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A Doctrine That Exalts Man

March 1, 2009

Joseph Smith made some rather bold claims regarding his superior knowledge of the Bible and the original languages.  However, despite what he often claimed, he did not always use the Bible to back up his teachings.  In my last post I pointed out some of his teachings regarding the nature of God.  He claimed he would prove his views from the Bible, but then he never did.  I would now like to look at some of his teachings on the nature of man.

Joseph Smith stated:

I have another subject to dwell upon, which is calculated to exalt man… It is associated with the subject of the resurrection of the dead,–namely, the soul–the mind of man–the immortal spirit.  Where did it come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better…

We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into you [sic] heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul…  How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 351-354)”

First of all, I cannot figure out how Joseph Smith came up with this supposed translation of the Hebrew.  Here is the verse I believe he was attempting to quote:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7)

The text does not say God put into Adam a spirit that was already in existence.  It says God breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul.  It’s one thing if Joseph Smith wanted to make the claim that he was given new revelation on this even though it could not be proven by scripture, but that’s not what he said.  Instead, he claimed that he was teaching the word of God and expounding upon the meaning in Hebrew, but he misquoted scripture and made it say something it does not actually say.

Secondly, I do not believe Joseph Smith ever read Zech. 12:1.  If he had, he might not have been so bold in stating that the Bible does not teach the creation of the spirit.

“The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundations of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him” (Zech. 12:1)

The same Hebrew word for formeth (yatsar) is used in Gen. 2:7 where it says God formed man.  God formed our spirits in the same way that he formed our bodies.

Joseph Smith went on to say:

But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself…(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 354)

If I am right? These are the words of a prophet of God?  Such uncertain language does not remind me of the prophets of old who proclaimed without equivocation: “Thus saith the Lord.” The content of Smith’s teaching is also very unlike that of the OT prophets who sought to exalt God, not man.  You would never find the OT prophets saying “God never had the power” to do something.

The words of the prophet Isaiah still speak to those who would question whether God had the power to create their spirits:

“Wherefore the Lord said…Shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?”     Isaiah 29:16

“Thus saith the Lord…Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! …Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”     Isaiah 45:9

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123 Comments leave one →
  1. MadChemist permalink
    March 1, 2009 2:51 am

    Jessica, Jessica, Jessica. I’m so dissapointed.
    You’ve made numerous assumptions that are demonstrably false.

    Let’s set you straight so that you can stop bearing false witness against your Mormon-siblings.

    First off, there are notes in Joseph Smith’s bible in the book of Zechariah. One would know this if they looked up the LDS scriptures and found Joseph Smith Translations (btw, these footnotes are uncanonical), but they are proof that Joseph Smith did read the book of Zechariah. Further Jessica, if you were actually trying to understand Mormons, instead of merely mining their teachings for how to land the best blow, you would know that Joseph Smith quoted extensively from Zechariah.

    Second off, the book “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” is not a canonical book. It is a historical book. It is a collection of other people who wrote down what they thought they heard Joseph Smith say. It is not now, nor has it ever been a source of doctrine for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Third, the historical record shows several inconsistencies between what Joseph taught about man’s creation. I don’t know of any official way to mesh all of these divergent sayings. But I do know that what has continued to be taught as official doctrine is that God created all men physically. Most often believed, is that our spirits were also created by the Father from intelligence. This intelligence was eternal, but not a spirit. Because of the inconsistency of the historical record, there is a diversity in todays current beliefs. But I would certainly say that the majority does believe that God created man both spiritually and physically. I believe the verse you quoted from Zechariah supports this viewpoint. So Jessica, with your vast knowledge of Mormonism, how is it that you do not know this already?

    About Joseph misquoting the Hebrew, it is certainly true that what he said does not match up with the current texts we are in possesion of today, and probably of the ones that he was in possession of back then. But I truly feel that he was no further misquoting the text than you were when you backed up the Nicene creed with scripture that doesn’t teach it. At least the word “spirit” exists in Genesis, even if Joseph Smith misattributed it. Contrast that with anyone defending the Nicean creed with scriptures that don’t even use the word substance!

    Finally, it is unfair to denounce Joseph Smith for expressing uncertainty. This might be a very good learning experience for you Jessica. For Mormons, there is a difference between “Thus saith the Lord,” and “Trying to understand the scriptures, I think it may be like this. I may be wrong, but…” The former is clear revelation, and latter is inspirational searching/speculation. To assume that “no prophets ever speculated” is simply not biblical. I’m not saying that I have looked for an example of prophets speculating in the Bible, but I’m saying we don’t have any promise that they won’t. Without that promise, such an assumption is also some unbiblical speculation of your own. Most educated Mormons hear very clearly the difference between “Thus saith the Lord” (the words of prephecy) and “If I’m right” (the words of speculation.

    Was Jonah a prophet in the Bible? Did he say something that wasn’t true in the name of the Lord? Didn’t God command him to say something, and he said something different? Be careful before you throw stones at prophets, those of us familiar with the Bible remember the story of the bald prophet Elisha, some unruly youths, and a hungry bear.

    Lastly, your infusion of philosphy into this statement is just puerile. Most Christians don’t believe that God has the power to lie, to deceive, to do the wrong thing, or to create a rock He’s unable to lift. Are you condemning them too? I’m fine with you not believing the LDS belief that the “elements (building blocks of matter) are eternal, and cannot be created nor destroyed”. I recognize that this flies in the face of the non-biblical “doctrine” creatio ex-nihilo, that’s OK, but let’s not build up a false dichotomy of “we don’t place any limits on God” when you clearly do as well. Pot, meet kettle.

  2. Tom permalink
    March 1, 2009 7:28 pm

    Many members of the LDS Church (myself included) find posts like this offensive. Here’s why: The tile of your blog is “I love Mormons: Respectful Conversations About the Mormon Faith.” Yet you do not engage or interact with canonical Mormon documents in your discussion (aside from telling us we are wrong in our interpretation of the Bible). Don’t get me wrong, I love discussing the Bible, but when you refuse to interact with the LDS canon, the implied message is that you don’t really want to understand our point of view. Remember that our interpretation of the Bible is shaped by God’s revelations to modern prophets, which revelations are authoritative in the LDS worldview. I fully recognize that you do not accept modern revelation as authoritative but if your goal is to understand our perspective, you must engage our canon! Failure to engage our canon says to an LDS reader that you are only interested in proving us wrong!

    Thus, a post like this comes across as you seeking for non-canonical quotations attributed to Joseph Smith in attempts to “prove Joseph wrong.” If you are really interested in understanding and respecting my faith, then read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and ask questions / criticize the contents therein. Such a treatment would move you in the direction of understanding why we have the interpretation we do. I understand and respect that you do not accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, but if you want to have “respectful conversations about the Mormon faith” then you MUST accept that we accept Joseph as a prophet of God. I plead with you to read our canon in an attempt to understand our doctrine, not in an attempt to prove us wrong or to prove that Joseph’s words contradict your interpretation of the Bible.

  3. March 1, 2009 11:20 pm

    Regarding whether or not the teaching in my post is canonical:

    The LDS Church claims that it is founded upon ongoing, continuous revelation. My understanding of this is that there will be unwritten as well as written revelations and some of these revelations will be in the standard works and some won’t.

    President Cannon taught,

    “The Lord has revealed unto us that which He wants us to do, and though we do not receive written revelations (the men who have held the keys have not always felt led to write revelations as the Prophet Joseph did), the servants of the Lord do receive revelations, and they are as binding upon the people as though they were printed and published throughout all the Stakes of Zion. The oracles of God are here, and He speaks through His servant whom He has chosen to hold the keys. He gives revelations to others also concerning many matters, but it is reserved for one man, and one man alone at a time, to give revelations to the Church. We have been blessed as a people with an abundance of revelation. Some have deceived themselves with the idea that because revelations have not been written and published, therefore there has been a lessening of power in the Church of Christ. This is a very great mistake, as we will find out sooner or later. This Church has been continually led by the spirit of revelation. The spirit of revelation has been here in our conference. The addresses that have been delivered have been made under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and they are the word of God unto this people, binding upon them, and they will be judged by these words that we have heard. If we do not listen to these instructions and counsels and abide by the word of God as it is given to us from time to time, we shall be held to a strict accountability.” (Conference Report, 64)

    Whether or not Mormons currently believe his teaching is true, I think it can be clearly demonstrated that Joseph Smith believed he was acting as a prophet when he gave this revelation. Therefore, my post is correct in stating that he was teaching a “doctrine” intended to exalt man. These are the very words he used. He started out this whole teaching on the immortality of the spirit by saying this:

    “Hear it, all ye ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don’t believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through; if he does not believe it…
    This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to my by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given my by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more” (Section Six 1843-44, p.351)

    By Joseph Smith’s own words, a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such (Section Five 1842-43, p.278). By proclaiming “you are bound to receive” this doctrine “given to [me] by the revelations of Jesus Christ,” I believe Joseph Smith was clearly acting as a prophet when he gave this teaching on the immortality of the spirit.

  4. MadChemist permalink
    March 2, 2009 3:42 am

    Jessica,
    There are several options that describe you.

    Either you have a short attention span, and haven’t read all of Are Mormons Christian?

    Or you’re ignoring the arguments that Stephen Robinson included against “Whatever our critics want us to have to defend.”

    You’ve claimed to have read Are Mormons Christian, so I think Tom and I are entitled to know which of the two options you’re following. That will help us discern if you’re really trying in love to understand, or if you’re acting out of ulterior motives.

    Until you recognize that you don’t understand Joseph Smith perfectly, admit it, and allow that to be a possibility, instead of imitating some sort of expert on him, you will continue to look like a deceiver.

    Sad really,
    I guess I shouldn’t ever trust an Evangelical when they say they’re acting out of love…
    Thanks for that.

  5. March 2, 2009 4:31 am

    MC,

    Stephen Robinson has no more authority than I do when it comes to declaring what is official LDS doctrine. Only the prophets have that kind of authority so I would rather compare their teachings with the Bible. I have no ulterior motives – I’m certainly not interested in deceiving anyone. I believe it’s the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). Love and concern compels me to write what I do. There are many people who have found freedom, peace, and eternal security in the glorious grace of Jesus Christ after first coming to doubt the truth claims of Mormonism. It is out of a desire for many more testimonies like theirs that I write. I have a lot of silent visitors to my blog and I hope and pray that perhaps something I say might cause them to question the Mormon beliefs they hold so tightly and encourage them to seek after Christ alone through His Word.

    As my schedule permits, I’m also open to talking with Mormons who vehemently disagree with me as long as they try to keep their tone respectful and avoid personal attacks. I am not interested in tip-toeing around sensitive issues or avoiding hot topics, but I don’t like to argue. I am interested in honest, respectful dialogue that includes even the hot-button issues. My definition of respectful is not attacking the other person I am talking to or assuming the worst about their personal motives. If you do not wish to engage the arguments in this thread any further that is fine, but resorting to ad homeneim attacks is not what I consider respectful or productive conversation. It’s okay though. I can see I hit on a hot-button issue in this post and so I am being asked to pick a different topic and being accused of being deceitful and having ulterior motives.

    I am also more than willing to admit that I don’t understand Joseph Smith perfectly! He was one complicated individual! 🙂 I believe I understand his teachings well enough to know that he was a false prophet though, and I’m hoping to persuade others to consider this a possibility.

  6. March 2, 2009 5:12 pm

    This is my first time replying on this Blog but I am having difficulty understanding what all the fuss is about. There is nothing dishonest in the post, in fact it seems to be a compilation of what is said in D&C 93:33. I find this to be a bold claim, unsupported, in fact opposed, to the teaching of the Bible.

    For the life of me I do not understand how someone can be offended by this post

  7. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 6:03 pm

    Jessica,

    Jesus Christ is already very much alive and well in the hearts and lives of LDS Christians- of this i can assure you.

    Asserting that this is not the case is ultimately rooted in one thing….. fear.

    Part of that fear flows out of the horrific and terrifying assumptions underlying the evangelical worldview. (ie: this life and universe is a giant cosmic disaster, etc.)

    The other part of that fear flows out of a distorted grasp on what LDS Christians really believe and how we see things. This is the part of that fear that we are trying to do something about here.

    When “telling” us what LDS Christians believe and how we see things one always comes away with a feeling that can perhaps best be described as “pounding a square peg into a round hole”.

    Just because you pound harder or with more conviction doesn’t means its a fit Jessica. The net result in that sort of situation is that you are not even talking to LDS people at all- you are only talking to yourself. We are left with a conversation between yourself and your own distortions. To persist under such circumstances will ultimately only undermine your credibility and the trust people might have in your self-proclaimed motives for pounding the peg at all.

    I think you would do well to consider more thoroughly the other comments already made here by other posters. I believe there is much more to them than you may be willing to see or admit at the moment.

    In Christ,

    -Tad

  8. Tom permalink
    March 2, 2009 6:13 pm

    I ask you to carefully read this entire (long!) post – the information late in the post is critical to my thesis. I will address specific issues about canon, Gen. 2:17, and Zech. 12:1 in follow up comments.

    Jessica,

    I’m interested to know the history of your personal interaction with LDS canon – specifically the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I would also be very interested to hear your story of how you came to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Specifically, how did the Lord communicate to you that Jesus is the Son of God and your Savior? What parts of the Book of Mormon have you read and what are your impressions / criticisms of the doctrine presented therein? I want to understand your worldview as completely as possible!

    I can obviously only speak from my own experience, but it seems to me that the reason Mormons (like MadChemist) feel you’re being dishonest is you search for inconsistency or contradiction in LDS history/documents and never acknowledge that Christianity as a whole (including Mormons for present purposes) is rife with inconsistencies – the Gospels themselves, doctrine changing over time, changes to the Biblical text, etc. These are not necessarily fatal flaws, just inconsistencies – and they don’t bother me at all! However, an uninformed reader could be misled to believe that the Bible and your version of Christianity have no contradictions or inconsistencies! In contrast, MadChemist has openly acknowledged that there are many inconsistencies in the historical record of the LDS Church. As a Church we recognize that no book, even a cananoical one – is perfect. We expect the same candor and honesty from you!

    The source of truth is the Holy Ghost. It does not lend validity to your arguments that many people have left Mormonism for Protestantism – the reciprocal is also true! Some people feel they found Jesus in the Protestant interpretation and some people feel they found Jesus in the LDS interpretation. But the critical consideration is – what does the Holy Ghost testify to your heart? I have many experiences from my own life through which I discovered Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These are treasured moments! My finding Jesus in the OT and NT does not make me want to leave Mormonism. Those that do leave are missing the opportunity to continue to find Jesus in the Book of Mormon, and they should not use the Church or uninformed statements of lay members as a scapegoat for their own failure to understand LDS doctrine on Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life”! It is my conviction that He is exactly that!

