year?

    Darrell

  12. 13 Brad
    May 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    If a person really wants to know what the church believes, it is quite easy to find out.

    I think this is part of Mark’s point, that it’s really NOT that easy to find out, b/c depending on which Mormon you ask, the “valid” sources vary. Some say standard works only, some say anything produced by the church (which would include manuals), some say whatever the prophet says, some say that they ignore what the prophet says, if they don’t find it to be consistent with standard works, and so on. There’s not a CLEAR set of rules to play by, b/c they rules themselves vary, depending on who you ask. Going to an official LDS site doesn’t help much, either, b/c they might reference something from a church publication, and while one person would find that authoritative (if they believe everything published by the church is authoritative), another one wouldn’t (if they only subscribe to the standard works).

    Further, to make the argument that you can do the same with evangelicals, doesn’t hold true, b/c evangelicals aren’t bound by any “leader” or “committee”, such as a group of 3, 12 or 70 men. We are bound solely by the Word of God.

    So it’s not as “clear” as it is made out to be. That is the frustration.

  13. May 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    ” … We are bound solely by the Word of God”

    Amen to that!

    What a blessing that is to know that God’s word is true and pure and can be trusted! I spent years wondering if that was the case. Now I know, and for the LDS readers out there yes, I have prayed about the Bible to know if it’s God’s word and can be trusted. I don’t need some committee or pastor or church telling me what God says. I pick up the Bible, and He speaks ever so plainly and beautifully.

    Praise His Holy Holy Name!

    gloria

  14. May 20, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Fof,

    What about the whole concept/teaching of continuing revelation? Do you not believe that as a practicing LDS? If one believes as a LDS in the principle of continuing revelation, then there will be changes made and naturally contradictions will come as one prophet will contradict what another prophet has taught or said, and vice versa. I think that is why non LDS are a bit confused by the Mormon doctrine ( and that is why I call it a maze) because of this principle of continuing revelation.Do LDS beleive that the current prophet’s words hold more weight than even the scriptures?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  15. May 21, 2009 at 12:59 am

    I don’t suppose any of the Evangelicals here besides Jack actually read my article responding to this?

    From the comments, it doesn’t really sound like you guys have.

  16. 17 markcares
    May 21, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Geoff:
    You asked why I am doing this. Good question. I agree with Darrell’s answer and will build off of it. If someone is in danger the loving thing to do is to warn them. If the bridge is out around the curve, and you knew it, the loving thing to do would be to wave cars down to warn them. It would be totally unloving to not sound the warning. I believe the teachings of Mormonism are deadly. Even though you think I am dead wrong, please respect my motive – it is not to bash but to save.
    In close connection with that, is seeing the wonderful change in people’s lives when they experience the free forgivenss and eternal life in Christ. Just this afternoon I was visiting with a man who has experienced that. As the commercial says, “priceless”.

  17. 18 markcares
    May 21, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Faith of Fathers:
    I submit you don’t have to go to the periphery of LDS doctrine to see confusion unless you consider 2 Nehpi 25:23 on the fringe, to cite just one example. I don’t know how many different and quite conflicting interpretations of that I have heard from Mormons.

  18. May 21, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Seth,

    I read your article. One of the problem areas that I have, and it is with presentation of doctrine not so much the authority, is a lack of a systematic theology in Mormonism. You can find Mormon Doctrines in a thematic approach like McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” but nothing that connects the various subject and sources into a Systematic whole. I can tell you that not a week goes by when I don’t find myself reaching for Berkholf’s or R. L. Dabney’s Systematic Theologies or Calvin’s Institutes.

    We know that we are going to disagree on a whole host of issues, part of this as we have discussed before is that we have a similar but differing theological language. This causes us to talk past each other. But in addition to our different languages I often have difficulty seeing how various doctrines come together without conflicting.

  19. 20 faithoffathers
    May 21, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Mark,

    Why is it that, for the most part, LDS seem content in knowing where to find truth and answers, and that it is the LDS critics who find so much confusion in our religion? I think it interesting that I raaaaarrrrrely hear or read an evangelical or LDS critic summarize our doctrine or beliefs correctly. In all of these threads and discussions, critics argue that our doctrine is false, yet they never seem to be able to express that doctrine accurately from our perspective? Why is that? Really? How do you know you understand our doctrine?

    Maybe this is your point. But from my perspective, things seem quite straight forward to the saints.

    Maybe the problem is that members of the church are humans and have brains and agency. Are other churches filled with people who have no differring opinions on any doctrines? Maybe since we claim to be lead by a prophet of God, you think that those differences should be wiped away. As if that has ever been the case in the past when God had prophets speaking to His people.

    fof

  20. May 21, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Gundeck,

    You talk about not having a systematic theology like it’s a bad thing.

  21. 22 jm
    May 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

    ” … We are bound solely by the Word of God”

    Amen to that!

    By the Grace of God………………..

  22. 23 ADB
    May 21, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Wow, I’m impressed that it only took a day to settle this one. Way to work it out everyone! :)

  23. May 21, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Seth,

    I am not going to say that an absence of a systematic theology is a bad thing for the Mormons or not, that is something that your Church has to work out. The first thing everybody should realise is that we all have a systematic theology, formal, informal, written, or just thought. Not having a formally written dogmatic does not mean that it is absent, only that it is not presented out in the open.

    Michael Williams speaks of systematics as an attempt at a “harmonious whole” of God’s revelation. B.B Warfield says, “Systematic theology is thus, in essence, an attempt to reflect in the mirror of the human consciousness the God who reveals Himself in His works and word, and as He has revealed Himself.” From my perspective systematics not only provide a resource for studying individual doctrines but helps provide us with the logical connections between doctrines. I don’t see how this can be a bad thing.

    I will give you an example, please correct me if I misstate this. Mormons believe in baptismal regeneration and that the gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands after baptism. At the same time Mormons teach that investigators should pray about the truthfulness of the BoM and “ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost”. From the outside of your Church this appears to be contradictorary. I am sure that there is a reasonable explanation for this but without a systematic theology to refer to it has been difficult for me to meld these doctrines.

  24. 25 GB
    May 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    So let me get this straight.

    You aren’t seeing a difference between “the GIFT of the Holy Ghost . . . ”

    AND,

    “the POWER of the Holy Ghost” ?

    Is that correct?

  25. May 21, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    GB,

    Thank you for making my point. I do not understand the Mormon concept of pre-baptismal faith and the workings/gifts of the Holy Ghost. In a systematic theology this would be handled under the nature of the Holy Ghost, conversion/salvation, or possibly revelation.

    I don’t know how the LDS would choose to systematize their doctrines, but I selected this example because it has a connection to various doctrines and is the type of issue that I assume has a logical explanation from your perspective but creates a number of questions from mine. What is the nature of pre-baptismal faith for instance? Is pre-baptismal faith distinct from post baptismal faith?

