05
Jan
10

The New Gospel Principles Manual

 

     One of the things that have been discussed repeatedly on this blog has been the question of what are considered authoritative sources for current Mormon teaching.  Whenever this topic is raised, quite a bit of disagreement has been expressed.  One area of contention has been over what weight should be assigned to official church manuals.  How authoritative are they?

     That is why I was interested to see an article in the January 2010 Ensign carrying the same title as the title of this post.  I became even more interested when I saw that it was written by one of the LDS apostles, Russell M. Nelson.  That itself lends quite a bit of credibility to the article.

     Following are a couple of things that I found interesting.  In answer to the question of why the change in curriculum, Nelson writes:  “Since we first began using Teachings, millions of people have joined the Church.  Many of them have tender testimonies and with relatively limited experience in the Church, will benefit greatly by a focus on the fundamentals of the gospel.  In addition, all Church members will benefit b a return to the basics.  A careful study of core doctrines as presented in the new and improved Gospel Principles manual will help members strengthen their understanding of the fundamental teachings of the gospel.”

     And then under the conclusion entitled “A Timeless Book” he writes, “It is our hope that the new Gospel Principles manual will take a prominent place in the homes and lives of all Latter-day Saints.”

     As the word Principles in the title implies, as Nelson states, this is a manual about core and fundamental LDS teachings.  LDS teaching involves more than what is presented in Gospel Principles.  But wouldn’t you agree that Nelson, in his role as an apostle, presents this manual as a true and authoritative source of the fundamentals of LDS teaching?  And that it is only right and proper for non-Mormons to look to it to see what Mormonism teaches?  And that such non-Mormon observers of Mormonism have, at the very least, a good reason to become befuddled when individual Mormons disavow or dismiss quotations from Gospel Principles as not authoritative of Mormonism?  And isn’t it legitimate to ask why changes are made in each edition of Gospel Principles – changes that are not just cosmetic or made for easier readability – but changes that affect the sense of what is being presented?

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105 Responses to “The New Gospel Principles Manual”


  1. January 6, 2010 at 1:03 am

    And yet again, we look for an excuse to turn our brains off and blame someone else for our beliefs.

  2. January 6, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I am sure that this manual is the first commentary that most all teachers in S.E. Idaho are turning to first as the gospel theme in the O.T. is tackled.

    I am trying to imagine how many copies of this have been consulted for the teaching time that took place this weekend in Idaho.

  3. 3 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 3:14 am

    My mormon friend told me once that they were taught not to contend – that was why so much was not questioned. Maybe it’s the same for many mormons?

  4. 4 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 3:16 am

    I would want to know why the changes and it would make me really think but then I am approaching things from a different place – I want to know the truth at all costs.

  5. January 6, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Incidentally, a statement of approval and praise from an apostle for a manual hardly makes it either, inerrant, canonized, or indeed anything more than persuasive.

    Todd, the manual is not used for the lesson the first Sunday of each month. So the lesson won’t be used until this coming Sunday.

  6. 6 Echo
    January 6, 2010 at 7:32 am

    When a Church manual that holds the basic doctrine of church is reprinted with changes in doctrine, my first thought would be….this church is on the road to apostacy.

  7. 7 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Seth R. – your statement does not make logical sense to me. If you read what Mark wrote and your apostle’s comment about its accuracy and how it will help clarify the faith to many – how can you write that? And don’t you believe that the apostles and president are “God’s representatives on earth” and therefore isn’t everything they say while in office while writing/speaking as that officer coming from God?
    Come on…your leaders sanctioned it………….work from there not with your own opinions.

  8. January 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    He said it’s a good useful book.

    I agree with him.

    But that doesn’t mean you guys get to treat it as set-in-stone theology.

  9. 9 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Seth………….why would ANY religion or church or business for that matter update their operating manual or doctrines and leave in errors? Because that is exactly the conclusion anyone is going to take if you say that we can’t discuss mormonism from official publications sanctioned by your apostles.
    NO CHURCH is going to print things they don’t believe especially when they are updating their literature. On no level does that make sense. Unless you are saying the Mormon church does…?

  10. January 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Not intentionally, they wouldn’t.

    But unintentionally, very possible.

  11. 11 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I could see a church mis-spelling words or a grammatical error but mistakes in doctrine and practices? No way!

  12. 12 Echo
    January 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Seth said: “But that doesn’t mean you guys get to treat it as set-in-stone theology”

    Sounds like the LDS can pick and choose whatever teaching suits their itching ears to me.
    Theology should be set in stone otherwise you have apostacy.

  13. January 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Yes way JesusLover.

    Yes way.

    In fact, there are people on the bloggernacle right now pointing out mistakes in the manual that are DEFINITELY more than just grammar and spelling.

    Human church guys.

    By definition – FALLIBLE.

    All clear now?

  14. 14 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Seth: Then I would say that there is a problem with the Mormon church if it can’t print out doctrine without its members saying its wrong…………….it’s not about human error.

  15. January 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    What’s wrong with it?

    Maybe you should lodge a complaint with God JesusLover for not creating human beings with infallibility programmed in.

    And maybe you can point to me what the alternative is?

    An infallible Bible perhaps?

    Don’t make me laugh. The book isn’t even remotely close to infallible.

  16. January 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Ahhh… the joys of discussing God’s abilities with one who does not consider Him capable of accomplishing His will through fallible humans….

    Is it possible God could accomplish the creation of a inerrant book through imperfect human beings without taking away their freewill??

    Yes, as there is nothing logically contradictory in saying an ominipotenet Being can use human freewill to accomplish His perfect will.

    Sorry Seth… you might not BELIEVE it to be possible… but it is.

    In addition, if you believe the book to contain error then the ball is in your court to prove the error. Otherwise you are simply making an empty assertion.

    Darrell

  17. 17 faithoffathers
    January 6, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Why were not Paul’s letter to the different groups of saints in the ancient church not all exactly the same? In fact, he emphasized quite different principles in communicating with the different groups because they had different issues and challenges.

    The brethren have said that the new manual has been adopted as the new curriculum due to the large numbers of new members in foreign countries where there is not the depth of understanding and strength. I do not understand how this is in any way controversial or problematic.

    Show me one example of a doctrine that has been “changed” in the new manual. You cannot. You will certainly claim you can simply because the manual does not contain every single doctrine that exists. But this is unreasonable and small.

    The newer a person is to a body of knowledge, the less stable they are with that knowledge. That is probably why almost every training program in the world will emphasize the basics until they are completely understood before moving on to more complex concepts.

    Either that, or those involved in training and educating others in all these programs, schools, and religions are conspiring to conceal their deep dark secrets from those they seek to brainwash….

    fof

  18. 18 faithoffathers
    January 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Darrell,

    Long time. Where you been?

    Yours is a common but far out argument about the infallability of the Bible. I could just as logically ask “why do you not believe God could restore His church through somebody like Joseph Smith?” Or pick anything you believe is true and connect it to this straw-man argument about God’s omnipotence.

    You should follow me in everything I say, after all, don’t you believe God could call me as a prophet to guide people like you if He wanted to? Sorry, but it just doesn’t work.

    When did God ever say the Bible was His infallable, complete word? It is such an unrealistic claim. But I understand that if it is not His infallable, complete word, the whole evangelical position crumbles. (actually, it crumbles anyway).

    And yes- I am familiar with the verses about God’s word being eternal and that they will stand forever. But the EV interpretation of those verses is embarrassing to tell you the truth.