    As it pertains to Mormonism, one reason the canon is so important is because if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith must be a true prophet! The Lord would not bring forth a true book through a false prophet! A similar logic can be applied to the Bible itself. If you have read the Bible and the Spirit tells you it is true, then it does not matter that atheists/agnostics rail against inconsistencies in the Bible and Christian history. You know it’s true because the Holy Spirit told you it is true! A testimony of Jesus, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or any doctrine must be based on personal revelation from the Holy Ghost, not upon searching history for inconsistencies and joining the Church that has none (note that such a church does not exist).

    I invite you, Jessica, to ponder what the Holy Spirit has revealed to your heart. Then I ask you to recognize that the Holy Spirit has revealed to my heart the reality of Jesus Christ as my Savior, as well as the truth of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. For the rest of you who may be reading these words – recognize that neither my words nor Jessica’s can form the foundation for your testimony of Jesus – seek the Holy Ghost and follow what He reveals to your heart!

  9. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 6:18 pm

    Gundeck,

    Jessica is trying to grapple with things that she doesn’t have the foundation to deal with responsibly.

    That is not that big of a deal in and of itself. However, its really frustrating after trying to explain this reality over and over the reply is just…. more pounding of the square peg into the round hole!

    Thats not dialogue.

    Also, there is a history beyond this one thread.

    -Tad

  10. March 2, 2009 7:13 pm

    Tad,

    I am sorry but nobody has explained anything, nor have I seen anybody try to dialog. The material presented seems to be in compliance with D&C 93:29-33. Was the material presented accurate? Is it taken out of context? Was it misrepresented? If you have the foundation to deal with this material they it seems obvious that you should explain the doctrine of your Church. I do not see anything dishonest in showing inconsistencies or contradictions between LDS doctrine and the Bible.

    If I were in your shoes I would start with Zech. 12:1 and show how this is not inconsistent with your beliefs

  11. Brad permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:18 pm

    Jessica, keep up your good work. As I’m sure you know, there will always be those Mormons who just refuse to acknowledge anything other than what they know as possible truth, to their eternal loss. It truly is sad (even though they would not view it as such). With a religion founded on ever-changing, progressive revelation, I’ve always found it amusing how Mormons can say “it’s not canonical, therefore not doctrinal”, when even their own revelations have changed what was once thought of as doctrinal over the years! It’s sad that they just don’t see it.

    I’ve come to quit listening to those who try to detract (such as MadChemist and others), and instead focus on making sure I tell the message, as you are doing. Romans 1-2 and 2 Cor. 4 are quite clear – there are those who simply will not believe, no matter what. It is NOT our job to convert them, that is the Spirit’s alone; it is only our job to tell them. Should they decide to not listen, that is their choice alone to have.

    Keep up your excellent posts, despite any opposition you have to the contrary.

  12. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:25 pm

    Gundeck,

    Reread the comments in this thread- not just the original post.

    -Tad

  13. Brad permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:29 pm

    The source of truth is the Holy Ghost.

    You know it’s true because the Holy Spirit told you it is true! A testimony of Jesus, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or any doctrine must be based on personal revelation from the Holy Ghost

    the Holy Spirit has revealed to my heart the reality of Jesus Christ as my Savior, as well as the truth of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    Ted, lots of different religious people have what they would call a confirmation from the Spirit that what they believe is correct. I am an Evangelical Christian (Baptist, actually), and I have prayed, with full intent and desire for the truth, to the Spirit about whether Mormonism is true. You know what answer I received? That it wasn’t.

    Now, if you and I both prayed to the same being (the Holy Spirit), about the same question (is Mormonism true), and we each received DIFFERENT answers (you = yes, me = no), then there’s only 3 scenarios that can be true:

    1) We’re both wrong
    2) You’re right, and I’m wrong
    3) I’m right, and you’re wrong

    We can’t BOTH be right, b/c we have received opposite answers (unless of course, you believe the Spirit would purposefully lie to one of us, but I doubt you believe that). That being said, HOW then do we know which of the scenarios it is?

    I doubt you would believe #1 is correct, b/c that would be an inherent admission that your beliefs are wrong, which I doubt you would make, so we can rule out #1.

    I would say you would not believe #3 is correct, b/c that would be an explicit admission that your beliefs are wrong, which I doubt you’d make, so we can rule out #3.

    That only leaves us #2. Funny thing is, I’d pick #3 as the scenario I believe is correct, which is the exact opposite of #2, so we’re right back where we started – HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH IS CORRECT? You can’t say you’re right, simply b/c you have a witness of the Spirit, b/c I say I’m right about what I believe, by the same witness.

    So how would you answer this important question, Ted?

  14. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:31 pm

    Brads comments: —- I’ve come to quit listening to those who try to detract (such as MadChemist and others), and instead focus on making sure I tell the message, as you are doing. Romans 1-2 and 2 Cor. 4 are quite clear – there are those who simply will not believe, no matter what. It is NOT our job to convert them, that is the Spirit’s alone; it is only our job to tell them. Should they decide to not listen, that is their choice alone to have. —-

    This is exactly the “modus operandi” of many- and maybe it has its place- but it is NOT dialogue, and i thought dialogue is what we were trying to accomplish here.

    If dialogue is not what we are striving to have here someone please tell me now for i have already been “told” way too much.

    -Tad

  15. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:33 pm

    Who is Ted?

    Are you talking to me Brad?

    -Tad

  16. Brad permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:53 pm

    In what I posted to Jessica, it wasn’t intended as dialogue for anyone, but as encouragement for her. What someone chooses to think about that, is entirely up to them.

    As to who I addressed my post to, I said “Ted”, meant to say “Tom.” Sorry. However, I don’t care who answers it. Now THAT one IS there for dialogue.

  17. Tom permalink
    March 2, 2009 8:27 pm

    Bruce,

    You observe correctly. We can’t both be right. And, naturally, you think you are right and you think I am right. Eventually the Spirit will teach whoever is wrong to see the truth. Until then we should both continue to live by what we feel the Lord has revealed to our hearts. That type of “living with conviction” is honorable and I commend anyone who stays true to the knowledge they have received!

    I have almost finished my response on Gen 2 and Zech. 12. Stay tuned….

  18. katielangston permalink
    March 2, 2009 9:27 pm

    1) We’re both wrong
    2) You’re right, and I’m wrong
    3) I’m right, and you’re wrong

    There is a fourth option…

    You’re mortal, I’m mortal. There are elements of truth in both of our beliefs, and elements of human error. The Spirit has testified to both of us of the truth in what we have received and will correct the deficiencies as we continue to learn, hopeful, in Christ.

    But we will never come to understand it fully.

    Truth is multi-faceted, an infinity of layers deep, and on its most perfect level, incomprehensible to the human mind. Therefore, there are nuggets of it everywhere…but I am doubtful that anyone (besides God Himself) has it all.

    I have found much to admire in people who first seek to understand the truth of another’s perspective before they leap to defend their own position.

  19. katielangston permalink
    March 2, 2009 9:28 pm

    Sorry, trying that again. The formatting was off…

    1) We’re both wrong
    2) You’re right, and I’m wrong
    3) I’m right, and you’re wrong

    There is a fourth option…

    You’re mortal, I’m mortal. There are elements of truth in both of our beliefs, and elements of human error. The Spirit has testified to both of us of the truth in what we have received and will correct the deficiencies as we continue to learn, hopeful, in Christ.

    But we will never come to understand it fully.

    Truth is multi-faceted, an infinity of layers deep, and on its most perfect level, incomprehensible to the human mind. Therefore, there are nuggets of it everywhere…but I am doubtful that anyone (besides God Himself) has it all.

    I have found much to admire in people who first seek to understand the truth of another’s perspective before they leap to defend their own position.

  20. Brad permalink
    March 2, 2009 9:58 pm

    Eventually the Spirit will teach whoever is wrong to see the truth.

    Tom, not necessarily. It’s not that the Spirit doesn’t continue to tug on the hearts of those who aren’t saved, it’s that some of them choose not to listen. The Bible is clear – some (in fact, many) will die without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    Your statement above seems to imply that’s not the case.

  21. Brad permalink
    March 2, 2009 9:59 pm

    Katie,

    Your option #4 has nothing to do with the question in discussion that led to the #1-#3 options. We are mortal here on Earth, in that we will die, however we have immortal souls that will live on.

    The question was not about who has everything perfectly figured out, but on whether Mormonism was true or not. The “relativistic truth” post you gave doesnt’ address what we were talking about.

  22. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 2, 2009 10:15 pm

    Katie’s comments: —- I have found much to admire in people who first seek to understand the truth of another’s perspective before they leap to defend their own position. —-

    Very well stated Katie- and so true.

    This is a helpful reminder we would all do well to remember here.

    -Tad

  23. Tom permalink
    March 2, 2009 10:31 pm

    Brad,

    Your point is well taken. I was making the assumption that you and I are both earnestly seeking the truth. Whether or not a human being acts on the information the Spirit teaches is his or her choice. If we resist the Spirit when it teaches us the truth, it is to our condemnation.

    Hopefully that makes clear what I actually meant!

  24. katielangston permalink
    March 2, 2009 10:59 pm

    Brad, I read the thread in its entirety. And I stand by my previous comment. Note that I am not speaking about “relativistic” truth, i.e. what is true to me is false to another or vice versa. Truth is not relative. It is what it is from the beginning to the end.

    Human perception of truth, however, is always flawed. Always. And our ability to express it is always limited. Else why did Paul say that we see through a glass, darkly?

    I don’t want to derail the purpose of this post, but my point is that there are aspects of Mormon thought that are true. There are aspects of Mormon thought that are false. And the same can be said for Evangelicalism.

    You asked Tom how come he could pray and learn Mormonism is true, and then you pray and learn Mormonism is false. You said either you were both wrong, or one was right and the other wrong. I’m simply pointing out that those are not the only options. A fourth option is that the Spirit was testifying to Tom that aspects of the belief system are true; and testifying to you that aspects of the belief system are false.

    Actually, there is a fifth option as well, which is a kind of extension of the fourth. Consider that God may want Tom in Mormonism for whatever reason right now, but that your work is elsewhere.

    The all-or-nothing, binary dichotomies we create for ourselves and the world around us are often destructive. As adults, it is important to learn to appreciate nuance. God’s ways are not our ways. I believe it is wisdom in God to remain open to the possibility that He might command something unexpected (like calling a person to Mormonism, for example).

  25. March 2, 2009 11:34 pm

    Katie,

    President Hinckley did not agree with your 4th option. Here is what he had to say about this “middle ground” option of yours…

    “Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. And that’s exactly where we stand, with a conviction in our hearts that it is true: that Joseph went into the [Sacred] Grove; that he saw the Father and the Son; that he talked with them; that Moroni came; that the Book of Mormon was translated from the plates; that the priesthood was restored by those who held it anciently. That’s our claim. That’s where we stand, and that’s where we fall, if we fall. But we don’t. We just stand secure in that faith. ”

    In this one limited way I agree with him. The church is either the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ or it is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetuated on man. I hold to the latter. You are confusing “true principles” (chastity, honesty, etc) with truth f the organization itself. There are many organizations (secular and religious) that teach true principles. However, when a person prays to know if the “church is true” they are not praying about the principles. They are praying to know if the LDS church is what it claims to be – namely God’s only true Church on the face of the earth holding the fullness of the Gospel, God’s priesthood, and they only saving ordinances on the earth. To say that God would answer that question with a “yes” if it is not the case would mean God is a liar.

    Darrell

  26. katielangston permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:01 am

    Darrell, this is an area where Pres. Hinckley and I will have to agree to disagree. 🙂 I have nothing but love and admiration for him, but this is one area where my personal belief and experience departs from his statement. Perhaps one day I will come to see it differently. I am open to that possibility.

    At this moment, however, I believe that Mormonism as a system is simply too complex to be able to slap a general, broad-faced “TRUE” or “FALSE” label to it. There may be more true aspects than false aspects; there may be more false aspects than true aspects. Mormonism may be false in ways that most Mormons don’t realize; and it may be true in ways that most Evangelicals don’t give it credit for. This is for each person to determine individually.

    In any event, the fact that I believe this way demonstrates that the fourth option does indeed *exist*, even if you or President Hinckley or anyone else for that matter does not accept it as the correct one. I can certainly respect your disagreeing with me. I am in a pretty confused place right now, to be totally honest with you, and may end up disagreeing with me in the end, too.

    People not listening kindly or giving others the benefit of the doubt (not saying you have done this, Darrell, just talking about people in general) makes it tougher on those of us trying to find our path, however.

  27. Brad permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:02 am

    Your point is well taken. I was making the assumption that you and I are both earnestly seeking the truth. Whether or not a human being acts on the information the Spirit teaches is his or her choice. If we resist the Spirit when it teaches us the truth, it is to our condemnation.

    Tom, I already said, in the post I asked the question, that I had prayed with sincerity, seeking the truth. So you’re correct in making that assumption, since I even took assumption out of the equation and flat out said it.

    You’re still not addressing what was said, however, as is common with Mormons. What you’ve done is “assume” that I’m not acting on the information “the Spirit teaches”, b/c I’m coming to a different conclusion than you. Which means you’re inherently assuming that the Mormon position is correct. And you’d also say you know that to be true by your witness of the Spirit. Which gets us back to the exact SAME place we were before – if my witness from the SAME Spirit, on the SAME question, with the SAME sincerity, yields a completely DIFFERENT answer, how do you explain that?

    Still unanswered – I’m amazed at how many Mormons actually struggle with this question. Not really, b/c I’m pretty sure I know why, but still, it boggles the mind…

  28. Brad permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:05 am

    this is an area where Pres. Hinckley and I will have to agree to disagree. I have nothing but love and admiration for him, but this is one area where my personal belief and experience departs from his statement. Perhaps one day I will come to see it differently. I am open to that possibility.

    Gee Katie, going against the teachings of your former prophet? Of course, what he said wasn’t “canonical” or “doctrinal”, was it? 😉

  29. katielangston permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:13 am

    Brad, I have no idea if it was canonical or doctrinal. I have a hard enough time defining my own beliefs, let alone the beliefs of the Mormon church.

    If it was doctrinal, then this is one area where Mormonism and I will just have to agree to disagree.

  30. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:33 am

    Brad –

    We’re talking past each other right now. I’m not sure how I’m avoiding the topic and I am actually trying to address it head on. You are incorrect in pegging my assumption – I actually assume that you’re being honest in the answer you received and acting on that answer. Only you can judge whether you are neglecting what the Spirit teaches you – it’s between you and the Lord and none of my business.

    I am also being honest in the answer I received. And I do agree on this – one of us must be wrong. Joseph Smith was either a Prophet of God or he was not. In time, the Spirit will either confirm my past answer or show me a different one because I am constantly seeking His will for me. He will do the same for you as long as you continue to seek His will for you. Obviously I think I am right or we wouldn’t be having this conversation (and I wouldn’t be Mormon).