    Honestly, I hope you take this not as a criticism of your doctrines or the lack of a systematic theology this is just an attempt to show the usefulness of systematics.

  26. 27 GB
    May 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Holy Ghost

    The third member of the Godhead and, as the name implies, a personage of Spirit, not possessing a body of flesh and bones (D&C 130: 21-22). The Holy Ghost is manifested in every dispensation of the gospel since the beginning, being first made known to Adam (1 Ne. 10: 17-22; Moses 6: 51-68). The Holy Ghost is manifested to men on the earth both as the power of the Holy Ghost and as the gift of the Holy Ghost. The power can come upon one before baptism, and is the convincing witness that the gospel is true. It gives one a testimony of Jesus Christ and of his work and the work of his servants upon the earth. The gift can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and is conferred by the laying on of hands, as in Acts 8: 12-25 and Moroni 2: 1-3. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost. More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin. Thus it is often spoken of as “fire” (Matt. 3: 11; 2 Ne. 31: 17; D&C 19: 31). The manifestation on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) was the gift of the Holy Ghost that came upon the Twelve, without which they were not ready for their ministries to the world.

  27. May 21, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    This doesn’t have to do with the topic at hand, but I would love to ask those of you who are LDS here, a question. GB stated a quote about the Holy Ghost. He is a member of the God head and yet has no body. How do they LDS view Him as a member of the godhead without a resurrected body? I always wondered that. To be a “god” for LDS one has to have a resurrected glorified body and have entered into the new and everlasting covenant. Do LDS readers have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    gloria

  28. May 21, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I don’t think there is any requirement to have a body to be one with God. After all, we believe that Jesus was one with the Father during the Old Testament (before his mortal birth).

    And, for the record, my own pet theory is that the Holy Ghost is actually female. But I don’t pretend to have anything to back that up with that others would find compelling.

  29. May 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Seth,
    Thanks for taking a stab at that question… it’s one that I thought of a number of times when I was LDS. Your remarks didn’t address the question I had though, of “how” can the H.G. be a member of the LDS godhead without having a body. I thought that having a body was one of the requirements of becoming like god and obtaining exaltation.. any thoughts? I have not met any LDS that thinks the Holy Ghost is a woman, but hey w we are all entitled to our views.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  30. 31 GB
    May 21, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    G: How do they LDS view Him as a member of the godhead without a resurrected body?

    GB: A resurrected body is NOT a requirement to be in the Godhead. THAT is HOW the Holy Ghost can be a member of the Godhead without having a resurrected body.

  31. May 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Hi, GB. Thanks for taking time to respond.

    So can I ask you then, is a resurrected body not necessary then to become exalted? Is the H.G. not an exalted being like the LDS god and jesus?

    Thanks,
    gloria

  32. May 21, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Gloria, nowhere in Mormon scripture does it state that exaltation and godhood are the same thing. That’s an assumption you’ve made. But it is not and never has been a spelled out ontological requirement of the job-description.

    Exaltation is a process whereby fallen beings are brought into God’s presence. Since Jesus and the Holy Ghost were never really fallen, the same process need not apply to them.

    And who says we weren’t lower-case “gods” before we came to earth? What does the word really mean?

  33. 34 geoff456
    May 22, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Seth,

    The holy Ghost is female?????

    wow.

  34. May 22, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Personally, I always thought it would be a kind of cool symmetry.

    A fully united God the Father and God the Mother as one part of the Trinity

    God the Son as another

    God the Daughter as another

    But cool symmetry isn’t exactly a doctrinal argument, so alas…

  35. May 22, 2009 at 1:09 am

    I even heard an interesting discussion on Heavenly Mother over at the blog Zelophehad’s Daughters where one of the Mormon participants wildly speculated that God the Father is actually kind of like the universal Executive branch for a Legislature of his multiple wives.

    See – Mormon theology really is more fun!

  36. May 22, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Angels with flaming swords, magic underwear, “peestones,” polygamous Gods…

    Hell yeah. Mormon theology kicks ass. It’s like having an MMORPG for your religion.

  37. 38 geoff456
    May 22, 2009 at 2:35 am

    hey, where can i get magic underwear and a “pee-stone”? sounds fun.

  38. 40 GB
    May 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Seth,

    John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he <= notice the gender) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he <= notice the gender) shall testify of me:

    John 16:13 Howbeit when he <= notice the gender) , the Spirit of truth, is come, he <= notice the gender) will guide you into all truth: for he <= notice the gender) shall not speak of himself <= notice the gender); but whatsoever he <= notice the gender) shall hear, that shall he <= notice the gender) speak: and he <= notice the gender) will shew you things to come.

    You may have to look at the Greek to verify the accuracy of this translation.

  39. 41 geoff456
    May 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Mark,

    I would like to address this to you. Thanks for answering my question so directly. We don’t often hear from you.

    You mentioned that seeing someone “convert” to denominational Christianity is “priceless”.

    Hardly. There is a STEEP price to pay. You, IMO, will share in that price. When someone breaks his covenants, turns his back on truth and the Holy Ghost there is a price!

    I wonder when that realization will hit you?

    ~Geoff

  40. May 22, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Geoff456, do you mind sending me a private email? (cleancutlds @ gmail.com) Thanks.

  41. 43 GERMIT
    May 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Is a “peestone” anything like a marble ?? …oh, those were the days…snapping up my sisters best shooters, boulders, and pee-wees….she cried for weeks… if we could do this in church….

    GERMIT

  42. May 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I know you addressed this comment to mark — but with all due respect for mark and for other Christians posting here, I think I can safely say that our heart’s desire is most definately to see the LDS come to a saving knowledge that Jesus is all you need to receive eternal life. It has nothing to do with “denominational” christianity. What is pricelss is seeing a soul saved. I beleive that is what Mark hopes and prays for and this is perhaps the reason he has this blog is to reach the LDS with love with the hopes of seeing them released from the bonds of a “religion” and coming into a personal relationship with Christ the Lord.

    I for one have no desire to see the LDS won over into denominations and religions. Heavens no! I pray and long to see them completely sold out for Jesus. Church has nothing to do with it.

    Mark, I hope I have not been too presumptious to say that in your behalf and in the behalf of other christians posting here.

    I continue to pray for the LDS,

    gloria

  43. May 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Germit, being mean to girls is a one-way ticket to hell. Shame on you.

    Just in case anyone wants the context on the “peestone” reference, see this post here.

  44. 46 markcares
    May 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Geoff:
    I will answer your question im my next post. Thanks for asking. And Gloria, thanks for yoru answer. I agree wholeheartedly.

  45. 47 markcares
    May 22, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Seth:
    Will anybody be exalted who doesn’t acheive godhood. Please explain the relationhip between becoming gods and exaltation inn D&C 132:19-20. And while we are looking at it, how do you interprt the “Then” in v.20 if we were “gods” already on earth?