    If I say “my word is my word, and it will stand forever,” does that mean that any contract I sign or enter into will never burn in a housefire or be lost? Seriously, the EV teaching about what scripture is I find to be very fanciful and simple-minded.

    You might as well say that Revelations 22:19 refers to the whole bible: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” I have known sooooo many evangelicals who use this argument. And yours is one step away from that one.

    Thanks,

    fof

  19. 19 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Seth: When an organization sets itself up to be the only true church on earth and the leadership of that organization is represented as “God’s true representatives on earth” then that organization is especially responsible to make sure of the acuracy of what they release to the public. Not knowing what the church believes or “getting it wrong” does not cut it under those circumstances. If they speak for God then everything is going to be perfect. Human error does not enter into this – surely things that are printed by the mormon church is reviewed by more than the author of the publication – does that mean that everyone involved in a publication “made a mistake”?

    If God is truly guiding the Mormon church then EVERYTHING they release is going to be true and in perfect accord with itself because God is perfect and doesn’t change. The fact that there is such confusion – especially amongst its followers who can’t seem to agree on the most basic points – speaks volumes to the falsehood of this belief system.

    I’m with Darrell – show us the errors in the bible. And of a larger point – if the bible is so messed up – why doesn’t the Mormon church “fix it up” and release the “correct” version. After all – if the church is the pipeline from God – shouldn’t He want his people to know the truth?

  20. 20 JesusLover
    January 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    FoF: you wrote:
    “If I say “my word is my word, and it will stand forever,” does that mean that any contract I sign or enter into will never burn in a housefire or be lost?”

    No. Absolutely not. Why? BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. January 6, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    FOF,

    Good to hear from you! I haven’t posted in a while as I have been busy with seminary work, regular work, family, and Christmas. Life keeps me busy and when you add Christmas to the mix some things have to go by the way-side.

    Yours is a common but far out argument about the infallability of the Bible.

    Funny!! :-) Fortunately I wasn’t making a wholesale argument for the infallability of the Bible. My specific claim was that “it is not logically contradictory” to say that God can bring forth an infallible book through free creatures. I have heard many people on blogs such as this make the claim that it is logically impossible for such a thing to take place. I addressed my comment specifically to Seth b/c, if I am not mistaken (although I could be as I am not infallible – hee, hee), he has made such a claim in the past.

    The argument for the infalliblity of the Bible is much, much more involved. My goal was simply to show that it is logically possible for it to happen. To see whether or not it actually did (and, yes, I believe it did) we would need to move on to other details.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  22. January 7, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Two points Darrell:

    1. I don’t believe that free choices can be 100% predicted.

    2. I see no reason why God is obligated to provide you with an infallible curriculum.

    Do your own legwork.

    And that goes for you too JesusLover.

    And no, I’m not going to go into a laundry-list of problems with the Bible. You’re not presently equipped to deal with the problems with the Bible.

    Until you jettison this completely self-defeating fundamentalist paradigm you are stuck in, the only thing proving flaws in Bible is going to do is damage your faith in God. I have no interest in doing this.

    Ditch the fundamentalist paradigm, and we’ll talk.

  23. 23 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Seth – the post is about the updated new and improved Gospel Principles manual – why are you getting all “het up” about the bible? Is it because you are feeling defensive about the controversy your brothers and sisters are talking about that you mentioned in post 13?

    I for one would be very interested to know what points people are saying are wrong and why – why don’t you cut and paste from that site or give us a link so we can read for ourselves?

  24. January 7, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Seth,

    Thanks for your feigned concern for my faith. Fortunately, I am a little more schooled in the Bible then you give me credit for.

    I don’t believe that free choices can be 100% predicted.

    Why?

    One suggestion – drop the condescending tone, e.g., “You’re not presently equipped to deal with the problems with the Bible.” Let God worry about my faith (and Jesus Lover’s). Afterall, He’s ominipotent and has control over it. Let’s just talk… k?

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  25. January 7, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Seth – the post is about the updated new and improved Gospel Principles manual – why are you getting all “het up” about the bible?

    Tear the Bible down and the LDS Church’s “errors” don’t look as bad.

    Darrell

  26. 26 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Darrell – I guess I don’t understand and never have the kind of person who isn’t commited to finding “Truth” – I couldn’t live any other way. I would THANK the person who pointed me in the right direction if I was headed the wrong direction – and have!

  27. January 7, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Look, I know what you guys are up to.

    You want to set up an entirely artificial game here where the LDS Church must be “perfect,” and if it is proven to be not perfect, then it is a “false church” that no one should have anything to do with.

    I’m tired of dealing with this argument. It’s utterly artificial and proceeds from false premises.

    And yes Darrell, I do consider a fundamentalist to be nothing more than an atheist who hasn’t yet educated himself. I see completely identical mindsets between the two groups.

    I just had a debate a month ago with a group of atheists who spent about a week throwing profanity and insults at me. Honestly, the only difference between them and the stuff I get from Mormon Coffee and company was that the Mormon Coffee crowd don’t use swear words. That’s it.

    The black-and-white thinking however… the intolerant attitudes, the adolescent view of the world, the screaming judgmentalism of any institution that didn’t live up to their outlandish demands of perfection.

    That was all exactly the same. Two sides of the same coin – both equally wrong.

    It’s an incredibly destructive and self-defeating mindset. One of the most damaging things in the life of faith right now. This mindset is why clowns like Christopher Hitchens have a following. This is why my reaction to fundamentalism is so completely negative.

    You guys are, thankfully, a little bit softer-sided than all that. It’s why I haven’t completely given up on you. But boy, it really is frustrating dealing with you and the same rehashed arguments every month.

    I know you guys would love to have an infallible manual as a possible line of attack against the LDS Church.

    But I’m afraid God doesn’t work that way, and I’m not playing that game with you.

  28. January 7, 2010 at 1:30 am

    The fact that you think that the an attack on infallibility is an attack on the Bible is exactly my point Darrell.

    It is very sad to watch this kind of thinking at work. Sad and frustrating.

  29. January 7, 2010 at 1:53 am

    A being is not “free” unless capable of acting otherwise than he ultimately does act.

    By definition, you cannot predict such a being’s choices.

    I consider compatibilist freedom to be not freedom at all.

  30. January 7, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Seth,

    You really do love to go on rants, don’t you?

    Rather than address each of your condescending accusations, I will go back to my original question.

    I don’t believe that free choices can be 100% predicted.

    Why?

    You have a reason for believing the Bible to be errant, and I am trying to get at that reasoning. Is it because the LDS Church teaches it? Is it simply a philosophy you hold, e.g., my above question?

    The one thing I will mention is that I actually view people such as you as being one step away from an atheist, for the God you believe in is not powerful enough to keep His word and bring forth an inerrant work. In fact, He is simply a being who is subject to laws which transcend Him. Those laws which transcend your God are exactly what the atheists (naturalists) worship. In addition, they believe the Bible to be utter myth and you hold it to be in error. You are simply a softer version of them.

    See how two can play at the generalization game? Personally, I think we are better off discussing things rather than making broad generalizations. Don’t you?

    Darrell

  31. January 7, 2010 at 2:06 am

    A being is not “free” unless capable of acting otherwise than he ultimately does act.

    I have heard this objection before, but it does not hold.

    God knowing what you are going to do does not mean you cannot do otherwise. God is outside of time and views everything in one eternal now. There is no future to Him. His knowing what you will do is viewed in the present to Him as He is eternally present to every moment. As a result, it does not violate your freedom.

    Make sense?

    Darrell

  32. January 7, 2010 at 2:10 am

    The fact that you think that the an attack on infallibility is an attack on the Bible is exactly my point Darrell.