    I didn’t intend to avoid the topic – I was only trying to say that you and I are both living up to what the Lord has shown us to this point in our lives. Furthermore, I don’t think either of us need to lose sleep that we’re getting a different answer. All we can do is be true to the light we’re given. I don’t think we are held responsible for the answers to other people’s prayers – only our own!

    If there’s something else on which you wanted me to explain my thoughts, please ask. I am not trying to be evasive at all.

  31. March 3, 2009 12:37 am

    “I was only trying to say that you and I are both living up to what the Lord has shown us to this point in our lives.”

    Tom,

    You are assuming that both of your answers are from the Lord… which is the heart of what Brad’s question was getting at. How do you know that your answer is from the Lord? God would NOT tell you both something completely different… if He did He is telling one of you a lie. So, how do you KNOW FOR SURE that your answer is from God?

    Darrell

  32. Brad permalink
    March 3, 2009 12:38 am

    Tom, if that’s the case, and you believe we’re both following His will, yet one of us is wrong (by both of our admissions) – do you think there’s NO way to know who (and by extension, what) is right?

    If that’s the case, how can we EVER be sure? This demonstrates that the “witness of the Spirit” is NOT a good evidence, by itself, to tell us the truth, unless it can be verified, doesn’t it?

  33. March 3, 2009 12:40 am

    Katie,

    Sorry to hear you are struggling with faith… I did myself for several years. Not sure exactly what your struggles are but I was LDS for years. I started questioning the church in 2001. I went through several years of trying to sort out all of the teachings of the church and how they could be “true” even though I knew there were several problems with the Church. I came out the other side much stronger and happier. Not sure what you struggles are but if I can help out in anyway feel free to let me know. You can go on my blog and post something if you want to talk with me. We can e-mail back and forth if you would like to keep it from being out in the open.

    God bless!!

    Darrell

  34. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 4:07 pm

    Brad,

    If Darrell is correct in interpreting your question, I will give it a lot of thought – it is a VERY important question to identify how one knows that one’s answer is really from God. I don’t have time to write my whole conversion story but will share it later if you are interested.

    I’m still fumbling with words though – I have still failed to convey what I was trying to say. I think Katie almost hit on what I’m trying to say when she said that God may have work for you to do as a Protestant and me to do as a Mormon. In that regard we would both be on the path the Lord wants us on. However, that does not mean that God won’t direct one of us to make a change in the future. I would be surprised if the Lord directed me to change faiths, as I’m sure you would be if He directed you to change faiths. The bottom line remains – be true to the revelation God gives you. I strive to do that in my own life and from what you described it sounds like you do too.

  35. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 5:55 pm

    Getting back to the original discussion – I will explain as clearly as I can how the LDS Church handles an open canon. It is inherently different to administer than simply having a closed canon, but bear in mind that there are important reasons for having prophets, apostles, and an open canon (the best reasons for which can be found in Eph. 4:11-14, DC 1, DC 20, and in several instances in the Book of Acts).

    First we must define “canon”. From dictionary.com, the best definition of “canon” that applies to all religions everywhere is “any set of officially recognized sacred books.” Thus, the books officially recognized by any one church constitute that church’s canon. The LDS Church recognizes the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. So what of books like “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” and Pres. Cannon’s statement about prophets’ words being binding upon the Church?

    Three classifications of documents have emerged in our discussion: 1) Historical documents, 2) Statements from prophets that are binding upon the church, and 3) canonized documents.

    1. Historical documents – Regardless of how they are construed, any body of historical documents is rife with contradictions. These arise because history is recorded by imperfect humans who make decisions about the facts they report, recording only the facts they deem relevant. The way they present the material is also completely subjective. Contradictions in a collection of historical documents don’t make the claims untrue, it just means that two people had a different perception or memory of what actually happened. When considering Joseph’s words, we must also remember that a prophet’s words are prophetic only when he is speaking as the prophet. What he says to his wife when he goes home for dinner or an opinion stated amongst a small group of friends is not necessarily prophetic or binding on the Church. We don’t have the ability to make this distinction in historical documents, nor do we know what the actual words were because scribes make errors and subjective interpretations. Nor does the Church ask us to be responsible for finding and explaining every inconsistency in the history of our Church. No historian is held to that standard (and no Christian holds the Gospel writers to that standard, even though the gospels ARE canonized).

    2. Statements binding on the Church. When the prophet speaks a doctrine in a general meeting of the Church, it is binding on the Church. However, recognize that the prophet tells the world what the Lord wants people to hear at that time. Pres. Cannon did not say “it is binding on the Chruch forever and ever, Amen.” This nuance is commonly misunderstood. The current generation is not held responsible to read every word uttered by past prophets, for those words were intended for the people at that time. Certain revelations are of great enough importance that they are canonized and become binding upon the Church forever and ever (read point 3 for how we canonize things).

    3. Canonized documents. As stated above, canonized documents are binding upon the Church forever. The Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are the only documents binding upon the LDS Church through all generations. The process of adding to the cannon is: A prophet makes a statement in a general meeting of the Church and the general membership must uphold the decision to add the revelation to the canon. As far as Joseph Smith is concerned we actually have it easy – the statements the Lord wanted canonized were prepared and printed under Joseph’s direction. If you wish to study the doctrines the Lord revealed through Joseph Smith, start with the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. There you will find a tone of “Thus saith the Lord.” Therein is the only place we can be 100% sure that he was speaking to the Church as the prophet. All other documents containing statements made by Joseph Smith have been collected by historians over the years – “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” was compiled in the early 20th century. Much of what it contains does not even identify the forum or who the scribe was, so it is impossible to identify if it is accurate to what Joseph originally said, who the audience was, whether or not it was merely an opinion, etc.

  36. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:00 pm

    Now that I’ve hopefully cleared any confusion about the issue of canon, let’s get back to one of Jessica’s earlier comments. Where is it written that every prophet must begin every sentence with “Thus saith the Lord…”?

    Prophets are allowed to have their own opinions. In fact, they are pretty much normal people who speak for God when God inspires them to do so. They don’t spend every waking hour uttering the will of God. They have families, they make mistakes, and they are, in fact, fallible. Yes, Joseph Smith was quite fallible. In his words, “I am subject to like passions as other men, like the prophets of olden times.”

    Thus, in a historical document it is perfectly reasonable to find a statement from a prophet that begins with “If I am right…” The statement may have been made in an informal setting where he was not speaking authoritatively as the prophet. Contrast that tone with the canonical Doctrine and Covenants where the tone is consistently “Thus saith the Lord.” To cite a few:

    DC 1 – http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/1
    DC 4 – http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/4
    DC 59 – http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/59

  37. March 3, 2009 6:35 pm

    “Prophets are allowed to have their own opinions. In fact, they are pretty much normal people who speak for God when God inspires them to do so. They don’t spend every waking hour uttering the will of God. They have families, they make mistakes, and they are, in fact, fallible. Yes, Joseph Smith was quite fallible. In his words, “I am subject to like passions as other men, like the prophets of olden times.””

    Tom,

    Given this… and this is an honest question – I am not trying to offend anyone here. In your opinon, was the doctrine of poligamy done to satisfy JS’s “passions” or was it really from God? It is in the D&C and it was taught as something that was necessary to get to Heaven (as part of The New and Everlasting Covenant)… so what is up with it?

    To me, it really seems like it was something that was given just to satisfy JS’s personal passions. What is your opinion?

    Darrell

  38. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:43 pm

    Having addressed all of that background information – here are my thoughts on the original doctrine taught by Joseph Smith:

    The essence of Joseph’s statement is taught in DC 93 (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/93). Do not misunderstand – we believe God created man in His own image! We also believe that the English rendering “to organize” (instead of “to create”) is an accurate description – creation was not ex nihilo. This distinction is the essence of Joseph’s statement.

    The English verbs used in Gen 2:7 and Zech. 12:1 do in fact come from the same Hebrew verb which can be rendered “to frame.” (see Strong’s concordance – http://www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html)

    For “soul” and “spirit,” check Strong’s concordance for the two associated Hebrew words. Now we are ready to look at the Hebrew text.

    Zech. 12:1 could be rendered “God framed the spirit of man within him.” The verb “to frame” is different than “to create.” If I frame a painting, I didn’t necessarily create the painting or the frame, and even if I did I probably did not make the paint myself, and even if I did I didn’t make the molecules that were used to formulate the paint, etc.

    Gen 2:7 uses the same verb as Zech. 12:1 and could thus be similarly rendered as “God framed man of the dust of the ground.” The word “soul” in this context refers to what man became after God created him in corporeal form. The verse doesn’t address where the man’s spirit originally came from (it just says God framed man), so I don’t find Joseph’s statement bothersome.

    I don’t know if you are seeing the pattern, Jessica, but in every case, both you and I have very rational reasons for believing the way we do. The final authority on the doctrine, though, is the Holy Spirit, because man’s reasoning is fallible. I believe what I do not just because it makes logical sense to me (it does!) but because the Holy Spirit has witnessed to my heart that the Book of Mormon is true. I again invite you to consider what the Holy Spirit has revealed to your heart. If you assume the Book of Mormon is false because of your own reasoning, not only is it unfair, but you are not allowing the Lord to give you the answer (Isa. 55:6-9).

  39. Tom permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:45 pm

    Darrell – it’s a great question. No time now to write the answer, but I’ll get to it. It is important for LDS members to think about that question!

  40. Mike permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:48 pm

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    ________________________
    The Easiest and Quickest $100 A Day I Know.Email to mike.wilson80@ymail.com for more information.

  41. MadChemist permalink
    March 4, 2009 1:53 am

    Jessica & Tom,
    Given Jessica’s last statement, I’m fairly certain that she hasn’t read (or understood) Are Mormon’s Christian? If she had, she would know that Brother Robinson doesn’t merely declare, but includes statements of church leaders that set up the bounds of official doctrine. And I do think that Brother Robinson is more fully qualified to explain the nuances of Mormon Canon as someone actually educated in religious studies seeing as he actually has a post-graduate degree from Duke University in the New Testament. Plus, Jessica, Robinson doesn’t spend his days mining other religion’s literature trying to find a way to tear down a religion. Non-Mormons (and apostates) do not have ANY authority to declare LDS doctrine. And when you have faithful Mormons (e.i. Tom & I) say, That’s not what I believe, you should really listen to it.

    Think of the audacity of you telling me what I believe? I’m the expert on one thing in the world, what I believe.

    Jessica claims “Only the prophets have that kind of authority” Yet she doesn’t truly allow LDS prophets to declare doctrine. She cherry-picks beliefs, builds up straw-man arguments, when in reality there’s more data and more uncertainty than she allows.

    Jessica further claims ” I have no ulterior motives.” Well forgive me for not believing you. What sounds more honest was this last sentence: “something I say might cause them to question the Mormon beliefs they hold so tightly and encourage them to seek after Christ alone through His Word.” Well, Jessica, it is also for the silent readers that I respond, to try and keep you honest. You have reacted unhappily that I would dare to question your honesty, yet you come up with no arguments to my replies. I had very honest and meaningful points and corrections, you have not replied with any evidence to refute what I’ve said. Does that silence imply “correction taken?”

    “but I don’t like to argue.” Well, Jessica, those of us who govern their throught processes via logic cannot allow a conversation that doesn’t refute false evidence, false assumptions, and false representations. That is, if you claim to have read “Are Mormon’s Christian” and then on several occasions ignore concepts that have entire chapters devoted to them! I don’t want to be disagreeable while I disagree, but I don’t enjoy being lied to either. Of course, if you’re afraid of the evidence, you’ll just delete the comments. That’s your choice. Now that you have publicly stated you are trying to sway Mormons away from their faith it’s no longer ulterior. Maybe you should put that underneath “I love Mormons”, you know, if the sake of full disclosure. That way, no one else will ever accuse you of having ulterior motives again. They’ll know your true motive.

    “I am also more than willing to admit that I don’t understand Joseph Smith perfectly! ” Thank you. Now are you willing to admit that Tom and I have read a little bit more about and from Joseph Smith than you have? Without proclaiming us experts on him either, can you at least admit we know more about what he wrote than you did? Can you also admit that we don’t solely read his works trying to find ways to tear down Mormonism? Can you see why you can’t ever understand him if you only read the historical record trying to tear down Mormonism?

    Answering those questions will go a long way. For what it’s worth, I have no problem working through hot-button issues, but I do require fairness. And both Tom and I found several of your techniques in this particular post unfair. And instead of engaging all of the evidence I provided in the comments, you got offended at my tone. Maybe that’s deserved, but offense doesn’t refute my responses.

  42. Todd Wood permalink
    March 4, 2009 3:08 am

    Jessica, I just popped on here. Sorry, I have just read your initial post and then this comment #41 by Mad Chemist.

    I got a question for Mad Chemist:

    Did Joseph Smith believe that others outside of God could create (I am utilizing the Hebrew verb – bara’)?

  43. MadChemist permalink
    March 4, 2009 1:05 pm

    Todd, is it OK of I change your question to one that I believe is answerable.

    “Did Joseph Smith ever say that others outside of God could create.”
    Yes.
    “How much of that was revelation versus speculation.”
    I don’t know.

    Certainly, the doctrine that man creates with God either by exercising the moral agency for good creates the present is true. Also that in the future God will grant more power to create is also true. Should any humans who’ve ever lived on this planet ever think taht they will create without God endowing them that power, no. The problem, Todd, is when “some people” try to portray any of Joseph’s speculation as “Mormon Doctrine.” While it is easy for anti-Mormons to tear down Mormonism that way, it is not acting out of love, no matter how many times they claim it. You gotta walk the walk first in this manner.

  44. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 1:30 pm

    MadChemist –

    I’m having trouble figuring out what your first sentence means:

    “Certainly, the doctrine that man creates with God either by exercising the moral agency for good creates the present is true.”

  45. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 4:40 pm

    Darrell – I posted on your blog regarding the “new and everlasting covenant” and I will eventually tie it to the polygamy issue – an understanding of the LDS doctrine of the “new and everlasting covenant” sheds a lot of light on how we are to deal with polygamy, both intellectually and ecclesiastically.

  46. March 4, 2009 7:09 pm

    MC,

    Just a quick note – I don’t have a lot of time to respond as I have an especially busy week and this weekend is crammed full as well.

    I did want to address one statement you made:

    “The problem, Todd, is when “some people” try to portray any of Joseph’s speculation as ‘Mormon Doctrine.'”

    The introduction to the source I used for my post says:

    “The teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. [1805-1844] are usually considered to be fundamental to understanding the doctrines of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).” http://www.boap.org/LDS/Joseph-Smith/

    This website is maintained by the Book of Abraham Project @ BYU.