  46. 48 markcares
    May 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    On the importance of the body:
    “Knowing that the primary work of God is ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39) and knowing that without a physical body man could not have a fulness of joy (see D&C 93:33-35) and knowing that coming to earth to prove oneself is a prerequisite to eternal progression (see Abraham 3:25, one could safely say that bringing children into the world is one of the high priorities in the Lord’s plan.” (Old Testament Student Manual Genesis – @ Samuel, p. 31)

  47. 49 GERMIT
    May 22, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Jack: I think my sis had, and has the last laugh (this won’t surprise you); she lost her interest in juvenille hobbies, worked hard at school, and is now a liscenced MD. GERMIT, on the other hand…well, let’s just say that we’re still looking for the appropriate Country/Western soundtrack to my movie, and maybe the right Coen Bro’s screenplay.. Adding insult to injury, and again, this will not surprise you, I have NO IDEA where I put those $&%^**%* marbles.

    GERMIT

  48. May 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Wow, mark. Good job on doing your homework. :)

    God bless,
    gloria

  49. May 22, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    [Insert joke about Germit losing his marbles here]

  50. 52 GERMIT
    May 22, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    yes….and the choices for illustration are rich also..

  51. 53 GERMIT
    May 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Jack : followed out the link, and TA_DA….Seth the Apostle is behind it… should have guessed..

    GERMIT

  52. May 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I’m everywhere germit.

    Kinda like Agent Smith, though debateably not as cool.

  53. 55 GB
    May 22, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Seth: And who says we weren’t lower-case “gods” BEFORE we came to earth? (Emphasis mine)

    Mark: how do you interprt the “Then” in v.20 if we were “gods” ALREADY on earth? (Emphasis mine)

    Mark,

    I am not sure why you got it wrong here. Seth was CLEARLY talking about “BEFORE we came to earth”, he said NOTHING about while we are “on earth”. So why did you ASSUME he was referring to “on earth”?

  54. May 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Mark, exhaltation is the process whereby fallen beings are brought back into the full glory of God the Father – in which they share.

    Lower-case godhood need not be theologically synonymous with that at all. Nor do I think the mere term “god” entails a final completion. In fact, by Mormonism’s theology, simply being a god CANNOT entail a final state of completion. Otherwise, what are we to think of the not yet embodied Jehovah (whom Mormons equate with Jesus Christ)?

    In fact, Mormon scripture seems plain enough that Jesus was not complete until his resurrection. Take this verse in Alma 7:12 for instance:

    “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

    Maybe GB or Clean Cut or someone else will have a different take on this, but if Alma says Jesus is going to become mortal to learn how to succor us, doesn’t that mean he DIDN’T fully understand how to do it before?

    So clearly just having the title “god” (lower case or upper case I would argue) doesn’t necessarily mean the finished product. You are assuming an ontologically static G/god. But you don’t need to come away from scripture with that assumption.

    In my view, people can be “gods” and fall from that state (as we did). And beings can be “God” and still have some progressing to do (as Jesus did).

  55. May 22, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    GB,

    You quote the Gospel of John as referring to the Holy Ghost as a “he.”

    Well, pointing out that I know nothing of the original Greek on these passages, let’s just assume that John is referring to a “he” as we understand the word.

    I’m still not convinced.

    God the Father is repeatedly described throughout the Bible as male – in ways that matter quite a bit. In his case, I think it’s clear the authors had a pretty definite idea that God was a “Father” and therefore male.

    The same doesn’t really derive from the John passages. The word almost seems thrown out there as an afterthought. Like an assumption that the author was making, but had not really thought-through. This is not the most stable foundation on which to build a doctrine of the Holy Ghost being male (though Bruce R. McConkie definitely seems to have done so in his writings). But I’m not convinced of the scripture being all that final on the subject. John seems to have made an assumption on his own lights in this case. But that’s not a solid argument for doctrine in my mind.

    Especially not when you have contemporaneous accounts like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalen clearly designating the Holy Ghost as female. These books – whether you accept them as scripture or not – do represent the thoughts of early Christians at the time.

    Anyway, it makes me rather doubtful about the Holy Ghost’s male status.

    And yes, I know the Bible-inerrancy people on this blog are probably pounding their heads against their computer screens about now.

    Sorry.

  56. May 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Yes, all three of the passages GB cites literally say “he” in the Greek, and they do so when an equivalent feminine pronoun was available. The Greek word for “spirit” is neuter as well, so the author went out of his way to designate the Spirit as a “he.” Usually the Spirit is described in strict neuter terms though, and translators supply the “he” because of the masculine designations in the gospel of John.

    Let’s pretend I’m not an evangelical biblical inerrantist who thinks God is both masculine and feminine though. I was recently talking things over with a Latter-day Saint who thinks God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have always been Father-Son-Spirit and have always existed as deity. If that’s the case, why is the Holy Spirit as Heavenly Mother problematic? I get that would mean that she doesn’t have a body, but why does that matter? Who says God has to play by the same rules humans do? If God didn’t progress to become God, then obviously He isn’t playing by the same rules anyway, so who cares if His wife is a spirit?

    IMO, beats the hell out of believing HM is some quiet, submissive, subverted part of deity that we’re not allowed to know about. Just my two cents.

  57. 59 GB
    May 23, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Seth,

    To go along with your Alma verse we have this.

    Luke 13:31 ¶ The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

    32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

    I think it is obvious that “the third day” is a clear reference to His resurrection. This is a clear indication that total perfection requires a resurrected body of flesh and bones.

    Also you may find this of interest, if Ex 3:14 is rendered word for word from the orginal Hebrew to English with the same tense that is used in the Hebrew it would read “and•he-is-saying Elohim to Moses I-shall-become who I-am-becoming and•he-is-saying thus you-shall-say to•sons-of Israel I-shall-become he-sent•me to•you”

  58. 60 ADB
    May 23, 2009 at 7:37 am

    GB,

    Let’s not forget that in the Hebrew language (which I’m sure some posting on this sight perhaps have studied), the imperfect in Hebrew can denote either incomplete (future) or continuing (present) action. In other words, Ex. 3:14 can just as easily be rendered, “and he is saying Elohim to Moses I am is saying thus you shall say to sons of Israel I am has sent me to you.” “I am” is every bit as acceptable (and dare I say preferable) to “I shall become.”

    On a separate note, is this a philosophy forum? I didn’t realize we’d be spending so much time discussing what we think God could be. Did I miss something, or has he not clearly revealed himself in the Bible?

    Jack,

    Based on the what the Holy Spirit did at Pentecost (and continues to do through his Word), I would hardly consider him a “quiet, submissive, part of the deity.” :) I hardly doubt you’d disagree.

  59. May 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    If God cannot be rationally comprehended ADB, you and I have no basis for talking about him – Bible or no Bible.

  60. May 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Seth,

    I think that is where Christians and LDS will agree to disagree — Christians do not believe God is always going to be rationally comprehended. We believe that God’s ways are not always going to be understood by our minds,in our limited human understanding. God’s ways are infinately higher than ours, because He simply is God. He is not a human that we would understand Him completely. We may understand some things about Him, but I have yet to meet a Christian who says, “yes, I understand God rationally and completely”.