    It is very sad to watch this kind of thinking at work. Sad and frustrating.

    I feel equally as sad and frustrated with your low view of the Bible and God. A God who is not all knowing, all powerful, or capable of keeping His promises is, IMO, an utterly pitiful view of the Creator.

    Darrell

  33. January 7, 2010 at 2:28 am

    A being is not “free” unless capable of acting otherwise than he ultimately does act.

    Seth,

    Since you want to lump me in the same camp with the atheists, I have to point out that this objection is one that is used by the atheists ALL THE TIME. Kind of funny that you are using it against orthodox christianity while in the same breath throwing us in the same camp with the very atheists who use it.

    Rather ironic.

    Darrell

  34. January 7, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Who said anything about God not being all-powerful or all-knowing?

  35. 36 faithoffathers
    January 7, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Jesuslover,

    Let me rephrase the question: If I said “my word is my bond” or something to that effect, does that mean that my “word” is destroyed if my written signature on a paper contract is burned in a fire?

    Of course not.

    The point is that God’s “word” is not equivalent to a manuscript containing the writings of His prophets. His “word” is bigger and greater than a piece of paper. Saying that His Word is eternal is something completely different than saying the paper containing His words is eternal.

    Using the same logic used to defend the infallability of the Bible in this way, one could conclude that no manuscript or copy of the Bible could be destroyed. But that is crazy. God’s word, His law, promises, and truth will stand forever. His “word” is written in Heaven. But that in no way means that the writings of His prophets can never be destroyed. Such a conclusion cannot be justified by any passage or collection of passages in the Bible.

    But the evangelical cannot accept this because he believes that the Bible is God’s sole authority. And a fallible Bible means the evangelical really has no authority. (Even if the Bible was infallable, that does not necessarily mean the evangelical has one iota of authority).

    fof

  36. January 7, 2010 at 3:22 am

    FOF,

    Your comments lead me to believe you may not understand the orthodox christian doctrine of inerrancy.

    What is your understanding of it?

    Darrell

  37. January 7, 2010 at 3:58 am

    The God I am positing is all-powerful and all-knowing.

    He has all power that it is logically possible to have and knows everything there is to know.

  38. January 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

    The God I am positing is all-powerful and all-knowing.

    He has all power that it is logically possible to have and knows everything there is to know.

    Then you need to demonstrate how it is not logically possible for an all powerful and all knowing being to bring forth an inerrant work through free creatures.

    The problem you have is that there is no logical contradiction with this. If God is outside of time, He can view our actions in one eternal now. As a result, He does not force our actions and He can (and did) use our freedom to bring forth an inerrant work.

    In addition, an argument can be made that your God is not all powerful as He did not create everything. The pre-existing matter that he “formed” everything with is just as eternal as He is. In addition, past prophets have taught that He progressed to become a God. Some Mormon prophets and scholars have suggested that there are laws which transcend Him and that if He disobeyed any of these laws the intelligences would rebel against Him thus dethroning Him. As a result, at least according to some of your prophets and scholars, your God is not all powerful.

    In an earlier comment you mentioned one of the new atheists, Christopher Hitchens. You alluded to your belief that the mindset of an absolute truth (you used the good old liberal word ‘intolerence’) has somehow contributed to the rise of the new atheism. That is a rather twisted view of history. The rise of atheist ideologies (secular naturalism, humanism, etc.) have their roots in a philosophical change brought forth by Hume and Kant. Their philosophies fueled by the coming forth of Darwinism has gotten us to where we are today. The bifucation between “faith” and “reality” coupled with the belief that man “evolved” has done away with, at least in some people’s minds, the need for a God. I would highly recomment the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy as she does a great job of mapping a lot of this out.

    Seth, you can run around scared of all the “fundamentalists” you want, but your fear is highly misplaced my friend.

    Darrell

  39. January 7, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Christopher Hitchens is not an atheist. He is a part of the “New Atheist” movement.

    And yeah, those guys are basically fundamentalists and exhibit the same thought patterns.

    An all-powerful God is no more capable of pre-determining a free choice than he is capable of crating a rock so large he cannot lift it.

    Saying that God cannot do things that are logically incoherent is not placing limits on his omnipotence.

  40. January 7, 2010 at 5:00 am

    A God who creates from nothing, is by-definition not an eternally perfect being either.

    The mere fact that he switched from “a being who does not create” to “a being who creates” shows that either he wasn’t perfect in the first place, or he was, but no longer is.

  41. January 7, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Christopher Hitchens is not an atheist. He is a part of the “New Atheist” movement.

    Did you even read my comment? I called him a new atheist. And yes, the new atheists are ATHEISTS. I have seen Christopher Hitchens debate in person… I know exactly what his position is on God.

    An all-powerful God is no more capable of pre-determining a free choice than he is capable of crating a rock so large he cannot lift it.

    This is an empty unsupported assertion. You are not making an argument but are simply stating your dogmatic view all over again.

    I am with you on God not being able to create a rock so heavy he can’t lift it. However, I have given you a scenario in which man’s freedom can perfectly coincide with God bringing forth an inerrant book.

    God is outside of time and views all of time in one eternal now. He perfectly knows what we will do because He is eternally present to every moment. Thus, our freedom remains in tact and He can use our freedom to bring forth His will (by knowing what we will do if we are given options).

    The mere fact that he switched from “a being who does not create” to “a being who creates” shows that either he wasn’t perfect in the first place, or he was, but no longer is.

    This is kind of funny… another atheist argument coming from the man who has lumped me in with the atheists. :-)

    Your argument makes a faulty assumption that it was necessary for God to create in order for Him to become something that He was not. However, it was NOT necessary for God to create. Being a necessary being the only thing that it is necessary for Him to do is exist – His essence and His existence are identical. God did not have to create anything; rather He willed it.

    In addition, your argument makes some pantheistic assumptions (which I am not surprised about as you have alluded to you holding some pantheistic positions in the past). God’s creation is not part of Him… it is other than Him. As a result, His creation does not add to or take away from Him and thus, it does not change His perfection in any manner.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  42. January 7, 2010 at 6:06 am

    So Darrell, why did God feel the need to CHANGE from a being who does not will things, into a being who does will things?

    Was the former not good enough?

    I don’t know why you bring up pantheism. It seems that you unwittingly discovered that pantheism was where your own views were logically heading and had a bit of an allergic reaction. Then you tried to cover it up by accusing me of pantheism. But it’s not a view I hold. I hold God as a distinct being within an eternally existent universe, not identical to it. You are the one who is logically driven to equate the universe with God – since it all came out of him originally – ex nihilo.

    Look, it’s not my fault that you guys have been giving the atheists good material with your distorted view of God. As far as I’m concerned you and the New Atheists are all arguing over a complete non-issue.

  43. January 7, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Your argument about God being outside time is irrelevant to the question of whether I have free will.

    It does not matter to my free will where God is sitting. What matters to the question of whether I have free will is where I am sitting.

    I am within time.

    So, with that out of the way, let me spell this out.

    Let’s say at a certain point in my timeline – let’s say yesterday – God knew that I would eat a cheese omlette tomorrow morning. God knowing this is already a past event in my timeline and cannot be changed.

    If we believe God to be infallible, then he cannot ever in my timeline have believed something to be true which is not in fact true.

    Therefore it cannot be true that I would ever do otherwise than eat a cheese omlette tomorrow. It is not in my power to do otherwise than eat the omlette. Therefore, I had no choice in the matter of whether to eat the omlette. My course was fixed.