  47. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 7:54 pm

    Jessica,

    I agree – the teachings of Joseph Smith are are usually considered to be fundamental to understanding the doctrines of the LDS Church. However, the owner of that website did not say (nor does the Church espouse) that the content of the book “The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” are fundamental to understanding LDS doctrine.

    Do you seek to understand the teachings of Joseph Smith and thus the teachings of the LDS Church?

    If yes, then start with the revelations that Joseph himself identified as important enough to canonize – the Book of Mromon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Don’t take what historians gathered 70 years after his death and try to extrapolate back to put words in Joseph’s mouth. He identified which of his teachings were to be canonized. For us to take other statements and say they must be canonical or binding forever on the Church is to say that we know better than Joseph which of his teachings should be canonized, and it is unfair whether one is a member of the LDS Church or not. It just isn’t good scholarship – intellectually, historically, theologically, or even morally – to try to force a non-canonical statement to be canonical, when the purported author of the statement had the opportunity to make it canonical.

    If no, then stop purporting to be looking for understanding

    It has been said at least 3 times on this thread but I’ll say it again – the book “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” (TPJS) is a historical document. It was compiled by historians ~70 years after Joseph’s death. Many of the source documents were from scribes who undoubtedly made errors and interpretations that Joseph may not have intended. The documents used to create TPJS were not checked by Joseph Smith for accuracy. Even if they come from Joseph’s own journal, we do not have the ability do discern when Joseph is speaking as the prophet and when he is giving his opinion and when he simply didn’t get the chance (because he was murdered) to prepare it for publication..

    LASTLY – I read the first 20 or so pages of “Are Mormons Christian?” last night. You should review/read them – I think it really would help you have a better approach to the Mormon / evangelical dialogue, even if you don’t like Robinson, he presents fairly clear definitions of canon and how to interpret non-canonical statements by LDS leaders.

  48. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 9:01 pm

    Jessica,

    I looked more closely at the BOAB website you linked in your last comment.. I have to ask – and I’m not trying to be snarky – did you read past the first sentence? (the one you quoted). Here are the next several sentences which describe very well the limitations of scribes of the day, and the resulting limitations in TPJS:

    “Joseph Smith lived most of his life without the benefit of clerks who could use an effective stenographic system. Pitman first published his “Shorthand” method in 1837, and Joseph Smith died in 1844. Stenographic techniques came into use in recording LDS sermons after Joseph Smith’s death.

    Consequently, with few exceptions, the material found in collections of Joseph Smith’s sermons are paraphrases or glosses of his own words. In some cases multiple accounts were made and are still extant. For these sermons it is possible give an approximate reconstruction of the original. It is possible to get a better idea than ever before about Joseph Smith’s teachings with the publication of collections of various accounts of his public and private addresses together with his personal and dictated writings. As a step in this direction we offer the new collection The Parallel Joseph. See the link below.”

    I bring this up not to be a punk or to make you look bad, but if you want to be taken seriously by critical, educated LDS audiences, people who really do want to foster understanding between Mormons and evangelicals, then you MUST be a little more careful about your scholarship. I have stayed silent on this until now, but I have to ask because I’m starting to see what MadChemist accused you of earlier

    1. Have you actually read ‘Are Mormons Christian?”

    If yes, why do you consistently ignore Robinon’s opening pages which give a masterful treatment of the issue of canon, letting the LDS define their own canon, etc.?

    If no, why do you give the impression that you have read the book?

    Again, I’m not just trying to be angry and punky. I am just saying that when you are not careful with your scholarship, we notice. I want you to understand my perspective, and I want to understand the evangelical perspective. I am asking for a mutual scholarly approach and a high mutual standard of scholarship, especially when pulling references from another faiths history / canon.

    But if your sole intent is to prove Mormons wrong, then I think you should change the title of your blog, because that is not respectful to me or my belief system. Nor does it constitute a dialog.

  49. March 4, 2009 9:48 pm

    If any man outside of Jesus Christ can also be the subject for the verb, bara’, we have a huge problem.

  50. March 4, 2009 10:10 pm

    Just a quick thought…

    Defining LDS beliefs is an extremely difficult task. Because we are non-creedal, because we believe in an “open canon,” and because each teaching is open to individual rejection, acceptance, or interpretation based upon personal revelation/application, sometimes I’m surprised we ever reach consensus on anything.

    It’s a tough enough tightrope for lifelong members to navigate. Let’s not accuse Jessica of the worst for not being as versed or experienced in this as we are.

    FWIW, here’s a really good post by a Disciples of Christ minister talking about finding commonality in religious discourse. It’s the approach I personally try to take.

  51. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 10:14 pm

    Todd,

    Search “created” in Strong’s and you will find that “bara” is used several times in the OT when God is not the subject.

    http://www.eliyah.com/lexicon.html

    However, I do have a follow up question – where does the idea originate that stipulates God can be the only one who is the subject associated with bara? Perhaps there is a linguistic tradition in Hebrew of which I am not aware? At any rate, if we take the meaning of “bara” to be “to create, to shape, to form” then I don’t see any reason why God must be the subject other than a constraint imposed by mortals who attached special significance to that verb because it is the creation verb used by the Hebrew Bible (also remember that the earliest complete Hebrew manuscripts are ca. 1000. I don’t know what verb was used in the Dead Sea Scrolls).

    I can certainly shape play-dough into the likeness of an object. I can form dough into a pie crust. Why the imposed qualification that it must be associated with God when the OT does not seem to hold to that requirement?

  52. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2009 10:30 pm

    Katie and Jessica,

    I am not trying to be mean or ugly. Jessica, I am sorry if my words were hurtful or too harsh. It definitely was hard for me to learn the distinction between history and canon, given our belief that Joseph Smith is a prophet.

    What I AM criticizing is citing a source and then using it in a manner inconsistent with that source, i.e. quoting from the BOAP website to support an argument that is contradictory to the very next sentence.

    Maybe my bar is too high, but I personally view it as either intellectually sloppy or intellectually dishonest. All I ask is that Jessica meet me half way and try to be accurate and honest in her scholarship as we all should be in these discussions.

    If I have made mistakes or poor assumptions in my studies, PLEASE let me know. That is the only way I can grow in knowledge on these subjects!

  53. March 4, 2009 11:26 pm

    Todd,

    Granted that the root b-r-‘ doesn’t appear in the G-stem with a human as its subject, there is still no evidence that this word has a meaning categorically different than other verbs used to describe creation (different sources actually use other verbs [which may certainly be predicated of humans], such as ‘-s-h and y-ts-r, to describe some of the same creative acts that P refers to using b-r-‘). In fact, the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. You can see my preliminary post here:

    http://ldskaitabiblia.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/genesis-1-and-creatio-ex-nihilo-part-5-verb-semantics/

  54. March 5, 2009 12:01 am

    Tom,

    I gotcha. I think we could all do a better job of listening to each other instead of just trying to prove our points all the time, and that goes for me, too.

    I will vouch for Jessica, though. I’ve taken the time to get to know her over the past few months, and she’s a loving, kind-hearted person. She’s just trying to preach the gospel the way she knows it. I guess the same could be said for a lot of us. 🙂

  55. MadChemist permalink
    March 5, 2009 12:01 am

    Wow, and the yellow dart just shoots about 50,000 miles above our heads…

  56. Tom permalink
    March 5, 2009 12:13 am

    Hey, “Kyle”

    Thanks for the more detailed information. I’m no Hebrew scholar but Strong’s is awesome! If you know of any other good online sources for Hebrew / Greek, please let me know.

    It is now my intention to go sit down and play video games for several hours. 😉

    Tom

    PS – How’d that English paper turn out?

  57. Todd Wood permalink
    March 5, 2009 4:33 am

    YD, this goes way beyond just semantics. Of the 49x in the O.T., there is something special about these contexts. Just think of Ps. 51. I would be a fool to envision myself as the actor/originator of this creative glory. To put myself there would only prove the ludicrous assertion behind the force of Jessica’s title of this post. (And I don’t see how yatsar and asah remove the uniqueness of bara connected exclusively with God.)

    But on another thought, which LDS prophet or apostle would say that bara’ cannot be joined with J? Imagine the implications if they did and start preaching this as gospel to the corridor.

  58. March 5, 2009 1:13 pm

    Todd,

    Did you actually read all the way through my post?

    TYD

  59. Todd Wood permalink
    March 5, 2009 1:26 pm

    I did. And I just read it again, too.

    I seem to gather that you declare two things: (1) You don’t believe in creatio ex nihilo & that bara doesn’t carry this idea (which I have never maintained that it exclusively has, knowing Psalm and Isaiah passages). (2) Since bara is synonymous with yatsar and asah, men are able to possess the same creative powers as God.

    YD, I have people in Idaho Falls telling me that they will create their own words, and that they will be able to create new hearts in those that will sinfully fall in their new worlds.

    Where do they get these ideas? Scripture?

    Again, we have a huge problem.

  60. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 5, 2009 4:09 pm

    I would agree that it is a “huge problem” (for some) if the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is not biblical.

  61. March 5, 2009 4:56 pm

    ihd_ldssaid,

    Why would it be a “huge problem” for you to believe in a God who can create miraculously and gloriously with no preexisting materials?

    I simply can not, will not stand in the Council of the Most High and maintain that I can create absolutely or in fresh newness just like the eternal God of all glory.

    I will always depend on the Creator God for the life breathe in my nostrils– for who will depend on me or you for the perfect, exalted, spiritual life throughout eternity?

    And yes, I am not trusting how LDS present from the Bible itself, their view of the “exaltion of man”. Joseph Smith thought the Bible had been corrupted from the first page . . . Genesis 1. (His views of corruption are hardly even close to the DSS variants.)

    So Joseph Smith had a huge problem with the Hebrew texts, which leads me in turn to having a huge problem with Joseph Smith’s corrections of Hebrew texts and his view of the magnificent Creator God. I can just read the many ANE creation myths if I desire such a view of God, Gods, Goddesses, Chaos, Continual Struggles for Power, Sex, Evil, Eternal Matter, etc., where the Most High God of the heavens and the earth is presumed to be a mirror in essence of who we are and what we do as creatures on this creaturely earth and in the creaturely heavens.

  62. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 5, 2009 5:19 pm

    Todd,

    umm,…. what are you claiming i “said”? is that a typo?

    I to “will always depend on the Creator God for the life breathe in my nostrils” and on none other.

    Todd, it is not a “huge problem” for me to believe in a God who can create miraculously and gloriously with no preexisting materials. I suppose i could. In fact i used to.

    It is just that i believe God to be much more magnificent, powerful, awe inspiring and marvelous than what puny man can conceptualize- which is exactly what the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is. It is just a concept at the limits of mans mind- and the God i know is so much more wonderful, vast and beautiful than that.

    Plus the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is just not Biblical- which is what we are talking about here.

    -Tad

  63. March 5, 2009 6:29 pm

    Todd,

    I am in complete agreement with youon your posts. There is a big problem with LDS theology in this area. When you have the wrong idea on the nature of God everything that flows from it is going to be messed up. Mormons don’t have God “big enough” IMO. Their theology brings God down and exalts man. It is really a continuation of the same sin that Satan committed in the Garden of Eden…”you will not die, but will BECOME AS GOD…” To Mormons…

    1. God is an exalted man
    2. God is not the creator of everything but simply the “former” of everything
    3. Man is God in Embryo
    4. God is not “before all things” because EVERYTHING is eternal… including us

    Exalting yourself and degrading God is a major problem!

    I know a lady who went to work for a male LDS in Nevada. On her first day they got into a discussion about religion. He started telling he how he was “high up” in the Mormon Church (whatever that means). He went on to explain how he was going to be a God someday and that he would rule over his own planets. He then made a “move” on her and said “I want you to be one of my wives and rule with me.” Now, before the LDS on this board start freaking out I KNOW that this type of thing is the exception and that this guy was nuts. But in reality, when you are honest with yourself you know that that is EXACTLY what many chapel going LDS believe. He was just stupid enough to say it out loud to a total stranger. Most LDS will only admit this after a lot of hammering from us “antis”.

    BTW, when he said that she quit on the spot and walked out.

    Darrell

  64. MadChemist permalink
    March 5, 2009 7:32 pm

    Dear Darrel,
    If you want Christ to damn us for rejecting abiblical creatio ex nihilo, stop saying you only believe in the Bible. LDS fully believe that God is our creator, but we reject that he created us out of nothing. Show me the verse that says “out of nothing” and then maybe you can build an argument.

    Re the crazy person in Nevada. I’ve met plenty of crazy Evangelicals. Sharing that story is just poisoning the well. Now I think you’re an *****. (self-censor). You got to compare the crazies with the crazies and not your best against “our” worst.

  65. March 5, 2009 7:56 pm

    MC,

    “Show me the verse that says “out of nothing””

    “Before ALL things” (Col 1:17) is a good place to start. “The First and the last” (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, 48:12 Rev 1:17. 2:8. 22:13) is another one. “…what is seen was not made out of what was visible…” (Hebrews 11:3) is another good spot.

    “Now I think you’re an *****. (self-censor).”

    I am sorry if I upset you. Honestly I am not trying to. I did qualify it with the fact that the guys is obviously nuts. However, I do think that he was simply brave enough (and dumb enough) to say something that many chapel going Mormons believe. This way of thinking is the natural consequence of a theology that teaches that God and man are of the same nature, theosis and still practices Celestial Poligamy.

    Darrell

  66. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 5, 2009 8:13 pm

    Darrell,

    Your 5:29pm post is not constructive to dialogue- and i think you know that. Zero good comes from it- zero.

    That is just the sort of thing we do NOT need here- even if it made you feel better at the moment.

    -Tad

  67. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 5, 2009 8:19 pm

    …i meant 6:29pm

  68. March 5, 2009 8:34 pm

    “Your 5:29pm post is not constructive to dialogue- and i think you know that. Zero good comes from it- zero. That is just the sort of thing we do NOT need here- even if it made you feel better at the moment.”

    Tad,

    It might not be constructive to the type of dialogue YOU want. You simply want to portray Mormonism in as good of light as possible. However, I think my story is a very good way to point out the flaws in a Theology that exalts man and degrades God. The “nut’s” thinking is simply a natural consequence of taking Mormon theology to it’s finality. Sorry if you don’t like it… but that is how I see it and I think it is perfectly ok to point that fact out.

    Darrell

  69. inhimdependent_lds permalink
    March 5, 2009 8:46 pm

    Darrell,

    It is not constructive to ANY sort of dialogue- period. None. It is a conversation killer.

    To argue that it is is really dysfunctional at worst- and at its best it sounds like what people resort to when they really don’t have anything of substance to stand on.

    If you really stand by that view then i guess there is really nothing i or anyone else can really say that would even matter to you.

    Call it what you like but i will not be a part of it- nor will i respond in kind.

    -Tad

  70. March 5, 2009 8:59 pm

    Tad,

    Again, sorry you feel that way. You are entitled to your opinion.