    I personally love the fact that I don’t understand God — it makes Him all the more exalted and glorified in my eyes. The fact that I in my sinful, flesh filled way can not possibly begin to understand all the workings of God just elevates Him even further in my eyes.

    He’s God. We can’t even begin to understand His ways.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  61. 63 markcares
    May 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Seth:
    “Exaltation means godhood, creatorship.” Spencer W. Kimball (quoted in Ensign, August 1996, p.15)

  62. May 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    That’s nice Mark. I don’t think Kimball was being all that theologically careful at the moment. It happens – especially in a religion where we haven’t often felt the need to put forth an academically rigorous theology.

    Besides, Kimballs statement is only one-way. Just because exaltation means godhood does not mean godhood means exaltation.

    gloria, you mistake me.

    I do not think God can ever be rationally comprehended by human beings.

    However, I DO think that is rationally comprehend-ABLE.

  63. 65 markcares
    May 23, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Seth:
    At the very least, hopefully, you can see what I meant by my original post – my frustration over sources of authority.
    Here we have a statement by a living prophet, quoted by one of the 12 Apostles, in the official church magazine. The fact that it was quoted by an apostle seems to me to go against your statement that Kimball was not being theologically careful. Holland must had thought Kimball was accurate. As a non-Mormon investigator of Mormonism, that appears to me to be a pretty weighty source. Therefore it’s frustating when you seemingly lightly brush it off as not weighty at all. Sorry, Seth, but your opinion carries less weight with me than Kinball’s statement.

  64. May 23, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I see you ignored the second half of my response Mark.

  65. May 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Seth,

    You have said some very interesting things in this thread. First, John was mistakemly assuming The Holy Ghost is a “He”

    “The word almost seems thrown out there as an afterthought. Like an assumption that the author was making, but had not really thought-through.”

    Then you claim Spencer W. Kimball as well as the Apostle who quoted him were not being that theologically careful when they referred to exaltation as godhood.

    I believe Mark has a great point here. The appearance is anything you don’t like, no matter who says it, Apostle, Prophet, Scriptures, etc. can just be brushed off as non-authoritative. Of course, this is the pattern used since day one in the LDS Church.

    If one doesn’t like the Adam God Theory, well then Brother Brigham didn’t really say that – he was just misquoted.

    Don’t like Blood atonement, well it was just Brigham’s opinion and wasn’t binding.

    Polygamy was ordered by God and is part of the New and Everlasting Convenant… nope, not anymore, Utah needs statehood.

    God was once a man like you and me… nope, now according to the new Mormon theologians He has always been God and we, as well as the Mormon leaders and manuals which have taught this doctrine in the past all just “misunderstand” something Joseph taught.

    ——————————————————————

    So much for the restoration clearing up all the “confusion”.

    Darrell

  66. May 23, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    ADB ~ Based on the what the Holy Spirit did at Pentecost (and continues to do through his Word), I would hardly consider him a “quiet, submissive, part of the deity.” :) I hardly doubt you’d disagree.

    Oh no, I wasn’t calling the Holy Spirit any of those things. Quite the opposite.

    I was just playing with the LDS paradigm. The folk doctrine LDS explanation for Heavenly Mother and why there has been no official revelation on her is that she is perfectly one with God the Father and approves of/participates in everything God the Father does, but He won’t let the world know about her because He can’t stand to have them blaspheme His wife the way they blaspheme Him. That makes her rather quiet and submissive in my book. Just going along with her man and all, completely absorbed into her husband’s identity, no identity of her own.

    There was a post about this on the LDS feminist/philosophy blog Zelophehad’s Daughters, covering why the doctrine of Heavenly Mother might not be so helpful to the LDS feminist case, “Why I Don’t Want to Believe in Heavenly Mother” which covered the problems posed by a passive, silent female deity.

    Saying Heavenly Mother is the Holy Spirit puts her squarely in the LDS Godhead and makes her a familiar figure, neither passive nor silent, which removes a lot of the problems caused by the alternative. The major hurdles to this line of thinking are apparently (a) identifications of the Holy Spirit as male by the Bible and subsequent LDS revelation (b) the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a body.

    But I don’t really see why HM not having a body is problematic, especially for those rare Mormons who take the view that Christ was God the Son from all eternity, even before He had a body. If Christ could be God before He had a body, why can’t she?

    As an evangelical I don’t believe any of this; I believe God created gender and there are masculine and feminine aspects to all three persons of the Trinity, even Christ. At least, that’s the best explanation I can come up with from the biblical data. My friend JP Holding did an article on the notion that the Holy Spirit is female and why the ancient Christians probably weren’t very concerned with the gender of the Spirit (or God the Father, for that matter). He says:

    ———————–
    As a refresher, let’s note that applying such gender language to any member of the Godhead is strictly no big deal. Gender for the ancients was a matter of role, not equipment; Wisdom played a “feminine” role (that of maintainer of the universal “household”) and this has no bearing on the masculine incarnation of Jesus as Wisdom. Indeed, widows were allowed to assume “male” roles to survive and were considered as “male” in role by others. Obviously the Spirit just as readily engages “female” roles. Mark Smith in The Origins of Biblical Monotheism adds another salient point: “Attribution of female roles to gods was by no means an Israelite invention.” [91] Even the OT attributes female imagery to Yahweh (Deut. 32:18, Ps. 22:9-10, Is. 46:3, 66:9, 13) as Jesus applies female imagery to himself (as a mother hen over Jerusalem). Yahweh and other ancient deities were beyond sexuality, but nevertheless expressed themselves in “genderly” ways. The Ugaritic deity Athtar is called in inscriptions both “father” and “mother”. The “male” deities Shamash, Istanu, and Gatumdug are called a “mother”. Female deities could also be ascribed male qualities.
    ———————–

    So that’s how I feel about it.

    But if Mormons need to believe in a literally female deity, I guess I’d rather see that deity as a known part of the Godhead than as a separate deity altogether.

  67. May 23, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Actually Darrell, I never claimed that John was mistaken. The Holy Ghost may indeed be a “he” for all I know.

    I just said that the way the word is used there is not enough to hang a doctrine on. If your idea of certainty and lack of confusion in religion requires you to be able to hang an entire theological concept on nothing more than two or three uses of a word in three verse, then I would respond that that is a brand of certainty that I, and the world are better off without.

    And it’s a gross misrepresentation to say that I reject doctrines just because I don’t like them.

    In fact, I’ve never really entirely closed the door on Adam-God from Brigham Young. I’ve still got the door cracked open to the possibility that he may have been exactly right. It’s just the Brigham’s quotes on the subject are far from clear, and he says things in other places that seem directly at odds with how Mormonism’s enemies would like to stereotype the doctrine.