    So, leaving whether God is outside time out of this, the practical temporal result on ME is obvious. I have no choice in the matter of eating a cheese omlette. It was something that had to be.

    Put God outside or inside of time, it makes no difference for the end result that my path is fixed and unchangeable by anything within me.

  44. January 7, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Now, let’s take this interesting exchange between God and Moses in Exodus 32:7-14:

    7 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

    9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

    11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

    How do you explain these verses about God “relenting” and changing his mind?

    Just for fun Darrell, let’s reinterpret this exchange more in light of what you are asserting about a God who perfectly knows the future and all actions of his free children of Israel.

    “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. [unless you argue with me, as I know you will, and then I will forgive them] Then I will make you into a great nation.” [unless I decide to spare them, as I have already eternally known I will]

    This is, of course, something more at home in a Lewis Carrol novel than scripture. A God who plays word games, hides what he really thinks, and plays a big game of make believe with faithful Moses. Good fun perhaps, but not much of a theology.

  45. January 7, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I mean you can call this a mere anthropomorphism. But then the question becomes, what is this anthropomorphism supposed to be teaching us about God exactly?

    That he’s schizophrenic?

  46. 47 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Seth: You wrote: “An all-powerful God is no more capable of pre-determining a free choice.”

    Why do you think that? Or better yet…why don’t you want this to be true?

  47. 48 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    FoF you wrote: “Let me rephrase the question: If I said “my word is my bond” or something to that effect, does that mean that my “word” is destroyed if my written signature on a paper contract is burned in a fire?

    Of course not.

    The point is that God’s “word” is not equivalent to a manuscript containing the writings of His prophets. His “word” is bigger and greater than a piece of paper. Saying that His Word is eternal is something completely different than saying the paper containing His words is eternal.

    Using the same logic used to defend the infallability of the Bible in this way, one could conclude that no manuscript or copy of the Bible could be destroyed. But that is crazy. God’s word, His law, promises, and truth will stand forever. His “word” is written in Heaven. But that in no way means that the writings of His prophets can never be destroyed. Such a conclusion cannot be justified by any passage or collection of passages in the Bible.

    But the evangelical cannot accept this because he believes that the Bible is God’s sole authority. And a fallible Bible means the evangelical really has no authority. (Even if the Bible was infallable, that does not necessarily mean the evangelical has one iota of authority). ”

    I think the problem with your line of thought is that your idea of God is too small – a very diminished shadow of the One True God and that you think of Him and His word in finite ways when He is not finite.

    An all powerful, all knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent God is perfectly capable of preserving His word for His people – and indeed He did because there has NEVER been a time in history when the world did not contain at least one copy of the bible – it has been preserved down through the ages and most of what the mormon church teaches about the bible and its history is patently false because if the bible was totally true then the mormon faith would be proved to be a false belief system so they have to discount it on all levels except that they keep it in with the other mormon books in a quad because it lends credibility to mormonism to those that really don’t know what the bible says and teaches.

    A loving God would WANT His children to know His thoughts. We evangelicals believe that God speaks to us today through prophecy and other ways – I know this for sure and have experienced this in my life – but He also speaks to us through His word (the written bible and also Jesus is refered to as “The Word”) but the key to remember is this: nothing that contradicts the bible is from God.

  48. 49 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Seth you wrote: “Therefore, I had no choice in the matter of whether to eat the omlette. My course was fixed.

    So, leaving whether God is outside time out of this, the practical temporal result on ME is obvious. I have no choice in the matter of eating a cheese omlette. It was something that had to be.

    Put God outside or inside of time, it makes no difference for the end result that my path is fixed and unchangeable by anything within me.”

    There is no logic to this thought process that lead you to this conclusion. I do not think any philosopher well-versed in logical thought (a technique for proving things) would agree with you – Christian or not.
    If you start with the idea that God is all powerful – it’s possible and likely even – that He knows what you are going to do. Period. You made the choice to eat the omelette but if you threw it out at the last minute then He would know you were going to do that too.

    God’s knowing something about your future actions does not take anything away from your free choice at all – He just knows what you are going to do but you get to decide.

    I think again…because your view of God is so small – you cannot wrap your mind around how this can be so. And for anyone with a finite mind as all us humans have – it IS difficult and sometimes impossible to understand the mind and power of God but that does not mean He is any less than He is – it just means in some ways He is a mystery to us until we get to heaven.

  49. 50 JesusLover
    January 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Seth: I also think that equating Christian beliefs with atheism is one of the silliest things I have ever seen a mormon use as an “argument” on this board. It would be laughable except that I think you threw it into the arena as a “red herring” to confuse anyone lurking and reading that might be questioning the LDS faith and you will be judged for that by God my friend. Either that or you don’t understand at all what evangelicals or atheists believe and are just echoing mormon mantra.

  50. January 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    “I do not think any philosopher well-versed in logical thought (a technique for proving things) would agree with you – Christian or not.”

    And what philosophical training do you have to make this claim?

    If a person is incapable of choosing other than what they ultimately end up choosing, then they are not free.

    Simple.

    For the record, I did not claim that Christianity = Atheism. I only said that your BRAND of Christianity and it’s thought patterns tend to produce an awful lot of them. The same is true of fundamentalist Mormonism. Darrell is kind of a rare exception to the usual trend of Mormons going atheist when they leave the LDS Church.

    And don’t think for a moment that I don’t truly believe fundamentalism to be a dark and spiritually damaging attitude. I sincerely do believe it is. I think it has done far more damage to belief in God than just about any other force in the 20th century.

    And yes Darrell, Darwinism included. Darwinism wouldn’t be much of a damaging problem if it wasn’t combined in a volatile cocktail with fundamentalist religion.

    Final point.

    A God who cannot be usefully explained is a God we can have no useful interface with. It’s impossible to worship such a being, because ultimately, you have no clue what it is you are worshiping. You might as well just admit you are worshiping your own feelings and be done with it. So I’m afraid this whole “mystery” thing doesn’t work for me. Sounds more like a cop-out honestly.

  51. 52 markcares
    January 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    i would like to refocus the discussion by asking a question that lies behind my original post. I ask this specifically of those LDS members who are reading this. Where would you direct sincere non-Mormons who wanted to learn what the LDS Church teaches? Isn’t that be a fair and reasonable request?

  52. January 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Your argument about God being outside time is irrelevant to the question of whether I have free will.

    It does not matter to my free will where God is sitting. What matters to the question of whether I have free will is where I am sitting.

    I am within time.

    Unfortunately, Seth you are not understanding. God being outside of time DOES effect the issue because the question at hand is how can GOD know what you are going to do. God knows what your future free acts are going to be because God does not experience them in relation to time. While we experience time sequentially (one event after another), He is eternally present to all events in time.

    As much as you want to cry logical fallacy – there is none as our actions can be free and God can know exactly what they will be. An analogy of this can be made by pointing to your kids. I have 4 children and even in my limited, finite, and fallible mind, I can, at times, predict EXACTLY what my kids are going to do in circumstances that I know they are going to encounter. Does that mean that their actions are not free? Do I MAKE them do them? No, I know what their future FREE actions are going to be.

    Now, if I can occasionally do this with a finite, fallible, and limited mind in time, think about what an infinite God who is eternally present to all moments – not experiencing time in a sequential manner – could do.

    In addition, there are additional biblical problems with your position. If God does not know what the future free actions of His creatures will be, how could God have made such incredible prophecies?

    1) That Jesus would be born of a virgin (Is 7:14) – How would He KNOW, THOUSANDS of years before Mary was ever born, that she would remain a virgin after she was told she was pregnant?