    Have a great afternoon.

    Darrell

  71. March 5, 2009 11:05 pm

    Todd,

    Before I further explain what I am trying to say, could you clarify for me what your argument is(was) from the verb b-r-‘?

    Thanks.

    TYD

  72. March 6, 2009 4:11 am

    I just deleted two comments. Personal attacks will not be allowed on this blog and I will be writing a post soon on what constitutes a respectful conversation for the purposes of this blog. Please stick to the facts and avoid attacking any individual person. If someone has any facts or scholarly arguments to refute Darrell’s comment, that is fine. Darrell did not address any specific LDS person in his comment and LDS should respond in like manner – please address the general audience. Personal attacks are not constructive or respectful. Thanks

  73. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 5:12 am

    Darrell,

    I think I see what you’re getting at with the “first” half of “first and last.” However, under that same logic, man must have an end.

    1. God was before all because it says “first and last.”
    2. Man cannot be coeternal with God because then God would only be “tied for first.”
    3. Thus God must have created man ex nihilo
    4. God must be “last” and not “tied for last.”
    5. The spirit of man has an end, and there will come a point where we cease to exist..

    As far as I know, Evangelicals believe humans can live with God forever in heaven. Can you help me understand how this fits with your logic?

    Also, “visible” is a very earthly word. Many things exist that are not visible. So i don’t think we are forced to accept Hebrews 11:3 as meaning “creation from nothing.”

    Colossians 1 is the best of all that you’ve quoted. No question about why you interpret it as you do. Thanks for sharing.

  74. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 5:18 am

    Also Darrell,

    About the guy in NV – I think the way you presented your point is unfair. I would find it respectful if you would just state that an LDS man told a friend of yours that he would be a god, creating his own worlds and that you think that many more Mormons actually believe that without stating it in such inflammatory fashion. Certainly it was not an evil desire in and of itself for him to want a woman to marry him (although the circumstances are completely and totally creepy!). But the woman in the story was not really pertinent to the point you were trying to make. Thus, some people seem to have construed that you had an ulterior motive for including her.

    It’s ok if you think we’re crazy but I think that was tacky. You have given the impression in other posts that you respect us Mormons. Is that a charade?

  75. Exitmusic permalink
    March 6, 2009 5:52 am

    Darrell,
    My main problem with your comment (and it’s a big one) is this statement:

    “Now, before the LDS on this board start freaking out I KNOW that this type of thing is the exception and that this guy was nuts. But in reality, when you are honest with yourself you know that that is EXACTLY what many chapel going LDS believe. He was just stupid enough to say it out loud to a total stranger. Most LDS will only admit this after a lot of hammering from us “antis”.”

    This would be like me saying, “I know an Evangelical from Texas who thinks homosexuals should be executed for crimes against God. He also thinks interracial marriage is a damnable sin. Now, before the Evangelicals on this board start freaking out I KNOW that this type of thing is the exception and that this guy was nuts. But in reality, when you are honest with yourself you know that that is EXACTLY what many Bible thumping Evangelicals believe. He is just stupid enough to talk about it. Most Evangelicals will only admit this after a lot of hammering from us “antis”.”

    Would this be offensive to any evangelicals on this thread? If not, we have some fairly irreconcilable differences.

    Having been a member of the Church all my life and having an in-depth understanding of “what most members” believe, I can say that you are unequivocally wrong.

  76. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 6:41 am

    It must be offensive because Jessica deleted it the first time you posted it. And yours is only a hypothetical, whereas Darrell is actually trying to portray what Mormons believe.

    Exitmusic isn’t being any more personally attacking than Darrell in my opinion Jessica.

  77. Exitmusic permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:38 am

    No Tom, she deleted it because of the naughty word I used. Hell must be used in the context of fiery brimstone or apparently it is offensive.
    But Jessica, you’re right that Darrell did not address any specific person- much worse, he attributed thoughts and desires to millions of people that are simply not true. If you want us to ‘stick to the facts,’ you should maybe be willing to request the same of your friends.

    Darrell is just so off-base here, I can’t even believe it. My guess is that less than .001% of male members of the church have any hope for post-mortal polygamy. Any male member of the LDS church who is excited at the thought of multiple wives and ruling in heaven is most certainly in the tiniest of LDS minorities. But once again, Darrell tries to paint us all with an ugly brush. Most ineffective missionary effort I’ve ever seen.

  78. Brad permalink
    March 6, 2009 1:52 pm

    Exitmusic,

    As an Evangelical, no, your statement wouldn’t be offensive to me. I don’t believe it, and whether you stated it or not wouldn’t affect my belief (or lack thereof). I have thicker skin than that.

    Further, it’s probably not factually accurate for you to say: “Having been a member of the Church all my life and having an in-depth understanding of “what most members” believe, I can say that you are unequivocally wrong.”

    I’m sure you have an in-depth understanding of what YOU believe, and you would tend to think that other Mormons would believe that way, but you have NO way to be “unequivocally” sure about that, unless you have polled “most members” to see, in fact, what they actually do believe and whether it lines up with what YOU believe.

    If you have polled “most members”, please share the results of that poll with us. If you haven’t, then it would probably be helpful if you didn’t paint with such a broad brush, which is what you were criticizing Darrell for in the first place.

  79. March 6, 2009 2:01 pm

    Exitmusic and Tom,

    Existmusic’s example would not be offensive to me in the least. There ARE people who claim to be Evangelical who think like that. They are completely offbase as they are taking certain verses of The Bible completly out of context and using them to hold up a doctrine that is utterly false. It would not offend me because I don’t believe in that though.

    As for my example, I was most clear in my wording to say that this guy is obviously “nuts” and is an “exception”. If I offended you I am sorry… I meant no harm by what I wrote and tried my best to state it in such a fashion that people would know that I was not saying that all Mormons would do what this man did. However, in my years in the church I knew (and continue to know) many LDS who believe what this man believes… that they will be Gods of their own worlds and will populate those worlds with their multiple wives. Look back at my post… I did NOT say that ALL LDS believe this… I said MANY… and in my personal experience I know many who do. If you guys don’t believe that I say “Great!! Praise God”. Nevertheless, this man’s belief if a natural consequence of a theology that lessens God, elevates man and practices celestial polygamy.

    Now, to the point that I said PRACTICES celestial polygamy. The church DOES practice celestial polygamy. When a husand and wife are married/sealed for all time and eternity in the temple and the wife dies, the man can (and many DO) get married/sealed for all time and eternity to a second wife in the temple. My father in law did this. Women CANNOT do this. When their husbands whom they are married and sealed to die they CANNOT remarry/reseal in the temple. Under your church’s teachings and practices the men are going to be married/sealed for all time and eternity in heaven to the MULTIPLE wives they did this with on earth. Polygamy is STILL part of The New and Everlasting Covenant. It is only the earthly practice that has been done away with. I am not offbase to say that the church practices celestial polygamy by marrying/sealing men to multiple women on earth. Again, if you don’t believe it..,. “Praise God”… but the church does PRACTICE it and many LDS do believe it.

    Darrell

  80. MadChemist permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:28 pm

    OK. Certain people who misreperesent Mormons, be they blog administrators, posters, or former ministers turned presidential hopeful turned talk show host must learn that their rhetoric is dishonest, unhelpful to their cause, and only engenders anger. Not love.

  81. March 6, 2009 3:37 pm

    MC,

    If you believe I have done so please tell me specifically how I misrepresented. I was very careful with my choice of words and can find nothing that is incorrect but I am always open to being corrected.

    Darrell

  82. MadChemist permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:38 pm

    Darrel, here’s the lie from your own quotation:

    “I KNOW that this type of thing is the exception and that this guy was nuts. But in reality, when you are honest with yourself you know that that is EXACTLY what many chapel going LDS believe. ”

    You Darrel, started this by saying that we LDS aren’t honest with ourselves. You, Jessica, didn’t correct him. You, Darrel, claim that “many chapel LDS believe” that they can go up to strangers and offer them polygamous marriage. It’s a false view of our beliefs. It’s a crass way of stating our beliefs. It’s a classic example of “lying for God.”

    Latter-day Saints do believe that families can exist for eternity. Latter-day Saints do believe that God can grant those whom He exalts with creative power. But Latter-day Saints also believe that this is only an extension of God’s power, that we are only god’s by grace. And to remove it from that context is incredibly dishonest, because that’s what most “chapel going Mormons believe.”

    Jessica, I fear you’re going to have to get your own house in order first before you can show what “respectful dialogue” is. You need to reign in your own crazies, that the LDS have met on your blog, who have not been censored or reprimanded. Without doing so, you will continue to violate that “respectful claim” on the top of of your blog. I can’t take you seriously until you tell Darrel that that type of behavior is not acceptable.

  83. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:49 pm

    Darrell,

    I will agree that the LDS church acknowledges that we believe that polygamy will exist in the celestial kingdom. We certainly don’t say it’s required for a man to enter the celestial kingdom (people inside our Church and outside it have misread DC 132 to construe this supposed requirement).

    But the core issue really is marriage – if there is marriage in heaven, then we can’t rule out polygamy in heaven because God commanded many of the early prophets to practice polygamy.

    Mormons believe marriage is eternal. Evangelicals don’t (at least I’ve never met one that does). Another difference that we have. And, again, I’m fine with that. I will present the doctrine as I understand it and as true to our official doctrine as I am capable, and readers can decide for themselves if they believe it.

    Tom

  84. March 6, 2009 3:50 pm

    MC,

    You said:

    “You, Darrel, claim that “many chapel LDS believe” that they can go up to strangers and offer them polygamous marriage. ”

    You are not being honest here or you misunderstood what I said. One of the two. I specifically pointed out that this guy was nuts for stating his beliefs in this manner to a total stranger and approaching her in the way he did. However, his belief that he will become a God and populate worlds is a belief among many chapel going mormons. I personally know of many LDS who believe this very thing. I never attempted to attribute his ACTIONS to all mormons. That is the part that was crazy. If that is what you thought I meant I can understand your anger. His BELIEFS are what I am attributing to many mormons… as I know many who believe what he believes.

    Darrell

  85. March 6, 2009 4:13 pm

    “God commanded many of the early prophets to practice polygamy…”

    Tom,

    What verses do you use to show that God COMMANDED polygamy to the early propets?

    Darrell

  86. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 4:53 pm

    DC 132:34-39

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/132/#34

  87. March 6, 2009 5:31 pm

    Okay, getting back to an earlier comment that I haven’t had time to respond to…

    Tom, you said

    “1. Have you actually read ‘Are Mormons Christian?”
    If yes, why do you consistently ignore Robinon’s opening pages which give a masterful treatment of the issue of canon, letting the LDS define their own canon, etc.?
    If no, why do you give the impression that you have read the book?”

    Yes, I read through it, but it was awhile ago when I was burying myself in tons of Mormon literature. It was more of a cursory read and I didn’t agree with it. I did review the opening pages just now, as you suggested, and I have a question regarding what was so offensive earlier in all the comments about this post? Robinson seems to be making the point that LDS shouldn’t appeal to non-canonical sources for “new” doctrines (p. 15).

    But the doctrines in my post are not new and they are in the canon (D&C 93:29-30 & 36; Abr. 3:18-19, 21-22; 5:7-8).

    So, is it just the wording in the historical source I used that is offensive? I understand that LDS do not accept the source as canonical. However, I do use historical documents in my research because I want to get an idea of the context surrounding some of these teachings. I understand that LDS want to distance themselves from these historical sources and question their reliability. I think the concerns LDS seem to have with these historical documents showcases a reliability problem with Joseph Smith. If the way he set forth his doctrines was like the historian documented in this source, would it change the view of him?

  88. March 6, 2009 6:06 pm

    Tom,

    I don’t believe the D&C to be from God (I am sure that is surprising to you). What BIBLICAL reference do you have to show that Polygamy was COMMANDED by God? You can’t argue for the Mormon practice of polygamy by referencing a Mormon scripture to support it when talking to a non-Mormon.

    Darrell

  89. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 6:58 pm

    Darrell,

    I am not trying to prove / argue anything. I’m just speaking from my worldview. That’s what I thought a dialog was. To me, a dialog is not 2 people trying to prove each other wrong.

    I don’t think the Bible does tell us why the early prophets had more than one wife. Thus, Joseph asked God about it (DC 132:1) and God answered the question. I just ask you to appreciate/understand that this is one instance where we believe the Lord filled in a gap where the Bible is silent. I want you to understand us from our own canon and to consider our canon when you criticize our doctrine. Yes, I know you have probably read it, but so have the 50 people I taught in Sunday School every week – it doesn’t mean there isn’t something to gain by looking at it again.

    Leaving Joseph Smith out of it for a second, though – if Abraham and the others were holy men who were justified and also had more than one wife, why assume it’s an abomination that many in LDS history had more than one wife – especially when your canon gives no information about why Abraham and others had multiple wives?

    Maybe your motive is to prove me wrong / yourself right, but please do not assume that is my motive. I just want to talk about doctrine and gain a better understanding of both my interpretation and yours (thanks again for pointing me to Heb. 11!).

  90. Exitmusic permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:06 pm

    Darrell,
    Why? You use the creeds to support Evangelical beliefs. And biblical sources cited to support credal theology are often weak connections at best.

  91. Exitmusic permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:23 pm

    Darrell said:
    “Now, before the LDS on this board start freaking out I KNOW that this type of thing is the exception and that this guy was nuts. But in reality, when you are honest with yourself you know that that is EXACTLY what many chapel going LDS believe. He was just stupid enough to say it out loud to a total stranger. Most LDS will only admit this after a lot of hammering from us “antis”.”

    You must be blind if you can’t see that this statement leads the reader to believe that this is a common desire/belief among members of the church, and that we as male members have to hide these inner yearnings for polygamy. You’re saying that the guy was nuts, but also that ‘many chapel going LDS’ are nuts as well; we just keep it to ourselves.

    The statement completely misrepresents how common this belief is. Again, polygamy will exist in heaven (but it will not be mandatory nor all inclusive. Those who were in the unique circumstances in this life to have a polygamous relationship will continue that in the next life I assume), but it is not the desire of most members of the church. How do you define many? 5? 100? 1,000,000? Either way, it is as relevant as portraying the fringe lunatics in Christianity as part of the mainstream.

    Bad,
    you said:
    “Further, it’s probably not factually accurate for you to say: “Having been a member of the Church all my life and having an in-depth understanding of “what most members” believe, I can say that you are unequivocally wrong.””

    Then is it factually accurate for Darrell to claim that many members of the church keep these desires inside while only the doltish morons actually talk about it? I can assure you, having lived in the heart of Mormonism all my life, and having served in multiple capacities over many years, that I know that this is not a commonly held desire. If many people believe this, as Darrell claims, they do not talk about it. So how does Darrell know about it?