    Honestly, I think you’re just ticked off that I’m refusing to allow the Evangelical counter-cult community to rig the definition of Mormonism in terms most favorable to them. There’s a lot of nuance in Mormonism for those who read and dig deeply.

    And for the record, the “New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage” – namely polygamy – was never recalled as an eternal doctrine. So saying we just ditched the doctrine for statehood is ridiculous. The doctrine is still alive and well. We just don’t practice it in mortality, that’s all.

    And, it wasn’t just a matter of gaining statehood. It was a matter of survival as a Church. Nice how you just conveniently ignore how much persecution we were under at the time and trivialize it down to “we wanted statehood.”

  68. May 24, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    “In fact, I’ve never really entirely closed the door on Adam-God from Brigham Young.”

    Yet it has been declared Heresy by the Mormon Church.

    “Honestly, I think you’re just ticked off that I’m refusing to allow the Evangelical counter-cult community to rig the definition of Mormonism in terms most favorable to them. There’s a lot of nuance in Mormonism for those who read and dig deeply.”

    I am not ticked off at all. In my view you are simply following what the Church has done since day one… when something declared in the past doesn’t bode well today just ditch it… no matter who said it or declared it. What you call nuance I see as a convenient way of ditching problems created by church history and past church doctrines. In reality this does not speak well for a church which claims to be led by a prophet who speaks personally with God. For eample – can God not get it right? Why would he mandate and threaten to kill Joseph Smith if he did not practice a doctrine (polygamy) which in the end got him killed and almost led to the destruction of a church. The Mormon God must really be extremely powerless and really lacking in ominiscience.

    IMO the reason mormons who are informed about REAL church history like the idea of there being nuances is because it gives you the freedom to squirm out of major issues. In reality those LDS who are NOT as informed on real church history (which is about 90% of chapel going mormons) are much more dogmatic in their beliefs and would wholeheartedly disagree with you about their being nuances within LDS beliefs. There is a split beginning to emerge within the church… chapel going vs. internet – conservative vs. liberal. The next 20 -30 years will be very interesting.

    Darrell

  69. May 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    The exact same thing could be said of Evangelicals Darrell.

  70. May 24, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    “The exact same thing could be said of Evangelicals Darrell.”

    Please expound upon this and clarify so we can discuss it.

    Darrell

  71. May 24, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Paul’s doctrine of being subject to political rulers for one.

    This idea has been widely read historically as simply going along with despotic regimes, and was used to justify Protestant complacency in the face of men such as Hitler, or Pinochet. Some Christian writers have actually called this one of Christianity’s most diabolically abused Biblical passages – bar none.

    Another would be Evangelical evolution of attitudes toward women in the face of some pretty seemingly clear statements from Paul on the subject.

    I also imagine in about 100 years, the majority of Evangelicals will be trying to distance themselves from currently held views on homosexuality as well.

    Then there were biblical reads of blacks being a cursed race that were widely embraced by American Protestants at one time, but no longer are. Justifications of slavery too.

    It’s actually even worse for you guys. At least with Adam-God, we have a man as the source. A man where we do not know the entire context of his words, and a man who never clarified the full meaning of what he was saying in the first place. Also a man who directly contradicted – in his own statements – the message that Evangelical counter-cultists have tried to make out of his teachings.

    Frankly, I’m far from convinced Adam-God was ever a “doctrine” in the LDS tradition to begin with.

    You don’t have that kind of room with an inerrant Bible. You’re kind of stuck with the biblical Paul in a way that Mormons simply are not with Journal of Discourses Brigham. But Evangelicals have nonetheless done their darnedest to wiggle out of all of the afformentioned doctrines.

    And neither you nor Mark has yet responded to my point that the Spencer W. Kimball quote Mark provided did not contradict what I was saying to begin with.

  72. May 25, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Seth,

    The same cannot be said for Christians. You are making a false comparison. Of course some passages of scripture have been taken out of context, used for selfish purposes and utterly abused by people. I have no issues admitting as much. However, the people who have done this (and who continue to do this today) ARE WRONG and are not held up to be prophets of God. Scripture is the final authority and those who rip it out of context for self serving purposes will have to answer to God. I am under no obligation to follow them.

    THe LDS Church on the other hand has had PROPHETS who lead the Church and personally speak with and for “God” put forth doctrines which later PROPHETS have declared heresy (Adam-God and Blood Atonement are two examples). Even modern prophets have admitted Brigham taught Adam-God and have said that anyone who believes it today is commiting heresy. In addition, one minute JS, as the Prophet, says the Lord has commanded him to practice polygamy and take 14 year old children to wife. Later he is killed for the practice. Then a few years down the road another prophet conveniently says The Lord has told him to stop the practice within the church. So which prophet is one to believe? Who screwed up? Why would an omniscient God tell JS He will kill him if he doesn’t practice polygamy yet then allow the JS to die and the church almost be destroyed for following the practice? Why would God tell Brigham Young Adam-God doctrine is true then tell a ANOTHER prophet 100 years later it is false? Seems terribly “confusing”… again, so much for the restoration clearing up all the confusion caused by Christianity.

    Seems to me you have PROPHETS leading the church astray and teaching false doctrine. Of course if you are willing to conveniently brush it all off “nuances” I guess it is not a problem. To me doing this seems like nothing but a way to avoid dealing with a real problem. For those LDS who actually BELIEVE what the Mormon Church touts in, among other things, songs such as “Follow the Prophet” the truth can be a real wake up call. Hence the reason the church discourages members from reading supposed “anti-mormon” material. The truth is painful to the white-washed LDS version of things.

    Darrell

  73. May 25, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Seth: “…nowhere in Mormon scripture does it state that exaltation and godhood are the same thing.”

    Spencer W. Kimball: “Exaltation means godhood”

    Seems pretty clear to me.. of course if you want to say the prophets words are just “his opinion” and the doctrine is more “nuanced” that he declared have at it.

    Darrell

  74. May 25, 2009 at 4:41 am

    “In addition, one minute JS, as the Prophet, says the Lord has commanded him to practice polygamy and take 14 year old children to wife. Later he is killed for the practice. Then a few years down the road another prophet conveniently says The Lord has told him to stop the practice within the church. So which prophet is one to believe? Who screwed up?”

    Neither as far as I’m concerned. Doctrinally, there was never a contradiction between the two practical edicts.

    As I stated earlier. My conversation with Mark about “exaltation = godhood” was talking about a two-way correlation. Mark thought to use the Kimball quote to demonstrate that exaltation and godhood are synonyms in Mormon theology. I was pointing out that the quote was inadequate for this purpose.

    Exaltation does mean that we achieve godhood (through the reconciliation with God mediated by Jesus Christ). But that still does not logically follow that godhood always means exaltation. Kimball’s quote does not make this point for you.

    And I’m not particularly impressed with your distinction that “Mormons have prophets, but Evangelicals have a Bible! Therefore, Mormons are more culpable when there’s doctrinal confusion.”