    2) Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) – How would He KNOW, hundreds of years beforehand, exactly where Mary and Joseph would go and when they would go there?

    3) Jesus would be rejected by the Jewish people (Ps 22 and Isa 53) – How would He KNOW, THOUSANDS of years beforehand, that an entire race of people would reject Him?

    4) Jesus would have His hands and feet pierced (Ps 22:16) – How would He KNOW, THOUSANDS of years beforehand, that this is how His captures would kill him?

    5) Jesus would be crucified with thieves ((Isa 53:12) – How would He KNOW, THOUSANDS of years beforehand, that thieves would be in prison at the same time as Him and that the Romans would CHOOSE to crucify them alongside Him?

    6) Jesus’ side would be pierced (Zech 12:10) – How would He KNOW, hundreds of years before His birth, that they were going to do this?

    7) Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isa 53:9) – How would He KNOW that a rich man would be willing to do this and that the Romans would allow it?

    8) The Roman soldiers would cast lots for His garments (Ps 22:18) – How would he KNOW that they would even want to do this much less do it?

    I could keep going but these are just a few examples that create problems with your idea of God not being able to know the future.

    As to your example of God talking with Moses, yes it is an anthropomorphism. You view it as God playing games; hwoever, there is another way of viewing this – God condescends Himself out of love for us.

    Another analogy – when you are talking with your kids about something they have done wrong, do you sometimes ask them, “Why did you do such and such” even though you KNOW exactly why they did it? I do… precisely for the purpose of trying to teach them. Does this mean that I KNOW less or that I am PLAYING GAMES with them? No, I have condescended myself to their level to help them. I do this out of love.

    As another example, I have even spoken with my kids about decisions they are going to make while acting like I don’t know which one is the right one. I might say something to the effect of, “Hannah, I don’t know if you should go to the dance or not. What do you think the right thing to do is?” Does this make my schizophrenic? No, I do it for the express purpose of getting them to think through things so that they can learn. It is done out of love. God is infinite and we are finite. He will often talk with us in terms that we can understand out of love for us.

    God Bless!!

    Darrell

  53. January 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    A God who cannot be usefully explained is a God we can have no useful interface with.

    Begging-the-question! God can be usefully explained.

    Darrell

  54. January 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Sorry Mark, your comment came through while I was in the midst of typing my above comments. I will let this dicussion die so as not to further threadjack! :-)

    Take care!!

    Darrell

  55. January 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Agreed Mark. The discussion was leaving a bad taste in my own mouth anyway (which I take personal responsibility for). I’m just as happy to let it drop.

    Mark, I think I may have linked here to this article I wrote before, but no matter:

    http://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/navigating-living-waters-helping-our-evangelical-friends-make-sense-of-mormon-doctrine/

    It’s a bit rough around the edges, and I might revise it a bit today. But it’s a good enough representation of how I’d answer your question.

  56. 57 markcares
    January 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Seth:
    Thanks for the link. I had read it previously and now have read it again. I also found many of the comments interesting.
    Actually, I thought you spoke more highly of church manuals in it than I remembered.
    One question: How do you feel about the new feature in the Ensign, “What We Believe”. Should that be better entitled, What I Believe, as a representation of only that author’s belief? I don’t mean for that to come off as a sacrastic question – I sincerely am wondering if you would be more comfortable with an “I” rather than a “we”. And if you are comfortable with a “we”, does that mean that this is something I, as a non-Mormon, can view as a true representation of LDS teachings? And if so, echoing a couple of comments to your articke, on whose authority?
    By the way, a series on “What WWe Believe” sounds like nothing other than a creed since creeds are just statements of belief.

  57. January 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Mark, I do think you can and should hold LDS church members and modern LDS culture responsible for what is in this manual. It is something that you can ask them to either agree with or disagree with. It’s definitely a part of our cultural mix. It is something being taught to a large number of us in a coordinated fashion. If you find something objectionable in this manual, I think it is only fair for you to ask individual Mormons to explain themselves and what they think of it.

    But I don’t think MormonISM proper can be held bound by it. So the manual is not a place to find things that an LDS member MUST either believe or cease calling themselves truly “Mormon.” Unless, of course, the manual content has a strong foundation in more binding sources such as canonized scripture.

    The way I view the manual is as a helpful resource. I even consider it authoritative, though not necessarily binding (if you want, I can explain the difference). It is something that must be weighed against my overall sense of the other sources of LDS doctrine.

    I’ll have to give Elder Nelson’s article another reading before I feel comfortable responding on it.

  58. 59 faithoffathers
    January 8, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Jesuslover,

    The question “Isn’t God powerful enough to preserve the Bible?” is extremely arbitrary. Of course he has the power to intervene and hide away a copy of a book someplace (hmmmmm, sounds familiar). But when did He ever say He intended to do what you claim? He hasn’t. Ever.

    You said “you think of Him and His word in finite ways when He is not finite.” That was exactly my point about the doctrine of Biblical inerrency and the question asked about God being powerful enough to preserve the Bible. God’s word is not confined to the 66 books of the Bible. And that is not an attack on the Bible. If every manuscript and copy of the Bible were destroyed somehow, God’s word would still stand eternal would it not? The two are not one and the same.

    You also state “there has NEVER been a time in history when the world did not contain at least one copy of the bible.”

    I am speechless. Are you serious? Do you know when and how the Bible was compiled? Even if your statement was true, it would not necessarily mean the Bible is inerrent.

    How about this statement “nothing that contradicts the bible is from God.” After reading a list of the contradictions between the 4 gospels, you would have to conclude that some of them were “not from God.” Or is the whole Bible “not from God?” Of course it is from God, but you seem to have an unrealistic view of what the Bible is and is not.

    Don’t mean to diminish your faith in the Bible, but the Bible does not need to be innerent and perfect to fulfill God’s intent for it. And those who claim that it was compiled by God and is His complete word and was handed over in perfect form do it serious damage. They make believers look like simpletons to those who are informed on the topic.

    fof

  59. January 9, 2010 at 1:54 am

    FOF,

    Of course he has the power to intervene and hide away a copy of a book someplace (hmmmmm, sounds familiar). But when did He ever say He intended to do what you claim? He hasn’t. Ever.

    You are correct – God never said He would hide away a book someplace, and he didn’t! Hmmm, sounds familiar. :)

    But seriously. Yes, God did promise to preserve the books of the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus Himself promised this repeatedly. In addition, Jesus promised to bring all things to the Apostle’s rememberance and that is how the New Testament was brought forth. If you are interested in discussing what inerrancy actually is and why I believe it to be true, I would be happy to go into detail with you.

    After reading a list of the contradictions between the 4 gospels, you would have to conclude that some of them were “not from God.”

    Have you ever researched some of the supposed “contradictions”? Bear in mind that a contradiction between two or more accounts by definition means that there is absolutely no way that the accounts can be reconciled. Such is not the case with the Gospel narrations. If you have not read it, I recommend Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Dr. Gleason Archer. He deals with pretty much every single supposed contradiction that has been brought up and demonstrates how they are actually not contradictions.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  60. 61 JesusLover
    January 9, 2010 at 3:05 am

    FoF – Darren said exactly what I was going to say to you so I will not repeat it.

    I will add tho that what you perceive as contradictions in the four gospels are not that at all. Each book was written to a different group of people – Matthew was written to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to a man whose name meant “one who loves God” and John was written to the Gentile or Christian audience. Each gospel was written to reach these separate groups – the common truths and events are there but each is slanted to whom they are written for so that full understanding is reached by the audience.