  92. Brad permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:27 pm

    Exit,

    I can’t speak for what Darrell said, I only commented on what you said. You have a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, if you will make such far-reaching statements, then criticize someone else for doing the same. You don’t get to have it both ways.

  93. Exitmusic permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:37 pm

    Brad,
    The difference is that I actually have sufficient understanding of the mainstream of the Church to make such a claim.
    Let’s get some intercoder reliability here- ALL LDS WHO FEEL THAT THE DESIRE TO HAVE MULTIPLE WIVES IN HEAVEN IS SOMETHING THAT IS COMMON, OR EVEN REMOTELY NORMAL AMONG MALE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, PLEASE CORRECT ME. THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT IS NORMAL? DO, AS DARRELL SAYS, MANY PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH WANT TO HAVE MULTIPLE WOMEN TO RULE OVER PLANETS WITH? DO MANY MALE MEMBERS LOOK AT WOMEN WITH THAT KIND OF DESIRE, SUCH AS THE MAN IN NV?

  94. Tom permalink
    March 6, 2009 7:39 pm

    EVERYONE:

    It’s not a court room. In court, you only present evidence that you think the audience will believe or that will convince the audience to take your side. That doesn’t work here. It should be about respectful conversation, as Jessica’s title says.

    Is anyone interested in respectful conversation?

    con⋅ver⋅sa⋅tion   /ˌkɒnvərˈseɪʃən/
    1. informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.
    2. an instance of this.
    3. association or social intercourse; intimate acquaintance.

    Someone trying to prove me wrong is not respectful, no matter how “nicely” your post is worded. Tell me what you think, share your opinion, your interpretation, your church’s doctrine, but if the motive is to use the Bible as some sort of “ace in the hole” to prove someone wrong, then I want no part of it.

    Jessica – I don’t have a lot of time right now and so won’t respond to your last post at this time – please review what I wrote earlier – I was pretty explicit about what I found offensive. It wasn’t the doctrines you were asking questions about, it was your presentation and your inconsistencies that (at least for me and MadChemist) called into question your motives. I would love to discuss DC 93 and Abr 3 with you. In conversation.

  95. March 6, 2009 8:01 pm

    Tom,

    Thanks for your answer. I understand perfectly that you consider the D&C to be Canon so from your perspective God said it. Obviously, we will disagree on this point. I simply wanted to make sure that you were not asserting that The Bible supports this doctrine. Thanks so much!

    You said:

    “Leaving Joseph Smith out of it for a second, though – if Abraham and the others were holy men who were justified and also had more than one wife, why assume it’s an abomination that many in LDS history had more than one wife – especially when your canon gives no information about why Abraham and others had multiple wives?”

    To me, the difference lies in how it was handled. I find no evidence in The Bible that Abraham, David, etc. said they were commanded by God to marry multiple women. In addition, JS used his mantel as Prophet to take other men’s wives and 14 year old girls as wives. He promised their families exaltation if they would marry him. He also claimed to have a revelation from God that Emma would be destroyed by God if she did not go along with it all. This takes things to an entirely different level from what I see happening in The Bible. It seems very self serving and creepy to me.

    Exit,

    I do not consider the creeds to be canon. I consider only The Bible to be canon.

    Darrell

  96. Brad permalink
    March 6, 2009 11:03 pm

    The difference is that I actually have sufficient understanding of the mainstream of the Church to make such a claim.

    Boy, the assumptions on your part continue, don’t they? Define the “mainstream” of the LDS Church? Is it you? Is it only those you personally know exactly what they believe? Depends on your definition.

    Further, you’re assuming that Darrell DOESN’T have that understanding – how do you know he doesn’t? Maybe Darrell DOES have a good understanding of the “mainstream” of the church – have you thought of that?

    And again, if you’ve conducted a poll of the specific beliefs of specific Mormons, to be able to make the statement you did that you know they don’t believe that way, please show us the rest of those poll results. Would be very interesting to look at. Assuming you haven’t (which I think is probably the case), then you either need to stop accusing Darrell of making erroneous unproven statements (when you’re doing the same), or allow him to say what he wants, as clearly you are as well.

    Let’s get some intercoder reliability here- ALL LDS WHO FEEL THAT THE DESIRE TO HAVE MULTIPLE WIVES IN HEAVEN IS SOMETHING THAT IS COMMON, OR EVEN REMOTELY NORMAL AMONG MALE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, PLEASE CORRECT ME. THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT IS NORMAL? DO, AS DARRELL SAYS, MANY PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH WANT TO HAVE MULTIPLE WOMEN TO RULE OVER PLANETS WITH? DO MANY MALE MEMBERS LOOK AT WOMEN WITH THAT KIND OF DESIRE, SUCH AS THE MAN IN NV?

    Of course, your question ONLY gets to those readers of this specific blog – hardly a clean sample to base a conclusion on.

  97. MadChemist permalink
    March 7, 2009 5:13 am

    Jessica. It is true that one of Robinson’s points is that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be careful about their assumptions of what the Bible actually says versus the revealed meaning (added meaning). But, that wasn’t his main point. It wasn’t the climax of the chapter. It was really more of a tangent. And while this is something that Mormons should learn, the entire rest of the chapter covered what official doctrine is, and why non/anti-Mormons should avoid using any non-canonical sources to define LDS doctrine. Now the problem, Jessica, is that so far the data you have presented us with shows a pattern of inefficient data-mining. Data mining is when large quantities of information are sifted through and used for the purposes of the person going through the data. When the person chooses only to present data that fits their pre-conceived notions, it is dishonest.

    Let me share some of the reasons I believe this assessment is correct. For instance, you admitted that the first time you read “Are Mormons Christian” it was a cursory read, one that you didn’t agree with, and I suppose one that you didn’t get much from. I’m not faulting you for this. But upon your review, it seems like the only thing you understood from it was “a way to put down Mormons.” You didn’t recognize, even after Robinson gave his example of impratur nobilstat, that if you want to describe LDS doctrine, you must use the official channels. If you want to study what the historical record is (as accurate/inaccurate as it is), that is fine, but that would be much better suited to a blog on history (like By Common Consent, Times and Seasons, Faith Promoting Rumor, even Juvenile Instructor) seems a much better venue. If you’re interested in respectful conversations about what Mormons currently believe, as opposed to what Joseph may or may not have believed, how you go about asking the questions DOES matter.

    “I have a question regarding what was so offensive earlier in all the comments about this post?”
    Tone, manner, intent.

    Manner: You should have known not to quote TPJS as a source for what “Mormon’s believe” or what “Mormon’s should believe.” If you wanted to discuss our doctrines in view of DC 93 that would be one thing. Since you invoked TPJS I approached the conversation of a historical record. But that wasn’t the stated intention of your blog. Furthermore, there were many assertions you made which I refuted, and yet you never acknowledged. If one of my main evidences is false, and someone else provides the information for that, and I don’t acknowledge that, it has an air of arrogance. It makes it seem like you’re not interested in an honest, fair, and respectful dialogue, but rather, a calculated attack in Mormonism that ignores the problems with your arguments.

    Intent: If you truly understood that TPJS is not a canonical source, then why invoke it? Where you truly trying to have a respectful conversation about Mormon beliefs, or were you really just trying to disprove Mormonism? Later in the blog, you admitted you are trying to sway Mormons, so I feel fairly justified in believing your intent was the later, rather than the innocent “trying to understand the context.” I have no problem with you attempting to test the reliability of Joseph Smith. The problem I have, is with you asserting your abiblical requirements (e.i., infallibility). That is, Mormons don’t require Joseph’s reasons to be perfect in order for him to have been a prophet. I have no problem with you not liking Joseph’s reasoning that you quoted. I’m certainly not saying you have to believe the teachings contained in TPJS based on reasoning that you feel is not complete. But you must understand, if you want to respectfully discuss Mormonism, that even if the reasons Joseph gave don’t make sense to us (now) doesn’t mean the concept he taught was wrong, because Mormons inherently believe in revelation. Evangelicals often assume that Joseph just sat around making crazy ways to understand the Bible. They assume that he didn’t understand the Bible and so just made stuff up. Mormons disagree. Most of us read the historical record as Joseph didn’t understand the Bible so he went to God in prayer and asked him to reveal more light and knowledge to him. Then God gave him some sort of revelation. I tend to believe he was given a concept. Joseph then used his understanding of the Bible, and life experiences to try and teach these concepts to others. Even if Joseph’s understanding of the Bible, or life experiences were not correct, that doesn’t invalidate the concept. It may invalidate the argument, and I have no problem with you being skeptical of either the argument or the concept. What I do have a problem with, is assuming that it must be a false concept because there was faulty reasoning. And I do have a biblical example of this. Both Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1 make reference to the “four corners of the earth.” It is common knowledge, that the earth is round, not square. But a faulty expression of the geography does not mean those biblical authors were not inspired. In fact, to me, it is an example of what we should expect from prophets, “People who speak the word (revelation) of God in the dialect of men, even if that dialect is crass, simple, or even incorrect.” I believe this because this has happened in my own life. I’ve had principles and doctrines revealed to me (a confirmation if you will…). But I haven’t always been very good about expressing them. In fact, I’m sure, many of my reasonings on religion, chemistry, and philosophy have been wrong, even if I wasn’t betraying the revelation. You can certainly say that you expect more from a prophet. But it is abiblical to say that they MUST be perfect in their wording because not even Isaiah nor John were. I’m not even aware of any evidence for a textual variance to explain this. Evangelicals will have to stop hiding this fact and face it. Read Peter Enn’s Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament for more on this.

    While Joseph did make some bold claims with respect to his superior knowledge of the Bible, and it is true that he did not always back up his teachings to modern scholarships standards, it would also be well for all the Evangelicals to recognize that neither did the New Testament authors. There are many times when New Testament authors either misquote, or pull out of context. We can all search for those later. But being a bad scholar by the 21st century standards does not a non-prophet make.

    OK, so Joseph didn’t prove his views from the Bible,. He got side-tracked, oh Mortal Sin. Or, perhaps he made promise he didn’t keep! Heaven forbid. He’s human. Ohmigosh!!!! You see, Mormons don’t have any false beliefs in infallibility, so arguments of “Joseph isn’t perfect” is met with a big huge “so what’s your point?”

    Let’s get to the real reason you’re upset with Joseph, Jessica. Joseph firmly reputed the non-biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. While the words aren’t found anywhere, in any texts, somehow Evangelicals feel comfortable believing that. While Darrel failed to provide one single instance where the phrase “out of nothing” occurred, he ultimately feels justified in believing a fully non-biblical doctrine like creatio ex nihilo. Joseph is recorded to have agreed that God is a self-existent being. He then said, that in a sense, all people were also self-existent. Joseph is recorded to have said:
    “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.”
    God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”
    Quite frankly I can see how Joseph got this rendering. He changed “formed” to “made, “dust of the ground” to “earth”, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” to “put into him Adam’s spirit”, and “man became a living soul” to “and so became a living body.” For Mormons, we believe God revealed that the “breath of life” was “a spirit.” You don’t believe that God reveals things to people, and so you don’t understand this. That’s OK. We have different worldviews, but for us at least, there is a consistent answer. Further, Joseph wasn’t attempting to quote. He was very clearly paraphrasing, with the worldview/revelation he had received. In fact, it is a quite common Evangelical belief to only see truth in the text.

    While the text doesn’t explicitly say that God placed a pre-existent spirit into Adam’s body, it also doesn’t ever say the converse. That is, the Bible never says, “The spirit of man in zapped in existence, out of nothing, at the moment the baby is born, conceived, or heart starts beating.” In fact, those who can actually speak Hebrew, (instead of just reading another faith group’s holy books and historical records in an attempt to tear it down) know that the word for “breath” is very closely related to the word for “spirit”. Therefore, another valid interpretation of the Genesis verse is that the spirit of life entered into Adam. Now you can disagree with that interpretation, but to deny it’s existence is to be either ignorant or dishonest. In this case, I’m willing to believe you are ignorant. Maybe the yellow dart will swoop in and help us in providing some resources. “HELP US YELLOW DART!”
    “It’s one thing if Joseph Smith wanted to make the claim that he was given new revelation on this even though it could not be proven by scripture, but that’s not what he said.” I’ve already provided another possible scenario which renders this point moot, but I would like to correct something Jessica says here. “That’s not what he said.” Correction, “That’s not what the record records Joseph as saying.” There is a distinct difference. And as neither you nor I were present, we only know that that’s what the record says.
    “God formed our spirits in the same way that he formed our bodies.” Does this mean that your conceding ex nihilo is not true? Anyone who understands how human bodies are made, (e.i., a slight bit of science and biology) is that our bodies are made out of pre-existent matter. Embryo’s receive nourishment from their mother, who intakes calories from plants or animals that produce calories ultimately from photosynthesis and carbon dioxide with energy received from the sun. Our bodies are not zapped into existence at birth, or at some time previous to it. If you’re fully willing to follow the logic of this statement (I am), you must reject creatio ex nihilo for both body and spirit, for the body is formed out of matter that is pre-existent to the creation, forming, or making of the body.
    Finally, I think I’ve already covered tone in the “if I am right” responses. One good way of knowing whether or not your conversation is truly respectful is to see how people respond to them. If they say it is unfair, it probably is. Furthermore, when many people get offended by Darrel’s comments, if you truly want to faciliate a respectful dialogue, it is incumbent upon you to set him straight. Just like if I didn’t censor myself earlier and called someone an idiot, Tom should rightly say, “Hey, that’s not loving or respectful.” I could rightly say, “Hey I didn’t start it.” And while true, it is the right thing for Tom to say that, just like telling Darrel that comments like that are not welcome would have been the right thing.

  98. Todd Wood permalink
    March 7, 2009 6:01 am

    YD, I would just maintain that bara is a unique, new work of the Triune God. That’s all.

  99. March 7, 2009 6:51 am

    MC,

    You have not addressed any of the verses I quoted. Christ is declared as

    “Before ALL things” (Col 1:17)

    How can He be before all things if everything is eternal?

    Darrell

  100. MadChemist permalink
    March 7, 2009 2:00 pm

    Darrell,
    Unless you understand the English language differently than I do “out of nothing” is not a synonymous phrase with “before all things.”

    As to the eternal nature of the intelligence of a man, which I think is the only possible way you could use Col 1:17 against Mormonism, I think it’s best to phrase the question in terms of worldview. Can I try to paraphrase both worldviews and get your input?