    Evangelicals have prophets alright. They’re in the Bible. Paul put out a lot of doctrines that Evangelicals have had to do a lot of fancy footwork to dance out of. So was Paul simply wrong? His words seem clear enough.

    Don’t talk to me about the confusion in the Mormonism’s theological house. Your own inerrant Bible hasn’t saved you from the same problems. Obviously the Bible doesn’t just walk up and kick people in the face with it’s “plain truth.” The existence of the theological mess that is modern Evangelicalism attests to that plainly enough.

    Don’t try to throw out the same tired old smokescreen of “you guys have PROPHETS who are supposed to avoid this!”

    Yeah. We have prophets. And you have an inerrant BIBLE that was supposed to avoid all this too.

    The only difference is that Mormon doctrine doesn’t go around bragging about how prophets are inerrant (even if some members do). That would be your clan Darrell. I’m sorry you got suckered into the whole inerrancy fallacy, but that’s not my problem.

    It is, of course Mormonism’s problem because we still have a lot of lay members expecting inerrancy from a theology that never requires it. Inerrancy has always been a cancer within the LDS Church. The sooner it is annihilated and stamped out, the better.

    I am sorry that you and other Evangelical ex-Mormons were victims of this disease within the LDS Church. And you won’t be the last. It’s appeal is quite powerful and it offers a seductively simplified view of God and the world. But it is a flat-out falsehood promoted by Satan and placed as a stumbling block for the saints.

    May inerrancy, in all it’s rotten flavors, die a quick a sudden death. Amen.

  75. May 25, 2009 at 5:50 am

    I think your wife needs to read your comments more often before you post them, Seth.

  76. May 25, 2009 at 6:46 am

    I suppose so Jack.

    But I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have to tiptoe around the unrealistic expectations people have of God’s work on earth within my Church. And then have to deal with the same rubbish being thrown at me from outside the Church as well.

    The inerrancy crowd within the LDS Church makes life rather difficult for a lot of us when we go to Church each Sunday.

    Then occasionally, one of them will spontaneously combust, leave the Church, and then devote themselves to continuing to make life difficult for the rest of us still at Church.

    It’s really, REALLY annoying.

  77. May 25, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Actually, I probably do understand.

    You sound grumpy though. Keep it level and don’t burn yourself out. You’re capable of getting people to re-think this topic, you really are, but coming off as an irritable crank isn’t going to help.

    I personally won’t be re-thinking this topic, of course. I’m immune to your Jedi mind tricks blog comments.

  78. May 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    It really does boil down to the Calvinism issue.

    If you’re a Calvinist, then inerrancy makes a lot of sense. After all, God exercises meticulous control over everything in the universe. So it seems reasonable that he’d rig the system to produce an inerrant Bible. Or rig Brigham Young’s mind so that he either never preached Adam-God, or at least harmonized his statements with existing scripture and doctrine. It’s a reasonable expectation that a Calvinist might have.

    (Although, I’d point out that even a Calvinist need not see God commanding polygamy at one time, and then putting the PRACTICE on hold at another as particularly problematic. After all, maybe God, in his omnipotence, saw that as the best way to forward his work.)

    But if you’re an Arminian, I just don’t see why inerrancy is necessary. It seems to me that an Arminian could either take or leave inerrancy. Humans have free will, and that fact is enough to account for an errant Bible. But an Arminian can still have confidence that God will control the situation fully and ensure that the Bible leads to salvation anyway.

    Maybe Darrell or someone can explain why inerrancy is still required by an Arminian paradigm. Because, if you aren’t a Calvinist, I just don’t see the need.

  79. May 25, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t think that inerrancy is required, not by Arminians and probably not even by Calvinists. Not by evangelical Christians at all. Neither does JP Holding. Neither does I. Howard Marshall. Neither do certain emerging evangelicals. I would like to say that passages like 1 Cor. 14:34-36, 1 Cor. 11:3-16, Ephesians 5:21-33 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15 simply weren’t part of the original or weren’t really inspired, Paul was just being the sort of patriarchal bastard that was typical of his era. (And in the case of 1 Cor. 14:34-36, there actually is evidence to suggest it may not have been part of the original.)

    Admittedly I don’t think any of those people are Calvinists, and I can see why the Calvinist position is better suited by inerrancy, but I don’t think it’s required.

    However, I like inerrancy. I’m just not comfortable being the judge of which parts of the current Bible are inspired and which parts aren’t.

  80. May 25, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    “Evangelicals have prophets alright. They’re in the Bible. Paul put out a lot of doctrines that Evangelicals have had to do a lot of fancy footwork to dance out of. So was Paul simply wrong? His words seem clear enough.”

    No, The Bible is not wrong. However, some people’s twisted, distorted and self serving interpretations are.

    “Don’t try to throw out the same tired old smokescreen of “you guys have PROPHETS who are supposed to avoid this!”

    My position is the PROPHETS THEMSELVES have contradicted one another. This is a problem given the fact they supposedly personally speak with and for God. Why would they contradict one another if their messages are directly from God? Brigham Young said Blood Atonement and Adam-God were doctrines given to him by God yet later prophets declared these teaching heresy. Problems!

    Bear in mind there is a big difference between prophets who speak for God contradicting one another and people interpreting The Bible incorrectly. Let me give an example. At the beginning of yesterday’s sermon our pastor shared something with us which he has many times before. He said, “I am not perfect. I do my best to teach what The Bible declares. However, I invite each and every one of you, if you find something I share to be at odds with the teachings of The Bible, to approach me and share it with me. If I go in error I will gladly amend myself”. Compare this with what Brigham Young had to say about himself (which, BTW, somewhat contradicts your claim prophets have not declared themselves inerrant)…

    “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264).

    I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

    As to inerrancy – I would be happy to discuss it with you and share my views about it. Before we delve into it though, it would be helpful to understand how you define the term.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

    Yeah. We have prophets. And you have an inerrant BIBLE that was supposed to avoid all this too.

  81. May 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Sorry about the above typo. My comment and question to you about inerrancy was in response to you saying, “Yeah. We have prophets. And you have an inerrant BIBLE that was supposed to avoid all this too.” I just placed it out of order.

    Have a great Memorial Day. Thank God for our men and woman in uniform – past and present! We are all so blessed.

    Darrell

  82. May 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I think it’s over-simplifying matters for Mormons to claim that “modern prophet trumps all else.” Or “prophet trumps scripture.” I know some Mormons claim this, but it just doesn’t happen in practice.

    It simply isn’t the case that tradition doesn’t matter in Mormonism. The overall arc of all doctrinal interpretation in the LDS tradition matters. Part of the reason Brigham Young’s Adam-God doctrine was dropped was because it just didn’t fit in the traditional arc.

    This valuing of tradition is perhaps similar to Catholic or Orthodox notions of doctrinal interpretation.

    The instructions of the living prophet are supposed to trump the instructions of past prophets, but here’s the thing – I rarely hear a modern prophet expounding new doctrine – new theology. Usually the words of the prophets are focused on correct living, Church programs and goals, and other practical aspects of the Gospel.