    You wrote: “You also state “there has NEVER been a time in history when the world did not contain at least one copy of the bible.”

    I am speechless. Are you serious? Do you know when and how the Bible was compiled?” I do and I would suggest that if you studied the truth history of the bible and not the history the mormon church eroneously perpetuates then you would find it to be true and trustworthy because God is True and Trustworthy. It’s not “just” a book – the bible is described as a sharp and living sword, that faith comes from reading it and from hearing it, that Jesus and the Word are the same thing.

    You are misinformed about biblical and church history – TRUE church history. I suggest that if you do some digging you will discover this. That is why you are wrong about the mormons leaving the church becoming atheists – many, many find true biblical faith in Christ because they valued truth over everything. They wanted to KNOW God not defend the mormon church.

  61. 62 faithoffathers
    January 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Darrell and Jesuslover,

    Where did God and/or Jesus EVER promise to preserve the 66 books of the Bible, or the old testament for that matter? When did they ever make reference to the Bible as we have it today?

    They have never made such statements. You are left with statements about God’s word being eternal and standing forever. And I have yet to read a response to my other comments on how “Gods word” and the Bible are not one and the same in every sense.

    By the way, I rely on non LDS scholarly works in understanding the history of the Bible that have nothing to do with the LDS church or its teachings or leaders. Claiming so is a convenient trick to dismiss claims from LDS posters, simply dismissing them as being all based on LDS sources.

    Jesuslover- you said that different NT letters were “slanted” different directions because they were directed to different audiences. That was my very point above- the new church manual is directed primarily to the new members of the church in other countries who do not have the background and knowledge of others where the church is well established. That is exactly my point- that it is perfectly consistent with the way the gospel has been taught in other ages- like the NT.

    I never said anything close to “the bible is just a book.” I esteem it as the word of God and a holy collection of writings of holy prophets. But that does not mean it is God’s complete word or that it is inerrent.

    fof

  62. January 10, 2010 at 4:34 am

    Where did God and/or Jesus EVER promise to preserve the 66 books of the Bible, or the old testament for that matter?

    I will be happy to provide my two cents. We can start with the Old Testament and take it from there if you would like.

    The Old Testament is referenced many times in many different forms in the New Testament. It is referenced by both Christ and the Apostles as The Word of God, Scriptures, the oracles of God, law, etc. However, the phrase that is used referencing the entire Old Testament from beginning to end is the phrase law and the prophets. This phrase is used a dozen times in the New Testament and it specifically references the books of the Old Testament – the law being the Torah (first five books) and the prophets being the minor and major prophets plus the writings.

    In Matthew 5:17-18 Christ references the Law and the Prophets with a promise that nothing will be taken from them. He says, ” “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”{emphasis mine]

    Christ is specifically referencing the books of the Old Testament and is promising us here that not even one dot would pass away until all is fullfiled. While one might want to read this as something that is written in Heaven, the fact that He was using language that His audience clearly understood as referencing their scripture seems to make that interpretation highly suspect. The better interpretation is that Christ was referencing exactly what His audience would have understood, that the law and the prophets, their holy scripture, would be preserved until all is fulfilled.

    Given the fact that Christ was God incarnate, what He said is trustworthy. As a result, I believe that He has kept and will keep His promise to preserve the Old Testament. There are other references made by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament. Let me know if you would like to go into more.

    Hope that helps you understand where I am coming from.

    Darrell

  63. January 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    FOF,

    You asked:

    Where did God and/or Jesus EVER promise to preserve the 66 books of the Bible, or the old testament for that matter?

    I will be happy to share my two cents on this. In regards to the Old Testament – Jesus and the Apostles referenced it in numerous ways in the New Testament. They called it the Law, the Scriptures, the oracles of God, the word of God, etc. However, the one phrase that is used to reference the entire Old Testament from beginning to end is the law and/or the prophets. This phrase is used some twelve times in the New Testament. Christ Himself references it in Matt 5:17-19 and provides a wonderful promise.

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    While one may want to interpret this as Jesus referencing some law written in Heaven, when looking at the clear understanding that the Jews had for law and law and/or the prophets it becomes clear that the proper exegesis for this passage is that Jesus was referring specifically to the Jewish Scriptures.

    This is exactly how His audience would have understood Hum. Given the fact that Jesus was God incarnate and that God cannot lie, I believe that He can, has, and will continue to fulfill this promise.

    I hope that helps you understand part of my perspective.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  64. January 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Which still doesn’t amount to a promise to preserve the 66 books of the Bible in inerrancy.

    Try again.

  65. January 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

    Seth,

    Sometimes you crack me up. One suggestion… read the comments you are responding to a little better before trying to retort with a witty comment of your own.

    If you would have read closely you would have noticed that my comment was not intended to be a full blown argument for the inerrancy of the Bible. FOF asked ver specifically, “Where did God and/or Jesus EVER promise to preserve the 66 books of the Bible, or the old testament for that matter?” [emphasis mine]. And, if you actually read the beginning of my comment I said, “In regards to the Old Testament…”

    To use your words, “Try again.”

    :)

    Have a good night!

    Darrell

  66. January 11, 2010 at 3:18 am

    So, you were simply arguing that God preserved a portion of the books of the Old Testament? Because that’s all that Jesus and company ever cited in the texts we have now.

  67. 68 faithoffathers
    January 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Darrell,

    My interpretation, and I think it is justified, is that Jesus’ reference to “the Law” was a reference to the Law of Moses. “The prophets” certainly refers to the revelations and prophecies of the prophets. But how does this translate to mean the old testament is inerrent?

    You are taking a concept- the sum of the law and revelations given to ancient Israel- and applying it to the physical collection of writings of the ancient Jews. Does the OT contain every prophecy ever given to man over that time period? Why are there references by Christ in the NT to old prophecies that are nowhere found in the OT?

    I will again point to the distinction I alluded to before- that God’s word and the Bible (or OT) are not necessarily one and the same in all senses. Remember the simple example of me saying “my word is my bond.” Does that mean a contract with my signature can never be destroyed? Of course not. My point is that Jesus was saying He would completely fulfill the law of Moses and every prophecy regarding the Messiah. He was not necessarily commenting on the inerrency of the OT.

    fof

  68. 69 faithoffathers
    January 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Let me clarify my point about “my word.” If a contract with my signature on it is destroyed, does that mean my word has been broken? No. My “word” has not been destroyed because it is not limited to that piece of paper on which I have signed my name. Same idea with the Bible and Christ’s reference to “the law and prophets.”

    fof

  69. January 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Well, I for one am glad I have an older copy of Gospel Principles. I need to pick up one of the new ones and compare them.

    Jesus did not teach in secret. He did not hide things.

    Jesus told us to “count the cost” of being His disciple. To sit down and to count the cost that involves in discipleship. Luke 15:27-33

    Should not LDS missionaries encourage their potential converts to “count the cost” of mormonism? Should they not give them access to all that Mormonism embraces and teaches, so that the potential convert has the ability to count the cost of joing the LdS church? How can a potential convert to Mormonsim have the ability to count the cost of something they do not fully know?

    Jesus did not teach in secret. He taught openly. When they went to arrest Him, he asked them why did they come at night, when he was with them daily teaching?

    ” For nothing is secret that will not be revealed nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” — Luke 8:17

    ” For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” — Luke 12:2

    “Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark, will be heard in the light and that you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops”. — Luke 12:3

    ” Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” — Matt.10:26

    ” Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.” — Matt.10:27

    ” For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed , nor has anything been kept secret but it should come to light”. — Mark 4:22

    If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. — Jesus, Matt.4:23

  70. January 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Sure Jesus taught things in secret. He openly says so when he tells his choice disciples that it is given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but not unto the masses.

    gloria, just because Jesus says that things WILL be revealed eventually does not mean they ARE revealed to everyone openly now. So your scripture citations don’t really make your point for you.