    The Mormon worldview on this scripture: A crass example.
    Imagine an artist who goes to the beach, who, upon seeing sand builds a castle out of the sand. Now, what existed first, the castle or the artist. Obviously the artist existed before the castle the thing. But the thing that it was made of, existed previous to the forming. Ob viously this example breaks down very quickly, because we don’t know what the equivalent of sand is for spiritual matter. We do know what it is for our human bodies, atoms, molecules. Thus Mormons have no problem believing that God existed before he created our physical bodies, and adding information that Jessica did not quote in the original post, God also existed before our spiritual bodies were created. He existed before all things spiritual and temporal. Yet latter-day Revelation says that intelligence existed with God. Please look at the canonical exposition of this, DC 93:29.
    “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” In TPJS the record says spirit isn’t created, whereas the canonized statement says intelligence cannot be created. Therefore, this is the Mormon viewpoint. While I’m not going to condemn Evangelicals for not accepting this because it is part of latter-day revelation, they should also note that the converse viewpoint is not explicitly stated in the Bible. That is, no where does the scripture say: “Intelligence was created.” While I recognize that they may interpret sayings that do not say this directly as saying such, your interpretations are not binding on me. .

    Now we have enough information to see why it is bad to go to non-canonical sources. Someone who doesn’t understand Mormonism as well as the Mormons purports to describe Mormonism to their peers. They use a non-canonical source, and build up a straw-man argument (one not really believed by the opponent). Some who aren’t as knowledgable can’t see the difference between the strawman and the actual belief, and cannot sufficiently add to the conversation. This is an addition to the comment on manner. Then it doesn’t help if intent and tone are wrong.

    So in conclusion to this comment, Darrel, I hope you’ve learned that Mormon’s truly do believe that Jesus was before our spiritual and physical bodies were created, but not before the intelligence, because we believe that intelligence is eternal.

  101. MadChemist permalink
    March 7, 2009 2:05 pm

    I guess I forgot to paraphrase the Evangelical wordlview. I’m probably butchering this, so please correct me. The spirit of man is created sometime during gestation (either conception, heart-beat, or birth depending on their personal interpretation) and the body begins being created at conception, grows for 9 months before being born. Evangelicals do not believe that the human spirit lived with God before it was born on this earth.

  102. March 7, 2009 2:09 pm

    MC and Exit,

    Let me try to make myself clearer. I never intended to communicate the idea that most LDS men have a hidden desire to practice polygamy. That was not what I meant when I said “you know that that is EXACTLY what many chapel going LDS believe”. What I was attributing to most chapel going Mormons was the fact that they BELIEVE that

    1. polygamy will exist in heaven
    2. they can become Gods with their spouses
    3. create worlds that they will rule over
    4. have spirit children with their spouse(s)

    As I said, this man was just crazy enough to tell a complete stranger that he will be able to do this and then he decided to approach her to be one of his wives. That was nuts!

    I can honestly say that of the LDS men I have spoken with and the ones I am friends with most of them have expressed no desire to enter into polygamous relationships. Many of them feel they have their hands full with the responsibilities of one wife and their children. Again, I was not attributing this man’s ACTIONS or DESIRES to all LDS (that was the crazy part). I was attributing the BELIEF. I have heard too many LDS DENY that members of the church believe this… I was trying to make the point that MANY do and this crazy man acted on that belief.

    Darrell

  103. March 7, 2009 2:21 pm

    MC,

    I understand where Mormons are coming from on this… I taught this for years myself. The problem I see with is that intelligence IS matter… it IS something. Therefore you do not believe that Christ existed before ALL THINGS. Therefore, Mormon theology violates this verse.

    As to my point of view on this… you are just about correct. I do not believe that our spirits existed in Heaven with God. I believe God is the ONLY self-existent being. God was before ALL things and created ALL things.

    Darrell

  104. MadChemist permalink
    March 7, 2009 7:31 pm

    “Intelligence is matter”
    Do you have a proof-text to back this up?
    I agree that intelligence is something. But you must remember Darrel, that the bible doesn’t equate intelligence with matter, and the bible also doesn’t say God created all matter. Remember, I’ve pointed out like 5 times on this blog that you haven’t proven creatio ex nihilo, yet you continually invoke it, knowing that we do not accept such abiblical concepts. The bible clearly teaches that God created the sun moon and the stars (the things in heaven) and the things that are in the earth (the physical things that we touch and see, or don’t see, every day). The bible cleary teaches that Christ created thrones, dominions, principlalities and powers. But this is a specific class: Ruling bodies. They are all earthly constructs. The reason Paul includes this saying is not an independent treatise on creation, but rather a reason for Christians to not be afraid of the establishments, because God is greater than them all. The passage even hints that God created the establishments. This attempted proof-text does violence to the context of the verse.

    One could extrapolate to “intelligences” and we both do so based on our preconceived notions. You preconceive that intelligences are a subset of the class mentioned in Col 1:17, dominions and principalities, and I preconceive that this scripture is very specific about earthly constructs, I don’t believe an eternal intelligence is an earthly construct, and therefore wasn’t covered in this verse.

    Nice try though. BTW Darrel, do you know the difference between proof-texting and exegesis? Proof-texting only works if two people have the same assumptions. I think we’ve already shown that we don’t make the same assumptions, so you would probably be slightly more effective if you

    1) Stated your assumptions.
    2) Supported the reasons you have these assumptions.

  105. Tom permalink
    March 7, 2009 8:12 pm

    My personal interpretation –

    “Things” are discrete masses of matter. We do not find this in the revelations, but it seems to me that the intelligence from which our spirits were created was not discrete. Therefore, God existed before any other discrete mass (i.e. thing)

    But what does God mean when he says “thing?” Who knows, and we as imperfect mortals have to figure it out the best we can.

    Most importantly, if there is even one other reasonable way in which the verse could be understood, Darrell, how do you know your interpretation is right? Maybe God revealed something to you that he has not yet revealed to me or Joseph Smith, but it seems to me that you are simply going on your logical (i.e. mortal) understanding of the verse. I think it is rather presumptuous to say that it is 100% impossible that God intended something other than your interpretation.

  106. Tom permalink
    March 7, 2009 8:14 pm

    I should have also said that each of us is free to ask God what the verse means. I bet that is a prayer he’d answer. But answers to prayer aren’t always as simple as “yes” or “no.” But I’m sure God would at least give us some help in understanding what he meant if we asked Him.

  107. March 7, 2009 8:36 pm

    “You preconceive that intelligences are a subset of the class mentioned in Col 1:17, dominions and principalities…”

    Nice try on yur part as well. Unfortunately, Col 1:17 doesn’t say that Christ was before only “dominions and principalities”. It says Christ was before “ALL THINGS”… that covers everything including whatever JS meant by intelligences.

    “Do you have a proof-text to back this up?”

    Yes… I can easily make a case from the teachings of your church’s leaders that intelligences are matter. Once I do this you will likely cry “foul” on my part because you will not take what I reference to be authoritative despite the fact that it was taught by “Prophets” from the pulpit.

    On a sidenote I do find it funny that so many LDS will cite BYU professors and SLC attorneys who practice amateur scholarship as authoritative even though they hold no leadership position in the LDS Church. Yet you shy away from what your own leaders have taught. The leaders are the ones who hold authoritative positions NOT BYU Professors or SLC Lawyers!!

    Nevertheless, that does not matter in the least. My point still stands that Col. 1:17 teaches that Christ is BEFORE ALL THINGS… intelligences are covered by the word “all” and therefore, Mormonism’s teaching that intelligences are eternal violates this verse. Col. 1:17 clearly lines up with Creation Ex nihilo and creates problems for Mormonism’s theology. I am sorry but your assertion that creation ex nihilo is not supported by The Bible is simply offbase.

    Darrell

  108. March 7, 2009 8:49 pm

    “Most importantly, if there is even one other reasonable way in which the verse could be understood, Darrell, how do you know your interpretation is right? Maybe God revealed something to you that he has not yet revealed to me or Joseph Smith, but it seems to me that you are simply going on your logical (i.e. mortal) understanding of the verse. I think it is rather presumptuous to say that it is 100% impossible that God intended something other than your interpretation.”

    Actually I am taking the whole counsel of God – The Bible – into consideration here. There are NUMEROUS verses where God tells us He created everything. It is not hard to see from The Bible that God is the only self-existent, eternal being. I can cite PLENTY of verses to support this. The advantage I have over LDS is that I am not forced into twisting words like “ALL THINGS” around to mean simply “discrete mass” in order for my doctrine to be right. I get my doctrine FROM The Bible rather than having to twist the Bible around to fit an already PRECONCEIVED doctrine. This is one of those instantances where LDS CAN’T allow the verses to simply say what they say because if you did it would mean JS was wrong. Tom just did this in his previous post when he said…

    “Things” are discrete masses of matter. We do not find this in the revelations, but it seems to me that the intelligence from which our spirits were created was not discrete. Therefore, God existed before any other discrete mass (i.e. thing).

    What? Come on now…God says He is “Before ALL THINGS” not simply “discrete mass”. Why is so hard to take Him at His word? Because if you did then JS was wrong and of course JS and the LDS Church can’t possibly be wrong. So of course, The Bible doesn’t mean what it says… God must have meant “discrete mass” when He said “all things”.

    My only counsel to you guys on this would be that it IS possible that the LDS Church is not right on this…

    Darrell

  109. Tom permalink
    March 7, 2009 10:24 pm

    Again we diverge at the meaning of create. We believe God created (i.e. formed, framed, fashioned) all things too.

    The Bible doesn’t address intelligence, so it is a poor place to look for an interpretation of the term. Absence of an idea in the Biblical record doesn’t automatically make it a false idea – it simply means the Bible doesn’t give us the information to state a conclusion one way or the other.

    We accept the DC as authoritative and the DC does address intelligence. We are bound to interpret both the Bible and the DC in light of each other just as you are bound to consider the whole Bible (because that is your canon). On a personal level, the Holy Ghost has testified to my heart and mind of the truth of these books. Therefore, I am further obligated to consider the words of ALL these books when studying doctrinal principles (i.e. I have to act on the witness of the Spirit).

    On the surface DC 93 and Col. 1 may seem contradictory. Just because 2 verses appear contradictory doesn’t mean either one is false. To wit, there are Bible verses that appear contradictory (or that flat out contradict). Darrell, how do you approach the situation when two Bible verses appear to contradict each other? Or when someone asks you a question about 2 Bible verses that appear to contradict one another?

  110. Tom permalink
    March 7, 2009 10:50 pm

    Darrell – we’re not shying away from what leaders have said, just from unofficial accounts of what they said. I posted earlier about the difficulties in Joseph Smith’s day of scribes recording his sermons, and Joseph did not edit those documents for accuracy.

    Joseph himself canonized the teachings which were important – we want to let Joseph speak for Joseph. Everything else is just a historical document – if we are to discuss doctrine of the LDS Church, we must stick to the doctrine – i.e. the canon. As MadChemist already pointed out, the wording of DC 93 is different than that in TPJS, so the most logical conclusion is that Joseph Smith’s version (DC 93) is more correct than a scribe’s (TPJS).

    The only BYU prof mentioned here is Stephen Robinson, and no one has appealed to him for doctrine – just for his explanation of how to treat canon vs. history. Also, he has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Duke, so I wouldn’t say he’s an amateur scholar. Who is this SLC lawyer you speak of anyway?

  111. Tom permalink
    March 7, 2009 11:01 pm

    Finally, if you interpret “things” to mean “any existence” then that is your interpretation. My interpretation is that things are objects and people.

    Everyone has to have a definition for words to understand them. Me having my own (reasonable) definition (thing = object or person) is not twisting the Bible any more than you having your interpretation (thing = any existence). We are back to the same impasse – the Bible doesn’t say “out of nothing.”

    BTW – I’m still interested to hear how you interpret “first and the last” in the forward sense. As I stated earlier – this logic means that man must have an end. It kind of got lost in the other stuff we’ve covered.

  112. MadChemist permalink
    March 8, 2009 1:28 am

    Darrel, perhaps you need to go back to school.

    The quote you provided never said “intelligence is matter.” In fact, rather than proving that, it actually proves the worldview I’ve already described. Something existed before the spirit was born as an individual entity that was turned into a spiritual entity. Furthermore, I will certainly cry foul on your quoting Bruce R. McConkie. While it is true that at some point in his life Bruce R. McConkie did serve as an important leader in the LDS church as an apostle, it is completely false to say that he taught this “AS AN APOSTLE” based on this quote. There are several reasons for this. First off, this book was written before his call as an apostle. Church leaders were very upset of his using the title “Mormon Doctrine” and assembled a group of leaders to look through the book and documented numerous errors. He was asked to change parts of it, and never assert that it was an official publication. Because of the fallout of the publication of this book, now any book written by general authorities undergoes a strict vetting process to make sure no undue claims to doctrinal precision are made in unofficial publications like these. And this quote was not “taught by a prophet from the pulpit.” It’s an utter lie Darrel. Bearing false witness is breaking one of the ten commandments, Darrel. You may insert your apology here. Again, apostates (like Darrel) and non-Mormons (like Jessica) do not get decide what is Mormon doctrine.

    Yet again, Darrel, you fail to provide any evidence for including the words “out of nothing.” Six times now, I’ve asked now, and your only answer is “You’re wrong, and I refuse to provide any evidence, because I know the word doesn’t exist in the Bible, but I will steadfastly hold to the words added to the Bible by non-authorized sources.” It’s just not convincing.

  113. March 8, 2009 5:14 am

    “Darrel, perhaps you need to go back to school.”

    Might I make a suggestion… if talking on a blog makes you so angry that you feel the need to attack people personally you might want to take a break from it. Never once during our conversations have I attacked you personally.

    “While it is true that at some point in his life Bruce R. McConkie did serve as an important leader in the LDS church as an apostle, it is completely false to say that he taught this “AS AN APOSTLE” based on this quote.”

    I don’t suspect you will believe me but the quote from Bruce R McConkie was placed in my post by mistake. I did not intend to put any quotes in the comment as any quote I provide (and there are plenty of them) you will likely just discount as non-authoritative. I actually e-mailed Jessica right after submitting my comment and asked her to remove it but I suppose she has been busy and unable to do so. Somehow I cut and pasted it from another article by accident. I noticed the error the author made stating that McConkie was an apostle when he wrote Mormon Doctrine… I am well aware that he was a member of the Quorum of the Seventy at the time. Which, BTW, is a General Authority of the Church… so he did hold a position of authority when he wrote Mormon Doctrine. Interesting enough you will find that leaders often quote Mormon Doctrine in conference talks… so, your protesting aside, many LDS leaders consider it a reliable source of information regarding LDS theology.

    “Six times now, I’ve asked now, and your only answer is “You’re wrong, and I refuse to provide any evidence, because I know the word doesn’t exist in the Bible, but I will steadfastly hold to the words added to the Bible by non-authorized sources.” It’s just not convincing.”

    Please point to where all I have said is “You’re wrong”… show me the post, please. I have provided scriptural support that you have failed to address.
    MC, I don’t expect to convince you… you have your mind made up… to you the LDS Church is right and anything that teaches the opposite is wrong. As I have mentioned numerous time and you have failed to ever address, Col 1:17 teaches that Christ is BEFORE ALL THINGS. Intelligence is something.. therefore, Christ existed BEFORE intelligence. This destroys Mormon theology. In addition, since Christ existed before ALL anything He created He created out of nothing… because NOTHING EXISTED BEFORE HIM for Him to create it out of.