    I think this is actually the primary way in which the prophet is supposed to be followed. In his practical instructions. Rarely do modern prophets really wade into theology. And even when I hear Apostles expounding on doctrine, they often give it a caveat of being their own measured opinion (as opposed to binding doctrine). Other times they will give a Conference talk and couch it in terms of “it is simply logical that B follows from A.” In these cases, they appear to be appealing to reason for their argument – which seems to invite the listener to test whether the logic is sound for themselves. Other times they appeal to scripture for their argument. And if a prophet or apostle appeals to scripture for authority in his argument, I think it is only fair that the argument be tested against scripture (meaning if the scriptures do not support it, it can be disregarded).

    We don’t get a whole lot of “thus saith the Lord” with respect to new theology. Even in Brigham Young’s Adam-God instance, I think your case that he was in “thus saith the Lord” mode is pretty tenuous. People like to quote his “it is as good as scripture” statement a lot. But I’m not even sure that Adam-God qualifies by even this standard.

    The LDS Church is a mixture of authority from a variety of sources:

    1. Modern revelation
    2. Past revelation
    3. Accepted scripture
    4. Interpretive tradition

    It’s simply incorrect to paint the LDS as a modern revelation-only religion. Absolute categories may make life easier for bloggers, but they don’t really reflect reality.

  83. 85 ADB
    May 25, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Seth,

    The more you explain about the source of LDS doctrine, the more I can’t help but see it as one of those “choose your own adventure” story books that I read growing up. It seems to be kind of a “to each his own” sort of thing. When you have such a variety of sources, each which may or may not be authoritative at any given time, doesn’t that make everything very subjective?

    Your take on it I think explains very well why Christians have the perception that so many Mormons believe so many different things. It’s because they do. There is relatively little objective truth that in the end says, “This is right” or “This is wrong.” If I understand where you’re coming from, it sounds like that’s not a problem for you. It just happens to confuse the daylights out of me. Nevertheless, I appreciate your clarification (for a little further clarification, would you say your take falls under “modern revelation,” “past relevation,” “accepted scripture,” or “interpretive tradition?” Should we in the future anticipate another book containing your blog posts to be accepted Scripture in the LDS? I can see it now, right next to the Pearl of Great Price: “Seth’s Super Sayings.” :)

  84. May 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    The only reason it looks like a choose-your-own adventure book to you ADB (and others) is because you have chosen to cherry-pick a few Evangelical pet issues and make those representative of the entire religion.

    I can’t tell you how marginal Adam-God has ALWAYS been in Mormon theology. Even when Brigham Young himself was writing about it, it just wasn’t a big deal, and your average Mormon probably wouldn’t have given two straws about it. It never was a core doctrine to begin with. But Evangelicals have chosen to opportunistically make the doctrine their rallying cry for some reason.

    I should also point out that the criticisms you are lobbing at Mormonism are probably verbatim the kinds of criticisms the Pharisees would have been lobbing at Peter and Paul.

    Choose your own adventure! You’re just making things up! You pick what you like from scripture and and chuck the rest.

    Exactly the same criticisms.

    The “establishment” will always have these kind of criticisms for the new kid on the block. It was so in Paul’s time, and it has been so in Joseph Smith’s time.

    And of course, these Evangelical criticisms are only possible due to a willful ignorance of just how much traditional Christianity has changed or given up over its 2000 year history.

    When it comes to “choose your own adventure,” we Mormons got nothing on you Protestants. A dizzying array of varieties and doctrines. All claiming to be the correct reading of the Bible.

  85. May 25, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    And I hope at least some here appreciate the irony of hearing “your religion is a choose-your-own adventure” coming from a guy who shopped around for his own preferred pastor.

  86. May 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    “I should also point out that the criticisms you are lobbing at Mormonism are probably verbatim the kinds of criticisms the Pharisees would have been lobbing at Peter and Paul.”

    You are actually comparing the work of Joseph Smith and our criticims of Him with the work of Jesus Christ fulfilling the new covenant and Jew criticisms of it. Wow… you are willing to put the work of JS on the same level as Christ’s redeeming of mankind. I know Joseph was willing to boast about his work being greater than Christ’s but I must admit I am shocked to hear this from you.

    BTW, my issues with the LDS Church have nothing to do with it being the new kid on the block. I would have no problems with it if it’s teachings were consistent with what God has already revealed to mankind. Rather I have issues with it because it teaches heresy for truth. It leads men away from Christ.

    Darrell

  87. May 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Yup same old circular, question-begging overused Joseph Smith vs. Jesus argument.

    You’re not arguing against the work of Joseph Smith Darrell.

    You’re arguing against the work of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was as much a messenger of JESUS CHRIST as Paul was.

    You keep trying to rig the game in your favor. But this one’s just a tad too transparent.

  88. May 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    “Rather I have issues with it because it teaches heresy for truth. It leads men away from Christ.”

    Which sounds like a fair enough description of good chunks of Evangelicalism to me.

  89. May 25, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    “You’re not arguing against the work of Joseph Smith Darrell. You’re arguing against the work of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was as much a messenger of JESUS CHRIST as Paul was. You keep trying to rig the game in your favor. But this one’s just a tad too transparent.”

    Seth,

    You are the one using circular logic. Let me explain.

    1. I say I don’t believe the LDS Church is true b/c it does not match up with scripture.

    2. You, then accuse me of doing the same thing the Pharisees did when the criticised Christ’s work.

    3. I respond by saying I am criticising JS.

    4. You then follow by saying no I am criticising Christ’s work b/c JS was a prophet of God.

    You see in order to determine if JS was a prophet we need to look at his work and teachings, evaluate them and compare them to The Bible. Yet when we do this you accuse us of criticising the work of The Lord b/c you presuppose that DESPITE THE CONTENT OF JS’S WORK it was the work of God – whether it agrees with what God has already said or not. Circular logic.

    Darrell

  90. 92 ADB
    May 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Seth,

    Could you just clarify post 87 for me? Was that directed at me? Do you have me confused with another poster?

    Perhaps achieving anything positive by discussing this topic is a bit unrealistic, seeing as Christians view the Bible alone as the source of authority, and the LDS admittedly do not. Any attempt at defending the Christian view will be based on biblical evidence, which of course the LDS will see as using circular reasoning. Any attempt at defending the Mormon view will be based on non-biblical sources, which of course Christians will see as heresy.

  91. May 25, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    No I addressed you in #87 ADB. But it might as well have been directed at Protestants generally.

    I think you are right about how this conversation is likely to stalemate in circular reasoning. It usually does.

    But I do take issue with one thing you said.

    The Mormon view is not based only on non-biblical sources. We are actually pretty adamant about how our religion is not at odds with the Bible, even if it adds to it. What is you and Echo’s conversation with GB over on the “Sin” post at now? 300 comments?