    And, following up on fof, what about that part when he appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaeus where he told them that Moses testified of Christ?

    So where is that tidbit contained in the Old Testament?

  71. January 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    And what on earth happened to Enoch?

    It’s hard to believe that a figure so central to all the OTHER literature we have from the Hebrew tradition, only deserved a couple verses in the book of Genesis. Hugely important character gets a big fat zero from the Old Testament scribes.

    It seems to me that someone missed quite a bit of material when slapping the Old Testament together.

  72. 73 faithoffathers
    January 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Amen, Seth.

    I have long been baffled by the willingness of EVs to accept so little information about huge figures like Enoch, Melchizedek, Abraham, etc. without wondering if there was more revealed to them. The Book of Genesis covers thousands of years in a mere dozens of pages. Enoch “walked with God” yet, there is essentially nothing from him in the Bible. There is an entire body of ancient literature to which Enoch was the central figure, yet EVs seem to remain entirely without curiosity regarding him. Such things seem so contrary to the teaching that the Bible is the entire, complete “word of God.” It has been taught for so long that people accept it without thinking much about it. To do so is blaspheme. Those who compiled the New Testament and decided which books belonged had ABSOLUTELY NO authority from Heaven.

    Would love a thread on the inerrency issue of the Bible.

    fof

  73. January 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    So, you were simply arguing that God preserved a portion of the books of the Old Testament? Because that’s all that Jesus and company ever cited in the texts we have now.

    Uuummmmm, kind of.

    The law and prophets are not just portions of books, so my argument is not that only what Jesus quoted was preserved. Rather, my argument is that Christ promised to preserve the entire law and prophets and that this, as it was understood by the audience Christ was speaking to, would be the Jewish Canon itself.

    The Old Testament that we have today matches the Jewish Canon of Christ’s time. Christ Himself told us that “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John” (Luke 16: 16). In addition, the best historical authority for looking at what was contained in the Jewish Canon is Josephus. He lists twenty two books: five for Moses; thirteen for the prophets who were after Moses; the remaining four books containing hymns to God and precepts for conduct of human life (Josephus, Against Apion I, pg 83).

    The difference between 24 and 22 is due to Ruth being appended to Judges and Lamentations to Jeremiah. I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles were each counted as one book. Ezra – Nehemiah and the twelve minor prophets were each counted as one book. Based upon this we have made up the entire 39 book of the Old Testament as contained in the Protestant Bible today.

    On a sidenote – you mention what Christ and the Apostles cited. It is interesting to note that they quoted from 18 of the 22 books in the Jewish Canon. Leaving only 4 that are not referenced in the New Testament. Sounds like Christ and His Apostles placed a lot of importance on what scripture says.

    Bear in mind that this is only part of the argument for inerrancy. We still need to deal with whether or not what was written down in the Old Testament was true and whether or not the New Testament is scripture that has been preserved. There is a lot more to this argument than we could cover in just a few comments.

    God Bless!

    Darrell

  74. January 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Those who compiled the New Testament and decided which books belonged had ABSOLUTELY NO authority from Heaven.

    What proof do you have of this? Is this just your opinion, or do you have some evidence to back you up?

    Darrell

  75. January 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    My interpretation, and I think it is justified, is that Jesus’ reference to “the Law” was a reference to the Law of Moses.

    You are welcome to your interpretation, but unfortunately, that simply does not match what Christ’s audience understood law and/or prophets to mean. Given this fact, from an exegetical standpoint the accurate interpretation is the Jewish Canon. Thus, your entire argument about a contract kind of fails.

    Darrell

  76. 77 faithoffathers
    January 12, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Darrell,

    What evidence do you have that those who compiled the NT had authority from God. Who is to say they included all of the Books God wanted and none others? Do you trust counsels of self-proclaimed experts? If so, that is fine. But I would argue that God has never operated that way.

    Yes, the OT of the time is where the Law and Prophets was referenced and found. But they are not necessarily one and the same thing. I understand why you interpret the Savior’s words the way you do. But can you see the other alternative meaning? What evidence do you have that Jesus’ reference to the law and prophets was perfectly equal to the OT? Did he fulfill the Law of Moses or a book? God gave Israel the Law of Moses, and it was included in their records. The law is not perfectly equal to the OT.

    What of my point that Christ referenced scripture that is not found in the OT?

    How do you know that my interpretation does “not match what Christ’s audience understood law and/or prophets to mean?”

    Also, again, when did He say “I will preserve the books of the OT?” He said the law should not not pass away, but be fulfilled. His intent was not to claim inerrency of the OT manuscripts. Rather He was emphasizing His role and His trustworthiness in fulfilling everything that had been promised and prophesied.

    fof

  77. January 12, 2010 at 4:36 am

    I wouldn’t say that those who compiled the books had “no authority” whatsoever.

    Virtue and rightness carry their own authority.

    I just don’t see us getting off without some serious deficiencies.

  78. 79 ADB
    January 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    FoF,

    “Do you trust counsels of self-proclaimed experts?”

    You mean like the LDS prophets?

  79. 80 faithoffathers
    January 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    So tell me this- who compiled the New Testament? Anybody. Were they virtuous?

    And Darrell- Wouldn’t you think that if what you are saying was true that the tablets on which the very physical writings of God would have been preserved? Didn’t He have the power to perserve them?

    ADB- The leadership of the LDS church is very much in pattern with the way God has led his people in the past. The counsels that resulted in the compilation of the NT were very much in stark contrast to that pattern.

    Of those voting on which books to include in the NT, what authority did they have? Did anybody have real authority from God over and above simple famliarity with the books? I really don’t think so. What you had was opinions. They may have had good intentions, but ultimately you had opinions. And this was very different from the way Holy writ was determined and handled prior to that point.

    fof

  80. January 12, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    What evidence do you have that those who compiled the NT had authority from God.

    You are deflecting. You made a very bold claim by saying, “Those who compiled the New Testament and decided which books belonged had ABSOLUTELY NO authority from Heaven.” What is your reasoning for saying this? Can you back it up with evidence? Why is the New Testament canonized scripture for the LDS Church????

    I will be happy to go into my reasoning for beleiving the New Testament is compiled as God wants it to be, but before I do I would like for you to answer my question. Do you have proof for this or is it simply your opinion? In reality, I think that by backing up your claim you are going to undercut your own church as they claim the New Testament to be canonized scripture.

    Do you trust counsels of self-proclaimed experts? If so, that is fine. But I would argue that God has never operated that way.

    This is question-begging. You have yet to establish that they were self-proclaimed. Until you can establish that they were not called of God, your argument fails.

    How do you know that my interpretation does “not match what Christ’s audience understood law and/or prophets to mean?”

    By looking at the historical documents. The New Testemant makes at least a dozen references to the Old Testament itself as the law and prophets. Paul himself refers to this when making the case for his own othodoxy by saying “everything laid down in the law or written in the prophets.”

    In addition, “even in the intertestamental period (II Macc 15:9) and Qumran literature (Manual of Discipline, I, 3; VIII, 15), the entire Old Testament is referred to by the phrase “the law and the prophets”…” (Christian Apologetics, Geisler, pg 367).

    The standard understanding of history since well before Christ’s incarnation has been that the phrase “law and prophets” refers to God’s written word. While your view might be possible, I would have to say that it is not probable and certainly is swimming upstream against a whole host of evidence.