    Instead of Ad Hominem attacks can you please try to explain to me logically how you get around this. Instead of continuing to ask for the specific phrase “out of nothing” explain to me how when The Bible says Christ was BEFORE ALL THINGS you can still claim that something existed eternally with Him.

    Darrell

  114. March 8, 2009 6:21 am

    “Everyone has to have a definition for words to understand them. Me having my own (reasonable) definition (thing = object or person) is not twisting the Bible any more than you having your interpretation (thing = any existence). We are back to the same impasse – the Bible doesn’t say “out of nothing.” ”

    Why does The Bible need to specifically say “out of nothing” to satisfy you? Why is that particular phrasing the only acceptable one for you and MC? Your insistance on that particular phrasing reminds me of a situation I sometimes get into with my kids. I tell them to go and work on their homework and ten minutes later I tell catch them playing their DS. When I confront them they will sometimes respond with “But Dad, you didn’t tell me I couldn’t play my DS. You told me to work on my homework and I am working on my homework while I am playing my DS. I am obeying you.” The obvious problem is that I told them to do their homework… so until their homework is done they shouldn’t be playing their DS. Yet, they will try and find a way to get what they want by finding some wiggle room in my word choice… unless I say “Work on your homework and don’t do ANYTHING ELSE until you are done with it” they will try and find a way out.

    You are doing something very similar here. God has told us specifically in The Bible several things…

    1. Theere are no Gods before Him… period!!
    2. There are no Gods besides Him… period!!
    3. There will be no Gods after Him… period!!
    4. He created everything
    5. Nothing was created that He did not create
    6. He existed before ALL things

    (We can talk about 1-3 at another time but they are closely tied to this conversation because, much like this issue, they are also tied to the nature of God.)

    Here is my point though… God says I am BEFORE ALL THINGS. He also tells us very clearly that He created everything and that nothing was created that He did not create. He goes through painstaking trouble to outline the differences between Him and Us… He breathes out stars and names them one by one (Billions upon Billions of them), counts the hairs on our head and knits us together in the womb. We, on the other hand, are as a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. Mormons, however, come to the counsel of God already holding to a belief that their church has given them. Therefore, you read the counsel of God and when it says, “Christ is before all things”, say “but God didn’t specifically use the words ‘out of nothing’ so He must have meant something else when he used the words “all things”.

    Think about this… what leads you to conclude ‘all things’ means something other than EVERYTHING. Why can’t you just take God at His word in The Bible? I know the reason is because you are looking to your extra-biblical sources for authority on this issue (Pearl of Great Price). But at least think about it… how reliable is the BOA?

    As for me, I am going to take God at His word in The Bible… when he says He is before all things, I am going to believe He is before all things.

    You asked me about my interpretation of all the verses that say God is “The First and the Last” – “The Alpha and Omega”. These verses are pointing to the differences between God and Man. To the fact that God existed PRIOR to us and can exist after us…. we rely on Him for our immortality while His immortality is intrinsic to His nature. We are not eternal by nature only He is. God is the only One who is intrinsically and essentially immortal (1 Tim 1:17; 1 Tim 6:16; Rom 1:20-23). In contrast, our immortality is an extrinsic gift from Him (Rom 2:7). He is the great I AM… He alone is The First and Last!

    Darrell

  115. MadChemist permalink
    March 8, 2009 1:37 pm

    Darrel, The problem is that you don’t take God alone at His word. You add your own philosphies. Even Gerald McDermott recognizes that everyone has a bias that they previously bring to the text. Have you read “Claiming Christ” the debate between Bob Millet (Mormon) and Gerald McDermott (Baptist/Evangelical?)? There here clearly outlines and accepts, “Yes, Evangelicals also have assumptions that cloud our interpretation of scripture” (paraphrased, not the actual quote). As I’ve tried to show you, but you refuse to see, Darrel, is that scriptures which in context teach something different than you personally use them for, they can be twisted based on the interpretations going in to reading them. The assumption that you have been using has been “ex nihilo”, out of nothing, a completely abiblical phrase that clouds every word you read in the Bible. We’re not being children about this, Darrel, and this is just as much of an insult as me telling you that you need to go back to school. Maybe you can’t understand the difference between what Tom and I are saying, and saying we’re acting like children is simply not respectful. So you can get off of your high-horse about “not attacking anyone personally”.

    Darrel, you simplify the biblical evidence about eternity. The Hebrew words for eternity also have a connotation of “eras, epochs, and periods of time.”

    Bottom line is this, Mormons do believe that we as some-sort of entity existed before our spiritual creation by God. I do recognize that I can’t prove this from the Bible, but I also point out that the converse is not proven in the Bible. “The Bible doesn’t say “intelligences didn’t exist previously”, and I recognize this goes against your interpretation, but I don’t recognize Darrel as authoritiative in Christianity, or in the Christiian subset Mormonism. I recognzie your argument, but I don’t accept it because I don’t accept the assumption that you make in your argument.

  116. MadChemist permalink
    March 8, 2009 2:09 pm

    About School.
    While I might be willing to believe that you hadn’t meant to include the quote, I still wonder why you were even looking at it. WordPress doesn’t just accidentally add quotes very closely related to your comment, it was included because you were using it as source and forgot to delete it. You might not have meant to include it, but that’s what you had in mind as a “proof-text” showing that “intelligence=matter”. Yet that quote doesn’t show “intelligence=matter” and therefore shouldn’t be used as evidence of it. And if you do think it does, you do need to go back to school, whether or not you mean to include the quote.

    You had claimed you were going to prove “intelligence=matter”. I had assumed you were going to attempt to violently proof-text the Bible or the other LDS standard works. Your post showed you using another unofficial, non-binding text. Tom and I have already said we will only use Canon. You seem to insist that you get to set the bounds by which Mormonism will be defined. We reject that, just like you should reject if I tried to force you to defend everything Aquina’s wrote. If you’re trying to talk to us, and we say we won’t even entertain arguments that don’t really apply to Mormonism, you do need to go back to school, and learn how to actually provide evidence.

    Darrel, while it is true that BRM was a member of the Seventy at the time, and was a General Authority, this does not mean that everything he writes is authoritative. While some Mormons would allow that the few parts of Mormon Doctrine that have been quoted in General Conference to NOW be normative (not before), I don’t. I would be more willing to accept them as true. But it certainly wouldn’t back door in the entire book. That would be like saying since Paul quoted some greek philosphers sayings on Mars Hill “Ye are the offspring of God” that all sayings of greek philosphers were authoritative. It’s just not true in either case. But the were not quoted as “an appeal to authority”, but rather, “a good way of explaining.” The book is not a reliable source of information regarding LDS theology, period. Stop using it as such. Try and use our scriptures.

    Darrel writes: “Please point to where all I have said is “You’re wrong”… show me the post, please.”
    March 7, 8:36 pm Darrel writes: ” but your assertion that creation ex nihilo is not supported by The Bible is simply offbase.”
    Your welcome.

    Darrel, I have not failed to address your arguments. I have addressed them and you don’t agree with my argument. That’s fine. But saying I haven’t addressed it is simply untrue. Maybe you should re-read my 7:31 pm post. Then you should read the posts afterward where you tell me “Nice try” where you acknowledge me addressing your argument. Tom’s argument about the definition of “thing” is interesting. I don’t know how “thing equals something with mass” but it’s certainly interesting to think about. It explains our viewpoint well, but I don’t know how we got to it.

    Inherent in your argument is that “Intelligence is something created.” I reject that. The bible doesn’t explictly say the latter, so I feel no need to accept it. You insist, “nothing existed before the creation”, creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing. The bible doesn’t explictly say the latter, so again, i feel no need to accept it. Mormon theology is not destroyed unless your assumptions are true. I’ve shown you why I disagree with your assumptions. Now’s the time that we simply say, “We make different assumptions about the Bible, and therefore different conclusions.”

  117. March 8, 2009 6:49 pm

    MC,

    I actually have MANY different quotes on my computer from multiple sources pertaining to multiple religious subjects – not just Mormonism. It is great to look at multiple sources and points of view when studying any religious subject and I like to store bits and pieces of information for later reference. I also own a copy of Mormon Doctrine that my wife received while in High School taking Early Morning Seminary. It is a great reference tool as it is quoted very often in Conference Talks and Ensign Articles… I used it when I taught while I was LDS (Elders Quorum, Deacons, and Early Morming Seminary).

    “Darrel writes: “Please point to where all I have said is “You’re wrong”… show me the post, please.”
    March 7, 8:36 pm Darrel writes: ” but your assertion that creation ex nihilo is not supported by The Bible is simply offbase.”
    Your welcome.”

    Correction… look at what you accused me of… this is exactly what you said…

    “Six times now, I’ve asked now, and your ONLY answer is “You’re wrong, and I refuse to provide any evidence, because I know the word doesn’t exist in the Bible, but I will steadfastly hold to the words added to the Bible by non-authorized sources.” (emphasis mine)

    My question was, please show me where ALL I HAVE SAID IS “You’re Wrong”. You answer does not show this because I never said “You’re wrong” while refusing to provide any evidence. I provided evidence. Now, you can refuse to accept my evidence but please make sure you quote me correctly… it would be much more honest for you to simply say “I don’t agree with your point of view or with the evidence you have provided”. Just don’t accuse me of simply saying “You’re wrong, and I refuse to provide any evidence…” because that is not honest.

    MC and Tom,

    I have taken some time to go to the Greek on Col 1:17 to see if it lines up with either of our interpretations. The Greek word for “All Things” in Col 1:17 is actually one Greek word… “pas”. The word literally means “all, any, every, all things, anything, everything”. The word was used in the Greek to mean everything that exists… seen and unseen. When Paul said that Christ is Before All Things he literally meant Christ is before ANYTHING THAT EXISTS WHETHER SEEN OR UNSEEN. Christ existed BEFORE anything else existed and everything that exists was brought INTO existence by Him. this is exactly what Col 1:16-17 say…

    16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    When looking at the Greek for “all things” that was used in Col 1:16-17 it is clear that it DOES TEACH creation ex nihilo. Again, you can refuse to accept it but please don’t say we haven’t provided scriptural support for the doctrine.

    Further to my point, this does not fit well with the Mormon view that intelligences are eternal. Paul would not have used the Greek word “pas” if ANYTHING EXISTED ETERNALLY WITH CHRIST. “Pas” does not match your definition of all things as applying only to “people, places, or things of discrete mass”. “Pas” literally means ALL/ANY/EVERY thing. Intelligences are things and it applies to them.

    Darrell

  118. Tom permalink
    March 9, 2009 2:48 am

    Darrell / MadChemist, I have been praying for understanding regarding this verse. The Greek is very interesting and I have noticed it before myself – I don’t know what to make of it, especially since “pas” is an adjective which doesn’t make sense to me given the grammar of the phrase as I understand it.

    As I stated earlier, the two ideas do appear contradictory. There are many contradictions and things I don’t understand (even within the Bible). How have you approached such contradictions yourself?

    Darrell, as we have discussed this topic I have presented my worldview / logic as clearly as I am capable. My understanding is far from perfect, and I trust the Lord will teach me in the areas I am currently lacking. In the meantime, I must remain true to what the Holy Spirit has revealed to my heart – that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, that the revelations are true, that the Bible is true. For me to do otherwise would be dishonest! If I have somehow been deceived, then the Lord can show me the right way as I continue to pray for guidance to understand His words (something I do frequently). I expect no differently from you – to be honest to the knowledge the Lord has given you, always acknowledging that mortal logic may not always lead us to the right answer or provide the full picture.

  119. March 9, 2009 3:05 am

    Tom,

    I appreciate your sincerity. I will pray for the Lord to guide you in this. There really is no contradiction within The Bible itself for Col 1:16-17. The only contradiction lies when comparing it to the information given in the BOA and by the past LDS Prophets.

    As for contradictions within The Bible itself… I personally have never found any. Whenever I have come accross what appears to be one, once researched (by looking at the original language, context, etc), I have found that there really is not one.

    Have a good night.

    Darrell

  120. March 9, 2009 3:32 am

    Not a lot of this discussion has really bothered to engage in what Jessica originally posted.

    The passages from Zecharia and Genesis Jessica quoted are rather full of poetic imagery and highly symbolic in nature. I’m not sure why a Mormon read on them is ruled out. God breathing life into someone does not in any way suggest an ex nihilo creation of spirit. Neither does “forming” the spirit of man “within” suggest an ex nihilo creation.

    Darrell has commented that any God who didn’t create everything out of nothing is “too small.”

    Actually Darrell, I don’t think that is right at all. You seem to have imagined some sort of zero-sum game in the universe where more glory for you and me means less is available for God. As if he were some insecure parent scared of His own kids.

    “It’s MINE I tell you! All mine! How dare you leave the house and get a job! You have to remember your place! Daddy’s little boy isn’t ready to grow up. Now, let me tuck your shirt in for you…”

    I think it’s the other way around Darrell. It is your God that is “too small.” Small, petty-minded, fearful of sharing, and incredibly insecure in the relationship. True, there are parents like that in real life. But I’d hardly call them godlike.

    I also think it’s odd to hear other Christians complaining about the promiscuity of “Celestial polygamy” when their own doctrine seems to envision heaven as some androgynous, spiritual melting pot where you lose all mortal connections and identity, and become swallowed up in some creepy borg-collectivish orgy otherwise termed “God’s love.”

    Compared to becoming one with the cosmic and theological equivalent of “The Blob,” Mormon Celestial polygamy looks downright heartwarming.

  121. March 9, 2009 4:00 am

    By the way, I personally believe what I wrote above to be partly an un-nuanced caricature of Evangelical belief. But it addresses one of the key gripes Mormons are going to have in facing Evangelical theology.

    We worship a Father. Not a blob. Most Mormons are just never going to all that jazzed about being devoured and annihilated by some omnipotent cosmic alien entity.

    Even if being eaten by it feels really nice and tingly.

  122. March 9, 2009 1:04 pm

    Todd,

    I think that I will expand my posts on creation to texts outside of Genesis 1-3. I will address your issues and questions as I proceed there.

    Everyone else,

    I have not read the preceding discussion, but I thought that these two links would be useful in discussing the issue of creatio ex nihilo in the biblical texts:

    http://www.fairlds.org/New_Mormon_Challenge/index.html

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=17&num=2&id=590

    The first link is to a series of articles, some of which are quite detailed and lengthy. The second link is focused more towards the NT texts.

    TYD

  123. March 9, 2009 4:23 pm

    Darrell, I just got your email and will remove your quote on your 3/7/09 post @ 8:36pm. Sorry – have been super busy this weekend and haven’t checked my email until now.

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