    I would have thought if you’d learned anything from that it’s that we Mormons aren’t likely to surrender the Bible to you guys any time soon.

  92. 94 ADB
    May 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    “our religion is not at odds with the Bible, even if it adds to it.”

    That is exactly why your religion is at odds with the Bible: it adds to it (cf. Deut. 12:32; Luke 16:29; Rev. 22:18,19).

    Furthermore, you do “surrender the Bible” when you fail to give it all equal weight (see GB’s posts in the “Sin” thread to which you referred. His take was, “unless Jesus spoke it, then it doesn’t matter as much”). The whole thing is God’s Word, whether the words are specifically spoken by Jesus or written by Paul or anyone else. To say one part is more important than another rejects the Bible as being completely inerrant. In my book, that is surrendering the Bible.

    To post 87, I don’t know where you got your information that I shopped around for my own preferred pastor?? Guess I also don’t see how it’s relevant.

  93. 95 Echo
    May 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Seth, Is it really about not surrendering the Bible to us? I hope not.

    It shouldn’t be about either of us surrendering the Bible to one another. It should be about all of us getting into God’s word together and hearing what HE has to say to us and surrendering ourselves to his word 100% no matter the cost.

  94. May 26, 2009 at 12:11 am

    “That is exactly why your religion is at odds with the Bible: it adds to it (cf. Deut. 12:32; Luke 16:29; Rev. 22:18,19).”

    Umm.. ADB…

    You were aware that most of the current Holy Bible was “added” on after Deut 12:32 was written don’t you?

    For that matter, all four Gospels were written after Rev. 22:18, 19. So I guess all Christianity fails that test, eh? Your use of Luke 16:29 is absolutely ridiculous because it obviously would rule out not only Joseph Smith, but all of Paul’s epistles as well.

  95. 97 Echo
    May 26, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Jesus approved of the Old Testament by his own words. Not once did he say that anything was missing or in error. Jesus approved of the New Testament because it was written by those who he himself chose or those closely associated with those whom he himself chose. They were appointed to be his witnesses to the world.

    Joseph Smith was “self approved”.

  96. May 26, 2009 at 2:07 am

    No Echo.

    Joseph was approved by God the Father.

    See, I can make unhelpful comments too.

  97. May 26, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Seth,

    So was James Strange as God had him ordained by angels. What is preventing you from following him?

    http://www.strangite.org

    Darrell

  98. May 26, 2009 at 2:43 am

    I was pointing out the lack of anything resembling an argument in Echo’s post.

    Obviously, if we are going to argue the way Echo was in that post, we can declare any fool thing we want and simply declare it true.

  99. 101 Echo
    May 26, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Seth,

    How do you know if Joseph Smith is a self appointed prophet or not?
    How do you know if Muhammad is a self appointed prophet or not?

  100. May 26, 2009 at 3:45 am

    And how do you know if Paul was a self-appointed prophet or not?

    How do you know the Bible is true?

    We’ve reached an impasse here.

  101. 103 ADB
    May 26, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Seth,

    “Umm.. ADB…

    You were aware that most of the current Holy Bible was “added” on after Deut 12:32 was written don’t you?”

    My apologies. I forgot about the whole circular reasoning thing. I tend to take Deuteronomy as simply a part of the whole. If one doesn’t accept all 66 canonical books together as inspired Scripture, then I suppose that passage wouldn’t make much sense. It was silly of me to try to use the Bible itself as evidence that the Bible alone is inspired and inerrant. So I also apologize for using the Luke passage (which, by the way is not so ridiculous when one considers that nothing that Paul wrote contradicts Moses and the Prophets … the same can’t be said of Joseph Smith’s writings.) and Revelation passage (BTW, would you care to provide some proof to back up your assertion that Revelation was written before the Gospels? Is that a common Mormon assumption with which I’m not familiar [and yes, there are many, so please bear with me as I try to familiarize myself more with your religion]).

    Admittedly my knowledge of LDS teaching and doctrine leaves much to be desired, but I’m trying to get a handle on it while faithfully confessing what I believe the Bible says. Allow me to show my ignorance with this question: Can you explain for me the LDS take on the Bible? I think I recall it being said that the Mormons view the Bible we have today as corrupt. Can you give me some background on that? I appreciate it.

  102. May 26, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Sure ADB.

    The book of Revelation was written prior to some of the other biblical books, and prior the Bible being assembled into a collection of texts (which didn’t happen until around the 3rd or 4th century). Therefore, this verse probably only applies to the Book of Revelation itself, and not the Bible as a whole (some of which was unwritten and none of which was yet assembled together into ‘the Bible’). While the traditional date of the book of Revelation is A.D. 95 or 96 (primarily based on a statement by Irenaeus), many scholars now date it as early as A.D. 68 or 69. The Gospel of John is generally dated A.D. 95-100.

    If you want further evidence that Rev. 22:19 is not referring to the entire bible when it reads “words of the book of this prophecy,” then check out Rev. 1:3,11:

    “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand…Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write IN A BOOK, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (emphasis added)

    Apparently, the book referred to at the very beginning of Revelation is the same book being referred to at the very end of Revelation. Everything that John saw and heard in between these two statements are the contents of that book. Thus Rev. 22:19 should not be taken as referring to the Bible as a whole, but rather to the Book of Revelation alone.

    Final point – even if you were to take Rev. 22:19 as referring to the entire finished Bible (which I think it clearly is not), it still doesn’t forbid GOD from adding new scripture. Just man.

    Which works out fine, because the Book of Mormon was added by God acting through Joseph Smith. Not by man.

  103. May 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    ADB, Seth’s telling you the truth here. No Mormon spin on it.

    Here’s another LDS perspective on the Bible on my post: “Are you telling the truth about the Bible?”
    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2008/06/are-you-telling-truth-about-bible.html

  104. 106 ADB
    May 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Seth/Clean Cut,

    Thanks for the explanation and link (and for the other links included in it). I appreciate anything that helps me to understand where you’re coming from. It raised some other questions for me, which I’ll try to formulate and post later on.

    Thanks again.

  105. 107 Echo
    May 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Seth said: “And how do you know if Paul was a self-appointed prophet or not?

    How do you know the Bible is true? We’ve reached an impasse here.”

    You might be right.

    How about I ask a different question.

    What is it in Mormonism, Joseph Smith and the BOM that gives you the PEACE that surpasses all understanding?

  106. May 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    The message of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and of God’s undying love of course.

  107. 109 Echo
    May 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Expound on that for me if you will and don’t mind. I am not LDS so I need all the clear and easy instruction you are willing to give me so that I fully understand you.

  108. 110 Echo
    May 27, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Specifically I would like to know about the PEACE you have.

  109. May 27, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Peace? I’ve had that.

    But what about excitement?

  110. 112 Echo
    May 28, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Peace. The peace that surpasses all understanding.(Phil 4:7) Tell me about that peace that you continually have that guards your heart and mind.


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