    What of my point that Christ referenced scripture that is not found in the OT?

    This is not even relevant. The Apostles and Christ quoted from all sorts of things… poets, etc. The point is the law and prophets is the Jewish Canon, and Christ promised to preserve it while never promising to preserve extra-canonical literature.

    God Bless!!

    Darrell

  81. January 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    What did Jesus mean by “preserve” Darrell?

  82. January 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Seth,

    He didn’t use the word preserve… that is my fallible word :-)

    He was a little more specific. Check out Matt 5:17-18.

    Darrell

  83. January 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Seth,
    Can I ask you…. don’t you think that potential converts to the LDS church should know the “fine print” of what they are getting into? I mean it’s a huge committment to join a church, should not those investigating not be told everything so they can make a wise choice? I guess I just don’t get why the LDS church does not disclose everything right up front. That would of course make missionary discussions longer and the lenght of time to study the LDS gospel would increase, but don’t you think potential members have a right to know?

    I’m interested to hear what your thoughts are on this,

    gloria

  84. January 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Seth,

    What is your defination of a mystery?

    Is a mystery a secret to you?

    A mystery is not a secret per say. Jesus did teach the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but these “mysteries” were not taught in secret. They just were not understood by the religious Jews of His day.

    The New Ungers bible dictionary gives a wonderful definition of mystery:

    ” Mystery ( GK: musterion) The NT use of the term “mystery” has reference to some operation or plan of God hitherto unrevealed. It does not carry the idea of a secret to be witheld, but one to be published. ( 1 Cor. 4:1) Paul uses the word 21 times. The termy mystery, moreover, comprehends not only a previously hidden truth, presently divulged, but one that contains a supernatural element that still remains in spite of revelation.” New Ungers Bible Dictionary, pg. 896

    The mystery Jesus proclaimed and taught His followers was: CHRIST revealed, that is the New Covenant. Emmanuel, God with us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among them, and yet the religious Jews did not “get it”. They missed Christ revealed. THey missed the New Covenant. The New Covenant is Christ.

    The followers of Christ “got it” and understood that the previously “concealed” had now been revealed in CHrist the Lord.

    The O.T. is Christ concealed, the New Testament ( or New Covenant) is Christ revealed.

    The “prudent and wise” ( ie: religious) of His day did not understand that.

  85. January 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    FOF & Seth,

    I think it’s safe to say that the central focus, central figure of the Bible is Christ the Lord. No, we don’t focus on Enoch or Melchizedek, or even Abraham. Why is that? Because for Christians our focus and our interest lies in Christ crucified. The message of the bible is simply that all have fallen short and have sinned. Jesus, the New Covenant is revealed in the NT and concealed in the O.T.

    The focus of the Bible is not about man, but about GOD. It’s about God’s dealings with sinful man, and how the gap that seperates us has been reconciled thru Christ.

    I believe the LDS doctrine & church focuses a lot of the “works” of man. The works of their prophets, and prominent leaders and what they said and their teachings. Personally I am not interested in the works of Enoch or Adam — they were men who loved God, but heck they sinned just like I did and do.

    As Christians, our focus is on CHRIST and His work, not on the works of Abraham, or Enoch or any other person.

    I think that is why you don’t see many Christians getting to riled up about the lack of info on Enoch or others. It’s just not central to our lives. JESUS is what is central, and the Bible has plenty to say about the King of Kings.

    Hope that helps,
    gloria

  86. January 12, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    There is no such thing as an infallible human word.

    As for Jesus statements, he is merely stating that the entire Law of Moses (as handed to Moses – not the pharasiac additions) was still in full force until fulfilled.

    He isn’t saying anything about textual preservation.

  87. January 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    As for Jesus statements, he is merely stating that the entire Law of Moses (as handed to Moses – not the pharasiac additions) was still in full force until fulfilled.

    He isn’t saying anything about textual preservation.

    Seth,

    You must not have read the earlier comments. I addressed this and your interpretation simply does not match the historical evidence.

    Darrell

  88. January 13, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Biblical evidence? Or historical evidence?

  89. January 13, 2010 at 2:44 am

    I do think you are making a mistake Darrell in conflating “the Law and the prophets” with some set canon of established texts. I see little evidence that ancient people saw it that way.

  90. January 13, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Which parts are the “pharisaic additions”?

  91. January 13, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Oh, you know… that “tithe mint and cumin” stuff. Christ had quite a few harsh words for some of the ways the Law of Moses had been perverted.

  92. January 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Biblical evidence? Or historical evidence?

    Seth, let me share a little secret with you… the Bible is a historical document.

    Even scholars, archeologists, and historians who don’t believe the theological message of the Bible hold its historical value.

    I do think you are making a mistake Darrell in conflating “the Law and the prophets” with some set canon of established texts. I see little evidence that ancient people saw it that way.

    Did you even read the earlier comments? The evidence is there both inside and outside the Bible.

    On a humorous sidenote: Seth, since when do you require evidence to believe anthing? You are the anti-empriricist Mormon who continually cries foul on people of faith who seek “evidence” for anything. All those ID ghouls! :)

    Darrell

  93. January 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Then I guess the Bible just isn’t for you gloria.

    Because it includes lots of people besides Jesus. By your own words here, you just don’t need that kind of distraction.

    So here’s a suggestion.

    Go rip out all the pages in your Bible that aren’t talking about the person Jesus. After all, that’s all “worthless fluff” right?

    You might start with the story of David and Bathsheba.

  94. January 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    seth,

    Of course the bible speaks of a lot of people other than Jesus. I didn’t say it didnt. What I did say is that the central focus of the Bible is the works of Christ. The bible clearly points out the sins of people like david, and bathsheba and abrahama and others….. and how sinful they were and how in need they were of the saving grace of Christ the Lord, and in turn how worthless we are and how much we need Jesus.

    BTW, I love the story of David & bathsheba. It portrays a wonderful example of men’s sinful lustful nature and contrasts it to God’s merciful & faithful deliverance and restoration. Remember seth, it is not Christians who condemn David. We believe he received forgiveness for his sin & remained ever the “friend of God”.

  95. January 14, 2010 at 12:45 am

    The story of Enoch is a story of a man who acts as a type of Christ figure, pleading with God on behalf of a sinful world. In response to his pleadings, God promises the true Savior to come. It seems an important story to tell, and I find its absence in the Bible to be a problem.

    I’m not taking this just out of Mormon scripture. The story is laced throughout the apocryphal literature.

  96. January 14, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Oh, I’m just fine with evidence.

    I just have a problem when people start touting it as sufficient proof of faith.

    Because it really isn’t.

    But by all means, bring all the evidence of God you want. I like to hear about it.

  97. January 15, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Who touts evidence as proof OF faith? Do you mean someone touting evidence as support for the truth of the object that one has faith in?

    Darrell

  98. January 15, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I don’t mind academic evidence as support of faith.

    I do dispute that it is ever sufficient to PROVE faith.

  99. January 15, 2010 at 4:24 am

    I am still not following your wording. How can evidence prove faithand who would claim this? Faith itself is neither true nor false. It simply is. However one can have faith in false things. So perhaps mean that evidence cannot prove what one has faith in is true? If this is the case, I disagree with you. For many things that people have placed faith in have been proven false via evidence.

  100. January 15, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Perhaps an even better wording is that “the substance of ones faith is true or false” but the faith itself just is. And yes, there have been many such things that people held faith in that have been proven false via evidence.

  101. May 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Really awesome writing! Truely.


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